Venice – v beautiful but v expensive (even the toilets!)

How to describe Venice? It is hard to describe the indescribable. I felt like I was on a film set; that it wasn’t real and any minute I would see the director and lots of industrial-sized lights. It was too beautiful and surreal to be true.  It was also everywhere. Everywhere I looked, there was picture-perfect scenery – from the gondolas to the majestic buildings on the grand canal, to the tiny alleyways to get lost in. So quaint, so perfectly Italian.

The highlights are indisputably the Grand Canal and St Marks Square.

Grand Canal VeniceThe Grand Canal was busier and more full of life than I expected. It is very much a practical means of getting around, rather than the serene oil painting that I had expected. Continue reading

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Trieste : the real Italy

Lets be honest, we went to Trieste not for its culture or fame, but because we wanted to go to Venice, and Trieste had cheaper flights. So the plan was to fly into Trieste, spend a few days there (it’d be rude not to!) and then take the train to Venice. Then train back to airport. Simples!

Trieste isn’t a tourist hotspot, and I was a tad concerned that we had booked too long there, as there isn’t a lot to do… but that turned out to be its charm. There are no tourists and therefore we saw the real Italy. If there was a lot of sight-seeing to do, we’d be planning our days around “the sights” and rushing around trying to see everything before it’s time to go home. In Trieste, there were fewer sights, so we had the luxury of time to relax and enjoy just “being”. In fact, this trip goes down in history as the most relaxed I have been in living memory. And that’s quite a claim! 🙂

Trieste main squareSo what sights does Trieste have to offer? Well, there’s Piazza Unita D’Italia Continue reading

Pisa : the best mini pizzas in the world?

Most people visit Pisa for one thing – the Leaning Tower. And who can blame them? It is a breathtaking sight. But we found that Pisa has more to offer. So when the coach tours had left for another day we found ourselves to be in a tranquil quaint Italian town.

Obviously we did the main sights – after all who would come to Pisa and NOT see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! However we enjoyed it from the outside only and we did not climb it…  I understand that you need to book ahead for that.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this was seeing the many tourists doing the classic “I’m holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” pose. Continue reading

Florence : cherry blossom and ice cream!

I will always remember the spring sunshine and cherry blossom in Florence. And the massive mounds of ice cream, obviously! This was ice cream unlike anything I’d ever seen before, or since. It became our nightly ritual to have an ice cream for pudding each evening while strolling around as the sun set.

Florence is a beautiful city. Each morning we walked along the river towards the Ponte Vecchio. This is an ancient bridge with jewellery shops spanning the length of it. It is customary for lovers  to chain a padlock on to the railings on or near the bridge to symbolise their eternal love. Continue reading