France + Italy October 2022

Old Nov 18th, 2022, 12:32 PM
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Great report and photos!
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 03:01 PM
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Fabulous trip report and brings back so many memories. I feel I’m with you every step of the way. Even to missing a train 🤣
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 05:36 PM
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Really an enjoyable TR. Impressed that you are traveling while incorporating every day chores such as laundry as you go along. Resting in between to rejuvenate, methodically mapping and planning ahead - very smart! Watching and waiting for the next installment!
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 05:36 PM
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Week 3
23/10 - 24/10
On the morning of the 23rd we took the train into Italy. The tickets were prebooked and the itinerary studied, so we made sure there would be no surprises. We arrived in Verona later that evening, and after checking into B&B Open Doors, which was a little hard to find, we went to find some dinner. Not much was open on a Sunday night, but we found a nice little bar and had some bruschetta.
The next day we followed our own little tour again, finding all the interesting, history-filled spots in Verona. They have their own coluseum, which is still in use for plays and operas, as well as many other roman-era landmarks. We found Juliet's House- while Romeo and Juliet were fictional characters, their families were based on two prominent wealthy ones in Verona at the time, and so Juliet's balcony and her statue reside in the courtyard of the old Cappello residence. There is a shop directly opposite the house that sells all the Romeo and Juliet merch you could want, and a door that is absolutely covered in love locks. It's quite the interesting sight.
We continued on, enjoying the Piazza Delle Erbe and it's ancient features, and further on, Castel San Pietro with its own cable car and beautiful view over the city, and the Castelvecchio, further along the river.
After one more night in Verona, we went on our way to Venice.

25/10 - 26/10
The train ride to Venice went smoothly, and we found our way through the city to the apartment we were renting pretty easily. One thing I immediately discovered was that Venice was the birthplace of the Aperol Spritz, and you could find them at every restaurant and bar for about 2 to 3.50€, which was a huge difference from the 6, 9 and 12€ drinks I'd been finding everywhere else. You better believe I took advantage of this fact.
Venice was charming, in a different way to Verona or anywhere else I ended up, and it's one place I would love to come back to, despite the smell at low tide and the wet pavement at high tide. We wandered the streets, peering in windows full of carnival masks, finding the cutest cafes to have drinks at, and exploring landmarks, such as the Rialto Bridge, beautiful St Mark's Square, the Jewish Ghetto (I don't like using that word but that is it's official name) and the most famous bookshop in Venice: Librairie Acqua Alta. This shop has a large collection of English books, a staircase of books leading to a view over the canal, and a gondola to sit in by the 'fire exit', which is nice if you can't afford a real gondola ride but want to pretend. Guess which boat (ha) I was in. This bookshop had been on my list of places I just had to visit, so I was happy to tick it off.
All in all, it was an enjoyable day of wandering and enjoying the sights. I had had some big plans to visit Murano and Burano as well, but that didn't end up happening. Oh well, now I have a reason to return, right?

(To be continued)
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 06:25 PM
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Love the photos of you and your Dad! Great memories for both of you.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 01:35 AM
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Venice is the original Ghetto, nothing wrong with the word especially with a capital letter ;-)
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 05:30 AM
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Still enjoying your report and beautiful photos! We spent 2 one-night stays in Nice several years ago. Not long enough. We had planned a 5-night visit for 2020 and planned to visit Menton for a day but of course that trip never happened. So I appreciate the photos of Menton.

Haven’t been to Venice yet, either. Your photos are beautiful especially the light you captured.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 09:32 PM
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Am so enjoying your TR and gorgeous pictures, please keep them coming! You’re lucky to travel with your dad, unfortunately mine passed quite young, so I have no travel memories with him as an adult. But we travelled all over the world with mom, so we do have that.

I’m another Apérol Spritz fan, discovered them in Sicily this April and we always had one every evening, prices from €2.50 in Naples to €12 in Amalfi! 😉

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Old Nov 20th, 2022, 05:07 AM
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Very nice pictures, for sure. What did you use to take them?
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Old Nov 20th, 2022, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody View Post
Very nice pictures, for sure. What did you use to take them?
Some are from my phone and some are from my dad's. Both Oppos. The better quality ones are his.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 01:16 AM
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Week 3, part 2
27/10 - 30/10

It was about 2.5 hours on the train from Venice to Florence. Our hotel was in what seemed to be an apartment building, and it seems to be a common design, to convert a block of units in a building into holiday stays. Next door was a restaurant where we enjoyed pizza and a Spritz after settling in, and it was a relaxing evening as we made ourselves comfortable in preparation for a longer stay in the city.

Walking through the streets of old Florence was like visiting a time capsule from the Renaissance. Our first stop of the day was Il Duomo di Firenze. Honestly this was the most beautiful church I've seen on this trip- I have a huge weakness for gothic architecture, and the green and red marble of the facade is so pretty. It was free entrance, but there was a long line that grew longer and longer behind us, and the sun was so hot already in the morning, so I was very relieved that the church was so beautiful and worth the wait.

Our next stop was one of the largest churches of Florence and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family, Basilica San Lorenzo. A little comically, there was a statue of a man pushing against the wall, which many tourists posed next to doing the same. I couldn't find an explanation for the artwork, but it was an interesting addition.

Next up was Sagrestia Vecchia, which was collaborated on by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Michelangelo, and then further south, Piazza della Signoria with the fascinating open-air museum Loggia dei Lanzi. We found somewhere to sit and rest out of the sun, while we tried to figure out buying tickets for the
Ufizzi and Academia Galleries. And here is where we realized that despite visiting in the off-season, we made the mistake of expecting to buy tickets on the day. I know we should have booked them beforehand, but it didn't cross my mind that they would be sold out. So, we missed the Galleries. The major tourist destination that everyone besides us will have visited in Florence. Add that to the lost of places we have to return to next time.

Anyway, we continued on once we realised our mistakes, determined to continue having a good time. The Church of Santa Croce was our last stop north of the Arno River. It was also very beautiful on the outside, and contains the tombs of famous people like Galileo. We spent some time inside, before heading back towards our hotel, grabbing some pistachio gelato on the way and checking out the many, many stalls of people selling leather goods. Florence was absolutely full of fun tourist traps that offer all kinds of souvanirs, and they were nice to browse through on our way home.

The next day we continued our tour with our first stop at the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge over the Arno River which contains many, many jewellery shops. This is the only old Florentine bridge that survived allied bombing during World War 2 and has served as a model for several other bridges in Europe. Interestingly, the shops on Ponte Vecchio were once a meat market, but the Medicis replaced the meat shops with goldsmiths to get rid of the smell, which I have to say is definitely an improvement, as I can't imagine how the bridge would smell on hot days like that one.

On our way to Cappella Brancacci, a church known for its elaborate frescoes, I stumbled upon something that I had been excited to see for months since I discovered they existed- the wine window of the restaurant Babae. There are various windows scattered through the city, but this was the first one I found, and it was still in operation hundreds of years after they were introduced in the 17th century. While they were invented as ways to sell wine tax free, in 1630 they were perfect for the plague that swept through Europe, allowing for sales to continue with limited human contact. During the height of the pandemic, they became useful again, and some are still in today, though I think Babae may be the last working one. We stopped here for coffee before continuing on, and I was thrilled to tick this piece of history off the bucket list.

Cappella Brancacci was closed. No matter, we continued on to the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. The Palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions. While exploring this gorgeous building, I noticed something funny- half of the male statues were missing their members. Apparently they were removed at some point because they were believed to excite women too much, and women aren't allowed to be excited, are they? This way of thinking didn't affect the hundreds of lovely breasts represented in paintings and sculptures, of course. Go figure.
Anyway. The Palace was beautiful. The Gardens were beautiful. We stayed until the sun was starting to set, and hurried out, planning to watch it set from the top of the ​​​​​​Piazzale Michelangelo.

This was poorly planned out, as the Piazzale was a long walk and eventually a climb, and it was slow going after a long day of walking. However, we made it before the sun completely set, and the view was worth the climb. Florence shimmered in the golden sunset, so many churches and domes... There was a bronze copy of the statue of David, so at least we didn't completely miss seeing him. Stalls of expensive food, drinks and souvanirs lined the edge of the courtyard, and best of all of this, in my opinion, was the the free live show. A fun, lively little Italian man was playing a mix of Italian and English songs on his guitar and the crowd around him was dancing. It felt like a dream, dancing and drinking above the Renaissance city while the sun set. We stayed until the stars came out, and then began the long walk back to our hotel.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 07:16 AM
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Your photos are gorgeous and your report is very, very interesting and informative. I enjoy the tidbit about the male statues missing part of their anatomy! It's too bad that you missed the Uffizzi and Academia Galleries, but I would never expect them to be sold out in late October, either. I have a request. Would you be able to add a brief description underneath each photo? There is a place where you can do that just before you click on upload. It says something like "say something about this photo". Your photos are beautiful and interesting so it's nice to know exactly what a person is looking at. If you can't, don't worry about it.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 07:58 AM
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Ah yes, women are so excitable, yet men aren't. Imagine that

A thoroughaly enjoyable read, thank you for posting.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 11:16 AM
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Mia Charlie, we chose not to visit the art galleries in Florence, so we can join you on the list of tourists that missed it.
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Old Feb 14th, 2023, 02:28 AM
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Week 4
31/10 - 04/11
We took the train from Florence to Rome in about 2 hours, and checked in to Hostel Positano, a rather simple, clean place to stay in a large, old roman building. They didn't provide breakfast themselves, but they did have an arrangement with a nearby cafe for customers to receive free breakfast of the usual- croissants, coffee and juice. An added bonus was that the croissants could be filled with a flavor of our choosing- my favorite was pistachio. Across the street from the hostel was a restaurant with good, if not a little overpriced, food- either Bistro Srl or Yellow Bar. I enjoyed a combo meal there. Pizza, Tiramisu and Wine. Very nice.

Our first full day in Rome, we took a train straight to the Colosseum, bright and early. It was a warm, sunny day, which became uncomfortably hot the longer we waited outside, trying to buy a ticket. Of course, as seems to be the usual with us, we forgot to book ahead. The only tickets available were from resellers who jacked the prices up but did provide tour guides, so we decided to bite the bullet and spend the money. So inside the giant stadium of ancient times we went.

We were glad to have the tour guide, as we managed to learn some interesting facts that we didn't know before. For instance, the Colosseum was built on a man-made lake and the first sports performed were on boats, before the lake was drained and the more well-known man vs animal sports began. Another was that there were three sections for spectators to sit- closest to the ring was nobility and royals, then above them were common men, and above them were women and slaves. Now, one may see this as sexist, as the official reason was so that men did not get distracted by the shoulders of the women in front of them. However, this became a blessing for those in the top of the stadium, as sometimes the hungry animals would climb the walls and attempt to eat the spectators... so you tell me who was luckier in that situation.

It was rather sobering to stand in the ruins of the ancient roman stadium and reflect what happened there almost 2000 years ago. Around 400,000 people and 1,000,000 animals died for the sake of entertainment or punishment for crimes or faith. It's hard to think about.

Eventually we left after much reflection, we headed up to Palatine Hill to explore the ruins that still stand to show the grandeur of roman history almost as much as the Colosseum does. It is widely thought to be the birthplace of the Roman Empire, the preferred neighbourhood of some of the most powerful rulers of the time, with a complex of historic buildings that include palaces, theatres, homes and monuments. Olive trees line the pathways and it was a peaceful place to wander through, imagining how it might have looked long ago.

Palatine Hill led us to Orti Farnesiani, a beautiful 16th century garden fringed by the Roman ruins. As well as a fantastic view over Rome, there were restored pavilions, topiary and statues, giving the place a light and airy feel. The view showed us our next destination, the Roman Forum, a huge excavated site with the remains of 2000 year old temples, squares and government buildings. Almost ruined-out by that stage in the day, we headed for Campidoglio, an impressive hilltop square designed by Michelangelo, before heading for the train and going home to a hearty dinner of pizza and wine.

Walking Rome was a little more tiring thanks to the heat, but there was so much to see. I'm not sure if we could have seen all of it if we were there for a month. But the next day was again filled with historical landscapes as we took the train to Spagna station and headed for the Spanish Steps, apparently considered to be the widest and longest staircase in Europe, situated between Piazza di Spagna and the Trinita de Monti church. So called because this used to be the location of the Spanish embassy. It is a beautiful landmark, if a bit hard on the knees.

Continuing through the streets, passing the Keats-Shelley Memorial association for the romantic poets out there, and the Corinthian Column with it's Virgin Mary statue, we upgraded from the small Fontana della Barcaccia to the much larger and more popular Fontana di Trevi. This beautiful, aqueduct-fed rococo fountain from the 1700s attracted many people with the same idea as us, and even in the off-season, the crowd around the fountain was impossible to navigate. I wanted to get some water from the tiny lovers fountain around the side of the landmark, but alas I failed my mission. Instead I got gelato at a very busy shop that was almost more trouble than it was worth, and continued on our trek after a few quick pictures.

The next stop was the famous Pantheon, the iconic temple with it's almost impossible domed roof, containing tombs dating back to the Renaissance. This building has been standing- and preserved beautifully- for 2000 years. So many things on this trip blew my mind and this was one of them. Now might be a good time to mention a recent discovery regarding the secret of roman concrete, which added to the awe I felt for roman architecture- the reason it was preserved so well was the limestone hot-mixed into it, which caused the concrete to crack a certain way and allow water to be absorbed, which when mixed with the limestone, binded everything together and made the building heal itself. Amazing what the Romans were able to accomplish, resulting in the glimpses of history we are able to enjoy today.

After searching out somewhere for lunch (somewhere not in view of a landmark that would drive the prices up), we continued on through the historical center of the city. We found Piazza Navona with it's fountains and statues, Campo de Fiori with it's local markets, and wandered the old cobblestones of ancient streets until we crossed the River Tiber on the Ponte Sant'Angelo to reach the Castle of the same name. It was closed to the public, so we continued on until we crossed over into Vatican City.

As it was getting late, even though I would have liked to see the Sistine Chapel, we didn't particularly relish giving money to the institution who's ground we were walking on, and we simply explored the public square before heading in the direction of the nearest train station.

Finally, it was close to the end. Our last day in Rome was a peaceful one. We sought out our final souvanirs, did some laundry, repacked our bags so that they would fit on the plane (the local airline from Rome to Paris was going to be very difficult for luggage) and enjoyed our last walk through Roman streets. Now might be a good time to tell you, all who are hoping to go to Rome, not to expect cleanliness anywhere other than the historical areas. Don't be fooled by the abundant clean water fountains and incredible historical landmarks- you will see trash. Everywhere. Overflowing the bins, collecting behind stalls, in every corner of the main streets. And don't ever take a shortcut behind a building. That's reserved for the homeless people to dump their waste. You don't want to be cleaning shit off your shoes.

Regardless of this surprising discovery, Rome was quite enjoyable, and we hadn't even seen half of it. Perhaps I will return, in cooler weather.

The next morning we flew back to Paris.


Colosseum (inside)

Roman soldier on Palatine Hill

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Pantheon (outside)

Pantheon (inside)

Fountain in Piazza Navona
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