Sunday, October 28, 2012


I was unprepared for the effect that Venice had on me. From my very first glimpse of the city I became enchanted with it. Sure, like everyone else I had seen countless photos of Venice, but there's something about being there that is completely overwhelming. I tried to understand why Venice had such an effect on me and I think it's a combination of the fact that there is water everywhere you look, the quality of the light is diffused and kind of dreamy and also, that there is simply no other city on the planet like this one.  

The Grand Canal

Everywhere you look, there is beauty...

...even the hanging laundry is beautiful. And, I loved seeing it as it was a reminder that there are still Venetians who live here.
Walking around in the very narrow streets of Venice is an adventure in itself. You simply have to expect to get lost several times, it's inevitable. Not too scary during the day but at night, that's another story. Yup, we got lost around midnight and could not find our way home, until we found someone who pointed us in the right direction. We had been going around in circles for nearly an hour. 
Looking through the windows of the Bridge of Sighs in the Doge's Palace. This would have been the prisoner's last view  of Venice before they were taken to be executed. Apparently, Casanova spent some time in the prisons of the Palace, but he managed to escape.
On our way to the island of Murano to see the glass-makers. It was fun to experience the canals of Venice in a boat. 

Many people asked me if I went on a gondola ride, and technically the answer is yes, as we hopped into a traghetto, which is the gondola used by Venetians to cross the Grand Canal.  We had fully intended on going for a ride in a gondola but when we got there we changed our minds. Mostly, it was a combination of the steep price (85 euros for 50 min) and the fact that the gondoliers seem completely uninterested in the entire exercise. We saw more than one gondolier talking away on their cell phone while they had a boatful of disappointed-looking  people.
 Frittura mista de pesce or mixed fried fish is a speciality in Venice. We had this, as well as fantastic pizza and prosecco on our last night in Italy. 

As you can tell, I fell under Venice's spell, unfortunately, many other people wanted to experience Venice at the same time as us. We were lucky enough to stay at a friend's apartment and I asked her how she felt about the throngs of tourists. She said that Venetians have mixed feelings about the tourists: on the one hand they need us to survive, as Venice's economy is intrinsically linked to tourism but on the other hand, sometimes, as she said: "you just want to get to where you're going without fighting your way through hordes of people." Oh well, I get what she's saying but I still intend to return to Venice someday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Falling for Florence

I had a bit of a love affair with Florence. The stunning city is known for its art, in particular, the famous statue of David from Michelangelo. It is also a city for lovers of beauty. I took hundreds of photos during our two days in Florence because there was something stunning  everywhere I looked. Sigh, I miss Florence already!
A view of the Arno river and one of Florence's romantic bridges.
I'll never forget my first sight of the city, at night, in the rain.

 Sweets in the window of Scudieri. I did not try any of it but it was lovely to look at.
A glimpse of the Duomo. 
Michelangelo's famous David. I admit it, we only saw the reproduction as I had failed to plan ahead and reserve our time to see the original inside the Accademia. We just weren't up to waiting upwards of three hours in line to see it. Oh well, next time!

Our Italian adventure ends in Venice, which I will have you tour in my next post. See you soon!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Two weeks in Italy

The beginning of Fall was the perfect time to fly off to Italy for two weeks. The kids were settled into their school routines and I assumed that Italy would be a little less crowded at that time of year. That last statement turned out to be not quite true. It seemed as if the entire world decided to visit at the same time that we did! Despite the crowds, we had a fabulous time. We pretty much ate our way through Italy but, thankfully, we also did a whole lot of walking. My motto was "a gelato a day" while my husband's was "up for adventure." We were true to both! 

Our first stop was the Eternal City, Rome. Rome is breathtaking and grand but also easy to get around on foot. We were lucky enough to have rented an apartment through Airbnb which was mere steps to the Pantheon. It turned out to be a great pied-à-terre in Rome. The only drawback was that it is up four flights of stairs, quite a hike when you've been walking hours and hours during the day. 
The first of many, many cups of gelato. Yum!

In my opinion, Caffe Sant'Eustachio is where you will find the best cappuccino in Rome.
The awe-inspiring Colosseum
Cycling on the very bumpy Appian Way. The best part was the wine and cheese in the middle of the six-hour bike tour. The worst part was cycling in Rome traffic to get to the countryside. Scaaary!
The Trevi Fountain, at night. Of course we threw a coin in the fountain, to ensure our return to Rome, someday.

Friends, please stay tuned as I will be posting on the rest of our Italian adventures soon. Next stop, lovely Florence.