As I was trying to pull it all together I was pretty convinced I had lost my mind.
Within a span of less than three weeks I accepted a new job offer, ended my position (and first job!) with my wonderful company of 4.5 years, planned a trip to Italy, hosted a good friend for six days, flew to Seattle for a weekend for my new job and did a top to bottom cleaning of our apartment for the couple who would be renting it while we were away.
Miraculously, it all got done and we were off on a whirlwind two-week adventure to Italy.
- Venice – 3 nights
- Cinque Terre (Manarola) – 3 nights
- Florence (with a Tuscany day trip) – 3 nights
- Rome – 4 nights
Guide book: Rick Steves Italy aka “The Steves”
Italy Part I – Venice
I fell in love with Venice.
No museums to feel obligated to visit, no blockbuster monuments to check off. It felt amazing to just…wander.
Venice is a unique, car-free, island city wonderland. There was little need for a map because we were never really going anywhere in particular. With water on all sides to contain us, Venice was ours to explore.
Gliding through the labyrinth of alleyways, one never knew exactly what to expect around the next turn (although it was most likely a small bridge over a canal with a gondola carrying a group of excited tourist squeezing under it).
Top Venice Memories
Watching Boats Navigate the Canals
Stopping into Cicchetti (tapas-style) Bars
It was so much fun to stand at the counter and enjoy a 1 euro glass of house wine and whatever snacks were available to taste while chatting with locals and tourists alike
The View from the Top of St. Mark’s Basilica
Dinner on a Bridge at Sunset
Stumbling Upon a Fill-Your-Own-Bottle Homebrew Wine Shop
If this was going to happen to anybody…
Playing Catch with a Venetian Dog in a Piazza
The nighttime street life was amazing. With no cars, there were so many people out enjoying the piazzas and outdoor seating
Aqua Alta – Walking on Planks in St. Mark’s Square
Aqua alta or “high waters” is when there is partial flooding of Venice’s lagoon and the city places these planks to keep people above the water. There was only a tiny bit of flooding in the square on our last day, but I loved using the planks to get around the area
Taking Poor Man’s Gondolas – Crossing the Grand Canal on a Traghetto
These plain looking gondolas transport locals and tourist across the canal between the bridges for .50 euro a ride
I like the idea of switching hotels once in a city in order to experience various areas and amenities. We stayed first on the south side of the island east of San Marco tucked in slightly from the waters edge (Hotel Nuovo Teson). The last two nights were spent near the Rialto Bridge in a pensione with a shared bath (Pensione Guerrato). Both had breakfast, but the first hotel had a traditional European breakfast with hard boiled eggs, fantastic rolls and meat and cheese.
Lots and lots of tapas and (probably too much) 1 euro house wine. Good seafood and lots of cured meats.
When asking around before our trip I had heard such mixed reviews about Venice ranging from “love” to “hate” so I really didn’t know what to expect. My guess is the “haters” spent all their time along the busy and touristy Grand Canal and did not break off and just wander. Is it time to go back yet?