Beautiful Italy, Postcards And Memories

Beautiful Italy, postcards and memories so lovely they needed to be shared. A few short months after starting Back Road Journal, a road trip to Europe was planned by two foodies…myself and my husband. It was September, the weather was great and interesting destinations and delicious food was waiting to be discovered. Take a look back and enjoy.

After spending a few days in Provence, France, my husband and I drove across the nearby Italian border and along the Italian Riviera to the beautiful Mediterranean towns of Portofino and St. Margherita. If you are rich or famous, stay in Portofino. The small village with peach, yellow and terracotta buildings lining the harbor, the square and up high on the rock cliffs that surround the town is wonderful.

Click on any of the photos below to enlarge and see a slide show.

If you are the average tourist like myself and not wealthy, you can plan a day trip and perhaps enjoy a seafood lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants on the main square called Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. After lunch, take time to explore the back alleyways of the village and then walk up the steep road to Castello Brown for a wonderful view of the fishing boats and the yachts anchored below.

The seaside town of Santa Margherita Ligure, a few miles to the east of Portofino, makes a good base for exploring the coast and is less crowded with tourists and far less expensive than its glamorous neighbor.

Heading inland from the coast, our next stop was the town of Reggio nell’ Emilia. Halfway between Florence and Milan, just south of Parma and north of Bologna, it makes a great base for exploring the Emilia-Romagna region. Again, not as expensive or crowded as its more well known neighbors.

Emilia-Romagna is a foodies paradise as this is the region known for Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and Balsamico Tradizionale as well as food specialties such as local porcini mushrooms and erbazonne, a delicious fried spinach filled pastry.

Oh yes, it is also the home of the Ferrari automobile and Formula One racing car factory, in Modena, established by Enzo Ferrari. I guess you could say that this region of Italy is known for fast cars and slow food…something to please everyone.

A two hour drive north brought us to the picturesque resort town of Bardolino on the eastern shore of Lake Garda in northern Italy. It is a charming spot with small fishing boats neatly tied up in the harbor in front of the old town. If you are hungry, skip the tourist restaurants on the crowded main street. Instead, head down one of the side streets and you will discover small sidewalk cafes where you can enjoy a light and fruity glass of Bardolino wine and seafood specialties fresh from the lake.

If the weather is nice, you might want to take the ferry to some of the other charming towns around Lake Garda such as Desenzano, Sirmione or Gardone Riviera.

Leaving Bardolino, it is just a short hour and a half drive north to the historic yet cosmopolitan city of Bolzano. It is the capital of the province of Alto Adige also known as South Tyrol. The city is located in a large valley surrounded by mountains. It  is called “the gateway to the Dolomites” and is a very pleasant town to use as a base for exploring the region.

The center of town is dominated by the gothic cathedral with a beautiful roof and a two hundred foot tall bell tower and spire. It is across from Walther Square which is lined with restaurants and outdoor cafes that seem to be the gathering spot for locals as well as visitors.

The quaint little town of Bressanone/Brixen is twenty-five miles north of Bolzano. It is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by orchards as far as you can see and large vineyards growing up the slopes of the nearby mountains.

Just off the main piazza, we discovered the oldest restaurant in town, Finsterwirt – Oste Scuro, where we had a wonderful lunch. It has a charming antique, wood paneled dining room but since the weather was beautiful we decided on the cosy terrace on the inner courtyard. The service was excellent and the food was inventive and delicious.

Our final stop in the Alto Adige was in the heart of the spectacular Dolomites, the mountainous region  known for hiking and skiing. Our base was the town of Ortisei, located in the Val Gardena about twenty minutes from the Brenner Autostrada.

The Alto Adige has huge Germanic influence, (it was part of Austria before WWI) and that can be seen in its buildings, alpine chalets with cattle grazing in the meadows, in the spoken language and also in the local food.

One day during our stay at the Hotel Gardena, we accompanied the two sommeliers, Franz Lageder and Egon Perathoner, from the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant to the well known wine producer, Tramin. The town of Termeno/Tramin, origin of the Gewürztraminer grape variety, is part of the Alto Adige Wine Road. Willi Sturz, the winemaker, lead us through various wine tastings then took our small group to their most prized vineyard in the high foothills. We had a lunch right in the vineyard of speck (smoked ham), parmesan cheese and bread to go along with more wines from the famous producer. It was definitely a memorable experience.

Italy was wonderful, from the seaside towns in the south to the amazing mountains in the north. It was a journey on the back roads that took us to places that I yearn to return to and hopefully someday we will. As I start this new year of blogging, I’m already looking forward to our next adventure this fall. Tickets are bought and we will be on a plane before we know it…I hope you will be following along.

Sitting On A Jet Plane, Ready For A New Adventure


I hope that my postcards of wonderful moments, beautiful scenery and delicious food that I shared with you in this post will inspire you to explore not only the famous Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Venice as most tourists do but that you will also explore the lesser known cities, towns and quaint villages with their beautiful architecture and history. Beautiful Italy is where memories are made that will last you a lifetime.


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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

160 thoughts on “Beautiful Italy, Postcards And Memories

  1. What a fabulous trip! So many neat things to see, and the food! Who wouldn’t love all of that great food? Terrific photos, fun read — thanks.

    1. Hi John, One of the things that made the trip special was the weather that year…it was perfect. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post Angie. I hope you get to visit one day soon. One nice thing, it is a short trip for you…no long flights. 🙂

    1. I hope you and Bev do get a chance to visit Larry. Perhaps you can postpone an RV trip and head there one day. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and photos.

  2. Absolutely wonderful postcards and photos, especially enjoying the ones of you both looking so happy! We loved our time in Santa Margherita – such a lovely city. You’ve also given us food for thought (pun intended) for future travel! [We both loved your fast cars/slow food comment, though we would both skip the fast cars. 🙂 ]

    1. Thank you David. for your nice compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and that it has the two of you thinking about travel plans. My husband loves Formula One racing so we had to visit the Ferrari museum and track. We both have also ridden one lap in the BMW Ring Taxi on the famous Nürburgring-Nordschleife race track in Germany. 😀

    1. Thank you Gerlinde, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back nice memories of your own trip to Italy.

    1. Hi Pam, we did have a wonderful adventure in Italy. I do hope that you will be able to do your own someday and check it off your bucket list.

  3. What a lovely trip down memory lane. I was in Modena about 30 years ago, we went to look at some equipment my father-in-law was buying for his company. The family we came to see took us out for lunch and when he discovered that I had never had balsamic vinegar, he ordered me a steak that was beautifully done and drizzled in 150-year-old balsamic vinegar. I was hooked!
    It looks like you chose the most perfect places to visit. I too, hope to return one day.

    1. Hi Eva, Italy does have a way of capturing your heart and making you want to return…let’s hope we both get a chance to make it happen.

  4. Making me hungry Karen—and itching to get up and get going!
    My husband is in the process of closing his business he’s run for 50 years.
    He has only left North America once when he lived on American Samoa for a year while running the Bulova Watch factory, has always wanted to see the D-Day memorials in Normandy so that is to be my gift to him.Paris and Normandy.
    I was then hoping to head to London before going home in order to visit Chartwell, Churchill’s home. A friend of my husbands who lives in Tampa but is from Switzerland will be in Switzerland while we are in France. He and his wife will be coming to Paris and Normandy if we’ll go back to Zurich with them…then down to Lugano for a day. So if that’s the case. I have to take him to Florence and of course, we’ll go to Rome to fly home—so much for my shorter jaunt. I am so excited…and he is a bit full of trepidation 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos. I have seen very little of Italy, I would really like to return. Love the happy shot of you and your husband. Cheers Diane

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Diane, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I do hope you get a chance to return to Italy…it’s not such a long distance for the two of you.

  6. What fabulous memories. Your pictures are amazing and enticing! I agree, visiting the smaller, lesser know spots can be so rewarding.

    1. I appreciate your compliment Darlene, thank you very much. Travel to the lesser known spots is indeed nice and of course far less crowded.

    1. I appreciate very very kind compliment Jenna. I’m very happy you enjoy following along on our travel adventures…thank you!

  7. Wonderful postcards and loved the way you created the little slideshows. Love the last picture especially!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post MJ. I added the last photo as an afterthought to let everyone know that there will be a new travel adventure coming up this fall…I’m glad you liked it, thank you. 🙂

    1. It was indeed Michelle. And I’m very happy to say that I’ve enjoyed having you follow along since that first adventure of ours…I think you were in Italy at the same time. Thank you ever so much for being such a loyal blogging friend.

  8. Lovely memories with gorgeous photos! As you know, Karen, a lot ‘other’ in the world draws me well ahead of anything in Europe but wonderful Italy, and especially the parts you travelled, will always stand in the first place there: why not a return south of the Alps . . . ? And I shall very much take fast cars alongside slow food: oh what food 🙂 !

    1. Haha Eha, you do seem like the type to enjoy fast cars and slow food. 😀 We are doing something different on this year’s trip and I think you will be surprised. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  9. Beautiful photos and memories! How nice that you have another trip to look forward to! Each of your previous destinations has so much to offer in beauty and elegance, and that includes the food! What a very nice photo of you and your husband, as well, Karen. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your compliment Debra, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. I thought the photo of the two of us would be a good one to use to let everyone know that there will be an upcoming trip…it is really going to be a special one. I’m happy you liked it.

  10. This looks like the perfect trip for foodies – I love Italian food & would love to visit the Emilia-Romagna! The photos are amazing, fantastic slide-shows!

    Miriam x

    1. Hi Miriam, This was the perfect foodie trip. From small outdoor cafes to Michelin starred meals…it was delicious. I appreciate your lovely compliment about the photos, thank you so much.

  11. What a delight to revisit this beautiful area with you! Looking forward to hearing about your new adventure this fall. I’m somewhat of a homebody but your postcards do make me want to get out and explore one day.

  12. I’m happy you enjoyed a look back at Italy Peter, thank you. We are very excited about this fall’s adventure…something very different. Perhaps one of my trips will entice you to take a little journey of your own. That is if you can get a sitter for your wonderful plants. 😀

  13. What a lovely photo of you and your husband. You look so happy 🙂 🙂 I’ve stayed in Bardolino and loved it. Our son was small and it was his introduction to Italy. I would love to have seen Bolzano and more of the north.

  14. Thank you Jo for your lovely compliment. My husband said the same thing when he saw the photo I was adding to this post. 🙂 Bardolino is a charming lakeside town…I’m glad to know that you’ve enjoyed it as well. I really do like northern Italy, it is often overlooked and that is a shame.

  15. Karen, I love traveling with you. Your photos are stunning. Italy is a favorite destination. Thank you for taking us to places we haven’t been! As a foodie, I so enjoyed your food photos and commentary! I look forward to your next trip!

    1. I appreciate your kind words Pam. It always makes me happy to know that my readers enjoys following along on my travel adventures. I’m working on a new trip now and can’t wait to share where we will be off to next.

    1. Thank you Susan, You are right…we have taken the most wonderful trips. I look back at the photos of Italy’s beautiful coast and wish we were there right now. 🙂

  16. I can finally cross Northern Italy off my bucket list. Joe surprised me with a trip that he has been to take for 30 years. 😁 I’ll pop over to your blog again this evening so I can take all the beauty and details in.

    1. Hi Deb, It is a shame that more people don’t visit Northern Italy, it has so much to offer. I’m glad the two of you got to experience it like we did.

    1. Thank you Bobbie for your very lovely compliment, it is much appreciated. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos and that they brought back memories of your own travels there.

  17. Just wonderful! There is nothing like Italy! We went there a few years ago and spent a week at a cooking class in Tuscany! It was so amazing and fun. Your love of food and Italy took me back there. Thanks for visiting! I loved traveling with you!

    1. Hi Jacqueline, thank you for stopping by for a visit and your lovely compliment. I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back memories of your time spent in Tuscany.

    1. Hi Laura, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of Italy. Yes, I believe that we had the best weather on that trip that we have ever had in all our years of traveling.

    1. Thank you Frank, I appreciate your compliment…I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I do hope you get a chance to travel to Portofino, it is such a lovely place to visit.

  18. What incredible photos! I love the last one of you two especially. Happiness! I’ve been to Aldo Adige and loved everything about the region. How could you not?!!

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment about the photos. I’m glad you liked the one of the two of us on the plane, it was truly a happy moment. 😀 I agree with you about Alto Adige, it is a beautiful region of Italy and I’m glad to know that you have visited there.

    1. Hi Dana, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m very happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos.

  19. Hi Karen – such amazing Italy photos and memories. I loved every picture and your reminscings. The FOOD! Our 25th is coming right up and we have toyed with the idea of Italy. So glad to have all these great ideas and suggestions. Thanks for another fabulous post. xo

    1. Hi Allie, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and photos from Italy. I think a trip there would be a very memorable way to celebrate your 25th anniversary.

  20. Postcards and memories so lovely they need to be PRINTED! Seriously, you could easily sell these incredible captures as actual postcards and make a mint. They’re beyond words.

    1. Thank you Hannah for your absolutely wonderful compliment about my post. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of Italy. 😀

    1. Thank you Julie, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. I hope that you and Andrew get a chance to return to Italy to enjoy that delicious food. 😀

  21. Oh, yes, you have inspired me! I want to hop on a plane right now and do that exact trip. Italy is one place I want to go back to again and again. Beautiful photos!

    1. Hi Amy, I know what you mean…looking at my photos makes me want to return to Italy again as well. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Nancy, Provence and Italy, especially the coast and Tuscany, is a very doable trip. I hope you get a chance to visit both those regions. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  22. What a great adventure! It’s so fun to see how different areas of Italy are influenced by their border countries. I’ve been to Italy three times, but haven’t seen everything yet! Hope to get back some day soon.

    1. Hi Liz, I do hope you get a chance to return to Italy and discover those areas that you have not had a chance to visit. We did have a wonderful trip that year and I’m glad you enjoyed the post…thank you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos Tandy, thank you. Italy truly is one of those places that you yearn to visit again and again.

  23. I love these photos, Karen! And I especially love the theme of today’s postcards + memories. Italy. What a wonderful country! Laura and I actually just got back from Italy, and I’m already ready to go back. We spent time in some of the larger cities (Venice and Florence this time) but we also made our way into the countryside and smaller towns…that’s where the real charm of this country lies! Oh, and I’ve been hearing great things about Pinot Grigios from the Alto Adige region…guess I’ll just need to put that one on the travel list now! 🙂

    1. Hi David, I know you and Laura must have had a wonderful trip and I’m glad that this post has rekindled your desire to return again. How could you not fall in love with Italy and all its great food and wine. Yes, the Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige is really good.

  24. Karen, my dear, you are living the sweet life like the Italians say. Italy has been in my bucket list forever. Hopefully I get to visit it soon. Loooooove all the pictures!

    1. Hi Denise, I think you are right…we are very fortunate and do have a “sweet life”. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of Italy.

  25. The next time we go to Italy, I will be using this post as a reference. I always feel the ‘back roads’ are worth seeing, perhaps moreso than the top tourist attractions. It is there one truly gets to interact with the locals and avoid the crowds. We will be heading to Sicily in August but not the mainland.

    That larger photo of Balzano almost looks like a painting! And I have to say your hubby was probably the most dapper gentleman on the plane! It’s not every day you see a man wearing a jacket these days.

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post on Italy Doreen. I’ll be sure to pass on the compliment to my husband. When we travel, he always takes a sport jacket or two…especially in Europe where men tend to wear a jacket in the evening. I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip to Sicily, it is one area of Italy we have not been to yet.

    1. Hi Atreyee, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and photos of Italy. Yes, the back of the hotel’s minivan was equipped with a wonderful set up for a gourmet picnic and wine tasting. It was one of our most memorable moments from the trip.

  26. Your photos are fabulous! It looks like you and your husband had a wonderful time.
    My family spent a wonderful time in Santa Margherita in 2001 and explored many areas of Cinque Terre and the Ligurian coast from there. My husband had an uncle that lived in Bolzano and visited him often. I hope to see the Dolomite area in a future trip to Italy–I know it’s spectacular!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Pat, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and that they brought back nice memories of your time spent on the Ligurian coast of Italy. Yes, I do think you would enjoy the Dolomite region, it really is stunning and different from other parts of Italy.

  27. What an amazing holiday you had! You have seen so much. I went to Portofino many years ago now. I remember the beautiful views and the amazing food. Emilia Romagna is heaven for foodies and we went to Ortisei 5 years ago and it is indeed stunning! I enjoyed reading your post very much. Thank you Karen!

    1. Thank you Alida, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my post and that it brought back so many memories of your travels to Italy. Isn’t Ortisei a lovely little town, I’m glad you’ve had a chance to visit it.

    1. I am always happy to share our travels with you Donna, I’m glad you enjoyed this post on Italy. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  28. What a gorgeous post Karen!! thanks for the tip for staying outside of Portofino– and the town in the Dolomites looks almost Swiss!! Our daughter-in-law took her Dad there for his birthday last year and she also had beautiful mountainside photos!! This post makes me wish we were planning a trip to Italy!! thanks thank Karen! xox

    1. Hi Rhonda, You have been on some wonderful adventures yourself recently but I can see why you would want to plan a trip to Italy. Yes, Portofino is beautiful but very expensive…Santa Margherita, only a few miles away, is charming and costs much less. We really enjoyed Ortisei, it definitely has a different look and feel about it than other parts of Italy.

  29. A picture really is worth a thousand words… great capture on all your shots! Looks like you guys had a fantastic couple of weeks!!! Great post. Thanks so much for sharing ♥

  30. What a fun trip to a fabulous place. We spent three weeks in Italy in 1999. I think it’s time to return! You two look so happy! Thanks for sharing and thanks for your very thoughtful comment on Stacey’s post about our home.

  31. Karen, I loved seeing and hearing about your fabulous Italy trip. Thanks for taking us along the back roads to smaller less crowded areas. That wine tasting and lunch sounds wonderful.I love the picture of you and your husband. You look like fun travelers. We did an Italy trip in 2013 and I am ready for another one. Your food pictures made my mouth water.

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed my post about our travels to Italy and thank you for your lovely compliment, Bonnie. Yes…the food, the wine, the lovely scenery does make us yearn to visit once again. 🙂

  32. This is a fabulous trip.. and the photos are very clear and terrific. I was wondering how many days you need to make such a trip? I am guessing something between a week and 10 days?

    1. Hi Amira, thank you for your lovely compliment. We spent eight days in Italy but our trip that year was three weeks. We flew into Nice, France and stayed in Provence then drove through Italy and finished in Bavaria, Germany flying out of Munich. If you rent a car, you can see a lot of Italy in week to ten days.

    1. Hi Amy, It was another wonderful adventure and I’m glad you liked the photo of my husband and I. I almost didn’t put it in but I thought it was a good way to let me readers know that I’m planning another trip for this fall. 😀

  33. Such beautiful photos and what a lovely time you guys must have had! That spinach stuffed pastry looks divine! Thanks for sharing your trip…it’s making me want to travel 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

  34. Hi Karen, every photo, every word of this post not only makes me smile with pleasure at your delightful holiday but makes me want to hop the plane myself! What a glorious time and so well photographed and told!

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment Jeanie, thank you very much. I’m glad that you enjoyed this post about our Italian adventure.

    1. You made me laugh Abbe, I think I say the same thing most everywhere we visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the post about Italy and it makes me happy to know that you will be following along on our new adventure this fall…thank you!

  35. I’m booking my air ticket now – in my dreams. What an extraordinary trip. The little van in the vineyard in Alto Adige is so charming as well as the incredible scenery elsewhere.

    1. Hi Sally, I believe in dreams…who knows, maybe a trip to Italy will be in your future. 🙂 Don’t you just love the van that was all set up for our gourmet picnic and wine tasting in the vineyard in Alto Adige. It was one of the most memorable moments from that trip.

  36. Travelling is one thing that feels me with joy and pictures! Although Italy is so close here, I have never had the chance to explore it, only major cities. Your photos make me want to take the first plain available and go there!

    1. Hi Katerina, I do hope you get a chance to explore the small towns and back roads of Italy. You are very close so I hope another visit to Italy will be in your future.

  37. Thank you fro making us dream again! Wines from Alto Adige are very good indeed (I’ve tasted several white ones), so I imagine how this part of the trip must have been amazing.

    1. Hi Sissi, We thoroughly enjoyed the Alto Adige and yes, the wines from that region are really good. I’m glad that my post has you dreaming of Italy. 😀

  38. So nice to see you both enjoying yourself. And what a fantastic trip. Thanks for taking us along to beautiful Italy, I hope we’re going again soon.

    1. Hi Annie, I’m glad that you enjoyed my Italian post and that it brought back memories of your own trip there. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  39. Such a lovely journey, we live but a couple of hour flight from Italy, but have yet make time to got. Your post just inspired me more to plan a trip soon. The wine tasting with the hotel sommeliers is right up our alley. Thanks for a great trip down the back-roads of Italy.

    1. Hi Ron, Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, you should definitely plan a trip to Italy. I only wish my flights to Europe were only a couple of hours away. You would love the Hotel Gardena…not only did they plan the wonderful day in the vineyards but we also attended a great wine tasting in the hotel’s wine cellar and also had a dinner in their Michelin starred restaurant with wines matched to each course.

  40. I’ve never been to Italy, but your amazing photos have me yearning to go there some day! Those little street cafes look out of a Van Gogh painting and that view from Val Gardena must have been breathtaking in person! I enjoyed this post and thank your for sharing your beautiful photos and memories!

  41. I appreciate your lovely compliment Marcelle. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and photos from Italy. I do hope you will get a chance to visit someday…the country is wonderful.

  42. Hi Marlene, I appreciate your nice compliment. I bet you had a wonderful time on your trip to Tuscany…one of my favorite regions of Italy.

  43. Okay, I know I’ve said this numerous times, but I’ll say it again..can I please tag along with you two on the next trip? LOL! Seriously Karen, these photos are gorgeous and they make me feel like I was right there with you, experiencing it all. Portofino is on my bucket list and I hope to visit it soon. It is so beautiful!

  44. You gave me a real smile Karrie. I appreciate your kind words about this post. I do hope you get to Portofino, I know you would love it. Tomorrow I’m going to have another travel post up, perhaps you will want to add it to your bucket list as well. 😀

  45. Your lovely photos bring back wonderful memories of that beautiful country. I may never get back there in this lifetime but I often revisit in my mind!

  46. What lovely memories, Karen! x

    On Wed, May 30, 2018 at 8:44 AM Back Road Journal wrote:

    > Karen posted: “Beautiful Italy, postcards and memories so lovely they > needed to be shared. A few short months after starting Back Road Journal, a > road trip to Europe was planned by two foodies…myself and my husband. It > was September, the weather was great and interest” >

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