B and I recently came back from a 10 day trip to Italy, and it was amazing. I hadn’t been in 20 years and B had never been … and we’d been discussing this trip for years so we FINALLY bit the bullet and did it. As I currently have it outlined, I should be able to get the trip done in five posts – four for the trip and one for the food. This is the second of those posts.
Friday, April 13:
I weirdly woke up this morning with a rash on my forearms that ended up spreading elsewhere on my body. I hoped it was just heat rash (though how *that* would have developed, I have no clue) and that it would go away in a few days.
(thankfully, it did.)
We ate breakfast at the hotel before checking out and wandering to take the metro to Milano Centrale so we could catch a train to Venice. We got to the station way earlier than we needed which meant cappuccino time (and we split a croissant).
The train trip itself was fairly uneventful. As I was without a book (boooo), I mostly just watched the scenery roll by … and it was pretty gorgeous. Got a glimpse of a lake near Verona and kind of wished I was on that side of the train so I could have gotten a picture.
B on the train. We bought first class tickets for all our train trips – it had been recommended to us and it was totally the way to go.
We got into Venice and I was on Google maps trying to figure out where to go when we got accosted by a dude with a porter “helping” with our bags to a water taxi … when I totally actually wanted the water bus.
The ride was nice …
Gondola as seen from the water taxi.
Hanging out in the back.
… but it wasn’t 90 fucking euros nice. (20 for the porter who carried our bags 50 yards and 70 for the taxi. I didn’t tip the driver even though I probably should have. He can bitch to the asshole who directed us to him.) It was our one mistake on the trip and I am still kicking myself over it as you can tell. ARGH.
Once again, we were basically able to check into our hotel right away … which seemed really weird for both of us. We figured it was because we weren’t traveling during peak tourist season, but who knows, really.
Tiny room. The cube shower was what I think of when I think of European showers – just enough room to clean yourself.
We changed clothes and then headed right back out to find food and wander around. I had major issues with Google maps and their directions finding lunch and combine that frustration along with hangry-ness and it was the first (and only!) time on the trip that we got really close to snapping at each other.
Pro tip: If you buy an international data plan and use the Google … ignore their directions. Streets change willy-nilly and trying to find street signs will just cause undue anxiety. Instead, follow the little blue dot line on the map and navigate that way. While it might seem like you’re using up ALL OF THE DATA … trust me, you aren’t. My plan gave me a gig of data and I didn’t even come close to using up half of it over this trip. Of course, I also threw it into airplane mode and used WiFi when it was available to be safe.
We eventually stumbled upon the lunch place B found on the interwebs as one of the best places to eat at … it wasn’t bad. We discovered the Ponte di Rialto during that adventure and found it crawling with tourists.
Post-lunch, we grabbed some gelato and then it was off to St. Mark’s Square.
Down a canal.
St. Mark’s Square.
We chose not to worry about going in.
Our next stop was all for me – the Libreria Acqua Alta. I had seen photos and I had to get some of my own. It was amazing.
The book steps that are all over Pinterest. Bad lighting to get photos of a person on them, though, so sad day for that.
This fire exit sign cracked me up.
From there, we kind of got turned around and ended up in a part of town we didn’t necessarily want to be in … but since Venice is so tiny, no harm no foul. We next found our way to the San Zaccaro church and its flooded crypt.
Difficulties of being in a city that’s essentially sinking.
From there, we found our way to a gluten-free shop our friends Norm and Emily who went to Italy this past November visited. Norm asked us to pick up something as a favor for Emily’s birthday which is coming up soon, so we did that.
Then off to the hotel to chill out for a bit before venturing back out to dinner. I had read that you wanted to hit up the Rialto at sunset, so I snuck out of dinner to do so … didn’t get any good sunset shots, but I did get an evening Venice shot off the bridge.
Saturday, April 14:
So you know how I mentioned above that I read that you wanted to hit up the Rialto at sunset? Well, I actually meant sunset AND sunrise. I’m not completely sure as to *why* that’s a recommendation, as the lighting wasn’t amazing at either … but sunrise was a fantastic time to hit up the bridge because it was EMPTY.
Could not have gotten this shot during the day. Or at night. Or any other time.
Okay, so the lighting wasn’t *completely* terrible at sunrise …
Absolutely no way I could have gotten this during the day or the night prior.
Completely worth waking up for.
Mossy steps leading into the Grand Canal. Rialto is behind me, for reference.
Our next stop was the Ponte di Chiodo – the bridge with no parapet. It is one of two bridges in Venice left that doesn’t have a handrail and, I’m not going to lie, it was a little weird walking down it.
Completely glad we went looking for it, though.
Street view from the bridge.
Last main thing I wanted to see in Venice seen, we popped back to the hotel to grab a few euros for a cappuccino at a cafe we saw open and then BACK to the hotel to shower, pack up, and eat breakfast.
View from our window, looking down.
We then took the water bus we were SUPPOSED TO TAKE IN THE FIRST PLACE back to the train station.
Seen on the ride.
Then, at the train station, it was time to sit around and wait for our train to Florence.
I saw donuts. I totally bought one, too.
We took a different train company up to Florence – Italo as opposed to the TrenItalia Frecciarossa. Wasn’t necessarily better or worse – just different.
We did sit next to each other though as opposed to being across from each other.
Florence, thankfully, was completely easier to navigate than Venice … although that could also be due to the map trick from above. In any case, made it to the hotel just fine … and once again, checked in right away.
Room was super nice – we got a balcony!
Just chilling in the sunshine.
Our location was wonderful – on the banks of the Arno, just one bridge down from the Ponte Vecchio. We got settled in, I figured out how much data I had been using (I was worried after the Venice navigational nightmares), set up alerts (which is how I know I barely used any on this trip since I got no alerts) … and ended up napping. Oops.
Woke up around 3:30p and decided to wander around. We got gelato at some place B found on the interwebs as supposedly amazing (eh).
And clearly upgraded to two flavors.
In our simple wandering, we found our way to the Plaza dell’Accademia as well as the Duomo, so it’s nice that everything is easily navigable that way as well. We went back to the hotel where B proceeded to nap and I killed the last of my nook battery. Dinner was takeaway pizza from the BEST PIZZA PLACE EVER (no, seriously, it may have surpassed T’s for me), Gusta Pizza.
He’s so happy.
Om nom nom.
This was one of the best moments of the trip – eating delicious, authentic pizza (owners are from Naples) on our own private balcony in Florence.
I tried to catch the sunset after dinner, but it was too hazy to be really good.
Sunday, April 15:
I woke up at 3:30a … probably due to my nap the day previous. Oops. It ended up being okay, however, as we went running pre-dawn up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to try to catch the sunrise and get views of the city.
We didn’t get a sunrise, but we did get amazing views.
B hanging out.
See? Amazing views.
We also ended up chatting with some Italian locals (well, kind of – he was from Turin originally) who we’re pretty sure were still up from the night before. Heh.
Ran back to the hotel, grabbing some more euros out of an ATM along the way.
And a shot of the Ponte Vecchio, clearly.
We ate breakfast at the hotel when we got back, showered, and wandered around, stumbling upon the Florence Half-Marathon along the way.
We had seen signs for it in our hotel’s elevators … and I didn’t think until later to look up if they had other distances. I am not in half shape by any means, but I totally could have done the non-competitive 8K. Plus it was cheap. Dangit.
One thing B really wanted to do was to go to (Catholic) mass while we were in Italy, so we found a church with an English speaking service and went (totally my first time going to mass in like two years). We also got roped into doing the readings which was a touch awkward.
Wandered around a bit more after church and grabbed some paninis for lunch which we ate near the Duomo.
All in all, though, it was a pretty lazy day. I was almost successful in not napping that afternoon (almost). We did find a great place for dinner and did the full three (four?) course thing and pretty much rolled out of the restaurant (more on that when I do the food blog).