Venice is magical. I think they should have a rule that while in Venice you need to wear period costume. From the minute we arrived we felt like we had been transported back in time. I kept expecting to see the Doges and the Medici’s, Marco Polo and Casanova. There were so many costume stores and beautiful outfits and masks for every imaginable ball you could picture.
Our 3 trips to Italy have all been in off season, October for us. Truthfully I don’t know if there is an off season in Italy anymore. There were still tons of tourists lugging their gigantic bags up and down steps, through narrow alleys and over bridges, while craning their necks to take in all the sights as they tried to find their hotels. And yes Jim and I were 2 of them. I think I took 100 pictures before we made it to the hotel, didn’t help that we got off at the wrong stop especially when there was a stop right by our hotel. We were staying right beside the Rialto Bridge, full of hotels, cafes on the canal and lots of boats.
One of the hardest choices every day was where to eat. Coffee was easy right downstairs, but lunches and dinners so many choices of food. So many choices of cafes and restaurants, on the Canals, in an alley, at one of the big hotels. One of the highlights of our trip was not only the expensive gondola ride which was well worth the price so we didn’t have to share and we did it at night time (a truly different feeling at night time, it was actually a little quieter) was a trip to a mini 30 minute opera, amazing, There truthfully is nowhere in the world like Venice.
Florence blew me away, I never realized how much history it had and such a great location for getting around this part of Italy. We had the pleasure of joining up with David and Stephanie and Stephanie’s parents as they celebrated their honeymoon. From train trips to Pisa, to a wine tour to Sienna for my birthday where we popped a bottle of champagne in Piazza Del Campo where the famous Palio de Siena is held. And is now famous for my 62 birthday celebration :). To just checking out all the history in Florence itself. It was a busy 7 days with lots of great food and wine to keep us going. Not to mention the coffee and pastries on every street corner.
We rented a 3 bedroom apartment right in the heart of Florence so we could walk everywhere and come back for a siesta and rum and coke in the afternoon before we set off on our evening adventures.
Along with all the normal tourist stops, the DAVID, the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) we also discovered the Laurentian Medici Library, it was designed by Michelangelo in 1523 and holds 11,000 manuscripts and 4500 books. Definitely worth a visit to see the thinking of the time and how progressive they were.
Living in the Toronto area where we have to drive, cab or public transport to do anything, it is such a bonus to spend time in these European cities where all you need are a good pair of walking shoes and Venice and Florence definitely fall into that category.