Italy Part 2

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 5 - Venice

The next morning we caught an early train up to Venice. When I got off the train and saw the canals, it was surreal. We took the water ferry down to St. Mark’s Square.

St. Mark’s Square is the gathering place of Venice and has cafes and gelato shops lining the entire square. The cafes all have mini orchestras that play while you sit and eat, although the orchestras sometimes battle it out. Later that night I sat and listened to Nessum Dorma and Phantom of the Opera. It was like I was in a dream.

After we left St. Mark’s square, we had to do the cliché thing to do in Venice…take a gondola ride. It is a total tourist trap, but still something you have to do. Our gondolier was great as we watched the sunset down the grand canal.

That night we decided to splurge and have a really nice 4 course meal sitting on a dock over the water. It was hands down the best meal I had in Italy.

The next morning I hit up the famous Rialta bridge before we had to board our next train. Our time in Venice was short, but truly memorable.

Day 6 – Cinque Terre

After an all day train ride, we arrived in Cinque Terre. For some, it is a relatively unheard of group of 5 towns right on the northern coast of Italy, but any owner of a Rick Steve’s guide to Italy will know of this enchanting place. We arrived just in time to hike up to the castle before it closed to see the view of the town of Vernazza.

Then we decided to eat at a great place right below the castle that overlooked the ocean. Cinque Terre is famous for their pesto, so I of course indulged (pesto is one of my favorites). I had pesto lasagna which was fantastic.

Day 7 – Cinque Terre and Pisa

All of the towns of Cinque Terre are connected by trails that many of the visitors emback on. We decided to do the toughest but most beautiful hike in the morning from Monterossa to Vernazza. The hike took us through grape vineyards on the slopes of the mountains before Vernazza is back in view.

A boat from Vernazza (the 4th town) took us to the first town of Riomaggiore. From there I hiked to the remaining two cities of Manarola and Corniglia. The scenery is just beautiful and the day was a nice change of pace from the other cities we had stayed in. I even took a dip in the Mediterrenean in this perfect swimming hole.

After bidding Cinque Terre a fond farewell, I made a pit stop in Pisa. There’s not really a whole lot to see in Pisa, but I figured if I was in Italy, I had to see the leaning tower. So I took a quick bus into town and saw the tower. Everything I had heard said that you would have to wait for a couple of hours to climb the tower, but when I got there, there were tickets available ten minutes later. I decided I would probably be there once, so I had to do it. It was really cool. It was interesting because as you would climb the circular tower, you would feel yourself leaning depending on what side of the tower you were on. (Don’t mind the pictures. I was hiking all day and looked spent.)

After my short stint in Pisa, I was off to Florence for the night.

Day 8 - Florence

Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and a really fun city. Everything is pretty compact and close, so it was fun to walk around. We started off the day with a tour of the Doumo (the big domed cathedral in town).

After the Duomo, we meandered down to the leather markets to purchase some fine Italian leather. We also perused the shops of the bridge that has been home to goldsmiths for centuries, although I prevented myself from making any purchases.

After some more shopping, it was time to tour some of the famous museums in town. First stop was the Uffizi gallery. I was kind of museum’d out, but the Uffizi has some great pieces of art, including the Birth of Venus. After lunch in one of the great Piazza’s, we headed to the museum that houses Michelangelo’s David. I had definitely seen pictures of this statue, but they don’t do it justice. Michelangelo’s work and level of detail is just unbelievable. He even incorporated veins in David’s strong hands.

After some more gelato and more shopping, we headed up the hill for a grand view of the city. (As a side note, we had gelato practically every day, twice on some days, even though I haven’t mentioned it. It was delicious!)

After some more wandering, we were off to Rome for our last night in Italy and an early flight the next morning.

It was a truly great vacation that I couldn’t have asked more from and will never forget. Let’s just hope throwing a coin over my shoulder at the Trevi fountain really does guarantee a return.


Karlena said...

Jason, I think that you need to plan on taking us and your parents back there in a couple of years. What do you say. It looks like it was a dream trip. Thanks for sharing. I love Italy!

David and Deena said...

We're in too. Beautiful photos. Cute girls there too.

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