From the wild dunes of Northern Ireland yesterday to the majesty of Ancient Rome today, The Travelling Golfer is preparing to meet our fellow travellers for our epic trip through Italy...
Day 1 of the pre tour in Rome involved golf at Italy's oldest golf course- Roma Aquasanta.
Aquasanta last hosted The Italian Open in 1980, because these days it is considered too short to challenge the professionals. It challenged us though, and was tricky, tight and had lots of water carries...
Day 2 of the pre tour involved a day trip to Tivoli where we toured the magnificent Villa d'Este and gardens. After a sumptuous 3 course lunch we transferred to Villa Adriana where the sheer size and grandeur of the former emperor's property blew us all away....
Day 1, Italy Tour 2017
We departed Rome early for Tuscany where we were greeted by perfect weather- 27 degrees and sunny blue skies
Our first stop was a guided tour around Montepulciano, followed by a guided tour of Pienza where some made good use of some shopping time...
Our delicious lunch was at a nearby dairy farm/restaurant which had great views. In the afternoon we journeyed to Montalcino to taste the famous Brunello red wines
Day 2, Italy Tour 2017
Today we played golf at Castiglion del Bosco GC which was designed by Tom Weiskopf and sits very nicely in the rolling Tuscan landscape. It is Italy's only privately owned course and usually only accessed by members and their guests so we were privileged to play there...
With not a cloud in the sky Donna P cleaned up with 43 pts followed by Peter Barber on 37.
Day 3, Italy Tour 2017
Our accommodation for 2 nights was the fabulous new hotel Il Castelfalfi and with the golf at Castelfalfi- Mountain Course only minutes away we teed off at 8.30am on another warm sunny Tuscan day. The competition of the day was a 'yellow ball' comp, but with course ratings ranging from 141 to 151 the yellow balls did not make it through. The course was extremely undulating with some dramatic downhill holes to greens surrounded by water. Donna P was in red hot form again & won the day with 42 points.
After lunch a dip in the pool was a popular activity. Late afternoon we boarded the Travelling Golfer bus and headed in to the gorgeous little village of San Gimignano for some shopping and free time, and a meal
What a wonderful day!
Day 4 of the Italy Tour 2017
The Travelling Golfer bus departed Castelfalfi at 9am for the ancient walled town of Lucca where the group dispersed for 90 minutes to do their own thing. Heather and visited the Puccini museum, checked out the shops, bought a gelato and perambulated along the ancient wall.
Our next stop was Manorola in Cinque Terra. We all had packed a light bag and waved the bus goodbye to walk down into the town. We had the afternoon to explore and with perfect sunny conditions it is hard to think of a more beautiful town.
However the highlight of the day/ trip/ year may well be the sunset cruise-it was outrageously good fun- but enough said- what happens on the trip stays on the trip, right?
Day 5- Italy 2017
Waking up in Cinque Terre is not so bad!
Warm weather, blue skies, the lightest of breezes, deep blue sea…..
Today the Travelling Golfers had a free day to explore the various towns that make up Cinque Terre. Some walked, some swam, some travelled by train, ferry- some did all of the above.
Heather and I caught a train from Manarola to Monterosso, and after some exploration trained back to Corniglia and walked the many steps up from the station to a quite beautiful little town where we had lunch. In the afternoon we walked the old terraced path, formerly of the vineyards, but now a throughfare to Vernazza- a bustling port side town. The walk was quite steep and rocky in places but offered some fabulous views over the coast and the sister towns.
Our last transfer back to Manarola was by ferry.
Day 6, Italy Tour 2017
We organised a van to take the luggage up the hill to the bus, and a passenger van as well for those not keen on the uphill hike.
So we left paradise and headed north west stopping to stretch the legs and get a bite to eat in Genoa- home of Christopher Columbus. Then it was 2 hours more to Golf Club Biella. Perhaps Italy's most decorated course, we checked in for a 2 night stay and immediately got out on the course for a late afternoon 9 holes
And we were joined by Jacky and Max Clark who would be our Travelling companions for the next few days
The day finished with a magnificent degustation dinner at the golf club with matching wines
Day 7, Italy Golf Your 2017
Golf Club Biella, known as 'Le Beteulle' is one of the gems of Italian Golf. To this day it still rates as the no 2 course in the country. The onsite accommodation and restaurant had an old world charm. It was a hot humid day and there was a big tournament on for the day- yellow ball!
So we adapted our game plan and did the same. Rita, Donna & Geoff won the chocolates, with Geoff the star individual
After golf we met our guide and did a history tour of ancient Biella, and stayed for an epic local meal
Day 8, Italy Golf Tour 2017
Today we journeyed to Bogogno GC- one of the premier golf facilities in Italy. With two Von Hagge courses rated in the top 15, accommodation, and a wonderful clubhouse- it is a perfect golfing destination. We played the picturesque Del Conte course. Winners on the day were Geoff Steer and Donna P
Then it was on to Lake Como for dinner
Day 9, Italy Golf Tour 2017
Our playground for the day was the magnificent Villa d'Este Golf Club near Lake Como. It is one of Italy's premier courses and absolutely unique. It is a tight hilly site which requires accuracy both off the tee and on approach to the green. And it's very picturesque. Unusually the course has 6 par 3's. The stately clubhouse proved a great venue for a 3 course lunch after golf...
Winners were Peter Pom & Morgan, Rita & Dawn
In the afternoon we had time to shop in Como, and journey up the funicular!
Day 10, Italy Tour 2017
It was another beautiful day in paradise.
We started the day by boarding a ferry from Como, cruising our way up the lake where we disembarked at Bellagio for some shopping, a bite of lunch, and a walk in the park. It is just a gorgeous place!
Our next ferry ride was just a short crossing to Villa Carlotta where we enjoyed exploring the history of the house and fabulous gardens
And next door was our amazing accommodation at Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Ginny & Barry celebrated their wedding anniversary in style, and nobody needed encouragement to let the hair down and join in the fun!
Day 11, Italy Golf Tour 2017
On another beautiful day it was hard to leave the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, but we boarded the bus for the short trip up the hill to the legendary Menaggio & Cadenabbia GC. The trip was eventful with our big bus unable to negotiate one particularly sharp hairpin bend. Eventually the bus backed out and down the tiny road against the traffic, and the staff at the golf club picked us up in their own cars. The clubs came in the green keepers ute!
The course is a magical golf experience with a tight, hilly, quirky course- complemented by a grand clubhouse and wonderful hospitality. It was just another sublime day...
Day 12, Italy Golf Tour 2017
We all loved Grand Hotel Tremezzo so much we decided to delay departure until midday. With wonderful weather, Some sampled 3 pools!
Our first stop for the day was Sirmione on Lake Garda where we boarded a cruise around the peninsula viewing the ancient castle.
Then it was onward again to the historic city of Verona for a 2 night stay.
Day 13, Italy Tour 2017
We woke to clearing drizzle and embarked on a guided tour of Verona which took most of the morning. Verona had a long and interesting history and we had an entertaining guide, so we all enjoyed the tour.
Verona exceeded all of our expectations. It is a very appealing city: clean, great food, great shopping AND the opera. We had organised nice seats in the famous Arena to see Rigoletto and it was a memorable night!
Day 14, Italy Tour 2017
We arrived into Venice late morning and caught a large water taxi right to the door of our hotel: The Londra Palace. The group then dispersed to explore one of the most unique cities in the world. There is much to see and do in Venice. The Doge's Palace was our first stop, followed by some exploring of the canals and lanes, and some shopping.
Our big finale dinner was preceded by a tour of the canals by water limousine, and then a lovely dinner where the men's team were presented with Venetian masks as team winners and performed "That's Amore"
After dinner we returned to our hotel where we watched a spectacular 45 min fireworks display celebrating the "Redentore Festival". With front row seats from our hotel rooms overlooking the harbour, it was a grand finale to our tour.
Day 15, Italy Golf Tour 2017
The final day of the tour saw us playing Circolo Golf de Venezia in the afternoon. The golf course was located on Lido Island some 30 mins by water taxi from the heart of Venice. The water taxis took us across the water, up a canal, under a bridge and deposited directly at the golf course. It was a nice way to arrive!
Winner on the day was Rita with a brilliant 42 pts, whilst the overall 'Italy Tour Champion' was Donna who comfortably fought of all challengers to take home the trophy.
And that was the Italy Golf Tour 2017! An amazing golfing adventure through Italy has come to an end...
The Travelling Golfer