Monthly Archives: June 2007

Top 3 picks

I’ll start with a disclaimer: Bethany may or may not agree with my choices, but since she’s off in Cape Cod doing musicals all summer, I get to post MY choices. If she can find the time to blog (doubtful), she can contradict me.

After much thought, my Number One award goes to Il Grand Duca in Florence, on the via dei Calzaiuoli. (I saved a napkin with the address–good thing, since I couldn’t read my own writing for the street name!) The dark chocolate gelato here may be the best ice cream in the entire world. Seriously. It’s unbelievably rich and creamy. It paired excellently with the frutti di bosco (mixed berry), which was chock full of real fruit.

Il Granduca Gelateria, Florence

Now it gets much harder, since nearly every gelateria in Florence was amazing. But I think I have to go with Gelateria Carabe on Via Ricasoli (near the Academia) and Il Gelato Vivoli for #2 and #3, though I’d be hard pressed to choose which is which.

As you can see (and as I posted at the time), no place we visited can come close to Florence when it comes to gelato. It’s a true ice cream lover’s paradise. Honorable mentions there include Gelateria dei Neri (which may have been Bethany’s favorite) and Caffe Dell Carrozze, at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio bridge–the setting there only adds to the flavor.

This isn’t to say we didn’t find wonderful ice cream elsewhere, of course, but Florence is a standard of its own. If you love ice cream, you owe it to yourself to visit that lovely city–put it on your list of “Things to do before you die.” You won’t be sorry.

–Brenda 🙂


Posted by on June 18, 2007 in food, ice cream, italy, travel


Some lessons learned

Brenda again…

Now that I’ve had time to cogitate a bit on our travels, I’ve come to appreciate a few of the lessons we learned along the way. The first and most important is: Flexibility. A mom and two grown daughters, traveling around Europe with just backpacks, we were bound to encounter a few unexpected snags. But for the most part, we were willing to roll with the punches (not that there were many of them, really) and adapt to whatever fate threw our way. This ranged from Dawn brushing her teeth in the bidet in our convent room in Rome because Bethany was using the sink for laundry, to eating take-out Chinese our last night in Ireland because we waited too long to get to town and all the pubs had closed their kitchens. All part of the adventure!

Another lesson (and small triumph!): enough walking can more than make up for LOTS of ice cream (and fish & chips, and Guinness, and croissants…) I was delighted–and very surprised–to discover on my return that I hadn’t gained any weight at all, after two weeks of decadent eating. The walking is the only explanation, since I’m sure I must have been consuming roughly twice my normal quota of calories. In fact, I actually lost a pound (since rediscovered, alas).

Finally (for this post–I’ll post other lessons as I think of them), it really is possible for three women to get along for two weeks without killing each other, even when you’re talking two sisters and their mother and more than one case of PMS along the way. We committed to regular attitude adjustments, so if any one of us started getting cranky (this was most common if we made the mistake of getting hungry), at least one of us would speak up and say, “Hey, this is an adventure, remember? We’re in freaking EUROPE! To eat ICE CREAM!” Amazing how that reminder could turn a frown upside down.

Next: our picks for Top Three Ice Cream spots on this trip!

–Brenda 🙂


Ireland looks fake

Beth here.
So the past few days have been spent driving all over the Irish countryside, seeing some of the oldest human monuments in the world and enjoying some of the most ruggedly beautiful scenery I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. We headed North from Dublin (where we toured the Guiness museum and drank a pint right there, in the Gravity bar high above the rest of the city… talk about your perfect experiences… also ran into a hilarious group of rowdy Manchester boys on the bus who complimented my teeth and rolled joints right there on the bus…) before we went West and went to the burial mound at Newgrange, Knowth. It’s about 5,000 years old–I had no idea that real civilization went back that far–in Ireland anyway–anybody know when the Mesopotamian civilizations started springing up? Anyway, this thing took generations to build and was covered with megalithic artwork, so these people were well and truly civilized, in the historic sense. Many random castles and detours later (navigating in Ireland requires both a sense of adventure and of humor), we arrived in our tiny, windswept little seaside town of Doolin. Over the next few days we and the locals took turns charming one another. Margaret Carey, the woman who runs the B&B we’ve been staying in for the past three nights, is pretty much the perfect woman. She’s like everyone’s grandmother–makes an incredible Irish breakfast and is always there with tea and scones right when you need them.
Some highlights of County Clare include the dramatic and awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher (which I can share pictures of, but they won’t do them justice), the Poulnabrone Dolmen (which is one of the oldest human structures in the world at about 6,000 years old), and the wild, rocky landscape of the Burren.
Yesterday we took a car ferry to get to the Dingle Peninsula and spent the day exploring this mountainous and sheep-covered spit of land. Murphy’s ice cream in Dingle town is a must-visit if you ever get the chance to go there… also, the scenery is just obscenely, ridiculously beautiful. As Dawn put it, “Ireland looks fake. It’s too pretty to be

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle to the sea


Posted by on June 5, 2007 in food, ice cream, ireland, travel, Uncategorized