Tag Archives: Italy

Lakes and Peaks-Euro Style!

At the end of the summer, I ventured off on my last road trip of the season, this time to visit the lakes and mountains of Italy that I hadn’t explored in the past and a revisit of the German Alps.  When I did my Italy country tour in 2014, I was too tired at the end  of the trip to properly visit the lakes region in northern Italy, so this was my first stop and I was not disappointed with the stories I heard of mountains spilling into beautiful lakes. 

Part 1- Italian Lakes and Mountains

Lake Orta

Lake Orta with the San Giulio island glowing at sunset.


San Giulio

A lone fisherman works in the early morning next to San Giulio Island.


Orta San Giulio

The town of Orta San Giulio with small alleys and a beautiful lakeside plaza.


The lakes region is comprised of several much larger lakes including Lake Maggiore and the famous Lake Como. While I visited these lakes, I didn’t get the same intimate feeling as I did at Lake Orta. I did however get to experience a very nice sunset at Lake Maggiore while camping for the night. This photo is un-retouched so you can imagine the intense colors. 



A glowing sunset on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy


After a visit to Lake Como and Bellagio (beautiful town but too commercialized and crowded with tourists for my taste), I ventured on to the mountains of the Valle d’Aosta region and the Gran Paradiso National Park near Cogne, Italy. This is one of my favorite locations in Italy, right next to the French border behind Mont Blanc. It really is a great location for hiking and monumental views. 



A huge bolder sits beside a stream in Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy.



The morning light hits the mountains and glaciers in Gran Paradiso National Park, Cogne, Italy.


After a couple of days hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park, I still couldn’t leave Valle d’Aosta without a couple more stops. I went over to Gressoney, which was located in another small valley shooting off from the Aosta valley. 


A tranquil setting in Gressoney, Italy.



A castle near Gressoney, Italy appears to sprout out from the pine trees.



A small village seems to be clinging to the mountainside in Valle D’Aosta, Italy.

Then it was time to head out and work my way to Hungary. I got this surprise in the morning after driving in to a camping area at night. 


Steeples appear out of the trees near Bleiburg, Austria.


After spending 5 days in the lakes and mountains of Northern Italy, I raced off to Sopron Hungary for a weekend of running with some friends. Sopron was a very nice town and will be included in the future when I visit Hungary more extensively. Following this, I quickly stopped in Vienna and then off the Alps of Germany


Part 2-Bavarian Alps

Having lived in Munich for a couple of years when I was in college, I was familiar with Bavaria’s beautiful mountain region. I used to go skiing there and felt I needed to return to discover some sights I hadn’t seen before. The area has some striking mountain scenery and some famous locations as well.  First stop on my visit was to the town of Berchtesgaden. It was above this town that Hitler had a special mountain top home built as a gift from his staff. Being a fan of history, I wanted to visit this former home, now turned restaurant and visitor’s center. While it was beautiful, I constantly had the reminder of the evil that it contained. At least now it is being used for a more peaceful purpose in a beautiful setting. 


Hitler’s mountaintop home called Eagle’s Nest near Berchtesgaden, Germany.


While it was interesting to see this famous house, I am always distracted by mountains and ended up doing a 1 hour hike above the home and discovered some beautiful mountain landscapes. 



Some sharp mountain peaks above Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany.



A storm appears to be brewing in the clouds above the mountains.


After this quick visit to Berchtesgaden, it was off to my next stop, Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, located near the town of Garmisch. It was here that I used to ski while in college in Munich so I was looking forward to some fond memories.



The endless mountain scenery above Garmisch, Germany.



A panoramic view from the top of Zugspitze mountain.


For my final stop on this trip, I ended up meeting up with 25 other VW California owners for a weekend of camping and drinking champagne in the Champagne region of France. It was great to visit with these folks from several other countries, all with the same fondness for our VW’s and champagne!



This photo (by another VW owner) shows our campground in the town of Valdieres, France.



Champagne vines next to a plowed field appear surreal.


That wraps up this mini trip that I did in September. It was going to be longer but was cut short by one solid week of rain, which is not much fun when you are living in a van and running out of dry clothes. Overall, the trip ended up being almost 4,000 kms (2,485 miles) with lots of great scenery, delicious food and new friends. Now it’s time to work on 6 months of photos and start planning next year’s trips.

Happy Trails to all!



A Google Earth view of the route taken on this trip.




Posted in Alps, Germany, Italy, Mountains, VW Also tagged , , , |

Italy Wrap Up

Well, I’ve been home a little over a week now and finally starting to recover. The trip lasted about 7 weeks beginning the first week of April.  I covered about 5300km (3,300 miles) and shot over 3,400 images (a few of which are keepers!)

Here is a map of where I went along with the stops for overnight (yellow pins).  (Please click for larger image)

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 11.30.31 AM


As you can see, I did miss the toe and Sicily. This was because I had to be in Venice for a flight to Germany and didn’t have enough time to properly visit Sicily. My plan is to do another trip and cover Sardinia, Sicily and try to catch Corsica at the same time.

I also didn’t get to spend enough time in the Dolomites and Northern Italy area (lakes, Milan and Turin). I plan on getting back to there soon, maybe this fall, depending on how things go.

My next trip was scheduled to be Ireland and Scotland in July but that is looking like a delay as I would like to continue work to establish my photo business, save up some money for house renovations (new windows and door coming in June, yay!), and figure out what I want to achieve on these road trips.  I will still do mini trips and post photos from these adventures.

It was great fun seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and a lifetime of memories achieved. Thanks to all along the way, both online and in country.  Cheers! Laurent




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Holy Snakes!

When I saw the Pope, I thought I had seen it all! Little did I know… an Italian friend (thanks Lorenzo!) told me about a religious ceremony in a small village in Abruzzo which occurs once a year on 1 May. I checked the location this morning and found out I was 45 minutes away and had about 1.5 hours to get packed up and get there to check it out.

The festival is called Festa Dei Serpari, or Snake Festival. It celebrates Saint Domenic who rid the area of snakes back in the 11th Century. He is covered in snakes and then carried around town through the small streets lifted high up for all to see.

St Domenic begins his journey around the town

St Dominic begins his journey around the town

Here St Dominic is passing a small alleyway that I ran to trying to get in front of him. It was like a video game trying to guess what route he was taking and finding the right alleyway to run up in time.

St Domenic passing by an alleyway

St Dominic passing by an alleyway

Here St Dominic has passed by but a good shot of him with his snakes and staff.

St Domenic with his snakes hanging out!

St Dominic with his snakes hanging out!

OK, that’s it, back to regularly scheduled posts soon!

Ciao Laurent

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Well, now that Easter week in Rome is over, time to get back to my normally scheduled blog updates.

Last week, just before Rome and Tuscany, I stopped by the Leaning Tower of Pisa (LTOP). While I was in Florence, I talked to a local Italian guy who swore I should skip Pisa and go straight to Tuscany. I couldn’t do it, it would be like going to Italy and not eating Italian food. So I went for a couple of hours and very happy I did. It really is amazing the first time you see it, just makes you wonder how it is still standing after all these years.  In addition, the Piazza dei Miracoli (Plaza of Miracles) is quite a site with the tower, baptistry and Duomo all together. Here are a couple of images of those monuments and the plaza.

A panorama of the Piazza die Miracoli

A panorama of the Piazza die Miracoli


The Duomo di Pisa and Tower

The Duomo di Pisa and Tower


Pisa Tower Section

Pisa Tower Section

It is really funny to watch people posing trying to push, keep up, kiss, kick, etc the Leaning Tower. If you look at it without looking at the tower in background, it is even more funny.

A girl posing as if holding the tower up only missing a little

A girl posing as if holding the tower up only missing a little

Next up will be the Tuscany pictures. Hopefully will have wifi access in a few days as these were my favorite shots thus far.  Ciao!

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