Category Archives: Italy

Follow us as we walk 600+ miles….

©OutdoorTravel Thanks for the map!

That’s right.  Approx. 1000 kilometers.

This time it’s the Via Francigena (fran chee gena).

From ancient and medieval times it connected Canterbury to Rome. Today most pilgrims start in the Swiss Alps. Luckily, unlike our predecessors, none of us have to return home by foot.

Different from the famous Camino de Santiago where over 200,000 pilgrims annually walk the 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain the Via has only a combined 2,500 walkers, bikers and horse riders.

Bill and I walked the Camino de Santiago Frances in 2013 and in 2016 walked the Camino de Santiago Portuguese with Vino Verde Man, Chapmeister and Rockenstein . It was so utterly perfect that the five of us, on September 3, 2018, will step out the door of our hostel at the Great St. Bernard Pass in Switzerland and make our way to Rome.

The first two days have us descending 6,000′ in elevation. Hello knees…In the meantime, we walk to build up our strength. Unfortunately, the last couple of days have us walking at the local community center as our hometown has the most hazardous air in the USA caused by the horrific fires in California.

Curious about what’s in my pack??

If you didn’t read my ultimate packing guide from the last pilgrimage hop on over and check it out.

I made some adjustments – more than expected in the consummate search for perfection.

Here’s the list (new means different from last time):

  • New pack – the Osprey 24 liter Sirrus
  • The same Nike shorts which unfortunately have been discontinued.
  • New North Face Everyday Pant
  • New North Face on the Go Skirt (forgoing the skort)
  • Target tank top
  • New Athleta Speedlight Tee
  • Same Lulu Lemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve
  • Smartwool – one each – Mid-Weight and Light-Weight long sleeve shirts
  • A crazy and stupid indulgence – hippie palazzo pants from Walmart – who said ya can’t be groovy on a pilgrimage?
  • New My Trail Co rain gear – jacket and pants. Jealous of Rockenstein and Vino Verde  when they stepped out in the torrential rain all duded out with their My Trails rain attire. They stayed dry when I soaked to the bone in my cheap $1.99 rain poncho.
  • New REI 650 Down Jacket
  • OMG – I get to wear new but the same  Altra Footwear Lone Peak 2.5 shoes!! YAY!! Shoes are the most important part of this whole list.  Altra is now on version 3.5 with 4.0 coming out any day now. They changed their design and frankly the changes do not work for me. Geared up to wear the Altra Timp Trail – actually hiking in them with a friend when I realized she was wearing my favorite 2.5’s. Where did you get those???? Rockenstein! The zero drop wasn’t her thing so she passed them on. Well, that generous friend who only wore them twice gifted them to me. Doing a happy dance every time I put them on. Thank you Boo!
  • Crocs backup shoe for the end of the day, showering, etc.
  • Tights, undies, bras, merino wool gloves, a neck buff, homemade pillowcase with velcro to stuff my down jacket in to make a pillow.
  • Travel size toiletries.
  • Sea to Summit Traveller silk sleeping sack to keep the cooties away.
  • PackTowl ultralite beach towel

All weighing in at 11 pounds. Of course, I’ll be wearing some of those clothes so my pack will be lighter.

You men might be wondering what’s in Bill’s pack.  Basic black and flip flops!

We’re super excited. Jump on board and walk with us. Tell your friends to sign up for our blog –  Instagram Story @paigeshawdotcom and Facebook @billandpaige.

See you there!

Around the World in 72 days

By the numbers:

72 days from Reno, Nevada west to Charleston, South Carolina.

39 beds

27 flights and approx. 40,000 miles

24 trains

23 countries

10 buses

9 boats

numerous taxi’s


1 camel



*photo – A bit of home in Frankfurt, Germany


Bellísimo Italia

Milan, Genoa, Lucca and Merano.

Milan because it’s Milan. The fashion capital of the world, home of the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the quaint art district of Brera.

Genoa because Guillermo was craving seafood.

Lucca holds a special place in our hearts and we wanted to scout out the Via Francigena – the Camino we will be walking next year – Switzerland to Rome.

Merano for its 700 year old Christmas festival.

We overdosed on pastries, pasta and wine. It’s compulsory – I’m positive our passport stamp said so.

*click to enlarge photos


Taormina, Sicily


We had the pleasure of a lovely lunch here 7 years ago but regretted not seeing the Greek Theater. So…..guess what we did this time.


Taormina is a charming hilltop town with narrow medieval streets, story book homes, shops and restaurants galore – known to be the most famous vacation spot on Sicily.

The Greek Theater (believed to have been built in the Hellenistic period and then re-built by the Romans in 2 AD) perfectly frames Mt. Edna or the Mediterranean depending on your seat. Renowned for is acoustics it is still being used today for concerts and performances.









We stopped in the port of Palermo on the northern coast – the bustling capital city of Sicily. While strolling we stumbled upon a vegetable and fish market that occupied blocks and blocks.



The fish is delivered fresh at least twice a day and the fertile volcanic ground not only grows vegetables, 4 crops of lemons and oranges a year, it also grows 2/3 of the grain for all of Italy.


One fish stand in particular was bustling – three rows deep – one after another ordering fish. The shopkeeper filled rolled conical paper sacks as fast as he could.

Later in the day we drove from Palermo to the small town of Segesta through harvested wheat fields and rolling vineyards (famous for production of Marcella wine). The deep blue sea sparkled like diamonds on the horizon and without warning – out of the ground rose a 5th century BC Doric Temple, a complete and magnificent surprise. Did we fall asleep and wake up in Greece?



Sorrento, Italy

Bongiorno… Italy – we do love you!

2 days ago we boarded a converted and beautifully restored ferry boat – Voyages to Antiquity – with 170 other passengers for a journey from Italy to Istanbul, Turkey. Trading in the flashy casino and show life of a cruise ship for daily lecturers/speakers who will bring the history of the cities we will visit to life.

The cruise’s first stop was Sorrento on the west coast of Italy just south of Naples. According to Greek legend it was off the coast of Sorrento that the mythical Sirens once lived. Where sailors were powerless to resist their charming and alluring songs sending their ships crashing into the shores. Now a days they are famous for their lemons and tomatoes.

It is here where we visited the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum – both engulfed by volcanic ash (Pompeii) or mud (Herculaneum), sealing and protecting buildings – enough to show us the Roman’s way of life before the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

It is the busy summer season and people are everywhere. The beaches are lined with colorful umbrellas and the Mediterranean coast is full of sun worshippers. Apparently, they did not get the memo about skin cancer.

Espressos, wine and pizzas are plentiful!!!

Our 450 foot boat has a crew of 166 so the service is fantastico.

See you in Sicily, home to Paige’s paternal great grandfather.