Saturday, May 7, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Venice

The last stop on our trip to Italy was Venice. We had one day to tour the city by boat and walk around in St. Marks Square. I love seeing cities from the water so this was a perfect fit. We started our day by hopping on the Vaporetto which is the easiest way to get from one end of the city to the other. We rode down the Grand Canal to St. Marks Square.

The algae growing on these steps had quite a variety of colors.

We hopped off the Vaporetto to visit Doge's Palace.

Then St. Marks Square.

It was quite unfortunate to find out that The Bridge of Sighs had been totally covered up by advertisements. You couldn't even SEE the bridge from the other side.

Then we hopped back on the Vaporetto and rode over to the island where San Giorgio Maggiore Church is located to get some views of the St. Marks area (and the advertisements apparently).

St. Marks Square was nothing like I had imagined. There were hardly any pigeons and the ads and scaffolding covered up a lot of the buildings.

After lunch we made our way over to the famous Rialto Bridge.

And a view of the Grand Canal from the crowded bridge.

Plenty of tourists took their gondola ride, but we decided to pass this up... the Vaporetto wasn't nearly as expensive, and we got the pass so we could hop on and off all day.

This was where we had our last dinner in Italy, right on one of Venice's many canals.

Our trip to Italy was incredible, and now that I can't jinx us, we couldn't have asked for better weather! Hope everyone enjoyed the trip as much as we did. =)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Cinque Terre

The next area we visited was Cinque Terre on the upper western coast of Italy. There are 5 villages right along the water and some have houses located right on the steep cliffs. There are hiking trails connecting each of the villages, but when we arrived we found out that all the trails were closed except one, because of landslides that had occurred from all the recent rain. Luckily, we were able to go far enough on some of the trails to get pictures of each of the villages. We stayed in the most touristy village called Monterosso del Mare, which is more of a resort area with a beach.

Our first night, we started on the hiking trail toward Vernazza (which is supposed to be the most difficult of the hikes) but since the path was closed we had to turn around and take the train to Vernazza and hike backward a little bit to get some photos of Vernazza.

Vernazza is mainly known for its quaint little harbor.

Then we climbed up the tower that you can see on the end of the peninsula in the photo of Vernazza above.

It gave us some great views down the coast.

On our second day, we walked along the one path that was actually still open, the Via della Amore. Here you can see some of the paths along the cliffs.

This is Manarola and might be one of my favorite shots from the trail.

We were definitely disappointed when we found out that the trails were closed, but learning that the boats were running made it a little better. Some of these views could only be seen from the water.

Here are some of the landslides that required the trails to be closed.

On our last day in Monterosso we explored the areas away from the coast. Monterosso is known for its local wine which is really light and fruity, and their vineyards have been around for hundreds of years.

Our hike led us back down to the beach, which I couldn't get enough of. Yes we have beaches in Florida, but the water and landscape doesn't look like this.

Il Gigante used to be a famous landmark in this area of Italy. It was built out of concrete and used to hold a trident, but lost his arms and was damaged in WWII bombings.

Our last night in Cinque Terre, we had dinner on our balcony overlooking the village. This was our view.... amazing.

The last stop on our trip was Venice, which is coming up next.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Traveling in Italy: Siena and San Gimignano

We took a day trip from Florence to visit a couple towns in Tuscany: Siena and San Gimignano. Our first stop was in Siena where we walked the incredibly steep streets and really enjoyed the relaxed feel of this town.

We made our way from the bus station to the city center and visited the Siena Duomo. Again, the architecture of the outside was incredible, and this time the inside was just as ornate as the exterior.

This is looking up at the dome from inside.

Then we visited a few other sights and as part of the museum entrance fee, you can climb up to the panoramic view which gives you a view of the Duomo as well as Il Campo. What's another 300 steps right? This was our view of Il Campo... yet another perfect day! I could've spent hours up here... it was THAT beautiful.

Here is more of a panoramic view.

You could see so much of the countryside from up there.

We got some pizza for lunch and ate it in the middle of the plaza.

Next, after a difficult time trying to figure out how to buy tickets with no information center or manned ticket stand, we headed to San Gimignano by bus. This town is mostly visited by tourists who come to see the towers that are still standing from medieval times. We had to walk down the hill to see all the towers together.

This was a cute little secluded walkway on our way to one of the viewpoints overlooking Tuscany.

And the views were so beautiful and peaceful.

We decided if we ever get the chance to return to Italy, this is the region we'd spend our time in.

Visitors since 1/20/2008