In August 2011 Lee & Kathe took their first trip to Italy, one of their top travel destinations. We wanted to spent quality time in several places so we settled on four cities over ten days: Venice, Cinque Terre, Isla d' Elba, & Florence. We wanted to see the real Italy vs taking a train, so we were fortunate to have our good friend Antonio Pellegrino loan us his restored 1971 Karmann Ghia to drive throughout our Italian vacation. Our favorite location was Cinque Terre.

Arriving at Venice Airport with a surprise Italian welcome! Kathe & Italian Friends B&B Ponte Chiodo entrance Cold Peroni beers & salami/cheese snack at B&B garden Evening in Venice Grand Canal Gondola Ride Late Night Out in Venice
VENICE: After a 14-hour flight we were met at the airport by members of the Karmann Ghia Club Italia led by Antonio who had visited with us last summer. We took a water taxi into Venice and dragged our luggage several blocks to our B&B Ponte Chiodo in Cannaregio. Our B&B was oustanding, clean, comfortable, & nearby to restaurants & tourist spots. But Kathe blew-up her hair straightening iron using the 220V converter so she was forced to have wavy hair for the entire trip. We took 1 Euro gondola rides across the Grand Canal during our walking tours. With temperatures in the 80s & 90s meant we were taking lots of breaks and gelato was our favorite snack break with so many delicious flavors. We explored downtown tourist-clogged Venice, took a shuttle to an island for a bird's eye view of Venice, and then finished up with a relaxing boat ride up the Grand Canal. Our last night in Venice began with an expensive gondola ride through the tight backstreet canals then had a great dinner on the Grand Canal.

Visiting Antonio's 1963 T34 in Vicenza Diagnosing Electrical Issue Driving to Cinque Terre Phenomenal view of Vernazza Loving Monterossa beach View of Monterossa during two-hour hike
Waiting for the Cinque Terre train Fresh fish dinner Hanging out in Vernazza Typical breakfast of pastry & cappucino Lunch in Cecina with Claudio & Christina Maddalieno Claudio Maddalieno, Lee, & Salvatore Sangiorgi at Hotel Sette Bello in Cecina Ferry from Piombino to Isla d' Elba
CINQUE TERRE: Antonio picked us up in Venice and drove us back to Vicenza to get the Karmann Ghia. We visited his good friend Daniele to see Antonio's T34 restoration work. Then we spent a couple hours diagnosing an electrical problem with the KG before setting off for Cinque Terre at 1pm. We learned that his KG didn't have seat belts installed, and Kathe was extremely uncomfortable during the driving. The 150mph cars screaming down the two-lane highways didn't help her comfort level either. But we had no problems during the 10 day trip. We stayed in the scenic village of Vernazza and our rental condo was in the center of town right below the castle tower. The tiny harbor was incredibly beautiful with the deep azzure blue ocean water, green steep hillsides, and brightly colored walls. We hiked two strenuous hours north to Monterossa then played in the water before taking the water shuttle back. We took the train to the other villages then walked the Via della Amore path from Riomaggiore to Manarola. We had a nice sunset dinner at the Belforte castle restaurant with fresh fish & seafood. After three days in Cinque Terre we drove south and met with a Karmann Ghia owners group in Cecina. Then we continued south to the ferry at Piombino which took us over to the Isla d' Elba island.

Relaxing on the ferry to Isla d' Elba Off the ferry in Elsa d' Elba Driving a beautifully restored Karmann Ghia Cabriolet in Italy View of Pareti Bay from our room at Hotel Dino Kathe suntanning on private beach on Pareti Bay
Typical Italian dinner of pasta, seafood, Lemon Soda, & Diet Coke with a beautiful woman Lee snorkeling in the warm water off Pareti Bay Driving KG above Innamorata for a romantic sunset dinner Shopping in Rio Marina Typical lunch of salami/mozarella/tomato sandwich with cold beer Waiting for the ferry in Rio Marina back to the mainland
ISLA D' ELBA: Elba was a quiet simple laid-back island and our Hotel Dino was really nice overlooking the water. Our private beach allowed Kathe to relax in the sun & for Lee to snorkel in the clear warm water. We had a great sunset dinner at Innamorata with octopus, steak, & fresh fish. Shopping in Rio Marina was fun before we caught the ferry in Rio Marina back to the mainland en route to Florence.

Tiny elevator to B&B didn't hold us & luggage Dream bed! Street vendors in San Lorenzo district of Florence Beautiful 1970 KG Coupe of Massimo Melai & wife Kathe & Massimo's wife crammed into back seat of KG for tour of Florence Bird's eye view of Florence at night
Natural History Museum Famous fountain where we made a wish that our kids might someday visit beautiful Italy Stealing the futbol from a statue lion Ponte Vecchio bridge was stunning! Relaxing in Vicenza with Antonio Fresh Lobster Pasta dinner with Antonio & his wife Gabriela
FLORENCE: We stayed at a cute tiny B&B Arco Antico with a tiny elevator that barely fit both of us. We met Karmann Ghia owner Massimo Melai & his wife for an upscale very expensive dinner (wild boar & pasta) and packed inside their KG for a tour overlooking the city at night that was simply stunning glowing in golden lights and standing underneath a statue of David by Michelangelo. We explored the Natural History Museum, walked the monuments & historic churches & museums. We toured Galileo's museum, saw the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio, and shopped for the kids gifts. We left for the three-hour drive back to Vicenza later that day. After a hilarious car wash (where we got soaked!) when arriving in Vicenza, we met Antonio & his wife for an incredible fresh lobster & pasta dinner. Kathe flew home to San Diego & Lee flew to Germany for the T34 50th Anniversary.