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Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice with 4 teenagers, 1 kid, 19 days perfect!

Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice with 4 teenagers, 1 kid, 19 days perfect!

Old Oct 29th, 2014, 06:42 PM
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Love your trip report and that you went to Procida. Would you share where you stayed in Naples and Procida?
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 03:01 PM
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indyhiker - asking my husband re the app and he reminded me that it was google maps that we used. It linked to where we were and then when we requested a bus to our destination it provided the details, then tracked us as travelled - very handy! Sometimes we weren't sure if we were on the right side of the road and this was great in showing us the direction we needed to go.

Robertal - we booked through airbnb 'Spaghetti Home near the Cathedral'- Vico II S. Maria Avvocata, 1 if that makes sense? We didn't stay in Procida (as lovely as that would have been) - far too complicated for a family of seven to have a quick stop over anywhere!
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 03:35 PM
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Thanks for the info!! I'll look into that for our first trip to Rome next May!
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Old Oct 30th, 2014, 05:37 PM
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Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos. I really enjoyed seeing your kids enjoying themselves. Looking forward to more pictures and more TR!
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Old Nov 16th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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oh no! Where is Florence? This has been so helpful - please come back!!
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Old Nov 16th, 2014, 07:58 AM
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and yet another unfinished trip report
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Old Nov 23rd, 2014, 02:31 PM
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Ahhhhh sorry - nearly written Florence but was 'waylaid' this last month or was it consumed by delivering the Kendal Mountain Festival http://www.mountainfest.co.uk which finished tonight! Sorry again!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2014, 03:26 PM
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Thanks for your enjoyable report. We spent some time in Naples and stayed in Procida for a couple of nights, too.
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Old Nov 24th, 2014, 04:06 PM
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Day Ten - Naples - Florence

So from the relatively tourist desert of Naples to the Florence of the visiting masses we did go. Once again we booked an apartment within walking distance of the train station, on a street radiating off the Duomo - a brilliant location, central yet quiet. And once again within moments of arriving we were out searching for a supermarket to buy provisions for dinner followed by a stroll for ice cream! The search for nourishment was sandwiched either side of the discussions over who had which bedroom, how Sienna was going to cope with the ‘absolutely unacceptable’ blue chequered cover on her allocated bed (seriously!!!), the rules from the girls for the boys regarding the use of the bathroom, what was the wifi number and whose turn was it to charge their device, whose shoes had been left to trip everyone over, and who had drunk the last bit of ice tea!!! Yep typical family ‘matters’ all in a new location.

Still we got them all out again in the evening, joined the evening tourist stroll - enthused them with stories of the construction of the Duomo (had invested in some great books prior to the trip), then took stock of our expectations of our time in Florence and revised everything down a bit! This was all helped by a very large glass of wine outside on the apartment’s balcony!

As a note that night we purchased the Firenze Card which I had researched intensely to ensure it made sense for us. It was the one thing where being a big family actually worked out in our favour - the rest was pretty against us - as to be expected...but the Firenze card was brilliant! Basically if you bought one (at €72) it gave you access to 72 attractions in Florence (without needing a reservation nor waiting in line) for 72 hours. Probably a bit steep if you are a couple unless very dedicated art and culture vultures but the key with the Frienze Card is that all kids under 18 get in free if you and they are EU passport holders. Even though they were actually free to enter most of the places, I knew that it was sensible to reserve a timed entry and since that carried with it a €4.00 booking fee per person it soon added up. The Firenze Card took care of this with preferential entry and was definitely the very best way forward for us. As we also planned to use the buses, even more so.

Day Eleven - Florence

OK I have to come clean - part of this rather culturally adventurous family trip to Italy was from a long held desire of mine to see some works of art that I have a strong emotional attachment to. At school I was fortunate to take Art History to A Level and to have had an inspiring teacher who positively enthused us all with her love of the Renaissance period. So I knew that in particular Florence was a place I needed to visit and see for myself what had brought forward such great emotion in her and in turn put dreams and passion into my adolescent mind.

So what was I to do - wait until the children had all grown and flown so we could explore it at leisure on our own (sometime away when you have a seven year old) or try to arrange a ‘mini break’ and deal with all the logistical issues that it brings forth between sorting out five children and your own business. So I decided that we would visit as a family - with me fully aware that I would not get the mental space nor time to really take it all in to the level that I so desired but that it would be good enough.

So we went to the Uffizi - with optimism! I did try and prep them though (mostly aimed at the youngest) so they would get enjoyment and understanding from the experience...I researched and planned and created a series of 12 cards depicting the paintings that I thought they would enjoy discovering with added interesting information and then I just dove in head first with them and let them soak it in! All the time appreciating that their understanding and attention was limited in many ways yet managing at the same time to take in what I could from it all - which was of course plenty!

And yes it was amazing and emotional! Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (Sienna’s absolute favourite being quite the Venus fan!) and Allegory Of Spring La Primavera were delicious, Filippo Lippi’s, Madonna and Child with Angels was as tender as expected and Titian’s Venus of Urbino made us all stop and wonder. There were a few others thrown in that we came across that also evoked a response or two from the kids. Then as I started to loose them we came across Caravaggio’s Medusa, which sparked them up having been featured in a 39 Clues book! And then that was that! Two hours later I was satiated and the kids weren’t completely put off by Renaissance art - a good result! Yes of course it was busy and yes of course it would be better to be able to visit at a quieter time - but certainly not so terrible to be put off visiting in August - although definitely reserve an entry time ahead and definitely know a little about what you might like to see. It also has a very, very comprehensive book/gift shop that is worth a visit!

However I did owe them ice cream!!! So after lunch back in the apartment (perfect to have a central place) I managed to detour them into the Basilica di Santa Croce which is truly fascinating and I would even suggest that it is a non-miss - especially with the tombs of Galileo and Michangleo there (although by this stage no fresco no matter how beautiful was capable of holding their interest and so I left them in the shade and soaked it in all alone which was of course rather pleasant!) and then we headed across the river to find ice cream and a place to sit to watch the world go by. Back across by the old bridge or Ponte Vecchio to the Galileo Museum which was quite brilliant and included his telescope and preserved finger, thumb and tooth then to the apartment...a brilliant day although to be fair especially for me!

Day Twelve - Florence

I had promised them that there was just one last art gallery and then we could go swimming and “No that would not be via a church to see some more frescos!” In fairness it was a pretty cool thing to go see on a Sunday morning - David in all his glory. I was particularly interested in seeing Michelangelo’s Slaves or Prisoner sculptures which were truly magnificent - once again I have to admit it was quite an emotional moment for me...there is something so human depicted in them as they stand caught by the strength of the marble - like we are at times by life and the turmoil one suffers when you are not able to break free. Kinda lost on the kids of course but they also sort of got it! There was also a great room of plaster casts of statues made in the 17th - 18th century that were often created for a burial site. They were incredibly life like and some of the stories they told were very moving (especially of those who died in child birth).

Looking back at my images of this day there is a rather large selection of poor quality images of selfies ‘with’ David on the iPhone. Retrospectively they also sum up our travelling experience with teenagers especially the 16 year old who seemed to feel the need to capture herself in front of various things of interest and upload them immediately! One image in particular shows us - the parents, squashed insignificantly into the corner of an image - sometimes we really do feel like we are just extras in the ‘play’ unfolding of our children’s lives!

Then we were free to finally swim once again! Although it wasn’t as quite as hot as it had been in Naples it was after all Italy in August and my northern kids only need temperatures above 15 degrees to consider it warm enough to swim! I had worked out in advance which public pools were available and so we bused to a very large pool centre with a selection of diving boards, a 50 metre pool and plenty of grass and tress to relax on and under. We spent about four hours enjoying the complete pleasure of swimming with the sun on your back and of course witnessing the emotion and larger than life enthusiasm of Italian families of all generations swimming and picnicking together on a Sunday afternoon!

Obviously no warm day in Italy is complete without an ice cream and so we found our way back on the bus and into the market square and to Venchi where we spent a ridiculous amount of time narrowing down our choices to a selection of two scoops (I really need to move away from coffee and pistachio - although love them too much to try others...!), then rubbed the boar’s nose in the market to ensure a return to Florence! A well balanced day - so everyone happy!

Day Thirteen - Florence

As I mentioned earlier the Firenze Card really was a ‘life saver’ for us - not having to wait in frankly some pretty hideous queues and bake in the sun. Never ideal for anyone - certainly not fun with kids who physically wilt in front of your eyes in the heat!

So using it to its best we decided to climb the Duomo of Florence in the morning and were able to without a two hour wait...lucky us! I would have to say though that it was worth anyone’s wait - it was spectacular! I had prepared the kids by buying the book ‘Pippo the Fool’ which detailed the contest that was held to design the dome of the cathedral and how he managed to construct it - which was pretty damn brilliant. Needless to say there were wonderful views both inside and outside the dome and the 462 steps were a welcomed workout for us who like to workout! Home for coffee and pastries (fresh from the little patisserie below our apartment) to counter balance all that exercise.

After a prolonged rest in the coolness of the apartment my husband and I along with the older two girls (leaving the boys and the youngest to continue with their downtime) decided to keep up our culture experiences and visited the Baptistry - which with being constructed between 1059 and 1128 - was to me coming from NZ absolutely ancient! It was the most magnificent room with its gold dominance, it stories of heaven and hell and three wonderful sculptures from Donatello. Pure joy. Then to gain perspective of the Duomo from another angle we hoisted ourselves up Giotto’s bell tower - another 400 steps. Sweating we emerged from the top to be delivered as expected, glorious views and a new perspective of the size of the Duomo - magnificent.

After our morning culture overload the girls returned to a favourite store - Tiger which has nothing to do with Italy but all to do with providing well designed things that make you feel will enhance your lives! In fairness we needed some more body moisturiser and a needle (to remove a grain of sand from a child’s nail bed!) but probably didn’t need the paper blow up monkey or the moustache push pins! But it was a minor retail moment and all was good.

Afternoon was another designated swimming one - to another pool, another bus journey into Florence’s suburbs and another emersion into real Italian culture (think tiny swim suits for all and a lot of parading around in them). Finished with a meal out at a perfectly lovely little pizza place on our street which meant that once the kids had finished we could send them back to the apartment and we could finish our wine in relative peace - I say relative as we were given quite the impromptu performance from some very merry and very loud local street drunks!

Day Fourteen - Florence

Our last full day in Florence was a full day out of Florence! We caught the train to Lucca, on to Pisa and back to Florence - and with dinner thrown in - it was about 13 hours out of the apartment with all the travel/walking/sightseeing time added in.

Lucca was a place we considered staying at instead of Florence (when we were warned of the crowds in August- which actually have been perfectly fine!) But we struggled to find suitable accommodation and with the deal breaker being no public pool within the town we decided it was to be a day visit. And it was great. An absolutely beautiful town, full of character and architectural delights, all wrapped up by a 4 km fortified wall that you can stroll along. It would have been lovely to have stayed in it but the right decision this time for us. However in the fashion that our holiday seems to take - we ran out of time for actually strolling the wall as I hoped - as there was morning tea to be had (well coffee and pastries) and then we needed to fit in lunch before our train...travel once again dominated by fuelling the kids! Therefore we just meandered along - checking out the shops, avoiding the churches (“Oh another lovely Madonna and Child painting” said no one in our family) and hanging in the piazzas. It was a real delight and even the threat of rain (our first of the holiday!) before the sun broke through didn’t damper our enthusiasm for the place. Sienna was particularly pleased as we bought her a long sleeved top (as she was feeling a little chilled by the 21 degree heat!) and it was a true Italian beauty with enough sparkle on it to bring a big amount of joy into her heart!

Then we moved off to Pisa. Getting off at the ‘wrong’ train stop which actually was the right one in the end meant we came across the ‘leaning one’ way before we expected to which provided us all with that ‘oh my’ moment! It was fantastic. We have all seen it in pictures and I have longed to visit it since I was a small girl but it was far more beautiful than I expected. Delicately constructed and blinding white in a delightful space with other gorgeous buildings complementing it - it really was wonderful.

We spent a good thirty minutes posing with all the others attempting to prop it back up - as much fun taking it was to be had watching everyone stand there with arms in the air trying to capture the iconic image. Harder than it looks actually! Then it was our time to climb it - once again pre-booked. Unfortunately Sienna was too young and coincidently Steve had to take a conference call for a job we were pitching for at the exactly the same time our reservation was so I took the older four up the tower. It was brilliant - so much fun climbing and leaning one way and then another with the corresponding hollows in the marble steps from thousands of footsteps as they too stepped from side to side depending on the tilt.

The views of Pisa and the surrounding hills were engaging as was looking down and seeing the streets below seemingly crooked and the horizon off kilter. Taking a photo was tricky as you naturally straightened up to the horizon and then realised the railing in front was completely off. What a great way to wile away 30 minutes of one’s life! If in doubt about climbing it - I say go for it! They run a good entry system - so it is not over croweded and plenty of time is allowed as part of your visit.

After more time exploring the area, it was time to train it back to Florence where we enjoyed another lovely meal, sitting outside with balmy air caressing our skin and enjoying watching life go by on the street - bliss once again.

Day Fifteen - Florence - Venice

Last morning in Florence which involved delicious pastries and coffee - always good. Followed by the pack and clean that we have down to a fine art now. I was left at home to tackle some work that had been building up - mixed feelings about having to work while away. It definitely impacts on my ‘down time’ and time with the children but then again work enables us to travel and life after all is a balance...our particular work even more so. Anyway Steve went off with the girls to post back home another parcel of things that we no longer needed or had ‘acquired’ in our attempt to continue to lighten our load. We have done really well with the whole travelling with little but things have a way of creeping into your possession - fridge magnets being a particular attraction of ours! Anyway an hour later he was a broken man due to the complexity of the Italian Postal service and without a significant amount of cash - it ain’t cheep posting things home! And we were now in a rush to catch our train to Florence!

Still we made it, winding our way through the throngs of tourists that had seemed to have appeared over night and once again enjoyed the efficiency and comfort of the Italian train service. UK - take note...they run on time and there is enough seats for all - novel concepts indeed in our experience with the British railway system!

So Florence for a family? Pretty perfect I would have to say! I can certainly understand the attraction for staying in the surrounding areas and day visiting Florence and the towns of Tuscany but for us staying right in Florence and discovering it for five days was a really immersing experience although obviously there is still much, much more to explore. We found it easy to walk around with a huge amount to see and suitable for all ages - definitely an easy family friendly destination.

On to Venice - did we save the best for last?

Florence photos if anyone is at all interested linked here http://jaxandco.smugmug.com/Florence/
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Old Nov 24th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for this report, it sounds like a really fun trip. I especially like the Florence photos; you have a beautiful family, Sienna looks like a real character.

Glad to hear you enjoyed Naples, we were there two years ago and had a really good time.
We have just returned from another Italy trip, I just can't get enough.
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Old Feb 14th, 2015, 04:31 PM
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Day Fifteen - Venice

Venice was on everyone’s wish list! Research on Fodor’s had once again presented slightly conflicting advice about the time we were planning on being there - “never ever go in August...the crowds, the crowds” to others who found visiting in summer most enjoyable. So whilst we were very much looking forward to it we were a little concerned that we would be one of the many, many visitors. So I researched when cruise ships were due in (frankly amazed at the numbers of people that disembarked daily and for such a short time) and then planned what we were doing so to avoid times when I knew St Mark’s would be swamped. Other than that it was a matter of just go, accept and enjoy...and so we did, and enjoyed Venice very much.

Arriving by rail, Venice must have one of the most beautiful entrances to a city in the world. Straight out of the train station and right in front of us was the water and the boats and the buildings and the light - another ‘take our breath away’ moment for us all. Our apartment was just over the Ponte degli Scalzi and only after a few minutes walk we left the bustle behind and there we were all settled into our temporary life in Venice.

Then it was out to explore! I knew that one of the best ways to experience Venice was just to ‘get lost’ and so we did but not without making our way to what we already had been told was the best ice cream place in town - Alaska! Flavours that are seriously delicious - orange and rocket, I’m just saying takes some beating!

It was slow going as we made our way through the tiny streets and over the canals as we were ‘forced’ to stop and go - ‘how lovely’ or take a picture or two or just question if it could really be real. But it was and it was magical and we were in awe and we were extremely thankful that we were experiencing this as a family.

As we walked, we stumbled upon a working Heildsburg printing place (running a graphic design company - we were ridiculously interested) and purchased beautifully laid out poster prints while the girls looked in awe at the masks in the shops. We joined in with the ‘celebrations’ in one of the smaller squares and dodged the frantic football kicking of the children, picked up the last of the fresh vegetables and fruit from the markets at Rialto bridge and then eventually found our way back to our apartment to prepare diner. Day one and we were all completely entranced with what we had discovered. We all commented on was just how quiet the place was. I felt that because there were no cars or mopeds or bikes (and the corresponding beeping of horns) we enjoyed the peace of walking without the constant heightened sense of making sure the children weren’t about to be run over! Plus with them all being old enough not to worry that they would fall in the water - it really felt as parents we had found the perfect place to relax.

Day Sixteen - Venice

This morning we had pre-booked a private walking tour with a guide that we had been recommended, Rita Sartori. She came to our apartment at 9am (we were just about ready - getting teenagers up on holiday is no easy feat!) and off we went to explore Venice through local eyes. For two hours we wandered with her, learning about how the city was built and the on-going work to maintain it - not easy nor straight forward. She pointed out things that we would have easily missed and showed us how if you skirt down the small calles (streets) you can avoid the main tourist drags and have the pleasure of quiet and space.

A place that was of particular interest to use, was the house where Aldo Pio Manuzio lived who developed italics, which because it reduced the space needed for type, allowed books to be printed on less paper and therefore cheaper, ultimately becoming more accessible to the ‘masses’. She also showed us Venice’s, Ospedale Civile (hospital) which is suited in a immense 15th century building with a facade that dazzles and has a beautiful square out front that the locals meet to drink coffee and she slowly took us to St Mark’s Square - just before the crowds arrived. Every turn was so picturesque another moment of ‘wow’ and appreciation of how unique this city is.

She was able to successfully pitch the tour at us all - regardless of the wide age gap and it was definitely one of the best things that we did especially doing it right at the beginning of our stay - the kids really enjoyed spotting things that she had shown us throughout the rest of our time there and it was a nice break for me not having to be ‘tour guide’!

We only stayed briefly in St Mark’s, the extent of the tourists was quite overwhelming, even the Rialto Bridge seamed to groan under their weight and there was only jostling space in certain key streets...I can believe it when we were told that the city has approx 80,000 visitors a day!

We made our way back to the apartment after a quick cafe stop via the street markets where we bought tomatoes and grapes whose intense flavour tasted like what I grew up with in New Zealand and marvelled at the fish markets and the abundance of produce from the seas.

That afternoon was spent working - a project that had to go live the next Monday and needed our full attention. Although we have found with the kids that in the heat of the day it was best to relax indoors and gather energy for a late afternoon/evening excursion.

So eventually out we went via our favourite ice cream shop - Alaska! Uplifted by such ‘goodness’ we then explored the Cannaregio area which was quiet and offered lovely views of the lagoon. Sitting on the very edge of Venice with our legs dangling over the sea in the setting sun will be a memory we will all retain. We walked through the thought provoking Jewish Ghetto (the world’s first and the one who bequeathed its name to all other enclaves of oppression) and its very moving memorial to those who were deported to the Nazi death camps.

Then seduced by the atmosphere and the delicious smells from the many canal side restaurants we decided to enjoy a dinner out. We found a fantastic little place that suited us, with tables on the canal and enjoyed fresh sea bream, black squid spaghetti and scampi and a lot of wine!!! We also enjoyed the noise and animation of the locals who spilled out of their houses as dusk settled and watched in envy as they rode up and down the canal in their boats - what a life of easy living they project...

Home via another ice cream shop/cafe for the kids - a place where you literally pour your own ice cream and top with a variety of toppings and dipings - complete with free wifi and a good vibe - my 16 year old deciding that it would be a perfect hang out back home for her friends!

It really was a wonderful day, a complete highlight and one where family memories have been well and truly made...

Day Seventeen - Venice

Venice has been the least planned part of our trip...partly as I had peaked by Florence in terms of my pre planning and partly because I knew that we could just wander Venice and be happy... So this morning we all decided that we needed a swim and to go on the water buses and to see Venice from the sea - as it is meant to be seen.

By 11.30 we had made it out (work once again needed dealing with) and we were on our way...with our 24 hour water bus passes and a vague idea of where we were going. They were definitely right, the Grand Canal of Venice certainly lets you see a side of the city that you can’t see by walking. Magnificent palaces and merchant buildings, grand hotels and of course the workers of the place making sure everything runs ‘smoothly’ - fascinating.

In the end it was to Burano Island we went - myself personally amazed at the similarities between the harbour of Auckland and that of Venice - with the similar colour water, sky and light although without the dominance of the the hulking Rangitoto volcano! It was a joy to be back at sea...you just feel it in your bones when you have grown up with it.

Burano famous not only for its delicate lace making - which really is an incredible art if not an acquired taste but for its brightly coloured houses - think intense greens, blues, reds, pinks, oranges, yellows...is a photo bonanza around every corner! Although walking it in the heat and bright light of the midday was not ideal! Still I captured many more memories..

Then we travelled on to Venice Lido and its beach. Not a place that I would naturally seek out - think scores of beach chairs and umbrellas and corresponding people, flat sea and jellyfish. But still it is the ocean and I loved it! The kids rented a paddle boat thing with a slide and happily set out in it for a rental period of an hour - so we optimistically thought we might have a moment or two to relax and had just settled down at the beach bar with a cold drink when Sienna turned up - as she was beyond hungry, followed swiftly by another child who had met her match with a jelly fish. The eldest having brought both the younger girls in - gave up at this stage and so we all watched the boys paddle and slide to their heart’s content for another 30 minutes.

Finally we wandered along back to the ferry for our ride down the Grand Canal to where we were staying. With the sun setting it was spectacular, the light on the buildings, the glistening of the sea and the water action unfolding before us. As the Venice Film Festival had just started there was some serious glitz and glamour oozing out of the place and we saw a few canal side parties and water taxis speeding by with people who really looked like they are groomed and maintained to a extraordinary level!

Then there were the star crossed lovers on their gondola rides, the boat drivers as they negotiated the heaving canal with seemingly nonchalance and the youngsters on private speedboats, (usually a young man with a suitably beautiful girl at his side) cruising at some knots the waterway on a night out. We were all entranced.

Sun kissed and salty we returned to our apartment, cooked up an eclectic mixture of leftovers and hit the sack - holidaying is tiring!!!

Day Eighteen Venice

And so our Italian adventure started to wind up with our last full day in Venice...

With our water bus passes lasting for 24 hours, we had until 11.30am to get back on the boat and see Venice from the canal. With a little, gentle enthusing we got everyone up and out the door before 9am - as we explained, in a few days you will be back home and you can all sleep in but you won’t be able to see Venice in the morning light for a long time.

With the confidence of having now caught and semi understood the water bus system we jumped on the first one approaching and settled in for the 30 minute journey down the canal - once again entranced by life unfolding as we glided past.

There were the badges carrying the bags of dirty linen from the hotels, the smaller gondolas carrying the suitcases of the guests back to the transport hubs, the trainee gondolier under instruction from the older men, the smaller speedboats racing by on errands and the other water buses with the eager to capture it all tourists hanging to the sides, cameras clicking away.

The morning light was magnificent on the palaces and buildings we passed, the photos I took endless, just so beautiful. Off at St Mark’s, hoping that the 9000+ cruise liner passengers expected in port that day hadn’t yet made it to the square. But we were fine, it was quiet and atmospheric and we had space to wander - and in Sienna’s case chase the pigeons! There is something so wonderful in the spontaneity of movement of a small child. Their lack of self-conscious actions, enthusiasm and erratic behaviour that they exhibit - the stuff that eventually gets replaced by the constraints of awareness of self and other’s expectations of you. It was a joy to capture especially as I know there is few times left ahead of us of such expression of abandonment.

We explored some more, where Sienna realised that her small school also called St Mark’s - shares the same lion symbol as the square in Venice - she was amazed! Then told me that, ‘She now knows where her headmaster got the inspiration from to name the school’!

We spent good three hours wandering back to the apartment - marvelled at the mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica, looked and discussed what it would have been like to have actually walked as a prisoner the Bridge of Sighs and then made our way to the Taiwan pavilion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. It was certainly different and for us all a lovely contrast to all the ancient and older culture we have seen the last two weeks. We then discovered the New Zealand pavilion and were provided with a very detailed talk regarding the European influence on the country’s architecture and the gradual integration of Maori construction techniques in the 1960s and what is happening today. There were images of places I used to visit as a child which the kids were fascinated by and then the general agreement became that New Zealand was to be our next family holiday...I but wish...

Home with fresh bread and bakeries for lunch - to eat with our mound of tomatoes I had bought (I couldn’t get enough of their real flavour!) and a rest up before our last night out.

Then it was a wander through a new area we had not discovered (where one of the universities is situated) - imagine spacious ‘campis’ with older people sitting out soaking up the last of the day’s rays, children playing football, the young spilling out of tiny bars with drinks in hand and tourists taking it all in and like ourselves no doubt imagining what it would be like if this was their home. A quick look at the frankly quite majestic Frari Church (me being the only one to still muster up the enthusiasm for a church at this stage in our trip), one last Alaska ice cream to be had - and then it was to a garden restaurant for pizza and pasta, wine and Limoncello and a family discussion over the complete wonderfulness of the holiday we had all just enjoyed...

Day Nineteen Venice - Milan - Home

Our travelling home day...one you know will arrive when you set off, just one you hope you don’t look forward to too much nor dread when it comes - as a holiday should be seen and enjoyed in the context it is, a break from the joys of your daily life!

Super organised (for a change) we left with ample time for our 7.50am train to Milan, enjoying the last minute views of the Grand Canal in the early morning light. But when we arrived there was no train on the board?! I looked again and then looked closely at our ticket print out. We were at the wrong station, I had booked it by mistake from Venice Mestre not Venice Santa Lucca, where we were. Ahhhhhh. Panic rising, I rushed us all to the next train leaving, as I knew they had to pass through Mestre where we could connect with the train we needed. Finally it left, we has 10 minutes to get there and as if some lucky travelling star descended on our family in our minute of need, we looked online and saw our connecting train was running 10 minutes late. I breathed again. Given that every train trip in Italy had left on time, it seemed we had been delivered a miracle! Even odder was that it was already in the station when we arrived (which was 1 minute after it was scheduled to leave) and stayed there for 10 minutes before it headed off. Nearly derailed (excuse the pun) at the last travelling hurdle.

So we made it to Milan, made it to the airport and then made it home. Absolutely filled up to the brim with memories, experiences, tastes, sights and joy.

Italy is definitely a brilliant family destination and exceeded all our expectations and writing this last bit of trip report some months later I can definitely say the memories have sustained us through the dark of winter and bring us all much joy when we reminisce about our Italian adventure.

Photos to follow...
JaxandCo is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2015, 06:40 PM
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Wonderful report and photos - thank you so much for sharing!
Jackie44 is online now  
Old Feb 14th, 2015, 08:08 PM
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Lovely report, thank you.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Feb 14th, 2015, 09:02 PM
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Please don't keep me in suspense, hurry up and load more of your amazing photographs! I was in Italy in August too, and went to many of the same places. This is the absolute best trip report I have ever read, and I seriously read a few researching our trip in August last year. Your family are beautiful and you are such a talented photographer, thank you for sharing your trip. Can't wait to return to Italy for more. If you didn't go to Lake Como, go take the kids and stay at Lezzano, nest on the lake bnb has a family room. There is a water ski school in Lezzano and they are fabulous with children.Thank you again - get the Venice photos up ASAP ! No pressure
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Old Feb 15th, 2015, 09:22 AM
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I really enjoyed reading about your adventures in Venice, particularly as yesterday i returned from a week there, mornings learning Italian and afternoons exploring. I think that you would find the atmosphere in the winter quite different, though there are still plenty of people around due to the Carnevale having started last week.

lovely to have been able to take your children too - ours still talk about our family visit there about 8 years ago.
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Old Feb 15th, 2015, 11:03 AM
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Loved your latest Venice portion! I'm going for the first time for an all too brief three nights in late April, and this is extremely helpful and atmospheric writing.
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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and finally...my photo gallery from Venice. Easily by far the most photogenic place to capture - what joy!


Thank you to all that have looked and commented - it is appreciated. I hope that this trip report has/will inspire other travellers and especially families to spend some time in the most wonderful of countries.
JaxandCo is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2015, 03:26 PM
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Wow, what a lovely trip report. Sorry I missed it when you originally posted but thank you for topping it so I could read it now. Just brilliant.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 03:47 PM
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Thanks so much for returning to finish this report. Loved it all, especially your description of your feelings at the end of your day on Procida.
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Old Mar 9th, 2015, 07:27 PM
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Amazing pictures! We took our 18 and 16 year old last summer, only 1.5 days in Venice, but will be back. And your little one is simply adorable!
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