“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

We should never get so busy trying to make a living that we forget to make a life. When I draw my last breath on this earth, I want to leave no stone unturned.

Unexpected Florence
Photo by Jonathan Körner on Unsplash

Unexpected Florence

As I sit down to write on my blog about our visit to Florence, I’m trying hard not to make it sound like a Wikipedia article.  As a history geek, I love the facts, dates and events that make up the timeline of a city.  But much like IQ and blood pressure scores do not define who we are as people, dates and facts can’t adequately describe a city, particularly this one.  I struggle to write “from the heart”, but I’ll make the attempt.  Here goes.

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Bellagio, Italy and Lake Como
Town of Varenna on Lake Como

Bellagio, Italy and Lake Como

Our driver picked us up from our Milan hotel for the 2 hour drive to the town of Bellagio. Once we got out of Milan, the drive itself was scenic, with the Italian Alps ahead of us, passing small villages and rural farmland. Once we got to Lake Como, we drove down a narrow winding road next to the lake itself. As always in Italy, the road was busy with cars, trucks, scooters and cyclists, but unfazed by all the congestion, our Italian driver navigated the chaotic, aggressive Italian driving that always seems to work itself out with no accidents or mishaps.
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A Day in Milan

“Milan, darling. Milan.” — Edna Mode – “The Incredibles”

Our first stop on our recent Italy trip was the city of Milan.  Renowned for its sense of fashion, there is a lot to see and explore, even for a “jeans-and-sweatshirt” guy like me.  Since our time was limited, we hired a local tour guide to give us a personal tour around the city.

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A Visit to San Gimignano
Sun on rooftops of San Gimignano, Italy

A Visit to San Gimignano

While most large cities in the world have the best cathedrals and museums, my favorite places to visit are the smaller towns and villages in a country. I enjoy the slower pace and less crowds, but I also love to see a place with ties to older customs. It is like stepping back in time, and since I’m a history geek, it resonates far more than a famous sculpture or painting. San Gimignano is exactly the type of place I love to explore.

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Day Hike Trails near Boone, NC
November on Blue Ridge Parkway

Day Hike Trails near Boone, NC

Spring is here although you can’t see it through all the snow and ice in Blowing Rock as I write this today.  Nonetheless, as warmer weather approaches, my Missus and I can enjoy some day hikes somewhere nearby.   We both prefer day hikes over pack hiking for a variety of reasons.  One, we can be less concerned about the things we need to bring in (or pack out).  That allows us to relax and enjoy the scenery around us, which ultimately is the whole point of hiking.  Also, our “furry” family members are “inside” dogs, so we can’t be away from home too long to make sure they are fed and walked.  Last, my Missus will NOT sleep outside.  She is more than willing to accommodate my love of the outdoors, but at the end of the day, she expects a hot shower, a good meal, and a warm bed.   Since I appreciate her willingness to make hiking something we do together, I think it is a fair trade.

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