Falling for Italy Part 3: Venturing in Venice

Alright. Here we are. The final part.

IMG_1525You know, honestly, I don’t have a lot to say we did. That’s not to say that we didn’t do anything, just that Venice doesn’t have as much STUFF to do as, say, Rome. That’s okay, though, because it was so beautiful it was enough of an adventure just walking around.

Of course, we did do the requisite tourist things, IMG_1537like San Marco’s. This is basically a big square by the water with the biggest “tourist attractions,” which are a church, a tower and an astrological clock. You basically stand in the middle and turn on your heel and BAM you’ve seen it all. Well, I mean, you can go in–and the church is beautiful oh my god–but it’s not enough for days and days, like Rome.

IMG_1548Another thing you can’t escape without is, of course, a gondola ride, which we also did. No, our gondolier did not sing, but that’s fine. It was meditative to ride through the canals. I got to sit in the front of the boat and just watch us move forward. It was weird to wave up at the people on the bridges, taking touristy pictures of us like we’d be taken earlier in the day.

There are, of course, the important Venice bridges, but IMG_1554honestly I didn’t take much note of them. Like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, they’ve just been taken over by sellers and tourists and aren’t much fun. I’m not even sure I have any real pictures of them. I’ll just hand you another picture of gorgeous Venice.

IMG_1593One of the things we did go and see was the Peggy Guggenheim Museum right on the Grand Canal. It houses one of the best modern art collections I’ve ever seen. Picasso, Ernst, Pollock and more are just right there, hanging out, in a space that continues to remind you it also used to be Peggy Guggenheim’s house. (She’s actually buried outside in the sculpture garden.) Along with the wine tour, it might have been one of my favorite things that we did!

Honestly, I don’t know what else I could day about the

The scarf is mine from Florence. Not the canal.

The scarf is mine from Florence. Not the canal.

individual places. Those are the highlights of the things we did, the material things. I got a lot of presents for people and even grabbed a couple of things for myself.

10730847_10152785446978631_3772624663905662044_nI titled these blog posts “Falling for Italy” because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to take this trip. I wasn’t opposed to Italy, of course, but I wasn’t as drawn to it as some of the other people I traveled with. I can say with confidence that Italy won me over, heart and soul. I do wish I had been able to actually communicate, but besides the language barrier it was a gorgeous, lovely place to take a vacation in and I enjoyed every single second of it. I’ve seen things that I never imagined I would, stood next to things I’ve only seen in textbooks and learned a bit about myself along the way. What more could you ask for, really?

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Falling for Italy Part 2: Flying through Florence

Back for round two, finally!

You know, Florence was the city that I expected the least of. I realized that I had IMG_1428absolutely no idea what was IN Florence except for great food and ended up Googling a Time Out article to tell myself. As it turns out, Florence is a great place to be if you like food AND art. And boy does my group like art.

IMG_1435One of the first galleries that we went to was the Uffizi Gallery. We went in having no expectations except for FLORENCE ART and it ended up totally worth it. Why? Because we turned the corner into one room and BAM The Birth of Venus was just RIGHT THERE. Casually. Like no big deal. It was amazing. We had no idea just how many pieces straight from art history textbooks were there. We were literally tired of art by the end.

We did of course hit up the tourist-must-dos. I have a picture of the Duomo up there, and IMG_1466then we also wandered over the Ponte Vecchio a couple of times. Honestly, both areas were both so touristy we weren’t there long.

IMG_1491One of the best things we did (possibly in the whole trip) was go on a wine tour up in Chianti. We stopped by the town of Greve and then went to two little wineries and tried a LOT of wine. Just the bus ride to and from these places were picture worthy, but looking out over the grape fields was also amazing. The mist was setting in and the sun was going down and UGH. It was like a postcard. We also just had a lot of fun as a whole–and came back with a lot of wine that was cheap and good. (Greve also had the best gelato we would have all trip.)

The one thing that we said we were going to do in Florence from the beginning was go to IMG_1517the Galleria d’ell Academia and see Michelangelo’s David. Quite frankly, I wasn’t as excited about that as some other people. I mean, he’s just a nude dude, right? But standing up close to him … it was amazing. Just the hand. The detailing of the veins in the hand. HOW is someone that talented? HOW? As I said before, there is nothing that can prepare you for seeing a bunch of things up close, whether it’s the Coliseum or David or anything in between.

Did you miss my recap of part 1 in Rome? Here’s the link! Stay tuned for the final part about Venice!

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Falling for Italy Part 1: Running in Rome

IMG_1316Better late than never, I’m writing about fall break in Italy! I’m doing this in a three part series, because there was SO MUCH THAT HAPPENED, starting at the beginning, strangely enough. The beginning would be Rome, where we literally hit the ground running!

I don’t think a person can be prepared for how MUCH there is in Rome. IMG_1333There are people, there are ruins, there are just things everywhere. Our plan for Rome was literally taking one of those tourist maps and jumping from place to place as far as we could go.

10689857_10152770759278631_2372305428764677970_nOne thing about not being prepared was making a faux paus on our very first day. We happened upon a church that we wanted to go in, but we were not dressed up to the dress code. (You could see my shoulders, and my dress did not cover my knees. [It was over 80. How anyone in there was wearing clothes I don’t know.]) A very angry church attendant told us that “this was a church, not a garden” but apparently this happens so much that these white mesh scarves are supplied so you can properly cover up.

Eventually, our wanders led us to a destination we had actually planned: The Coliseum. IMG_1350Honestly, I hadn’t expected to be wowed by it as much as I was. I certainly wasn’t expected for the sheer size, for one–I don’t think anyone ever can be. But there is also a certain majesty when you stare at it and realize how much work went into crafting just one small section. Looking down in the pit was also chilling, but it’s mediated a bit by the fact that the entire underbelly is now run by the cats of Rome.

IMG_1377Admission to the Coliseum also gets you into the Roman forum beside it, which is basically just a bunch of ruins in the same place. Like, I can’t explain to you how many. We were all so tired by the time we exited the Coliseum that we didn’t have time to do it properly, but boy did we stare. ROME HAS SO MUCH STUFF. Anyways…

On the second day, we went out to Vatican City.IMG_1388 We were lucky enough to stand there while the Pope came to his window and blessed the crowd. I didn’t understand a word of it because it was in Italian, but it was one of those times where understanding at the sentence level wasn’t important. I’m not religious, but I respect this Pope immensely and I was honored to be in his presence.

IMG_1404We couldn’t do any of the museums or anything because it was Sunday, so we wandered back around to places like the Piazza Navona and then, of course, the Pantheon. Again, just walking was amazing. Rome seems to take it’s amazing amount of history for granted, in a way. We ended up lost a little bit towards the end, and wandered past the house of the Italian President and the sadly closed Trevi Fountain.

On our last day, we went back to Vatican City in order to do the museums. Read: We IMG_1414wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. However, this experience was nothing like what we had had the day before. In the museums, they pack people in like sardines and there is a souvenir stand at every corner. In the Chapel itself, there is a speaker specifically to say “SHH” to all the disrespectful tourists packed in closer than the Central line at rush hour. Don’t get me wrong, it was all beautiful and I’m glad I went, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed.

We did so much stuff in Rome that I could barely contain it in one blog post, but there are the highlights! Stay tuned for next time when I talk about Florence!

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