Venice (a summary of Italy)

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
1
5
13
Trip End May 28, 2006


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Friday, April 7, 2006

The past 10 days in Italy have been awesome. James (who was also along for the Israel trip) was able to travel with me throughout Italy, so the two of us arrived in Bari, Italy by ferry on March 30th. We caught a train that took us to Naples, in the southern area of Italy.

Naples was nice. The weather was warm (mid 20īs most of the time). Apparently Naples is the city where pizza was born, so we had to give it a shot. We found a small pizza shop that had been making pizzas since 1870, and it was definately the best pizza I have ever had. Nice and simple and done in an old brick and stone oven, this is how pizza was meant to be. Unfortunately, Naples has a pretty happening black market, too. Just walking down the street, a guy tried to sell us a brand new Sony laptop and tiny digital camera. He was asking for 900 Euro for both, but after talking to him for a minute or two we had him down to 120 Euro (no, I didnīt buy the stolen goods...). Rediculous.

While we were in Naples, James and I took a day trip down to Pompeii, an old city which was wiped out by a volcano eruption almost 200 years ago. The city was quite impressive and well preserved. For some reason, every tourist information person we talked to thought we were French. We couldnīt figure this out; maybe the Canadian flag on my pack wasnīt big enough.

From Naples we took a train up to Rome where we spent 3 days. What we didnīt know was that a year ago was when Pope John Paul II died, so they were having a bit of a memorial shin-dig for the few days when we were there. With that came thousands of tourists and visitors to the city, so pretty much all the hotels and hostels were booked solid, but we still managed to find a hostel close to the station for 3 nights. We spent the first day walking around the city and doing all the touristy things (like seeing the Coloseum and the old Roman Forum). The next day we got up early to go to Vatican where we saw St. Peters Basillica and the Pope address the crowd. The final day was spent at the huge Vatican Museum (and the Sistine Chapel) and strolling through some nice, less busy streets in southern Rome. We apparently wandered onto some private property, so an old Italian grandma came out to chase us out with a broom in hand (sorry, no pics). When we werenīt walking around Rome (or getting chased by old people), we enjoyed the fine Roman cuisine of great pastas and cheap Italian wine.

On April 4th we pulled into the train station at Florence. They definately have the best outdoor market that Iīve seen, and the cleanest one at that. Florence is a nice city, it didnīt seem to have the same craziness that Rome had. There were, however, still a wackload of tourists. I think I heard more english on the streets than Italian. For our second day we took a day trip to Pisa to see that good olīleaning tower, and came back to see the museum with the famous statue of David.

We rolled into Bologna on April 6th, dropped our stuff off at our hotel, and got right back on the train that took us to Modena. From here we got on a bus to Maranello, home of the Ferrari factory and museum. The whole town basically lives off the Ferrari name, with every small restaurant and bar waving the Ferrari flag. The museum was cool, and we saw quite a few Ferraris driving throughout the small town. We tried to get into the factory, but apparently you need to OWN a Ferrari to get a tour. I didnīt quite take that into my budget for this trip.

The last city in Italy that we saw was Venice, which I really enjoyed. It was great to get away from all the cars and scooters that were ready to run you over in other cities. Yeah, itīs another tourist trap (and itīs true: the pigeons are only outnumbered by tourists). Here we spent 2 relaxing days just walking through the city and eating. Iīm not sure if we ate anything other than gelato and pizza the whole time. The last night, after sharing a pizza that was a massive 2 feet across, James and I went off to the airport just outside the city where he caught a flight to London, and then back home to Toronto.

I plan on comming back to Italy a little later in my trip when Iīll go to Milan (and try to catch an AC Milan vs. Roma football match) and west to Cinque Terre. But for now, Iīm heading north to Austria where Iīll meet up with Emily, a good friend from High School.
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