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Trip Report Venice, Orvieto, Rome with Tweens Part 1.

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The mom memorial Italy trip began with our economy class Delta tickets. For 6 of my 8 hours I channeled my inner contortionist: twisting, stretching, bending but it was useless. I did find myself wanting to start an economy class revolt and take back some of that business class space for our aching knees.

Remember my trip and itinerary is a bit more manic than I would have liked. My mother passed away in February and I decided to bring my 12 year old boys and husband on a trip to Italy over spring break in honor of her memory (she was Italian). But because of the crazy high school admissions policy in NYC high schools, I was only able to take my kids out of school one day. So let the mania begin.

First Stop Venice
I really appreciated the advice given here to take the water taxi from the airport to our hotel (Hotel Galleria on the Grand Canal and right near Ponte dell’Accademia). Kids and husband were awestruck as we approached the city, passed San Marco and maneuvered down short cuts through some of the back canals (my one son almost got a concussion as we slipped under a low bridge). Definitely for first time visitors to Venice, the water taxi in those elegant boats is the way to arrive. My kids will never forget it.

Our hotel overlooked the Grand Canal and as an 18th century converted mansion, it does not have all the conveniences some travelers might want. It was perfect for us. Weird fresco on the ceiling, comfortable beds, room for all of us and two windows that opened up right on the water. No video games... my kids watched the boats go by. Breakfast was served in the room

Day one was really just spent navigating the wall of day trippers and cruise boat folks down narrow streets as they shopped for trinkets. I soon became an expert at avoiding selfie sticks and providing photographic services to various groups wanting their photos taken in front of picturesque sites. Again appreciated the advice from here to seek out cichetti which we did followed by an obligatory gelato at
Suso Gelatoteca (which turned out to be the best Gelato we had in all of Italy).

Evening in Venice is a whole better world: the day trippers are back on the ships and the streets are quiet. That evening, we wanted to avoid some of the notorious tourist traps and yet, having 12 year olds, wondered how high end we could/would want to go? We were very happy with the little place we found especially as I enjoyed my apertif. Now I want to say I have nothing against tourists because I AM A TOURIST (if I wasn't, I would be home on my sofa). So i am not obsessed with finding a place where there are no other tourists. I just want good food and the type of place a local WILL go to. I live in NY, so there are places both tourists and New Yorkers like to eat and then there is Rays Pizza and Carmine's. So I feel we did manage to find that place in Venice. And I was so glad I had brushed up on my Italian before we came. Nothing like being able to ask "what's good tonight?" Sorry I did forget the name

Which brings me to one more sidebar: PEOPLE please.... do not assume everyone speaks English. Just a few phrases go a long way in not painting all Americans as obtuse egomaniacs. My shy 12 year olds managed to TRY to order in italian or to ask Parla Inglese? What is more awkward than being in 7th grade? Yet they tried. My husband forged ahead with horribly pronounced italian words, mangling every Vorrei and it was appreciated (if by nobody else, by me).

VENICE DAY 2:
We did the Secret Itinerary Tour at the Doges and this was something else recommended here on the boards. I was glad we did. Our tour guide was a bit bizarre and seemed to smile at the most inopportune times: Murder <smile> Blood <smile> Torture <smile> and she seemed to leave out ALOT of important details. Yet we walked away with the sense that Venice under the Doges was pretty autocratic and with all those secret boxes to snitch on your neighbors... not really safe. No wonder there are SO MANY prison rooms to look at. But for me, it was more informative than "the front of the house" in understanding this oligarchy. We give it a thumbs up (tour guide dependent).

From there Basilica San Marco and the long snaking line to get in. As amazing as the basilica is, I guess I find it hard to enjoy or take in a site peering over someone's shoulder or feeling shoved. My kids were stunned by the beauty but then just wanted to run from the crowds too.

After that we dropped off the kids to the hotel room for a nap and my husband and I went out to the Accademmia museum. We got there I think about 4:00 and it was empty. It was great. Highly recommend going end of day. Didn't know I loved Bellini.

And because Steve Rick's guide books were lying all over our hotel lobby, we did choose a little place around the corner from our hotel for dinner that he recommended--Da Mamo. Were there other Americans? Yes there were. Was the food good? Yes it was. I had very good gnocchi and a really nice artichoke. My expectations for food in Venice were low but they were also very nice and it was a quick meal which was good because we had to be at Chiesa San Vidal for a concert (concerts start at 9:00!). It was really great to hear Venetian composers perform in the city they worked in: Monteverdi and Vivaldi. My 12 year olds loved the singing.

PART 2: To come

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