Tag Archives: Venice

Too much of a good thing

19 Mar

Speaking of diminishing marginal returns, this is a terrible photo of the delicious antipasti at our Bolognese dinner at Il 15 the second night. Tragically, I left almost an entire plate of pasta uneaten. Meal fail.

Noel and I have had a bit of a traveling fail. We need to rewind all the way to Thursday, when we were supposedly on our way to Florence to enjoy the free museums. Well, as Noel’s boyfriend put it when he heard the story: “Florence is so cool it sells out.”

Taking the sold-out morning train as a sign of overwhelming crowds on the Florence end, we opted not to take the slightly later train and to save Florence for another day, as originally planned. Instead we bought tickets for a noon train to nearby Ferrara and power walked back to the main square to catch Bologna’s parade for Unification Day.

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting all the military action, but it was neat to see the flags everywhere. I was almost sorry we were leaving Bologna, actually, because everyone seemed to be in a festive mood and enjoying the sunny morning.

With still a couple hours before the train, we climbed Bologna’s tallest tower. Coming in at a remarkable 97 meters, almost double the height of Pisa’s tower, the Torre Asinelli offers a fantastic view for those able to get up all 498 of the steep, worn wooden steps.

We eventually made our way to Ferrara, only 30 minutes away on the train, and it turns out they were celebrating Unification Day with free entrance to museums too! So we explored their castle (one of the few in Italy with a functioning moat—“functioning” in the sense that there’s still water, not that it keeps out invading enemies). We peeked in their duomo (the first time I’ve been caught touring a church when a service started). We shared a gelato (strawberry and some yummy white chocolate and fudge flavor).

I think every Italian city I’ve visited has felt less claustrophobic than Bologna because they don’t have the portici covering the sidewalks and hiding the sky. I have been grateful on so many occasions for the portici (I think they’re ruining my instinct to grab an umbrella when going out on a rainy day), but it’s a nice change to stroll without them, especially through Ferrara’s many pedestrian-only walkways.

OK but the plan for the next day, yesterday, was to try again for Florence. We didn’t have tickets, but figured if we arrived when the museums opened the lines wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately that meant catching a 6:45 train. Well, that didn’t happen. Noel met me in the kitchen at 5:30 looking like an absolute zombie: jetlag had struck again—she’d only slept for two hours. Today was not a day for touring museums.

"I don't trust them."

Venice, however, doesn’t require the intense focus of appreciating Renaissance art, nor does it require as early a start. We left for Venice around 10 and had a lovely sunny day strolling around the canals and listening to Rick Steves.

"I'm on a boat!"

But we should make it a fairly early night, we reasoned; we’ve got Cinque Terre tomorrow. Well…

I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this if we’d made it, but I’m kind of glad I am. I feel a little bad: I’ll have another shot at Cinque Terre before I leave, but Noel definitely won’t. We are both bone-tired already, and that’s not the way we want to start our week in Rome and Sorrento on Monday. I think we need this weekend to regroup a little, rest these weary feet.

We will be leaving for Rome before the sun even comes up on Monday for six days down south—that’s the plan, at least.

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Carnevale is a story best told with photos

28 Feb

 

Birthday post

26 Feb

Dinner at Pane e Panelle

I haven’t got much time to write, as we’re catching a train to Venice to experience Carnevale in just about an hour, but I wanted to assure everyone that I had a wonderful day yesterday. Colin took me out for a fun seafood dinner, and then a few friends met us back at the apartment for way too much cake and just enough proscecco. Colin found time to decorate the apartment with streamers and balloons and cute signs and to make me a delicious chocolate zucchini cake. I’ll post a picture or two tomorrow while I’m recovering for the madness of Venice.

Inferno cake

Walking on water

5 Feb

About as close as I got to a gondola. (They're really expensive.)

Venice struck me as exactly how it looks in the movies, but now that I think about it, I haven’t seen too many movies set in Venice. It’s not how it’s represented in Vegas, that’s for sure, so the picture in my mind must just be from twenty-three years of picking up subtle cultural clues.

My point is, Venice looked precisely how I imagined it would. It was perfect.

Being surrounded by so much water made me bubble over with joy. Colin laughed at me bouncing on my toes and giggling at the boats.

We had blue skies and pleasant temperatures, and since almost no one travels in January, there weren’t even too many tourists to compete with. We didn’t go into any of the museums or churches since I’m planning on visiting again in a couple months with a friend, and I really just wanted to be outside and stroll.

My poor digital camera cannot properly capture the beautiful colors of the marble of St. Mark's Basilica behind me.

Stroll we did, to areas that Venice’s tourists never find. That’s what happens when you have a crowd-averse travel buddy. We found the public gardens and lunched in a trattoria packed wall to wall with construction workers. What was on the menu? Bolognese sauce, of course!

It really is sinking.

We caught the 7 p.m. train back to Bologna with tired feet and one new souvenir to bring home.