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St. Mark’s Square and colorful buildings line Venice’s Grand Canal

GONDOLIERS DON’T SING BUT VENICE STILL EVOKES ROMANCE

In Part 5 – The Classical Beauty Of Tuscany, The Elegance Of Florence And San Gimignano’s Tall Towers

VENICE

Where we stayed:

The Carnival Palace Hotel, opened in 2012, overlooks the Cannaregio Canal in the heart of historic downtown Venice. The modern 67 room hotel is not in the midst of tourist traffic, so if you want to venture to St Marks, museums and art galleries, you either have a very long walk or you can easily take a water bus from a station just a short distance away. The hotel buffet was diverse, with a vegan brioche I mistakenly took for a wheat croissant until I bit down into its soft, buttery texture. These were so amazing I ate them every morning for four days. Russ and I and several Read the rest of this entry »

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View from Villa San Fillippo

THE CLASSICAL BEAUTY OF TUSCANY, THE ELEGANCE OF FLORENCE AND SAN GIMIGNANO’S TALL TOWERS

Part 4 was Medieval City Faced Chemical Warfare And Peace Makers Wage War Against Poverty In Orvieto And Assisi

SIENA, FLORENCE and SAN GIMIGNANO

Where we stayed:

Villa San Filippo is an 18th century 35-room resort in the Chianti hills, in Barberino Val D’Elsa. Russ and I stayed in a magnificent suite that opened up to a dining and kitchen area, tiled floors, and a step down to the bathroom and luxuriously appointed bedroom. A comfy chair positioned in front of a large window and balcony in the living room afforded spectacular views of the lush Tuscan landscape Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the medieval town of Orvieto

MEDIEVAL CITY FACED CHEMICAL WARFARE AND PEACE MAKERS WAGE WAR AGAINST POVERTY IN ORVIETO AND ASSISI

Part 3 was The Power Of Prayer And Governments Ruled Montecassino And Rome

ORVIETO, ASSISI and DERUTA

Where we stayed:

You couldn’t ask for a better central location to unpack your bags than the Grand Hotel Italia when staying in Orvieto, a medieval city built atop a volcanic butte that lies between Florence and Rome. There were inconsistencies in the water pressure, the WIFI drifted in and out, but the staff of the 46-room property did their best to make us comfortable, even to turning on the hotel-wide AC earlier than they’re used to in the season. The morning buffet was just ok, but one of the first lessons to be learned Read the rest of this entry »

Swim with the Manatees? It’s a popular package at Plantation on Crystal River, located on Florida’s Nature Coast.

BEGINNINGS AND FRESH LOOKS

Parents and business visitors to Gainesville, FL will have a new reason to yell “Go Gators” when the AC Hotel Gainesville (by Marriott) opens its doors early this year. This college town has always been known for rousing spirit and Read the rest of this entry »

Jump into the foam ball pit at Planet Obstacle

What’s a nice safety-obsessive girl who doesn’t like heights and is a natural klutz doing in a place like Planet Obstacle, Lake Mary, Florida’s ode to extreme indoor sports?

Mostly just trying not to let my jaw keep dropping open as I gape at hundreds of kids flying through the air like ninja warriors, or playing dodgeball in a brightly-lit padded court, or bouncing about in a foam ball-filled pit. Above me, a ropes course had human monkeys disguised Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for fun ways to incentivize your attendees?

Clue. Candyland. Sorry. Battleship. Monopoly. Trivia Pursuit. The games people play while sitting around a board with one’s friends and family. Games can be competitive or just the catalyst for casual conversation, but they have always been a source for fun social interactions… at least before electronics fit in our pockets and playing an opponent didn’t Read the rest of this entry »

Lisa Jennings (L) and I feeding grapes to ring-tailed lemurs.

Ring-tailed lemurs hop from branch to branch before perching on a wooden railing, greedily grabbing the grapes from our hands with their soft paws and plopping the juicy morsels into their eager mouths. The water buffalo who rubbed up against the sides of our open-air canopied safari bus were nearly as gentle, even as their long, wet tongues curled around the offered tootsie roll-shaped treats.

Lemurs and water buffalo are just some of the 450 animals representing 55 species of mostly African and Asian hoof stock that roams the 260 acres of Safari Wilderness Ranch, Read the rest of this entry »

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