Friday, November 04, 2011

Travel with Shawn Kirsten Maravel to Italy!

I’d love to welcome today’s guest travel blogger, Shawn Kirsten Maravel. Shawn is an author and a military spouse whose latest book, The Wanderer, is centered on an Iraq veteran and his life when he returns home.

As most military spouses, Shawn has done plenty of traveling! Today she’s sharing with us a glimpse of several of Italy’s northern cities.

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Northern Italy is passed up so often for the more widely knows city of Rome and other southern cities. But Italian culture is widespread and its beauty isn’t limited to the tourist sights that we’re most familiar with.

During my husband’s year-long deployment to Iraq he was able to come home for two weeks for what they call “RNR”…it should really be called torture. BUT, considering how much of a tease it was and how painful it was to see him leave again it was a great opportunity for us to travel. We ended up driving down to Northern Italy from our Ansbach, Germany home and spending a little less than a week there.

Venice-ShawnMaravelOur first stop was Venice. I’m sure you’ve seen picture or heard stories about the city. Some good and some bad…well let me tell you this. Whatever you heard simply doesn’t compare. It was the MOST BEAUTIFUL city I’ve ever see. Coming from someone who has living in Europe, that’s saying a lot. The streets flow with beautiful blue water, the architecture is classic and has an old aged appeal. You feel as if you’ve been transported into another world and another time. It was impossible not to just relax and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Italian culture.

Our next stop was Verona. It was a city I’d chosen to travel to on a whim. After seeing the movie Letters from Verona-ShawnMaravelJuliet I was intrigued by the fact that this was the true city of love. Where Romeo met Juliet. There are no words for how truly spectacular the city was. The water that cut through the city was the same beautiful blue as the Mediterranean water that ran through Venice, the building matched yet somehow each one stood out, and there was so much to see. Juliet’s balcony, churches, restaurants, street markets, and much more! The food was AMAZING! We walked around all day and still didn’t see everything!

CinqueTerre-ShawnMaravelOur next major stop was Cinque Terre. The city is on the north-western coast of Italy nestled in the cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. This city had me in a state of ecstasy. There is a trail that goes along the entire cliff line, connecting the different small towns. We walked for quite some time and still didn’t see all of it. I really didn’t want to leave, sadly our hotel was four hours away and we still had to stop by Pisa on our way home which was maybe 20-30 minutes from Cinque Terre.

Pisa was not the spectacle some make it out to be. Sad to Pisa-ShawnMaravelsay. We ended up getting there late due to closed off roads for a bike race and were disappointed by the tower’s actual size. It was much smaller than we’d imagined. We did however stop for gelato. It was a very romantic place to relax, talk, and enjoy our pistachio gelato, though the four hour drive back much substantially less fun.

All in all, Italy was a fabulous experience and I hope to do it again! Once you get a taste for travel it’s hard to deprive yourself!

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Shawn, thank you! We also got to visit Italy while stationed in Germany, but we missed Cinque Terre and Verona. I enjoyed hearing about them and seeing your gorgeous photos!  Smile

Interested in The Wanderer or Shawn’s other books? Find her blog here, but before you go be sure to leave a comment to say you stopped by to visit Italy with her!
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Coming up: trips to Idaho/Montana, North Carolina, Maine, and more!

Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss my guests this month. I’ll add some of my own, as well.


Shawn Kirsten Maravel said...

Thanks so much for having me! It was great being able to share some of my travels with you all! :)

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Shawn, I was a little surprised Pisa wasn't more than that, as well. It's beautiful and interesting to see the tower lean, but I wouldn't recommend it as a top Italy spot. LOL

Shawn Kirsten Maravel said...

Yeah, definitely not! So many other places to see worth spending the day exploring.

Unknown said...

SHAWN--what lovely photos nad narrative about the places you visited and fell in love with. We've been to all those in the South, plus Pisa and Venice, and found Italy to be a fascinating country. To have the time to roam and explore on your own is the best part of traveling. We were with tour groups, the only way I would visit Europe, for I was fearful of the time and effort it would take to find things on our own. Truly, it was the only way we could make so many trip over there.
I've heard people say--I don't want to go to Europe--all you see is old churches. I feel sorry for those who feel it's not worthwhile to take the time to see the great treasures Europe has to offer.
I enjoyed your descriptions of what you saw. Just wonderful, and brought back some great memories.
And God bless our men and women in uniform.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Lovely pictures of Italy. It's been over twenty some years since I was in Italy, but seeing these pictures brought back fond memories.

I also thought the tower would be bigger. lol I'm glad I saw it, but it wasn't the highlight of my tour. Though we traveled to Rome, Venice, Siene, and more. Florence remains my favorite. I loved Medieval and Renaissance flare of the city--a timeless beauty.

Thanks for sharing your holiday. I wish you the best with your new release.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Shawn, I love your pictures. They remind me of my visits to Italy. I too fell in love with Venice, although the Adriatic coast remains my favorite.

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, I can't imagine, either, why people wouldn't want to travel and sight see. So much beauty in so many places.

Karen, I loved Florence as well, particularly due to seeing the David statue. Incredible to see in real life. But then, I'm a huge Michelangelo fan. ;-)

Mona, I look forward to your travel blog later this month!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Shawn thank you for sharing your pictures and telling us how visiting the cities made you feel. I was in Venice in 1997 and I was struck by it's romantic ambience as well.

Good luck with book sales - and keep traveling. It's the stuff of inspiration. When I write a contemporary romance, I usually try to use an "international" angle which stems from my travels.


Maggie Toussaint said...

I can see how folks get gooey eyed over foreign cities. They're carved into a landscape that's breathtakingly picturesque. And structures have been there for hundreds of years. That's very impressive. I enjoyed the blog about Italy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing the images.


Liana Laverentz said...

Thank you for sharing! I'll have to add these cities to my bucket list!