Milan and Pavia

On Saturday we got up bright and early and went into Milan. We knew we were going to go to the Milan center and then we wanted to go to the Certosa of Pavia as well as we had dinner planned with a friend and colleague of dad’s. So you can imagine that we had a very full day planned. 

Duomo, Milan

The Duomo of Milan. It is just as spectacular as everyone says it is.

Duomo, Milan

Stunningly beautiful.

Duomo, Milan. Facade shot

Downright scary it is so awesome.

Rose window in the duomo of Milan

A lovely stained glass window that though it seems small was enormous. Giant.

Crypt in the Duomo of Milan

The crypt down below in the Duomo

Lions in Piazza del Duomo

In the piazza del Duomo there were these HUGE lions. And we all know just how De Piantes act around lions or other such statues. So naturally we got a picture.

Walking in Milan, Italy

As we turned the corner from the Duomo, we happened upon the filming of the next Samsung Galaxy 4 commercial.

Commercial filming in Milan. Some street style!

Filming it!!

Street style commercial filming in Milan


All of the people on “set” were models, but the main people were the extremely tall, skinny, pretty girl, the dude in the cranberry pants. (Yes, they were cranberry.) and the little boy (he needed a haircut, just sayin’). It was very intriguing how they kept on shooting over and over again all the while trying to capture the finicky sun perfectly.

We next went to the “big disk” – a very imaginative name, no? We started out…

Big disk of Milan

Like this

Big disk of Milan

And this

But gradually progressed to…

Climbing on the big disk in milan


Climbing on the big disk in Milan

Annnnd this. Yes, we climb on stuff.

After leaving the big climbing wall, I mean monumental piece of art, we went to the Magnum store. Magnums are a type of ice cream bar that is actually based out of Milan. And at the store there you can actually have a Magnum custom made. We ordered two for the family to split around. They start with the ice cream on the stick. You pick whether you want Vanilla or Chocolate, then they ask you what type of chocolate you want covering the ice cream. After that you get to choose 3 toppings.

Magnum ice cream topping bar in Milan

The topping bar

Magnum ice cream topping bar, Milan, Italy

Decisions decisions!

Magnums in Milan

Next they move onto what type of chocolate drizzle you want.

Custom Magnums in Milan

This one that we got we had them put rose petals, dried raspberries and pine nuts.

Eating a custom Magnum ice cream bar in Milan


Omnomnom!! Andrew chowing down! This one had little chocolate/brownie pieces, nuggets of salted caramel and pistachio bits. It was yummy. very yummy. I am drooling on my keyboard now. 😉


After that we went to the Certosa of Pavia. The Certosa was commisioned to be built by the Visconti family (he was the first Duke of Milan) and was built in 1396. The Certosa originally belonged to the Carthusian monks, then it went to the Cistercians, the Carmelites and ended up back in the hands of the Carthusians. It then went to some Benedictines for a short time and then went to the Cistercians who currently reside there. We all loved the Certosa because of its beauty but also because of the serenity that seemed to exude from the buildings and gardens.

Certosa in Pavia.

A close up of the facade.

La Certosa di Pavia

A shot that has been backed out a little.

Obelisk in a water fountain in La Certosa di Pavia

Inside the actual church there was this really cool holy water font that had its own obelisk. I don’t even have an obelisk. It was insane.

La Certosa di Pavia

Some of you might notice the resemblance of this ceiling and the ceiling in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome.

The courtyard in La Certosa di Pavia

The Courtyard. Each of those little buildings was actually a small apartment for each monk. They now live in community because the apartments are in dis-repair and to save money on heat.

La Certosa La Certosa


After site seeing, we went over to Lattanzio and Carlas’ house. We ate a superb dinner courtesy of Carla and her lovely family before getting a guided tour of center-city Pavia.

Eating dinner in Milan

Sitting down to dinner.


Three of the boys. Andrew, Francesco and Alex.

moon in Milan

The moon peeking out.

The church of St. Augustine in Pavia

The Duomo of Pavia. It houses the remains of St. Augustine. Unfortunately it was closed when we were around.


Also while we were out walking we noticed this comical sign selling insurance. The company’s name was… WINTERASS. Andrew mentioned that he was using his Summer one. 😀





Follow us


On the road again… To Pavia!

On the 13th the family departed for Pavia/Portalbera, which is right between Turin and Milan. On our way there we took a very leisurely and relaxing car trip. We took mostly scenic routes to enjoy the beautiful countryside. 

On the way to Pavia. at Lake Garda, Italy

Look at that eyebrow!!

Family at Lake Garda, Italy

Family photo… It’s wonderful for all of us to be in there. Again this is courtesy of Backpack. He is really an excellent photographer. 😉

Lake Garda

We drove for a nice while around this lake, Lake Garda.

Hitchhiking at Lake Garda

How Andrew gets around. Hitchhiking!

Lake Garda

Standing around looking at all the beauty around us.

Lake Garda

A lovely shot of the water.

Sailboats at Lake Garda

Boats and water…

Pulling off while driving around Lake Garda

Many times while we were driving we would see a pretty spot and pull off, like we did here.

Eating at Lake Garda

Or we would stop to eat lunch…

Fake Ferrari

Andrew wasn’t exactly thrilled with dad’s choice of cars. He would have preferred something a little more…red…more…HORSEY. So he altered our black Ford Fiesta.

Aperol Spritz and chips  

That evening we got some aperitivs from the grocery store and some potato chips to eat at home. (also, not pictured because I’m a flake, a coconut. I like coconut! ;))

McDonalds wifi Using McDonald's wifi

What happens when the house you’re staying in doesn’t have wi-fi… 😛

Follow us



On the 12th we went to Verona for the day. 

Outdoor Opera  Set in Verona, Italy

Pieces of a set for an outdoor opera

Arena in Verona, Italy

Alex in front of the arena

Flogging stand in the marketplace in Verona, Italy

Mom and Alex sitting at the flogging stand in the Marketplace.

Fresh Market in Verona, Italy

The Marketplace.

Bell tower in Verona, Italy

Alex in the bell tower.

Looking down the bell tower in Verona, Italy

Looking down the bell tower

Graffiti in Verona, Italy

A comical graffiti, reading “268 stairs to become deaf” Evidently we weren’t the only ones to get caught right next to the bell when it rang. We were all screaming afterwards to try and hear ourselves!!

Looking into Verona, Italy. Overview of Verona, Italy

Looking down from the belfry onto Verona!

Juliet's Balcony in Verona, Italy

Juliet’s house.

Juliet Statue in Verona, Italy

Mom and Dad in front of Juliet.

Stone Bridge in Verona, Italy

Alex sitting on the bridge of stone.

Bridge of Stone, in Verona, Italy


The three boys on the bridge of stone.






Follow us


San Marino!

On the 8th we went to San Marino which is a Republic in Italy that is about 25 sq miles in size. It is the third smallest state in Europe (after the Vatican and Monaco) It also claims to be the world’s oldest republic. It has three towers located on the three peaks of San Marino. 

San Marino, Italy

Alex with one of the three towers in the background.

Looking out over San Marino

Big Mom and Big Al standing up at a lookout spot, looking out.San Marino San Marino, Italy. San Marino, Italy. One of the three towers in San Marino, Italy.

Another of the famous towers.


Follow us



On June 7th Dad held a course in Bologna. He had taken Mom with him the night before and they spent the night there, while the kids stayed back in Rimini. The next morning we all got up at 5 and drove to Bologna to tour the city. 

Bologna is famous for its University (the oldest in Europe), its food and its Galleries. They are covered walkways that have arches looking out on to the street. The longest one is the one leaving from the main church down into the town. It has 666 arches and is over 2 miles long. Because we are how we are, we ran until arch 333, over a mile before we hopped in the car and continued down to site see.The longest gallery, Bologna, Italy

The longest Gallery

Sanctuary of St. Luke, Bologna, Italy

Bologna’s main church, the Sanctuary of St. Luke. This houses a painting of Our Lady painted by St. Luke.

Portico in Bologna, Italy

Looking down the portico.

Sanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna, Italy

The view from the Sanctuary.

Inside the Sanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna, Italy

Inside the Church.

Inside the Sanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna, ItalyInside the Sanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna, ItalySanctuary of St. Luke in Bologna, Italy

The facade and the beginning of the covered walkway.

Drinking Birra Moretti in the main square in Bologna, Italy

Relaxing and having a beer in the main Piazza that afternoon.



Follow us


Osimo and Rimini Beach

On June 6th we went up to Osimo, which isn’t very far from where we were staying. Osimo is where St. Joseph Cupertino lived the last years of his life, died, was buried and was canonized. On our way up to the church dedicated to him, we stopped at an outlook to look at our surroundings. 

Overlook on the way up to Osimo, Italy


Overlook on the way up to Osimo, Italy Mom on the overlook on the way up to Osimo, Italy


Overlook on the way up to Osimo, Italy

Mom waaaayy at the end…

Overlook on the way up to Osimo, Italy

The courtyard of the church dedicated to St. Joseph Cupertino

The courtyard of the church dedicated to St. Joseph Cupertino

Inside the church dedicated to St. Joseph Cupertino

The inside.


That evening, Mom and Dad went to Bologna to set Dad up for a presentation job he had to do the next day. So the kids went to the beach that was extremely close to where we were staying.

Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

Walking along the shore.

Sail boats at sunset in Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

The sun setting slowly

Sunset Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

More of the sunset, just now with me thrown in there.

Sunset at Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

Alex looking out to the sea.

A baby crab Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

We caught a tiny crab!

Lighthouse at Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy


All 5 of us got up in a lighthouse tower and got backpack to take a picture. In hindsight, getting up on something that people can LITERALLY see for miles around, even in the sea to take a picture is slightly stupid. Very stupid…

Lighthouse sign Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

Especially after we saw a sign forbidding us to do EVERYTHING we did. Though in our defense, we didn’t see the sign till much later.

Wandering around the beach town we managed to come across a couple of cool things.

Fountain at Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

Including this fountain

Ferrari F430 Spyder at Rimini Beach, Rimini Italy

And a FERRARI. 🙂




Follow us


Road up to Rimini!

On June 5th we left Rome and started our upward journey by going to Rimini.

We started the car ride up like this… 

Shoes on the dash

All our shoes went on the back dash

Road trip!


We were all crazy and excited.

But gradually it became like this…

Sleeping on road trip up to Rimini! Sleeping on road trip up to Rimini!

We had a wonderful view with mountains on the left as we drove along with the coast along the right.

View of the beach on our road trip up to Rimini! Driving on our road trip up to Rimini!

That evening, when we got in, we went to dinner with a priest friend and got some gelato afterwards.

Eating in Rimini

A dinner table picture.

Fried cheese and vegetables

What Big Al got for dinner. That is a big thing of grilled smoked cheese, surrounded by grilled vegetables.

Eating gelato in Rimini at night


Mary and Augustin enjoying their gelato outside in the pizza.




Follow us


Last Day in Rome

On our last day in Rome we tried to go as hard and fast as we could and see almost all of the major monuments (we saw much, MUCH more than this post shows….) But first we started the day like this….. 

Playing with Jakob

A little bit of Jakob time… 🙂

Sitting waiting for the train at Piramide, Rome, Italy

A group shot except I was taking the picture. This was in the morning waiting on the next train.

Waiting for the train at Piramide in Rome, Italy.


Ahhh, there we are. All of us!

The Colosseum in Rome

Alex and Mary in front of the Colosseum.

In front of the Colosseum in Rome

Look at the Monument!

Colosseum in Black and White

A lovely shot, thanks to Andrew

A shot of the Colosseum in B+W

Again courtesy of Andrew, this time a shot with Alex going all Lion King, offering his iPhone to the sun gods. Haha!!

Group shot in front of the Colosseum


The backpack took this cool shot with all of us perched on a rock. (Our group split up, one went the  Colosseum route and one went to a market to go shopping. Here you see Andrew, Gus, Alex, Mary, Me, and Christian.) In case anyone was wondering, we kind of like the Colosseum…

Roman Forum

The Forum.

Piazza Navona in Rome

We also went to Piazza Navona and I caught this funny picture.

And to add to the non-stop fun, I caught a constant stream of Mary throwing her coin in Trevi Fountain. So just look at the below pictures…. HA!

Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)


Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)


Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)


Signing the guestbook

Leaving our mark in a guestbook in a church we went in. I have no idea where Andrew was. Maybe taking pictures or something.

Riding the Lion on the way up to the Pincio

Speaking of pictures… On our way up to the Pincio we stopped at this lion and all got up on, with Andrew leaping on last after he started the camera. You would not believe how many weird looks one gets when one tries to take a simple photo on a lion. 😉


That evening, Mom and Dad went to a conference and dinner with some of dad’s colleagues, the kids met up with some (extremely) distant relatives and friends and got ice cream.

Gelato outside of Rome

My cone with dark chocolate and pistachio.

Jasmine flavored gelato

Alex’s cone with jasmine (yes, jasmine, the flowering plant) and pistachio.

It was a lovely way to end an incredible day!

Follow us


St. John Lateran, Scala Santa and Mary

On Monday it was our second to the last day in Rome and so we went to a few of the spots we hadn’t hit yet. Mainly we went to St. John Lateran and the Scala Santa. The Scala Santa is the Holy Stairs that Christ walked up in order to reach Pontius Pilate. The original (marble) stairs are covered in wood with small windows where you can see the Blood of Christ. It is customary for people to walk the stairs on their knees while praying as a small sacrifice. 

Climbing the Scala Santa in Rome, Italy

Alex on his way up

St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

St. John Lateran

The ceiling inside St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy Inside St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy Inside St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy Inside St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

Inside the church

Inside St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

A lovely shot of most of our group walking through the Basilica

Inside the museum in St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

We also went into the museum inside St. John Lateran and saw things such as this enormous monstrance. To show the size of the thing we got a picture of Christian and Antonio next to it.

After leaving that area we went by the airport and picked up THIS kid!

Philly and Mary in Rome

Later I made a ricotta and chocolate cake with a neighbor/friend (secret family recipe and whatnot-the only reason I was allowed to have it was because I didn’t live in Italy!) Ha!

Ricotta cake

After putting the cake out to cool, we went into Rome for dinner and a little evening out.

Philly and Mary, happy about the beer at Wanted Restaurant

Mary and I were pretty excited at the sight of an enormous pitcher of Beck’s! No, we didn’t drink it all

Castel Sant' Angelo at night, Rome, Italy

Castel Sant’ Angelo

Rome Italy at night

St. Peter’s

Follow us


Dicomano with Le Pera family!

On Sunday we got up very early and went to Mass on our way to The Le Pera family’s house. Mom and Dad first met Tommy and Erminio 32 years ago when they first moved to Italy-near Florence to be precise, weeks after getting married. We have remained friends with them throughout the years and we kids (they have two daughters, Eleonora and Gaia) have grown up together.

Driving up to Florence area

Our early morning faces.

Driving to Florence

The surrounding area

After a family dinner outside of Florence, Italy

One half of the table (the sweet one I have my arm around and the one Augustin is sitting on are Gaia and Eleonora. The rest are different friends)

After a family dinner outside of Florence, Italy

Other half of the table. Mom and Dad, Erminio and Tommy. 🙂


It was also the day of a big feast day in the little town they lived in so the church was decorated with flowers. What you see above is all flowers.

After a family dinner outside of Florence, Italy with some friends

Another cute shot of (from left to right) Mom, Dad, Erminio, and Tommy.


I would like to apologize for not having posted anything on this site in such a long time. Our internet has been non-existent for the past little bit, except for data on the smartphones. And wi-fi is necessary to upload photos. However, I am going to try and catch you up on what we did!



Follow us