When in Rome, Venice, Florence, etc...

Trip Start Dec 22, 2011
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Trip End Jul 04, 2012


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Flag of Italy  , Liguria,
Sunday, March 25, 2012

Heading back to Italy, where I first really fell in love with travel, was something I'd been looking forward to for a long time. I was a little nervous, too, because maybe I'd talked it up too much to Sam.

Nope. Still love it. And it taught Sam a few things too, most importantly that wine by the carafe is a wonderful thing. Oh yeah, and then there's the food...

We had 2 weeks of le dolce vita, kicking off in the Eternal City. Rome's chaos called to us after a catch up on well earned, Tel-Aviv-Airport-stolen sleep. The crowds of the Vatican were our first real experience of the theme park nature of Europe, even if we are lucky enough not to be in peak season. Sam tried his best to be the zen master and we shuffled through the conveyor belt route to the Rafael rooms and the Sistine Chapel. No matter how packed it is, it's worth it. It's also worth the guaranteed stiff neck from staring up at Michelangelo's masterpieces. St Peter's and a climb up to the cupola were next... if you can climb it, climb it. We finished off with the Pantheon (still my favourite building in the world, Aya Sophia a close second) and Piazza Navona.
Day 2 involved a very rushed visit to the Colosseum (tip: do NOT pay for a guided tour), truncated trip to the Forum (see above tip), Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain (Sam's favourite).

We also ate a lot of food and drank some wine.

Next stop, Venice. Nothing is like it, nothing comes close. A new view every couple of steps, coming straight out of a movie (preferably Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade... we seem to be following Indy around a fair bit). Even though the place is obviously packed with tourists, we did manage to get off the beaten track. Most of our time, though, was wandering the streets and canals before sitting down for some solid people watching, followed by some more wandering. We ticked off major sites (St Marks, the Rialto etc), but the best of Venice is outside, not in.

In Venice, there was pasta. There was pizza. There was wine.

Onwards to Florence. Moving into our adorable little apartment near the Pitti Palace, we settled in for a well deserved relax (the constant on-the-move is tiring me a little). A wander around the city, heading int the Duomo, was enough for us for the day. The worst line yet was waiting for us at the Uffizi... I know, I know, we should have prebooked! After almost bailing after 2 1/2 hours, the masterpieces were in front of us. It was wonderful to be in there but that line had depleted any recovered energy levels.

Lots of sangiovese, pizza, pasta and nutella gelato.

People in at work, especially Mike, had been talking about Lucca for a long time. We discovered that there is a reason why. On a glorious spring day we explored this gorgeous old town and decided that we'd love to return to Puccini's home. The old city walls were a great way to walk, relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Re food: see above.

Finally the Cinque Terre.When I'd visited this beautiful place 10 years ago with Mum, we'd been very sorry that we weren't able to actually stay in one of the villages themselves. This time, I was determined to do it right and booked a cute b'n'b right on the harbour of Riomaggiore. Best decision ever. We loved sitting in the window and watching life go on around us - the nonnas hanging out their washing, the fishermen bringing in their daily hauls, the tourists wandering around looking for the best sunset point (which btw we certainly found). Unfortunately the area was devastated by flooding last October and is still recovering. Many of the paths between the villages were washed away and the most beautiful village, Vernazza, has been terribly scarred. Nonetheless we walked, explored and loved this beautiful place.

And we ate. And drank. Oh how we ate and drank.





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