2016 promises to be a busy travel time again, with England, Scotland and Italy on the agenda for me.
As we usually do, we combine other 'excursions' with the 'Italian experience' ... for 2016 I will be visiting family in the UK and thereafter flying from Stansted to Pisa. As my destination is Montepulciano, in Tuscany, for another week's school there, I will only be overnighting in Pisa. I will take an early train on to Florence and then directly on by rail to Chiusi-Chinciano. It'll then be the bus to Montepulciano, mindful that the bus doesn't always run on Sundays. The inter-urban bus drops you at a terminus outside the city walls ... don't attempt the walk up the hill with your suitcase, wheelie or otherwise - there are onlyn two directions in Montepulciano ... su e giu ... up and down!! There is a small local bus that will drop you right at the school three-quarters up the hill to the Piazza.
After the week's re=orientation in Italian in Montepulciano I will take the train up to Venezia, retracing my steps back to Chiusi-Chinciano [on the Saturday!] back to Florence and then the train to Venezia. Note TrenItalia departs from Firenze Santa Maria Novella station and aims for Venezia Santa Lucia station ... travel time is just over two hours and the cost between€19 and €39, depending on your class of travel [correct as at December 2015].
While I am in Venezia, my wife will be in China. She joins me after that for a reprise of our 2015 trip to Veneto / Valdobbiadene [we obviously love it there] and then on to Lake Como. All is already booked at a hotel on the water in Bellagio.
Our Italian sojourn ends when we drive from Bellagio back to Aeroporto Marco Polo, Venezia and fly on to Manchester, England. We immediately drive on to the Lakes District and then to Scotland for a few weeks looking at stately homes / castles [for my dear wife] and taking a look at some of the distilleries [for me].
In my searches for additional things to do while in Italy I found an ideal active/passive holiday, involving barge and bicycle travel in the northern area, from Lake Garda down to Venezia. Unfortunately my planing was too advanced to include this in 2016.
This is an eight-day journey and you are free to ride a bicycle down the tow paths and sleep on the barge or, on 'tired days', just stay on the barge and motor on down. The barges take 16 or so people and includes some meals on board and at some selected restaurants ashore. It runs both ways; from Lake Garda to Venezia and the return leg as well.
I haven't yet done this but it looks like a probability for 2017.
I have arranged with the Tour Coordinators here in Australia to meet the barge in Venezia at the conclusion of one of their trips. I will include photos and a story on the website after checking things out.