Mario and I headed to Italy with a local travel company. We left early Saturday with a day full of driving. We headed towards Italy by passing through Switzerland. We passed Lake Como on the way and saw some of the beautiful lakes Switzerland has to offer.
We spent the night in Prada, which is about 30 mins west of Venice. We had time after checking in, so we explored the city center, which was about a 20 minute walk from the hotel.
We left Sunday morning heading towards Venice. I was eager to return to Venice and see more of what this city has to offer. Our first stop was a quick tour of how Murano glass is made and the opportunity to buy some glassware. and then some free time before our gondola ride.
A quick side note: Murano is one of the islands in the lagoon which is famous for glass making. Sadly, our time in Venice didn’t permit to visit any of the islands. The two other islands are Burano and Torcello. Burano is known for the colorful canal houses and lace while Torcello was the first settled area which is now is overgrown canals and green field with only a few building of the past.
Next, we enjoyed more of Venice by taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Seeing the city by gondola is must! Our gondola held 6 people so we shared it with our fellow travelers. While on the ride we travel thought the Grand Canal which houses the Rialto Bridge. Last time I was in Venice, it was being worked on, so it was nice to see it done.
We walked to the Rialto Bridge and just wonder around, which is the best way to explore Venice. While searching on Pinterest one day of things to see in Venice I came across a bookstore called Acqua Alta Bookstore and it looked interesting, so I wanted to find it. It was tucked down a side alleyway. It was very unique with lots of charm.
We met our follow travelers and took a boat back to the bus. On the island of Venice cars aren't allowed, so we had to take the boat. The bus had to pay drive over the bridge and then had to pay again to a park. Many of these cities we traveled to charged the bus to drive in and out of the city. It is crazy expensive. Our tour guide said it cost about 1,300 euro to go in and out of the cities we visited for the bus and that didn't include parking. After leaving Venice we headed towards Rome, where we would be spending the next 3 nights. It had been 11 years since I was in Rome and was eager to return.
The next day we had the opportunity to explore the Vatican City, which is the smallest country, which fits into the capital city of Italy, Rome. Since we went on a Monday it was super busy because it is closed on Sunday. During our tour, we saw some of the gardens, walked through the museum to get to the Sistine Chapel and ended at the Basilica of St. Peter.
After visiting Vatican City, we had a small lunch before starting our walking tour of Italy. On this day it will in the low 90’s making a very hot day, but we found shade when we could. On the walking tour we saw many of Rome’s sites such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon and ended at the Piazza Navona which central point in the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
The rest of our group decided to do a Roman style dinner with an opera singer which I had done years prior, so we opted for a few more hours in Rome. Our first stop was to explore St. Angelo which is a massive fortress. We were able to see the aspects of the castle history was we explored it. The view from the top gave a wonderful view of Rome. After, we walked to the Spanish Steps which has the Fontana della Baraccia at the base.
On Tuesday morning we left Rome and headed towards Pompeii and Sorrento. Ever since I was little I wanted to explore the ruins of Pompeii, and I was finally seeing it! Despite the hot, sunny weather we toured the ruins which are located near the base of Mt. Vesuvius. In the year 79AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted quickly covering the city in ash. After our tour we had a quick lunch of pizza of course..when in Italy right! From there we traveled to the city of Sorrento which on the Amalfi coast. As we drove in we saw the coast which were lined with houses. We had some time, so we walk down to the beach and enjoyed the view from our park bench in the shade. We grab a quick bite at a cafe in the heart of town, then started our trip back to Rome.
The next morning, we left Rome and headed towards Florence. Florence is home of the Renaissance and home to the statue of David. Upon arriving we took a city tour which pointed out many famous sites. With it being summer all the lines for the attractions were long, so I was unable to go explore them. On our tour we saw the Galleria Dell Academia, which houses the original statue of David, the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and the Duomo or dome of the cathedral. After the tour we had some time to explore on our own. On the way out of town we stopped for a panoramic view of Florence with had another statue of David.
We traveled to our restaurant for our Florence Gala, which was our 4-course dinner with unlimited wine. We started off with Blumond which was peached flavor blue champagne. First course was antipasto plates, Second course was pasta (ravioli with truffle sauce and rigatoni with sausage). Three Course was Prime Rib with potatoes. Finally dessert which was cake and strawberry pannacotta. I tried the different wines but enjoyed Volatre the most so I got two bottle for the house.. After a long day we arrived at our hotel which was nestled into the hillside overlooking Florence.
On Thursday morning, we left Florence and started our commute back to Germany. On the way we stopped at Pisa. We were given time to explore and eat a quick lunch. From there we headed home, arriving home in the evening.
A teacher who loves traveling the world.