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A Wonderful 18 Nights in Venice and Sicily

A Wonderful 18 Nights in Venice and Sicily

Old Sep 25th, 2021, 04:47 PM
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A Wonderful 18 Nights in Venice and Sicily

Hi everyone. Posting some thoughts and photos on my trip to Venice and Sicily from last August and early September. This was my 5th trip to Italy and 3rd time to Venice but my first visit to Sicily. In total, I spent 6 night in Venice, including a day trip to Padua to meet up with my brother and two of his daughters, one of whom has been doing graduate work in Italy for the past year and will be interning at a winery in Alto Adige very soon, and then 12 nights in Sicily.

Overall, I visited Venice, Padua, Siracusa, Noto, Catania, Villa Romana del Casale, Caltagirone, Taormina and Palermo. I had planned all the time to also hit Agrigento (only a two hour train ride from Palermo) but by the time I got to that part of my trip, it was day 16 and I decided last minute that I more needed to sleep in than to visit Greek temples.

My top impressions from this trip:

1. It had been 18 years since my last visit to Venice and this one was by far my favorite. There are some personal reason behind some of that but this time, Venice just seemed even more beautiful than I remembered it. I also made it a point to rent an AirBnB in San Polo which allowed me to see more of the “real Venice” away from the tourist throngs in San Marco and Dorsoduro.
2. Padua is charming. The Basilica is beautiful and the Scrovegni Chapel is truly stunning. I could have spent an hour there easily but one gets only 15 minutes. No more, no less.
3. Delicious food can be found in Venice if you get out of the tourist areas. And I discovered the wines of Miani at Bancogiro, an upscale wine bar behind the Rialto market. Miani wines are stunning!
4. The Basilica San Marco is one of the most spectacular buildings on earth. ‘Nuff said.
5. Sicily is not easy travel due to the heat of August/September along with distances between sites. But it was visually, aurally and gastronomically stimulating at all times!
6 The mosaics in Palermo’s Capella Palatina, La Mortadana and in the Monreale Cathedral rival (and maybe even top) those in Istanbul and Ravenna.
7. Catania is very underrated as a travel destination and I loved it. Standing on the roof of Sant’Agata della Badia and hearing Etna explode in the distance behind the clouds was truly memorable.
8. Hiking Mt. Etna for a couple of hours was very enjoyable.
9. I was a bit underwhelmed with the mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale but an still very glad I went.
10. I loved when I’d interact with Italians who did not speak English because it gave me 100% opportunity to practice my Italian. I’m not fluent but I’m pretty good and too often I’d meet Italians who’d reply back to me in English so that they could practice their English.
11. Palermo has an extraordinary number of beautify churches, filled not only with mosaics but many with beautiful Baroque architecture.
12. Wandering the Balaro market in Palermo was great fun.

Italy is truly an incredible country that’s would take years to fully explore. The food, the wine, the history, the art and architecture and the passions of its people are things all travelers need to experience at least once and preferably, multiple times. I know I will be back in the not too distant future for trip 6.

Here are some photos that I hope you enjoy.

Basilica di San Marco, one of the most beautiful buildings on Earth!

Beautiful mosaic of the transportation of St. Mark’s body from Alexandria (Egypt, not Minnesota!) to Venice.

St. Mark’s Square

Campanile

The entrance to the Grand Canal from the top of the Campanille.

Veal with Tuna Sauce. (Note: I generally oppose eating veal for ethical reasons but it’s a famous dish of northern Italy. And it was delicious.

Stunning Murano glass chandelier inside the Ca’ Rezzonico.

Rialto Bridge

Padua’s Palzzo delle Ragione. Inside on the ground floor are all shorts of fun food shops.

Basilica Sant’Ambrogio. . Padua.

Tomb of St. Anthony inside his basilica in Padua

Meeting up with my brother (seated) and two of his girls in Padua.

The breathtaking Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua. The walls are filled with incredible frescoes by Giotto.

Jesus warns Mary Magdalene to not touch him after his Resurrection. Capella degli Scrovegni.

Sunset over San Polo from my rooftop terrace in Venice.

San Giorgio Maggiore from the vaporetto.

Grand Canal

Cool palazzo with what sure looks like gold leaf decorations.

Incredible Miani wine with tuna tartare. Bancogiro in Venice.

King Scallops, octopus and assorted seafood in a shop window the Cannoneggio sestiere in Venice.

.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 07:49 PM
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BTW, I’ll post some of my favorite Sicily photos shortly.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 08:05 PM
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Nice report, thank you! My fingers are crossed that I’ll be in Venice at the end of October. I just googled the Miani wine and - wow- it’s very expensive! But maybe I was looking at the price here in the US. Did you find it expensive?
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 11:59 PM
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Hi Minnbeef, thank you for your sharing your trip with us. After seeing your pictures of Venice, I wished I included a stop there. I am currently in Lake Como.

Your pictures are beautiful, Italy is truly an amazing country!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 03:17 AM
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Thank you for posting! I love Venice, and I think I love it more every time I go back! Your pictures want me to book a plane ticket right now!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 05:15 AM
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Sighing for Italy. Thanks MinnBeef. Nice pix.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tracilee View Post
Nice report, thank you! My fingers are crossed that I’ll be in Venice at the end of October. I just googled the Miani wine and - wow- it’s very expensive! But maybe I was looking at the price here in the US. Did you find it expensive?
I guess it depends on what one considers expensive. My friends and I are big aficionados. It was listed on Bancogiro’s menu as a Coravin selection (allowing them to pour individual glasses without removing the cork). It was 15 euro per glass or about $17. Considering many wines by the glass in the US can easily be $12 or $13 per and often not to one’s liking, I thought the per glass price was a bargain for the quality. Certainly a bottle sourced in the US, once it’s gone through the 3-tier markup system would be very high. Probably $100/per.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cafegoddess View Post
Hi Minnbeef, thank you for your sharing your trip with us. After seeing your pictures of Venice, I wished I included a stop there. I am currently in Lake Como.

Your pictures are beautiful, Italy is truly an amazing country!
Hi cafegoddess. Hope your trip is going well. You will just have to go back to Italy on another trip and be sure to include Venice. As I mentioned, I gave it 6 nights/5 1/2 days which I am so glad I did.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ToujoursVoyager View Post
Thank you for posting! I love Venice, and I think I love it more every time I go back! Your pictures want me to book a plane ticket right now!
Thank you, TourjoursVoyager. Interestingly enough, that has been my experience also, of loving Venice more each time I visit.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Sighing for Italy. Thanks MinnBeef. Nice pix.
Thank you, TDudette.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 07:34 AM
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Adding in some of my favorite Sicily photos.

Ravioli with Baby Shrimp and Jumbo Prawns in a Pumpkin Sauce. Siracusa.

Beautiful Siracusa Duomo.

Joining the Siracusans on their evening passeggiata

Fresh swordfish for sale at the Ortigia market. Siracusa

Looking out over the gorgeous baroque city of Noto.

Noto Cathedral

La Pescheteria (fish market). Catania.

Sea urchins for sale at La Pescheteria.

The famous “Umbrella Street” of Catania.

Prickly pear fruit is in season in Sicily

Sicilian puppets for sale in Catania.

Mount Etna erupts over the vineyards right before we begin our hike.

Hiking Mt, Etna

Skyline of the interior town of Piazza Armerina

One of the many detailed floor mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale

The famed ceramic tiled steps of Caltagirone

Tile detail.

Looking out over Catania’s Piazza del Duomo

You can’t hear it but trust me, Mt. Etna is loudly erupting behind those clouds. Catania

St. Agatha stands guard over her city from the top of the Duomo on a steamy night in the gritty but delightful city of Catania.

Piazza Bellini, featuring Catania’s grand opera house

The water is naturally freezing cold at the bottom of the Alcantara Gorge

Looking out over the harbor of Taormina

The sun breaks through for a moment just before sunset over Taormina’s 2000 year old Teatro Greco

Beach day at Isola Bella. Taormina

One half of the Quattro Canti (Four Corners). Arguable the symbol of Palermo

The over the top baroque splendor of Santa Catarina church. Palermo

If you’ve seen The Godfather Part III, you’ll recognize Palermo’s Teatro Massimo opera house.

Palermo Cathedral

The sentiment runs strong in Palermo and understandably so.

Stunning mosaics inside Palermo’s La Mortorana chuch.

Death of the Virgin. La Mortorana

17th century Italian rickshaw inside Palermo’s Palazzo Normanni

Your jaw will drop the moment you enter inside Palermo’s Capella Pallatina

Sta. Peter and Paul stand in judgment in front of Nero. Capella Pallatina

A Sicilian Spritz, made with limoncello instead of aperol. Super refreshing on a hot and humid afternoon in Palermo.

Archway in Palermo

Looking over the Palermo skyline from the roof of the Cathedral

Ballaro market in Palermo

I paid $3.50 for these vacuum-packed sun dried tomatoes at the Ballaro market that would have cost me $12 here at home

The beautiful alter and mosaic of Christ Pantocrator inside the Cathedral of Monreale

Farewell Palermo and Sicily!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 01:45 PM
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I have been to Venice a few times in recent years (pre-pandemic) after not having been in about a decade. Despite people saying Venice is no good for food, that hasn't been my experience at all. There's a terrific food scene there now, but yes, you need to do some research and sometimes go a little off the beaten path. I had a great lunch at Bancogiro (which is central) in 2019, so thanks for reminding me!

Loved Sicily and hope to return some day--looking forward to your photos.

ETA: You posted your Sicily photos while I was typing. Gorgeous! Thanks.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
I have been to Venice a few times in recent years (pre-pandemic) after not having been in about a decade. Despite people saying Venice is no good for food, that hasn't been my experience at all. There's a terrific food scene there now, but yes, you need to do some research and sometimes go a little off the beaten path. I had a great lunch at Bancogiro (which is central) in 2019, so thanks for reminding me!

Loved Sicily and hope to return some day--looking forward to your photos.

ETA: You posted your Sicily photos while I was typing. Gorgeous! Thanks.
Thank you Leely2. Like you, I often enjoy reading the trip reports of others’ in places I’ve already visited. it takes me back to my own travels and sometimes, shows me what I missed and why I need to go back!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 05:00 PM
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Thanks for the report and the fabulous pics! We'll be in Venice at the end of this week!
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by annw View Post
Thanks for the report and the fabulous pics! We'll be in Venice at the end of this week!
Enjoy! Hope you have as beautiful weather as I did.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:21 PM
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Thanks MinnBeef, I will be on the lookout for the wine!
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 12:42 AM
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Thanks for posting MinnBeef... I am planning a trip to Sicily. and your pics have enforced this. I just need to wait until we Australians are allowed out of the country.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 02:44 AM
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MinnBeef, many thanks for the stunning pictures and TR. Venice is undoubtedly a gem, we have made multiple visits over the last 40 years and the spell still enchants…

Sicily is on the agenda for late spring next year, have been to parts of the east, but this time want to tour longer and in greater detail. Your pictures just whet my appetite…😊
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 03:25 AM
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I fear I’m never going to get to Sicily, so thanks for sharing - this might have to do!
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 03:48 AM
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Great photos MinnBeef! I am glad you enjoyed your trip.

I just left Catania yesterday for Rome. Last week, Etna blew a giant mass of volcanic sand/rock thousands of meters into the air. The ground was covered in it, walking on it sounds like walking on corn flakes. I have seen Etna many times but never this. I agree Catania is underrated and Palermo was so full of garbage this time.. I hope they can get it together.

if you can ever go back to Padova, get a ‘double turn” ticket for the Scrovegni chapel. They only do it at night. You can be inside for 40 minutes. I did it once and it was two groups of people for fifteen minutes but I was the only double turn. So for ten glorious minutes I was COMPLETELY ALONE in the chapel. It was so amazing.. still gives me chills to think about it.

I’ll check out that wine next time I am in Venezia.



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