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Let’s Go for a Walk!

Let’s Go for a Walk!

TOP 8 PICKS: BEST SHOES FOR WALKING ALL DAY IN EUROPE

Anne’s walking flats on Gaudi-designed sidewalk in Barcelona.
We never quite know what a day will bring as we explore Europe with our tours, but one thing’s for sure, there will be LOTS of walking! We’ve clocked over 20,000 steps in a day more than once, and oh, do we miss it! So we’re always looking for great shoes that we can walk in all day. For us, the holy grail of shopping is a pair of shoes that look cool and feel comfortable for a full day of walking. It’s taken many years of experimentation, and our closets are full of wannabes that don’t quite cut it, but we’ve managed to find 8 pairs that we can wear walking all day without pain.
Kirk and Anne at a Slow Travel Tours gathering.
Our daughter, Sunshine Woodyard, is also a travel writer, and we collaborated with her on this story about the 8 Best Shoes for Walking in Europe. Kirk is devoted to his Mephisto shoes for travel, and I also love wearing flats by Me Too, Aerosoles, and Allbirds  – their Treebreezers are pretty, comfortable, and great for walking.
It’s a long walk to Capri’s Arco Naturale – wear good shoes!
We’re still dreaming of travel past and future, and we’d like to share the story of one of our favorite walking destinations: The Eternal City. A couple of years ago, we spent just one day in Rome and managed to squeeze in many of our favorite spots. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration for your next Italian journey! Italy is always captivating, and we are planning our return in the Spring for our Wonders of the Amalfi Coast tour. Perhaps you’d like to join us!
Our Wonders of the Amalfi Coast tour takes us all around the Island of Capri.
If you have a particular travel bucket list item to fulfill, there’s no time like the present to create a grand plan! Our custom private tours can make your dreams come true. If you’ve got an idea for a European destination to explore, and you’d like some personal guidance, we hope you’ll connect with us at info@musicandmarkets.com
In Love with the Amalfi Coast!

In Love with the Amalfi Coast!

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy?

What do we love about the Amalfi Coast? Well, there are the VIEWS – always astounding, always drawing oohs and aahs, whether we’re relaxing by the pool at our favorite Capri hotel, approaching iconic Positano from the water, gazing up at the majestic Duomo of Amalfi, posing before the Faraglioni rocks of Capri, watching Vesuvius fade into the distanceas we speed across the bay, pulling into Capri’s colorful Marina Grande before spiraling high above to Anacapri, or enjoying the vista from the Belvedere of Infinity in Ravello. We’ve taken in these views for nearly twenty years, and they still make us gasp anew each time!
Then there’s the food….a fritto misto fresh from the surrounding waters, a caprese salad created on the island for which it’s named,
pizza in the land of its birth, a lemon granita (a slushy) from our favorite cart up the hill in Positano,
fresh fish from the sea below us in Ravello, and that marvelous lemon-tinged lunch we learned how to make with our guests at Villa Maria Agriturismo, under the lemon groves above Minori, before enjoying it with yet another fabulous view.
We also love the history that surrounds us – that 13th century Moorish style cloister and loggia of the Duomo in Amalfi,the peaceful Villa San Michele, constructed in Anacapri for a Swedish doctor at the turn of the 19th century, incorporating relics from the ruins of a villa of Emperor Tiberius on which it was built,
the gardens and cloister of Villa Cimbrone, dating from the 11th century, and the mysterious 13th century passageways  in Atrani and Amalfi, even more enticing after dark.
Is it any surprise that we chose this fabulous part of Italy to premier our Wonder Tours last spring?!
We’ll be back in April 2020  – why not join us and experience these wonders for yourself?

Captivating Capri

Captivating Capri

Monday, July 20, 2015
Amalfi, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

We’ll speed on the sea to Capri, but first we have to get to Amalfi from Maiori..along the barely-wide-enough-for-2-little-cars Amalfi Coast Highway…will these buses make it by each other? Not without a LOT of manoeuvring! 07201501 buses can 2 pass only with major maneuveringI continue to be in awe of these patient and skillful drivers – I can’t imagine driving a car on this road (although Kirk does it expertly), much less a huge BUS!
The sea is wide open – no challenge to avoid other boats here – and soon Capri comes into view. See that dot of white about a third of the way down the ridge? 07201501 capri in sightThat’s our destination – who knows what it is?!
We quickly load into a taxi and head up the rock from Marina Grande, 07201501 in we pileand soon we’re walking the peaceful paths of Villa San Michele in Anacapri,07201501 to villa house and gardens Dr. Axel Munthe’s exquisite house and gardens built over the ruins of a Roman emperor’s palace in the early 1900s. We love how he incorporated Roman relics discovered during construction – a marble face here, a bit of a pillar there…07201502 axel munthe homeThrough the shaded gardens, 07201502 exquisite gardenswe stroll to that white spot we saw from the sea on our approach…07201502 f by the chapelour group has expanded a bit, with the addition of two of the marvelous musicians of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, 07201502 group has expandedpianist Boaz Sharon and flutist Nancy Stagnitta, who’s taking the photo.
And there, far below is where we sailed in, with this red granite sphinx gazing down on us – we could see the white building, but not this red speck from so far away. 07201502 where we came from from the end look up and seeOlga and her daughter have been relaxing on the rooftop cafe, and we join them there 07201503 back to cafebefore browsing the shops on the way back to Anacapri’s main square, 07201503 capri sandalsthen making our way07201503 lunch ahead to lunch at Il Solitario. 07201503 lunch under the vinesSharing a toast, we all agree that a Caprese Salad tastes best in Capri, 07201503 why not begin with capreseand imagine the fishermen catching our lunch early this morning. 07201503 why not continue with seafoodThe only way to get from the marina, and Capritown, to Anacapri until 1874 when a road was built, was a still-usable stairway zigzagged into the cliff. The ride down, along the side of Monte Solaro, is as scary as that staircase! 07201504 cliffside roads to capritownAnacapri is the quieter, less-glitzy town on the island, Capritown is the one FILLED with high-end shops07201504 jewelry – including a grand total of FIVE Ferragamos! 07201504 ferragamo one of 5But as you know from our stay here earlier in July, the entire island is filled with beauty – keep looking around and up as you shop and stroll!07201504 keep looking around tooA quick funicular descent, 07201504 to marina grandeand we’re back on the boat towards the mainland – arrivederci, Capri! 07201505 bye byeOh how much beauty that rock hides in its crevices! 07201505 rock hides much beautySoon we’re pulling into Amalfi, 07201505 to amalfiand we meet again for a final dinner in Maiori. 07201505 goodbye dinnerChatting with Edith, the charming mother of Leslie, the festival director, we’re the last to leave…and tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to this gorgeous coast and head for Tuscany!

 

Amalfi Revels

Amalfi Revels

Sunday, July 19, 2015, continued
Amalfi, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

What better place to celebrate a significant birthday than the gorgeous Amalfi Coast? We’ve all been enjoying getting to know Maria, Olga’s lovely daughter – what a treat that she could join Olga here for this milestone birthday! The celebrating continues in Amalfi,07191505 ez back to amalfi first a shopping and sightseeing stroll, 07191505 first some shoppingthen dinner, where we’re seated with the directors of the festival, and the music begins,07191506 evening amalfi dinner video of musicians and the dinner proceeds, with a grand finale of a a birthday cake for Olga!07191506 happy birthdayA night-time stroll through those vaulted Arab Bath corridors is fun, 07191506 streets arab baths before concertthen we return to the similarly Arab-influenced Duomo for the evening concert.07191507 amazing cathedralLeslie gives us a tour of the highlights of the museum 07191507 amazing museum leslie points out masterpiecesbefore we’re astounded with the mastery of young Chinese students from the Shanghai International Piano Institute  – 07191507 amazing young pianist China video too4 of whom present a program including Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin in the intimate surroundings of the museum. 07191507 as we are surrounded byStill in awe, we slowly walk through the cloister, 07191507 cloisterand gather on the Duomo steps before returning to Maiori. 07191507 goodnightWhat a birthday to remember!

 

Castles and Ceramics

Castles and Ceramics

Sunday, July 19, 2015
Maiori, Vietri-sul-Mare, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

After that August interlude in France with our grandaughter, let’s return to Italy, picking up where we left off on the Amalfi Coast.
On this summer Sunday, a few of us want to fit in a morning hike07191501 am hike to the Castle of San Nicola de Thoro-Plano above Maiori. In reality the old ruins cannot be considered a castle in the literal sense, but a protected area consisting of a fortress built (beginning in the 800s!) as a bulwark and refuge for the population against the frequent attacks of the outlaws from Lombardy and later the Barbary pirates.07191501 am fortress 1

The three of us are joined by a couple of playful pups,07191501 dogs and as we pause for a look at the town and sea below,07191501 paused for view they rest for the final climb.07191501 took a break Inside the fortified perimeter there were once barracks and shelters able to house a large battalion and hundreds of citizens seeking shelter, but today just one man lives there  – here’s his mailbox. 07191502 castle ceramic and mailboxWe pass him on his way down for morning coffee and newspaper. Wow – he must stay in shape with this at-least-once-a-day trek up and down!
Kirk and Jenny go all the way up,07191502 two went all the way and walk around the fortress as far as there is a passable path. 07191502 walked around as far as possibleI chicken out on the last part of the hike, and enjoy the view, along with a cat taking a morning stretch. 07191502 catAs I sit, a young teen comes up, unlocks the storage shed under the stretching cat, and hefts out several jugs of red wine, then takes them down, two at a time, multiple flights to a car parked below. 07191502 wine under the catSoon Jenny and Kirk join me, and as we begin our descent, we’re stopped in our tracks as sunlight tinges the town below 07191503 bells and sun tingedand Sunday bells ring out over the valley.
The descent goes more quickly, of course, than the ascent, and soon we’re back in Maiori,07191503 flat ground maiori where it’s time to pile in the car for the winding drive to Vietri sul Mare,07191503 go to vietri famous for ceramics since Roman times. 07191504 ceramics since roman timesOne artisan has designed a wall of tiles telling of the history of the village, pirate attacks and all. 07191503 tale of the townA bit of shopping, a bit of posing,07191504 shopped and posed then back to Maiori for lunch by the sea.07191505 el dorado El Dorado has quickly become a favorite, and although I plan on a healthy salad for lunch, I can not resist the lemon ricotta ravioli. 07191505 el lemon ricotta ravioliWe’ll soon be leaving the coast, and where else would I find such luscious lemon pasta?!
The smoked swordfish and eggplant parmesan is also delicious – as is everything we order. 07191505 el smoked swordfish eggplant parmWe’re celebrating today – it’s Olga’s birthday, and her daughter has traveled long and far to join us for a few days. More festivities this evening…to be continued-

Seaside Beauties of the Amalfi Coast

Seaside Beauties of the Amalfi Coast

Friday, July 17, 2015
Amalfi and Positano, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

Our favorite aspect of the Hotel Reginna Palace, headquarters of the festival, is the beautiful pool area and garden, where we enjoy breakfast and dinner each day. Sheltered by lush wisteria vines and lemon trees, the terrace is such an inviting place to start each day. 07171501 breakfast garden under lemonsWe’re heading for Positano today, and to get there from Maiori, we take a small boat to Amalfi, 07171501 ferry to amalfitaking in the views of yesterday’s destination, Ravello, high on a rocky point (that white contemporary hanging on the side is Gore Vidal’s former home),07171501 ravello above passing adorable little Atrani – one of our favorite authentic Amalfi coast lovelies, 07171502 adorable atrani

and taking advantage of the hour before our next ferry to walk into Amalfi, bravely crossing the two lane Amalfi Coast Highway in between buses and cars. 07171502 awe inspiring amalfiAmalfi’s relatively quiet this early in the morning, and it’s fun to peek into whitewashed corridors (Arab baths from the 1300s) and note how stairs rise immediately on either side of the one street through town.07171502 awed by arab baths narrow lane and steps up on both sides Friends who’ve rented an apartment here talked of descending 80 plus steps each morning to the bakery, then UP again!
Filling our bottles with cold water from the hills above,07171502 bottles filled we board the larger ferry for the half hour cruise to Positano.07171502 ferry larger to posGorgeous sailboats are moored offshore- the eye-catching pastels of the town must be a lovely sight from there – 07171502 yachts offshoreand one yacht even has a water slide off the upper deck – looks like fun!07171502 slide on yachtWhile the ladies started shopping,07171503 as some shoppedKirk bought tart lemon granitas for all from our favorite lady-and-the-boat at the top of Positano’s winding lanes – 07171503 kirk bought lemon granitas from the girl and the boat at top of townthis is where the Amalfi Coast road comes through Positano, and where the only bus stop is-  quite a hike above the shore. 07171503 l by top of townThen Kirk doctored the icy treat with his little bottle of limoncello – wow what a taste! 07171503 then doctored them up with his stash of limoncelloCheers!07171504 cheersWe’ll consider that treat our aperitif – now on to lunch, along the cliffside path, past the Saracen tower that’s been nicely renovated into a vacation rental. 07171504 cliff path by saracen tower now rentalPerched on the cliffside, O Guaracino has our table ready, along with a chilled pitcher of crisp local white, and plenty of cold water (yes, it’s still HOT!)07171504 cold water and crisp white at guarWith views from one side to another,07171504 either side views friendly, welcoming staff, and the freshest of seafood cooked on an open fire, 07171504 feast with viewit’s our favorite Positano restaurant.
And a little more lemon is the perfect finish to our feast.07171504 refreshing sorbet perfect finishBack to Maiori on our two-ferry trip, and perhaps there’s time for a dip in the pool before dinner?07171505 fit in a swimThen a stroll down the Corso 07171505 walk to town hallto the town hall for tonight’s concert – 07171506 concertchamber music under the colorful frescoes.