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Our week in Aviano was pleasant but uneventful. I worked and the boys hung out mostly at the playgrounds on base. There were three nice playgrounds within walking distance and the boys had fun making “English” friends. (Friends are categorized according to the language they speak.)

We left at 0700 on Saturday morning but still hit tons of traffic traveling north to the Austrian border. We saw a 10 – 15 km back up that convinced me to leave even earlier on the way back! Despite the traffic, the ride was scenic through a valley with mountains on each side. The last leg of the journey was through a pass which was obviously closed in winter. I was a little freaked out. There were precipitous drops a meter from the side of the road which was winding and tiny. Luca drove cautiously (i.e. slow) and soon we had a line of cars behind us. It was a long, long time before they could pass. They were pretty frustrated and each saluted us with a beep! (The Austrians and Germans also drive fast but they do drive well….unlike some other nationalities that I shall not name… ITALIANS.) The scenery was breathtaking with green pastures and the loveliest, most healthy looking cows I‘ve ever seen. It was tough for me to take it all in considering I had to focus on keeping my breathing relaxed.

Finally, we reached our destination (sigh). Easy to find because it was well marked unlike another country that shall remain nameless….ITALY.) Reception was closed but we buzzed and out came the most relaxed looking dude. There was no real check-in so we asked where to go. He points to a field where many tents were already pitched. “Wherever you find a spot.”

Hmmm, ok. I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of not having our own clearly delineated campsite. However, the Austrians and Germans are easy to live with. They are quiet and considerate. There was a large group of young people next to us. I saw beer bottles and feared what was going to transpire later in the evening. They sat around drinking beer and talking quietly. Huh?

Our “spot”

RV spots – pretty tight!

View of mountains from campsite

Many people cleared out on Sunday leaving us more breathing room. It may be different from U.S. style camping but it was still nice. The campground was small and had a river next to it which was popular with kayakers and rafters. There is so much to do in Lechtal Valley (http://www.ausserfern-direct.at/austria/lechtal.php). There is hiking, great biking (easy and difficult), kayaking, paragliding and touring around the little villages. There is also both downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.

River by the campsite – Very cold!

Kayakers enjoying the swift current

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It was time for our next road trip. I had another military duty period scheduled in Aviano. We decided that the family would accompany me for that week and then we would travel on to Austria for vacation. The first leg of our journey entailed driving from the south of Italy all the way up the boot to Aviano. It is a long drive so we stopped for the night as a Bed & Breakfast called Casa Palmira (http://www.casapalmira.it/) just north of Florence. We got on the road around 5:00 am so that we could arrive in the early afternoon in Tuscany and enjoy the afternoon there. It was a nice ride and we avoided much of the traffic by leaving early. (The highways are insane on August weekends.) As we traveled through Umbria and Tuscany, everywhere we looked it was like a postcard.

We arrived around lunchtime leaving enough time to rest and then explore Fiesole, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiesole in the late afternoon. Fiesole is a small town north of Florence that offers a fabulous panoramic view. It was settled in Etruscan times (9th century BC). I always find it amazing to visit places where people have lived for so long!

Casa Palmira

Russell enjoying the hammock with friends

Duilio on the patio

Photos of Fiesole

 

 

 

 

Of course, we had to finish the day off with a Bistecca alla Fiorentina. In my opinion, the only beef steak worth eating in Italy. These suckers are huge and delicious. They come from a special breed of cattle called Chianina, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chianina. A steak can weigh up to 6 lbs! We all tucked into our meals that night and Luca and I did some serious damage to that steak.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

The next morning, we were in the car again for an uneventful trip to Aviano. The only thing of note on that trip was three stops at Autogrills along the way due to our little guys’ needs. Total madhouses. Notice the solar panels at the Autogrills also used to shade the parking. What a great idea!


This is where we begin to run in the morning. Nice view, eh? This is a portion of the lungomare. The lungomare widens and gets prettier as you come into the center of the city. It also extends in the other direction for long runs.

The toughest part of my early morning runs is the mental exertion is takes to get the sneakers on and get out the door. My husband is my inspiration these days. He’s training for the Elbaman 73. It’s a Ironman 70.3 triathlon on Elba Island which consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1 mile run. I’m excited about watching him (and the location). Check out this link: http://www.elbaman.it/default.asp

For fitness buffs, Salerno’s climate allows for plenty of outdoor training. Biking along the coast is a popular route for many serious riders. We have found it more difficult to go biking here. To avoid heavy and dangerous traffic, we need to load the bikes on the car. However, this is more of a scheduling issue for us. We were used to taking early morning training rides from our doorstep in Connecticut.

There are plenty of gyms in and around the city in all ranges and types (small/large, basic/fancy). There are also dance and yoga studios.