October 27, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... part 3

Venice, I don’t think there’s any other place like it. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city so photogenic. I could have taken a picture about every single step and they would all have been stunning. The amount of amazing architecture and the colors, oh those colors are amazing! And the light and the reflections! It’s an artists dream!  

Funny thing about Venice is that everyone that had spoken to me about it beforehand had mentioned the smell, most of the time it would be the first thing people mentioned. We didn’t get any of that though, the only smell we had was that of salt water and fresh air which I happen to like a lot. I guess the bad smell is only in the height of summer when it’s really hot. 

We had parked the car at the Venice airport and took a boat to the city which is an amazing way to arrive because it gives you those first glimpses of the city from the water and you enter the city through the Grand Canal. Our hotel was located near the Rialto bridge, it was a bit tricky to fins due to the duplicate street names and weird numbering system. But once we had found it it was a very pleasant surprise. We had a room on the fifth floor with two windows offering beautiful views over the rooftops of Venice. 

Venice has so many things to offer that I think we have only scratched the surface on this first visit. We walked to San Marco square, watched the sunset from the top of the Campanile, did a boat tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello and rode a gondola at night. we only did a couple of churches and one museum because there was simply not enough time. It is definitely a city we would want to visit again!

Venice was our midway point, now we were slowly going to make our way back to Rome. But not before we had seen the Lago di Garda, Migelangelo’s David and Leonardo’s birthplace but more on that in next weeks blog post...

October 18, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... Part 2 - by Denise Buisman Pilger

The next part of our trip would take us to the Adriatic Coast. After dodging a multitude of scooter drivers with a death wish we picked up the highway to cross Italy, encountering stunning views of rugged mountains and villages perched on impossible cliffs along the way. Knowing that most of the Adriatic coastline is filled with high-rise hotels and tacky beach resorts we picked Parco del Conero as our goal. This 58 sq km park only a couple of minutes from Ancona offered not only stunning views on an almost unspoiled piece of coastline but also the unique experience of spending the night in an actual fort located on the beach. 

Fortino Napoleonico didn’t disappoint, we had a beautiful suite and the whole place had an amazing atmosphere. We arrived in time for a lovely stroll along the beach and a great meal overlooking the ocean. 

The next day it was only a short 2 hour drive to Ravenna for one of the most stunning church interiors I have ever seen. We started our tour of Ravenna’s sights at the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo which had two very impressive mosaics lining both walls. Though impressive in size and detail I wasn’t blown away by them and given that the Lonely Planet claimed them to be some of Ravenna’s most beautiful mosaics I was completely unprepared for the beauty that awaited me at the Basilica de San Vitale. The multitude of colors, the detail of the mosaics and the sheer amount of decorations took my breath away. The mosaics being the main attraction in this church this is where most of the people flock towards, and rightfully so, but for me the frescoed dome was equally as impressive. The experience of entering this sombre looking church and stepping through the arches into the main space is something I will remember for the rest of my life. 

Next up: Venice....... 

October 13, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later....Part1

Ciao! I’m back in Montreal after 10 amazing days in Italy. We flew into Rome where we spent two days exploring the city. As usual with a flight to Europe we landed in the morning after a fairly smooth flight directly from Montreal. After some trouble with uncooperative ticket machines we managed to get two train tickets to the Termini train station just in time to hop on the train which would bring us to Rome. 

We had booked a B&B near the Colosseum where we arrived a bit to early for check in so we left our suitcases at the reception and went out for a well deserved cappuccino. After checkin and a refreshing shower we hit the streets and spend the afternoon exploring the city, going to all the major hotspots. After too much walking we ended up at Piazza Navona where we had a lovely pasta dinner. Being up for almost 48 hours straight was kind of catching up on us so we decided to call it a night and head back to our room.

The next morning came bright and early with us having a jet lag and all that. We enjoyed a classic Italian breakfast within view of the Colosseum which we were planning on visiting later. By the time we got there, there was already a huge line to get in, luckily our trusty Lonely Planet had informed us that we could get the same combination ticket at the Palatine across the street. So we left the tourist cattle behind and spend the morning wandering through a fairly quiet Palatine which was absolutely amazing. There were still loads of flowers blooming which made for some beautiful shots in combination with the ancient architecture. 

After this very relaxing morning we were ready to join the hordes of tourists to enter the Colosseum. There was still a huge line but our nice combination ticket from across the street allowed us to just walk past them and enter right away. Entering this two thousand year old building is impressive. Because of it’s completeness you can easily imagine how it must have been in its days, the hordes of tourists actually add to that experience. I imagine those halls must have been buzzing in a similar way. And the size of it really becomes apparent from the inside, it is such a vast space, how beautifully impressive it must have been.

Leaving the tourists behind us we crossed the river into Trastevere for lunch and a stroll. We followed the river to Castel Sant’Angelo where we were greeted by some beautiful frescoes and an amazing view of the city. 

We ended our second day with a lovely dinner in one of the side streets. The next day it would be time to pick up our car and drive to the Adriatic coast. There would be forts, mosaics and gondolas to come, but more on that another time...