Day 3: Through Ravenna to Urbino on our first bus trip.

Today we meet our bus and take the longest ride of the tour - 5 hours.  This is refreshingly short compared to the two previous all-Europe tours I have taken and is one of the fringe benefits of regional tours like this one.

We met our driver Silvio, and his big white Italian bus with the bus company name "Gunetto Autolinee" graphically dotted all over it in big letters.  The bus has 45 seats for our group of 20, so we will not feel crowded in.  Silvio was happy to see us but spoke very little English.

As the sun rose over the horizon we waved goodbye to Padua and began the journey south.  The roads we traveled went over hills and through fields, and we passed many small forests which were planted in rows.  Some were poplar trees which Brad explained they use in Italy to remove pollution from the ground.

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Brad kept us occupied by explaining European history and politics, as well as pointing out every detail of the things we passed.  I noticed that Italy has stop signs very similar to the ones back home, including "STOP" in English.  I expected something a bit more Italian.

About halfway to Urbino, we paused in Ravenna for a short tour and lunch.  The cobblestones here have white sections for the bicycle lanes.  It appeared that everyone but us had bikes, even some very old residents that would probably be in a wheelchair back in the states.

We met Rosanna, a local guide, who took us around to a couple of churches, including one that was obviously old from the outside.  When we went inside we were shocked at the magnificence.  Mosaics (images made up of very small tiles) were everywhere, heavenly illuminated by daylight through strategically placed windows.  At night under candlelight they would twinkle, and it must have been an awesome sight to the people who prayed here.

When the tour was over, we dodged bicycles and walked down the streets, souvenir shopping and searching for a nice place for lunch.  Freyja and I found a small shop that had filling pizza bread and sodas, and we sat down on the curb at the edge of a large square to enjoy our meal.

Once back on the bus we had to wait a few extra minutes due to some of our group being late.  After a stern warning from Brad about being left behind next time, we never had anyone late to the bus again for the rest of the tour.  The good of the many is more important than the good of the few!

As the daylight shadows lengthened we arrived in Urbino, a hilltop town with the palace of the Duke of Montefeltro, known for some great renaissance works by Raphael and others.  The way from the parking lot to the town was via an elevator, which deposited us right next to our hotel.

Brad gave us a short orientation tour and then let us wander the town on our own.  A number of us braved a big hill and found a railing overlooking the valley below, where we proudly took pictures in the fading light.

After walking the entire outskirts of the town, Freyja found a restaurant she liked from Rick's Italy guide, and I accompanied her to dinner.  Their specialty was truffles, so we feasted on truffle pasta and good red wine; then a short walk back to the hotel, and to bed.

During our walk around Urbino we found a sign asking where one wants to go with recommendations in a rusty Italian way.  I thought it so fittingly reminiscent of our destinations that I made it into the web site's sidebar.

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at