July 22, 2014

Venice, Italy

Venice, a city that's disappearing before our very eyes. 
Although it will probably be around for decades to come,
the heritage sight has been on my wander list for years. 

It was our last stop in Italy,
a perfect parting image before we bid adieu to the land of carbs and wine. 
It's a place like nowhere else in the world.... 
I personally think it should be its own country,
but alas, this is not a political blog, but rather a place to share memories from my time abroad. 

In total, there are 118 islands, separated by canals and linked by bridges. 
There seem to be more tourists than actual residents,
especially on days when the giant cruise ships make their way in.
It's kind of annoying, and a tad bit sad in my opinion. 
But such is life, so one must look past the crowds and take in the beauty of their surroundings. 

First of, where to stay?
Not gonna lie, it's kind of a pain to get around this place, 
so it's all about planning ahead. 
We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky,
a gorgeous hotel situated in Giudecca, and offers a free shuttle to and from San Marco square all day long. 

Then there are the must-sees of San Marco square - 
Palazzo Ducale, Bell Tower of St. Mark and the Clock Tower.
Squeeze in some shopping in the Rialto market,
and, if you can afford it, take a traditional gondola ride (be prepared to shell out no less than €80).
And of course, take your time when it comes to meals. 
Grab a seat by one of the canals and try the Polenta Nella Seppia, 
a fried corn meal with the black ink of a cuttle fish, one of Venice's trademark foods.
Feel free to skip Venetian pizza... it has a rep as the worst in Italy. 
Wash it all down with a traditional Bellini, a mix of white peach juice and Prosecco,
invented at the famous Harry's Bar in Venice

Lastly, take a walk on the wild side. 
Break some rules and feed some pigeons.
The activity is technically banned in Venice,
but the photo ops are SO worth it. 


July 18, 2014

Verona, Italy

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 
 -William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Continuing on through Italy,
we settled into our cozy Fiat and drove down to Verona.
Most famously known as the setting to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet,
this quaint city has plenty to offer.
Besides the mandatory visit to Juliet's balcony,
Verona offers plenty of sights that are noteworthy.
Check out the Arena, a spectacular Roman amphitheater,
crumbling on the outside but still functioning today.
The apartment we rented during our stay, overlooked the Castelvecchio,
a 14th-century, red brick, fortified castle on the banks of the river Aldige.
The main castle buildings house the city art museum which is packed with a rich collection of medieval sculpture and Renaissance paintings - definitely worth a visit.

Let's see, what else?
There's Piazza delle Erbe and Lamberti's Tower,
but really, Verona is a perfect place for relaxation and leisurely strolls.
I recommend a shopping excursion down the golden mile,
followed by a delicious Italian feast with plenty of wine.  


June 26, 2014

Lake Como, Italy

I'm not even sure how to describe the day we spent exploring around Lake Como. 
No.. words just don't do it justice. 

The area surrounding the lake is seriously like heaven on earth, 
and is by far my favorite place in Italy. 
So far, anyway. 

We kicked off our day with a nice little breakfast at our hotel,
and then settled into our little Fiat Panda and hit the road. 
Although there are many lakes in Italy,
the 50 km long Lake Como, 
with its two "legs", 
is a perfect destination for an Italian driving/hire car holiday. 
We followed the signs to Bellagio up the narrow, windy road, 
pulling over at random to take in the views and snap photos. 
After about an hour, we found a small little restaurant, 
built on a cliffside, looking over the lake. 
We ordered a few carafes of house wine, 
and practiced the art of relaxation. 

A while later, we hopped back in our trusty Panda, 
and drove until we reached our final destination - Bellagio,
the "pearl of Lake Como". 

If you've ever been to Vegas, and thought that the Bellagio Hotel is impressive,
you must, and I mean MUST,
visit this place. 
It might be one of the most beautiful areas I've ever visited.  

I'll never forget the experience of sitting back with a nice glass of chilled wine,
overlooking the scenery of the luxurious villas built alongside the edge of the lake,
 while white yachts glide along the crystal clear water.
I think the only thing that could have made the day more magical is a run-in with George Clooney...
maybe next time!