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5000 stairsteps, 40 ciao bellas, 12 trains, 8 pizzas, 3 women, 1 report

5000 stairsteps, 40 ciao bellas, 12 trains, 8 pizzas, 3 women, 1 report

Old Jun 27th, 2013, 06:54 PM
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I just finished viewing your photos of Venice and can't wait for the TR!Your photos gave me a better feel for what Venice is like than any I have seen. I have enjoyed each segment of you report and all of the photos and can't wait to see these places in person. My husband and I are planing our first trip to Italy next May and will be visiting the places you have reviewed, although we plan to spend time on Lake Como and catch only a glimpse of Rome, with a longer visit there planned for another trip.

I would love to see the Cingue Terre but am afraid I don't have the knees for climbing so many stairs or for very much hiking. I almost ruined our vacation in Switzerland by climbing too many stairs on one of our first days and then struggling for a few days afterward. I know there is a ferry connecting the various towns. Could one enjoy the towns from this perspective, or must they be seen from above to really appreciate them?
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 10:10 PM
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Hi KayTKay,
You are right, having a grandchild, just makes life even more amazing. Love being a grandparent.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 01:05 AM
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drchris - the only thing you have to worry about when depending on ferries and boats is the weather. We were in Cinque Terre for 5 days in 2010 and the boats didnt run even though the weather was sunny due to rough seas! But there is a train you can take that is quite convenient and you would be able to get to the town centre from the train station with a short walk.
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Old Jun 30th, 2013, 06:29 AM
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hi again KayTKay -

i'm considering staying 4 nights in la residenza il carmine. my only concern is its distance from the main sites and train station. did you have to walk very far to let's say the duomo or the river? just curious. also, since breakfast is not included, what did you do to get food? thanks!

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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 05:56 PM
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KayTKay ~ I have so been looking forward to your Venice report as I've loved what you have written so far and enjoyed looking at your beautiful photos. I know it gets difficult to write once we return home to "real life" but hope you will find time to write some more.
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 06:23 PM
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>>>i'm considering staying 4 nights in la residenza il carmine. my only concern is its distance from the main sites and train station. did you have to walk very far to let's say the duomo or the river?<<<

Residenza Il Carmine is about a 15 minute walk from the train station (cut through by the side of Santa Maria Novella church). It's also about 15-20 minutes to the center. The historical center is about 20-25 minutes side to side. There are bus routes if you don't want to walk.
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 01:55 AM
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KayTKay- I'm loving every part of your report. Your sense of humor is making me smile. I went to a similar trip (Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Tuscany and Paris) in June. I reported my time in Rome here, and am trying my best to finish the reports for other places. But oh man, going through 5,000 pictures and writing 5,000 words are time-consuming, though I really enjoy it. Keep it coming!
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 05:42 AM
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Thank you so much for sharing your 'once in a lifetime' trip with your 2 beautiful daughters.
You are all so lucky to have been able to take such a fun exciting memory making trip together.
Looking forward to more.
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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OMG, I'm loving your report. Your writing style. Your travel attitude. The pictures. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Hello Kay T:

Thanks for your trip report.
After months of wavering, I have decided to spend 17 days in Italy with Rick Steves tours in May 2014. We will end up in Rome and will spend four nights there.

Barb and I have traveled with them twice in France, once in Scandinavia and once in Germany Austria Switzerland. All very good experiences.

We have been to Paris four times and feel quite comfortable there. When not on a tour we stay in a small 2 star hotel. My objective is to become as comfortable in Rome as we are in Paris.

I look forward to reading about your trip.

I will be reading Fodor’s Italy Forum on line to learn about Italy.

James (Jacques)
Mead Colorado
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Old Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:46 AM
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Just found this today - what a great trip to take with your daughters! We are heading to Italy with our 13 yr old soon - cant wait!
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Wow, the summer really got away from me. I'm sure that I've lost everyone who was reading, but I'm going to try to finish this trip report even though it has been so long. I should have time now that my youngest has gone to college and we are off and on again empty nesters.

Thanks so much to everyone who posted during my hiatus! I appreciate your comments and encourage. I apologize to those who were waiting for the Venice portion as they planned trips.

Anyway, here we go again.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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glad you're back, Kay.

looking forward to Venice.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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I had made train reservations from Florence to Venice in advance. Our train was to leave at 9:00 so we originally planned to arrive at the station no earlier than 8:30. Our host at Il Carmine was appalled that we would get there that late and insisted we arrive earlier. We followed his advice. Of course, there was nothing to do but stand around and drink coffee. If you already have your tickets there really isn't much reason to arrive at the train stations terribly early.

This was the best train of the trip. Fast and roomy and clean and comfortable and not too many stops. We arrived at the station in Venice to dense crowds. Not unexpected, but always a bit overwhelming. I stood in a long line for our vaporetto passes while the girls stayed with the bags. I have since discovered that these passes can be ordered in advance. That is something I would definitely recommend. Passes in hand we boarded line 2. I choose this line in order for the girls to be able to see the grand canal. Big mistake. Big. We were headed to the San Zaccaria stop.

The boat was already crowded when we got on with our bags. Standing room only and shoulder to shoulder. At each stop more and more people got on. It was bordering on absurd. I kept wondering at what point they would decide that no more people would fit. The answer? At no point. We were pushed and shoved at every stop and ended up separated. I was standing in one of the aisles just smashed with people all around. I couldn't see my daughters through the masses. They did know which stop we were looking for and they are adults so I wasn't too worried about losing them permanently in the throngs of Venice. However, I remembered that I hadn't told them the name of our B&B so that troubled me a little. The crush on the boat became more oppressive at every stop. Then it hit me. I knew what was going to happen. Almost everyone of these strangers pushed in around me were going to try to get off at the San Marco stop and we, well, we were not. It was going to be trouble.

Yep. It was truly dreadful. Had I been able to see the girls I would have encouraged them to simply flow with the crowds and get off, but I couldn't see them and didn't want to be separated. My word. It was a nightmare as people started pushing and shoving to get past and off. The sea of humanity was moving in front and behind me and I was trapped - completely unable to move to get out of the way. I almost was pushed completely over a couple of times and felt like I couldn't breathe. I'm sure it just lasted a minute, but felt like forever. By the time the crowds dispersed there were only a few of us left on the boat. We all looked and felt a tad stunned and shaken. I heard someone say, "Well that was quite hellish." One of my daughters insisted that she would NEVER get on another vaporetto.

Fortunately our B&B was just a few steps from the San Zaccaria stop. It felt like an oasis! We were glad to arrive and relax for a moment. We stayed at the B&B3C and really enjoyed it. The location is very central. Maybe a bit too near the touristed areas, but it doesn't take long to get off the beaten path. Some of the few trip advisor complaints about this place were that you could hear noise from the guests eating breakfast. It is true that many of the rooms are directly off the small hallway in which breakfast was served. However, our room was at the end of the hall and around a corner. It had a door from the hall and another door to enter the sleeping area. We couldn't hear a thing. We really enjoyed this B&B. Our room was spacious, our bathroom and shower were the largest of the trip, it was spotless and the host was very helpful and knowledgeable. It was nice to have breakfast served to us after staying in apartments. We really liked everything about it.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:59 PM
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Wonderful, wonderful report! Gorgeous daughters! I've never been to Italy - so sitting here readubg - (at work. ssssh!) - I feel as though I have been.

Oh, the memories you and your girls will cherish forever. Good job.

Look forward to hearing about Venice.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 01:26 PM
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I am so happy to see you back and to hear about your experiences in Venice. I have looked for you to resume it all summer as it is so enjoyable and full of helpful information, but I know how time gets away from us.. So sorry this part of your trip got off to such a terrible start on the vaporetto. I will keep that in mind when my husband and I arrive in Venice.

I have a question about your stay at your Florence accommodation since we are getting ready to book there. Is it safe to send your credit card number for the deposit on the form on the website? I have thought of doing it by phone, or the owner said we could do a money transfer. He responded to an email in English. Would we be able to carry on a conversation about money matters in English? We had some credit card numbers stolen recently so I am a bit wary. Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 04:29 PM
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Great report; we have been to Italy many times (even stayed at the same apartment on the street at Residenza Il Carmine last May.) The folks there were really helpful at making restaurant reservations.

Your detailed itineraries and photos brought back pleasant memories of our times there. Thx!
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 05:35 PM
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I'm really enjoying this report. Looking forward to reading more.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 03:19 PM
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Thanks to all who welcomed me back!

After settling in to our B&B we decided to get out into Venice. We walked along the Riva degli Schiavoni - towards the tail. The weather was perfect! The sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, the smell of salt water, it was just wonderful. Venice was host to an international contemporary art exhibition while we were there so there were exhibits all through the city. The juxtaposition between the modern and old was interesting and, at times, a little jarring.

We stopped at a bar/restaurant near the gardens because it claimed to have wifi, and because we were ready to join the rest of the crowd in a before dinner spritz. What a wonderful tradition. We lingered there for quite a while. Why not? We had a view of the ocean, breeze blowing through our hair, late afternoon sun on our skin, a spritz in our hand, and the ability to text our loved ones back home. Perfect.

Afterward we walked back along the Riva, stopped to see the bridge of sighs, and then entered the glorious piazza San Marco. The girls were as impressed and enthralled as I was hoping they would be. It would be hard *not* to be impressed by this grand piazza when seeing it for the first time in the early evening while the sun is still shining and the crowds are dispersing.

My daughters were already getting tickled at the antics of the guys who sell bags all around the piazza. They would approach and say things like, "pretty bag for pretty lady" or "excuse me, how much?" It was all very sing-songy and memorized, but non threatening.

We wandered on through the piazza and out the back so that I could show the girls a gondola stand. It was here that we had an interesting experience. We were standing on a bridge watching gondolas go by when suddenly there came, en masse, bag sellers...running...they were laughing as they passed by so I surmised that they weren't terribly worried. About eight of them went up and over the bridge, dodging crowds in the calle and then dispersing down side alleys. Just after came two Italian policemen. Not exactly running. Also not seeming to be terribly concerned. It was as if this were a game that they were all playing.

That evening we went to a restaurant near our B&B. I did not write down the name - I wish I had! It was just near a bridge with its entrance below and to the side of the stairs and therefore had a small and narrow entry area. It was an old-fashioned type place with communal seating, traditional food, and waiters who were all older men.

We arrived about 8:30 and were told that the wait would be 10 - 20 minutes. Well, that was an optimistic estimate. It was actually more than an hour before we were seated, but the owner continued to ply us and the rest of those waiting (there was quite a crowd) with cicchetti and prosecco so, of course, we stayed.

While waiting we were given and tried rings of fried squid, something that I couldn't identify but that tasted great, and something else that I couldn't identify that looked like tiny (maybe 2 inches) whole octopus - perhaps that was squid, too? It had lots of little legs (or tentacles?). Any help here would be great. They were also delicious with crunchy little bits. Ha! We obviously aren't picky eaters.

While standing, waiting...and waiting, we were shoulder to shoulder with the other potential patrons and practically hovering over one couple's table. I felt terrible for them - but they were good sports about it and we struck up a conversation.

Finally, finally we were seated. We had some very garlicky delicious mussels, a plate of grilled vegetables, I had a fish dish which was good (sorry I didn't write down exactly what we had and my memory has failed me) I know that one of the girls had pasta with ragu sauce that they really liked. The people who had originally been seated at our table left and we were enjoying our meal alone when someone else was seated with us. Lo and behold 1/2 of the couple we had been speaking with earlier was back for dessert. He was very nice, a talker, and the girls felt that he was flirting...ummm...with me. Amazing how shocking and disturbing it was for my daughters to think that a man besides their father might actually be interested in their momma. I explained later that I didn't get to be 50 something without an understanding of how to handle a situation like that! Honestly I think that he was simply friendly and had had one glass too many.

After our meal we went back out to the Piazza San Marco. That place at night! Wow and wow. Magical. It was a great end to a lovely first afternoon in Venice.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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Kay, it's good for your girls to see you as still interesting to the opposite sex! We may be in our 50s but we aren't dead yet.

Just as an aside, those knock off bag sellers may seem non threatening etc but the junk they are selling is made and sold by organized crime and if you buy one you could end up being fined. The Italian government has decided it is almost impossible to stop them making and selling them so they put the onus on the purchaser. Also those sellers are treated abominably by the Mafia/Camorra/Ndragheta etc who "employ" them. The back story to it all is really nasty business.
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