The Five Star Vagabond

Super travel tips, all road tested by David Herd. I'm an Australian guy who moved to Thailand in 2011 & still travel the world as often as possible.

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

August 18, 2015 by David Herd

Another Italian Gem.

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy is the largest Italian lake. The wealthy and the snobbish will always prefer Lake Como because that’s what they read about in the social pages and gossip columns, the experienced traveller however would most certainly choose Lake Garda as the more interesting and user friendly location.

Lake Garda northern Italy

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

Lake Garda is Italy’s largest and most visited lake. The lake is 51km long but only 17km wide at its widest point in the south. The distance around the lake is 158km. Picturesque villages, medieval castles, and lakeside promenades dot the shoreline.

Swimming at Lake Garda

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

The lake has numerous small islands and five main ones, the largest being Isola del Garda. Nearby to the south is Isola San Biagio, also known as the Isola dei Conigli (“Island of the Rabbits”). Both are offshore of San Felice del Benaco, on the west side. The three other main islands are Isola dell’Olivo, Isola di Sogno, and Isola di Trimelone, all farther north near the east side. The main tributary is the Sarca River, while the only outlet is the Mincio River.

Relaxing beside Lake Garda

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

There are many delightful cafes and restaurants around the lake where you can relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Beautiful Lake Garda

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

 Lake Garda is known for its clear water, great for swimming in summer. Windsurfing, sailing, and hiking in the lake’s many parks are popular activities.

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

Is it surprising that Italy is my favourite European country?

Lakeside restaurant

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

A perfect spot to relax by the lake.

Lake Garda church

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

If you would like to rent an apartment here use THIS LINK for an excellent rate.

Fabulous colours

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

Magnificent colours on the buildings.

Shopping arcade beside the lake

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

Shop, drink coffee or enjoy pasta for lunch.

Ferry at Lake Garda

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

You can also explore the lake from the ferry.

Old castle

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

The lake has a diverse landscape with beaches along the southern shores and rocky cliffs above the northern shoreline.

North of Lake Garda.

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

 

The surrounding countryside is magnificent.

The Castle of Sirmione on Lake Garda.

Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy

The Sirmione castle is the most significant example of the defensive structures on Lake Garda. Between the 13th and 14th centuries, the village of Sirmione was a border town situated between the land owned by the Della Scala dynasty of Verona and the property of the lords of Milan. The original nucleus was delimited by a tall square wall with three towers, and was probably built on top of the remains of a Roman fortress.

Thanks for visiting my Beautiful Lake Garda northern Italy photo blog, which one do you prefer Lake Como Lake Garda?

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Verona beautiful northern Italian city

November 16, 2013 by David Herd

A wonderful Italian city

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

Verona beautiful northern Italian city just a 90 minute drive from Milan, I stayed at the Best Western Hotel Amando at Vicolo dietro Pallone 1 • 37121 Verona, reasonably priced, walking distance to all the attractions with an excellent Italian restaurant right next door. 

Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like so many other Italian cities there is a surprise around every corner. Verona’s most popular site is the balcony said to be Juliet’s in Romeo and Juliet. The house said to be Juliet’s house is in a courtyard off Via Capello. You can see the balcony and the bronze statue of Juliet for free (you can also rub Juliet’s breast for good luck). The 13th century house is a good example of Gothic architecture and inside is a museum with period furniture.

Juliet’s house is in a courtyard off Via Capello.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta), Via Cappello (just off the Piazza delle Erbe). Supposedly the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The house is a major destination for tourist pilgrimage, as the tiny courtyard is normally packed with lovestruck teenagers photographing each other on the famous balcony. In fact, the house has no connection with Shakespeare’s fictional characters – although the house is old, the balcony was added in 1936 and declared to be “Juliet’s house” to attract tourists.


You can also rub Juliet’s breast for good luck

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

 Her boobs are very shiny from all the attention. 🙂

Love letters at Juliet’s house in Verona.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

The balcony overlooks a tiny courtyard containing a statue of Juliet. There is an unbelievable amount of graffiti and general scrawling on the walls, floor, seats, anything that will hold ink – there is a tradition of writing love messages to Juliet, and visitors leave notes, trinkets and bits of chewing gum fashioned into love hearts. Juliet’s house is a popular romantic shrine, but its popularity belies its value; compared to some of the treasures around Verona, Juliet’s house has very little to offer.

Piazza delle Erbe and Torre dei Lamberti

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

The famous thin tower, Torre dei Lamberti is located on the north side as you enter the piazza and at 275 feet high, is Verona’s highest landmark and can be seen from a distance. You can climb it or take an elevator and have fantastic views of Verona from this vantage point. In the centre of the piazza is an awesome 14th century fountain with a Madonna statue on top.

Piazza delle Erbe

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

There are some very fine and ancient buildings around this square like the Romanesque ‘Palazzo Comune’ and the 15th century ‘Loggia del Consiglio’, one of the most beautiful buildings to be seen in Verona. The statue of the ‘divine poet’ Dante is particularly interesting.

Another lovely Verona street.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

 A perfect city for walking and exploring.

Piazza Bra

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

Piazza Bra, once a suburban field or braida, is a huge piazza inside the main gate entering Verona. You’ll see the Roman Arena on one side of the piazza and near it the neoclassical Palazzo Municipale. Part of the piazza is a garden with a central fountain. On the opposite side from the arena are elegant porticoed buildings with cafes and restaurants along a broad walkway. You can have a glass of wine or coffee in one of the cafes and spend some time people-watching.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

 Verona Comune Building.

 Lamberti Tower

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

This is the highest tower of the Roman relics at Verona is completed in 1463. You can enter this tower and climb the 238 stairs. Do not worry,  there is an elevator available. Arriving at the top of the tower, the beautiful scenery of Verona is in front of you.

Verona’s Roman Arena.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

The Arena is an enormous, spectacular Roman amphitheatre, crumbling on the outside but still functioning today. It was erected in the 1st Century AD in an elliptical shape, and is the world’s third-largest amphitheater to survive from antiquity. Much of the outer ring was damaged during the earthquake of 1117 but the inner part is still intact. If you can, plan your trip during the Opera season and see a performance in the Arena.

Roman Arena

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

   Verona’s Roman Arena is the third largest in Italy  

Killing Christians is hard work

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 Even Gladiators need a rest between slaughters.  

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Beautiful footpath in Verona.

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

One of the many beautiful old stone Verona buildings.

Next to BEST WESTERN Hotel Armando

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

Right next to my hotel was this excellent old Italian restaurant. It is well worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

Stolen GPS in Verona

Verona beautiful northern Italian city

 

Sadly Italy is a very risky country for thieves, pickpockets etc.

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Italy fantastic seaside villages

July 12, 2013 by David Herd

Italy fantastic seaside villages, how many words could I write about this wonderful country & colorful people? The music, the wine, the villages, the food, I could go on and on. However words alone won’t do Italy justice, just go there and experience the joy this wonderful country will bring you. Hopefully in this post you will find a few travel tips for Italy to help you plan your own Italian adventure.

David Herd in Italy

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Italy was not a united country until 1870. Before this time, the country was a group of separate states ruled by France, Spain, Austria and other foreign countries. There were many attempts to unify the country but all of these failed until 1860 when Guiseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) formed an army of volunteer soldiers to drive out the foreign rulers. Garibaldi’s soldiers became known as the ‘red shirts’ because they all wore bright red shirts. The red shirts soon took over all the states except Rome and Venetia, and in 1861, the states joined together to become one country called Italy. 

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My favourite part of Italy is the Cinque Terre, which is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare,Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.

Manarola, Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Manarola, built on a high rock 70 metres above sea level, is one of the most charming and romantic of the Cinque Terre villages.The tiny harbor features a boat ramp, picturesque multicoloured houses facing the sea, a tiny piazza with seafood restaurants.

Manarola

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

These villages are magnificent, have not changed in centuries.

Manarola

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Manarola is a small town, a frazione of the comune of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. It is the second smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists. Wikipedia

Lovely Manarola restaurant

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Manarola is connected to Riomaggiore by the famous Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane); a footpath carved into the rocks above the sea. Other popular sites are the Church of San Lorenzo built in 1338 in Gothic Ligurian style, and the defence tower.

Italy fantastic seaside villages Manarola

Manarola seaside village Cinque Terre Italy

 

If you love photography this is the place to be.

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Manarola

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Exploring the five villages properly takes at least five days.

Looking toward Manarola from Corniglia

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

The villages seem to just cling to the land.

Vernazza at night.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

First records recognizing Vernazza as a fortified town date back to the year 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility, it was a likely point of departure for naval forces in defence of pirates.

Over the next two centuries, Vernazza was vital in Genova’s conquest of Liguria, providing port, fleet, and soldiers. In 1209, the approximately 90 most powerful families of Vernazza pledged their allegiance to the republic of Genova. 

In the 1400s, Vernazza focused in its defense against the dreadful and regularly occurring pirate raids, erecting a fortifying wall. In the mid-1600s, like many of the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza suffered a period of decline that negatively affected wine production, and prolonged the construction of the trail system and harbor molo (pier constructed to protect against heavy seas).

In the 1800s, after a long period of stagnation, Vernazza returned to wine production, enlarging and creating new terraced hillsides. The result was a revitalization of Vernazza’s commerce. Also at this time, the construction of the Genova–La Spezia rail line began, putting an end to Vernazza’s long isolation. The population of Vernazza increased by 60% as a result. Meanwhile, the construction of La Spezia’s naval base also proved important to Vernazza in providing employment for many members of the community.

Vernazza

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Vernazza was a great choice for our home base.

Great seafood in Vernazza.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Italian seafood at its finest.

Italy fantastic seaside villages Vernazza

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

I climbed the many steps to have dinner at the restaurant.

Check out this short video on Vernazza

Main St Vernazza

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

I think Vernazza was my favourite village because we spent more time there.

My Australian friends, Jodie O’Neill & Deborah Holliday

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

The gorgeous bar lady here poured me the best shots of Jack Daniels I have ever had, they were triples, and Deb & Jodie said I consumed five. I said, “well who the hell is counting.” 🙂

Morning meeting in Riomaggiore.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Hard to pronounce but who cares. 🙂

Riomaggiore

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

The village, dating from the early thirteenth century, is known for its historic character and its wine, produced by the town’s vineyards. Riomaggiore is in the Riviera di Levante region and has shoreline on the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Genoa, with a small beach and a wharf framed by tower houses. Riomaggiore’s main street is Via Colombo, where numerous restaurants, bars and shops can be found. The Via dell’Amore is a path connecting Riomaggiore to its frazione Manarola, also part of the Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre, all connected by trail. The water and mountainside have been declared national parks.

Riomaggiore

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Every village has something different to offer.
 

Riomaggiore

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

These fishing villages have not changed in centuries.

Riomaggiore workshop

Italy fantastic seaside villages

These villages are close to Portofino, & Camogli, both well worth a visit.  

David Herd relaxing in Coniglia Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

For me this is the most interesting part of Italy.

 Corniglia bar

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Small cafe tucked away in a courtyard.

So peaceful and quiet.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

What a great setting for a coffee and a cake.

Monterosso in Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Quite different to the other four villages.

Monterosso Cinque Terre

Monterosso seaside village Cinque Terre Italy

 

This village has a huge beach where the others don’t.

Italy fantastic seaside villages  Monterosso

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

Catch a ferry to Portofino, you won’t regret it.

Monterosso

Italy fantastic seaside villages

The town is divided into two distinct parts: the old town and the new town. The two areas are divided by a single tunnel that caters to pedestrians and the very few cars in the town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line and is well used by tourists and locals. The beach is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town that in the summer months is overrun by tourists. The village was briefly excluded from the Cinque Terre trail in 1948, but was re-introduced in mid-1949. This is because Italian officials considered the village too large to be considered part of the historic trail.

Lunch at Monterosso

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Another terrific seafood & pasta at Monterosso. In 1870, the Italian government built a railroad line into the city, which opened it up to the outside world. It is the main way in which people enter the city. During World War II, many young men from the Cinque Terre fought for the resistance against the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, and the subsequent Nazi German occupation of Italy.

Busker in the tunnel.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

 

One of my favourite photos.

Monterosso on the rocks.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Sunbathing on the rocks, in Manarola they were laying on the concrete.

Super travel tip

If I had to pick my place in Italy it would be Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stayed in Vernazza where it was easy to park our car nearby, without a pre booked room we just wandered into the village where many people approach with accommodation offers.  Many people walk between each of the five fabulous villages that seem to cling to the cliffs that overlook the sea. I took the easy way and caught the train that runs every 20 minutes or so between the towns. My advice to you is visit in the off season as all the villages are full of tourists in summer.

Thanks for visiting my Italy fantastic seaside villages photo blog.

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