Happy St. Valentine’s Day :)

So yes, a bit behind on my vacation blogging – – sorry too much going on, and not enough down-time to blog. But I’ll start with today and then backtrack.

First of all – – much love to our spouses for letting us share this Valentine’s Day to re-trace our family history. It was definitely a special day in Lago di Garda!

Day started out with an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous clear day! You could even see across the lake in Garda – – which is apparently not normal in Garda. Even the Villa owner’s were traveling to go see across the Lago today because of the weather. (Very clear…)

So yes, we’ve been blessed. Exceptionally blessed – – yesterday was partly driving, and would never have been good for all the sight seeing we did today.

Left the Villa in Garda and up the coast. First stop, coffee. (As usual — caffe Americano for Daniel and caffe macchiato for me.) We kept on driving to our destination Malcesine – -where our Nonno (Grandfather) stayed for a bit during the end of WWII. We found the Chiesa (church) Santo Stefano right away; took a few photos, said some prayers, and continued walking around town. Gorgeous sights all over town for sure — but then we tried to recreate one of his shots of the church, but we learned that there was no way that we could create it. Grandpa must’ve been in one of the hotels in town, high up – – and took the shot out of a window. Something we couldn’t do… so we just did our best.

It was amazing walking all over this little town, knowing that nearly 70 yrs ago our Grandpa was here. Wondering what he did… how many games of poker he must’ve played with his 10th Mountain Div buddies here, and perhaps of some letters or postcards he may have written to Grandma here. This is definitely a beautiful, beautiful place! Bellissima!!

After an amazing lunch in town (Daniel says it was the best risotto he’s ever had in his life!) we took the tram up the mountain to Mt. Baldo – a ski/snowboard area. Again, gorgeous ride to the top. (Took about 20min….) If there was ever a time to ski, this would’ve been the time – -but we probably spent too much time in town; so not enough time; Plus we didn’t have any ski-pants w/ or anything.

The views up here were spectacular! You could see the jagged Dolomites, and the Lago di Garda below. Absolutely gorgeous… and I’m definitely sure we were the only Americanos in town today.

Took the tram back down, and got in our cute little Fiat Bravo and headed back south towards Garda. Truly one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever on. (And so much fun to drive stick-shift again!) We stopped at another spot on the lago – – Casseo, I believe — for a photo opp with the rocks and the lake.

Next stop – a grocery store. Loaded up on some more salumi, formaggio (cheese), and vino  – – and also some other snackies and bread, so we could make some sandwiches back at the Villa. Crazy – the Montepulciano Abrezzo (red wine) was only 3EUR!! 🙂 (and good!)

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Made it to Bologna…

Well, what can I say – – glad that I made it to Bologna (and was even a bit early to meet Daniel at the airport.)  Daniel’s catching up on some much needed sleep, and I’ve had a few hours to myself to stroll around the town and check out a few shops. But it didn’t go so smooth this morning…

I couldn’t sleep a wink last night in Milan. I tried and tried, but no luck. Was literally just lying in bed, with no chance of falling asleep. I wasn’t even very hungry during the day; but of course at midnight – WHAM! – I was starved! So luckily I had packed some yummy “Walking Taco” trail mix from Target. But anyhoo… no luck sleeping. My phone alarm was set for 6:30am, train ticket (business class – pricier) was booked for the fast FrecciaRossa train at 9:00am. Plus I scored a free breakfast buffet at the Sheraton, so I was looking forward to a nice long breakfast and good-sized cappuccino.

Well… things didn’t go so as plan. Luckily I’m a seasoned traveler, and mainly packed my bags. It was like the opening scene of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” – i couldn’t believe it when i looked at my phone and saw 9:35!!! (I must’ve picked up the phone and obviously went back to my much-needed sleep.) Quick call to the front desk to order me a taxi and prepare my bill. Speedy journey to the train station; very luckily I did spend more on that business class ticket, so I was able to just jump on the 10:15 train and only pay 8EUR more to be on business class on that train.

277km/hr – yup! That’s how fast this speed train was going – – it was awesome. Normally a two-hour ride, this was only going to take an hour to get to Bologna. I still should be fine, cause Daniel’s train was scheduled to arrive at 12:08pm. Until……… the train (moving extremely fast!) completly halts! OMG…  yeah, nervous for a bit… for after about 10min it started back up again.

Arrived just fine to the train station, and jumped in a taxi to the airport to meet Daniel’s arrival.

Cutest little coffee shop near the arrivals; so of course, duh – – i grabbed a quick cup of caffe macchiato and the best heated salami sandwich ever!! This is Bologna – – food capital of Italy – – even the airport has ridiculous food! I really needed that sandwich… so good.

But found Daniel no problem. Jumped into a taxi and we were off to town. Our check-in the apartment was at 2pm, so we had time to grab some lunch. Daniel was pretty exhausted too, and said he hadn’t eaten in 12hrs. So fortunately the restaurant my friend Lindsey recommended was literally around the corner from the apartment.

Trattoria Montanara – – wow!! Amazing… food here was top notch! The bread basked was great… antipasti of prosciutto, salami, and amazing mortadello w hot crescenti bread (Dan says think beignet minus the powdered sugar) – – and some of the best pasta ever!

We are on track for a fabulous vacation!

Checked into the apartment easily! Sandra cheerfully greeted us and showed us the flat. Very attentive, she had some great juice, waters, breads, cookies, and everything all ready for our stay.

So Daniel’s still catching up on his sleep (been 2.5hrs now) – – and I just got back from walking a bit. So far… loving Bologna! Light rain, but it doesn’t matter — tons of Porticoes in town to walk through, so you don’t get wet.

Naturally i found some great coffee shops, got some goodies at Eataly (which was MUCH better than Milano!), picked up a cool Euro USB adapter at Apple – – and now just taking it easy.

Ciao for now!!

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Day 1 of Travel…. (for me)

Yay! The day’s finally here… (well, not that I was waiting TOO long); i did just start planning this trip only two weeks ago.  But I am super, super excited for this new adventure.

Today I fly out of Minneapolis (connect in JFK) and arrive in Milan. Seems somewhat appropriate that the Minneapolis airport is relatively close to the Ft Snelling location where my Grandpa enlisted at 71 years ago…. in February of 1943.

I’m going to try and do my best to blog the trip, so that family (and friends) can read about our journey. I am new to WordPress – – so please bear with me. Hopefully it’s easy to upload some photos from my iPhone as we go through the trip. Cause I know a picture is worth a 1,000 words… plus I like to see pretty pictures too.

So… only one small, minor travel change now. I will be meeting Daniel in Bologna, as opposed to him taking the train up to Milan. It really didn’t seem to make much sense, for him to be there for such a short time – and then for us to take the train back down to Bologna. We were lucky – we were able to get 3 nights now at the AirBnB place that we reserved.

So now…. hmmm, looks like a day trip to Florence on Tuesday may be in order!! 🙂

We cancelled the super cool hostel in Milan that we booked – – oh well, you gotta ALWAYS leave something for a future trip, right? http://www.ostellobello.com

Ciao!!! Until later….

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Off to Italy… (again!)

So excited!! What once started as a solo vacation to get out of the MN deep-freeze,  is now turning into a family history learning trip with my younger (and history nerd) brother.

We’ll be traveling all throughout the Northern Italy  — well, on the WWII path that our Grandfather, Ernest H Knapper, took nearly 7 decades ago. Grandpa never spoke of his military time with us growing up… so going here and somewhat re-tracing his steps, will allow us to gain more appreciation for not only what he went through, but what also what his 10th Mountain division fought for – – Our Freedom!

I have to say that planning this “vacation” is definitely different and probably more even more exciting than others. Just knowing that we are walking though family history is so cool. Again, Grandpa never spoke about his war experiences – – it just wasn’t something that he spoke of, nor would it really be a topic that you’d want to speak of with your grandchildren. But I have to say… it’s been a lot of fun to research — googl’ing everything you can think of. It’s all out there. There is so much information available to us — i guess my time to learn is right now. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  I have always enjoyed planning trips – – but this one’s even better! I know Grandpa’d be so proud of us.

Super excited.. it’s gonna be awesome!

Proposed week-long itinerary:

  • Me fly to Milan (MXP)
  • Dan fly to Bologna (BLQ), train up to Milan
  • Both of us venture back down to Bologna for a few days – – drive throughout hill towns that the 10th Mountain Infantry battled
  • Up to Lago Garda for a few more days
  • Back to BLQ for Dan, and MXP for me…

Re-tracing Grandpa's WWII journey – 10th Mtn Div