Venezia- A Seductress

There’s a reason Venezia Italy is run over with tourists. She is a seductress, and we are the marionettes’. A fourteenth century city constructed with Venetian Gothic architecture entices us.

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Made up of 118 submerged islands, it gives the illusion of a floating city, a stunning city; The “Queen of the Adriatic” as she is appropriately called.

Some other fitting titles for this intriguing city are, “City of Water”,  “City of Bridges”, or “City of Canals”.

The “City of Masks” is another suitable nickname for this ancient lady.

Artistic and bright colored Venetian masks are worn during carnival. This traditional event takes place at the beginning of each year. Mass party-goers converge upon Venezia, plugging the maze like paths with the glitter and shine of eccentric costumes; each participant hoping to keep with custom, their identity a bit of a mystery.

Photo courtesy of Nico1
Photo courtesy of Nico1

Venezia is a labyrinth of narrow walled footpaths. Getting lost is a guarantee. You followed the map closely; certain each turn was the right one. But, here you are, retracing your steps searching for the exact spot where you were misled. Considering there are 400 footbridges and 177 canals, it’s easy to get confused.

Traffic on the Grand Canal is busy and fascinating. Small mail delivery boats are laden with packages, and they swiftly cruise by water buses and taxis. Hotel and restaurant supplies are transported the same way, urgently!

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It’s a different experience for a gondolier. The glide of his gondola is smooth and silent upon the water. He may sing to his riders. But he’ll most likely be more boisterous when he and another’s gondola come together in a slender canal!

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Cathedrals and palaces can be seen all over Europe.

I think its Venezia’s unique character that summons us.

 

Let’s Talk Firenze!

Truth, Venice is my favorite Italian city. However, Florence is a close second.

What do I love about Florence? Hmm…Where to start? I’ve been to the city of Renaissance several times, and each visit is a new pleasure!

 

1-Cappuccino and a croissant, at an outdoor café!

the one
Morning cappicciono and Croissant

2- The art of course,

Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David is there. You can view it in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Or, a replica stands in the Piazza della Signoria. I’ve seen both, but you can only take a pic in the piazza.

Me and david
Me and the replica of David

I have to admit, I have a fondness for Michelangelo. He danced to his own tune.

From Piazza della Signoria, it is a short six minute walk to the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo is buried.

 

3-Pitti Gola e Cantina

I can’t talk about Florence without mentioning Pitti Gola e Cantina! Located in Palazzo Pitti, this wine tasting room/café was designed for the love of wine. If you enjoy wine and food, I highly recommend the Wine Tasting Lunch, three course meal with four wines included. Everything is impeccable, including service. The cost is 35,00 euro per person, and totally worth it.

Pitti Gola is a small place however, a few tables are set for outdoor use, (in warm weather) and maybe five inside. I would seek reservations, they are not required, but I strongly suggest it.

While you’re in the palazzo, take a tour through Pitti Palace. You’ll see renaissance paintings and art, and hear stories about the influential Medici family.

4-The cathedral,

or Duomo can’t be missed! Literally!! This is a beautiful architectural marvel, and one of my favorites. Piazza del Duomo will be crowded, although this shouldn’t hinder you from getting some great shots.

Tickets are available to view the church’s interior, and also to climb its tower; the climb is challenging, but the view is well worth it, I’ve heard.

The duomo is also included with some “skip the line” tours.

And finally…

5-Ponte Vecchio

Florence’s oldest bridge, stretching across the Arno River, is the most popular place for shopping.

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Great restaurants, wine bars and even grocery stores are in this area. Expect a “packed house”, as they say.

 

 

Some Firenze Tips:

Arrive by plane or train

The streets in Florence are narrow and jammed with cars. The local drivers go wherever they feel they need to, to get through the mass.

I would recommend a hotel shuttle (if offered by your hotel) or shared transport, to your accommodation. A taxi is a good option, the line can get long, but it moves quickly. (At least at the train station.) A note here, do not accept help from a local offering to get you ahead in the line, unless you don’t mind paying several Euros for it.

Other than arrival, Firenze is very walk-able. Pick-up a map and enjoy exploring the city!

 

Protect your cash

We usually split money between us, and we also leave some behind locked in the safe in our room. Carry your wallet in your front pocket, or use a money belt. I use a small purse, one that I keep close to my body or even under a jacket. If I see the need for a backpack, I wear it in front instead of on my back. Pick pockets target the tourist crowds; be careful and aware of who’s around you.

 

Tip your tour guide 

Tips is their livelihood. If you choose not to tip, and there’s a chance to get even, they will! I’m speaking from personal experience.