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ssachida's Itlay trip - report to come ...

ssachida's Itlay trip - report to come ...

Old Nov 5th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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ssachida's Itlay trip - report to come ...

Hi all. Have been in Italy for a week now and am enjoying every minute of it. We were in Venice for 4 days and are in Florence now. I will post a trip report when I return, but here's an excerpt from my journal for now ....


"Nov 5 2004, 9pm
Venice was sexy, romantic (sometimes heart-breakingly so) and seductive. Florence is all heat and passion. With Venice, I want to go back, desperately. With Florence, I have no choice. Venice let me savour its treasures. Florence keeps hitting me with more than I can handle. I love every minute of it and am nervous because I can't seem to remember what it was that I enjoyed so much 2 days ago. Don't get me wrong, the joys weren't so trivial that they are easily forgotten, but there are so many delights one on top of the other that its hard if not impossible to keep them all straight. And I want to...

I'm, sitting on the steps of the Santa Maria di Fiori. The 'Doors of Paradise' are in front of me. The Duomo is behind the facade behind me. There are a few tourists and many locals ( mostly students) around me. While in Venice I searched out quiet campos, here I want to be in the middle of it all."

Thats all for now. Till later, ciao.

P.S: The traffic in florence doesn't seem quite as bad as I expected it be and I'm more in love with the Duomo than I thought possible
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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So eloquently put, sscachida. Those who don't know the lure of travel need only read what you've written here!
 
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 04:15 PM
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cool! looks like we will just miss you. hope you are still having a great time! (how could you not?)
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Old Nov 8th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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How beautiful. I've read it three times. I can't wait for the full trip report.
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Old Nov 8th, 2004, 05:44 PM
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ssachida
I want to be "in the middle of it all too"
How lovely that you took a moment and gave us this tiny glimpse ~ looking forward to hearing more.
Scarlett
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Old Nov 9th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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I echo your sentiments, ssachida. Very well put.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 03:44 PM
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I'm back
What I miss most already - cobble stone streets. Chicago feels sterile in comparison.
The trip was great and I shall post the trip report in installments on this thread.

The dates: Oct 29 - Nov 15
The cast: Mom(49), Dad(54) and me(27)
The places: Venice, Florence, Sienna and Rome.

Oct 29th
I flew AA from Chicago to Venice and my parents joined me there from India. The flight was the first surprise --- on time, good service, decent food and the best part - a great travel companion. And by travel companion, I mean the person who happened to be sitting in the neighbouring seat. A 40 something Swede who was returning home from a vacation in Los Angeles and Mexico. Stimulating conversation with a friendly, but not overly or annoyingly so, and fun person portended well for the rest of the trip.
Changed flights at Brussels airport, which while fairly well organized, is not small. There is a fair amount of walking to do.

Oct 30th, Saturday
Took the Alilaguna from MarcoPolo to San Marco and a vaporetto to the San Zaccariah to find our apartment. Got a little lost (for about 2 minutes) and was thrilled to have joined the crowds who have been 'lost in Venice'.

We stayed in an apartment in Campo San Stefano called 'Venice Palazetto'. It's basically a town house that can easily sleep 7 (actual beds, not sofa-beds). We paid 125E per night and stayed 4 nights.The ground floor had a foyer which had a piano in it, none of us play though.The first floor is 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. The 3rd floor has the kitchen, a half-bath and another bedroom. The 4th floor has a small bed room with a twin bed, another bathroom and our own terrace!! Beautiful Murano chandeliers in the bedrooms. The furniture was more than adequate but not antique. I did not notice an air-conditioner though, so that may be a problem in summer. Highly recommended. It was far more than I expected and in a fabulous location - 5 mins to the accademia, 10 mins to San Marco or the Rialto. Wanted to stand on our terrace and wave to everyone in the campo just to show off!

That evening we went for a walk to the Rialto. Popped into chiese San Stefano and San Salvatore on the way. San Salvatore is gorgeous, old and fading but still very beautiful. Lovely Titian painting at the altar. Window shopped tons. My parents bought me this gorgeous bead necklace I was mooning over. It's beautiful with red, brown and gold bead strands all twisted together. Pretty expensive at about E100 but its beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...

WARNING: This trip report is going to filled with the words lovely, beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous and their ilk. I can't help it, that's how Italy is.

Caught some fireworks from bridge. Don't know why they were being lit but we enjoyed it. Crossed over to Dorsoduro and wandered through the alleys to Canareggio and the train station to buy our train tickets to Florence for Wednesday. Very surprisingly, we didn't get lost. Streetwise maps are really good. We put away the map for a while and chose the roads where there didn't seem to be any other people but still stayed pretty much on the right course. Had dinner in a touristy little trattoria near the fish market - pizze and gnocchi for E21. We intended to go to Piazza San Marco but we got tired and so just went back to the apartment at around 10:30pm, set the clocks back an hour and chatted for a while before we went to bed.

My thoughts after my first day in Venice:
I'm surprised that Venice even exists, yes I knew the tremendous odds against which it has survived, but actually seeing it brought it home. Especially after the view of the marshes north of Venice from the plane and realizing that that's what Venice was too.
I'm surprised by the number of churches. I didn't expect quite so many. The pretty bridges, dark glistening water, romantic gondolas, narrow walkways to beautiful campos... I still can't quite believe that I am actually in Italy. This trip has been in the planning or years and for one reason or the other couldn't quite pull it off before.

The next day: Alone in Piazza San Marco!
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 04:20 PM
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ssachida, I was waiting for you to come back! The first part of your travels was so beautifully written. I'm glad you fell in love with Italy. Go ahead and use all the "lovely, gorgeous, beautiful" you want! We're looking forward to hearing about your impressions of Italy.
 
Old Nov 17th, 2004, 05:56 AM
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ssachida, great beginning! I'm waiting for more--and inspired to get my own trip report going. More please!
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Old Nov 17th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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Enjoying your report and waiting to hear more. We have a trip planned for July 2005.
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Old Nov 19th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Hi All,
Sorry about the delay. Jet lag hit for a couple of days there. Here's the next installment.

I'm not sure if you all want me to continue in this vein or would prefer a shorter, 'impressions of the day' kind of report. Do let me know ...

Sunday, Oct 31st. - thoughts, impressions and magic moments

My dad and I went out for a walk at 6:15am (I'm in Venice! Who can sleep?). It was drizzling lightly when we set out towards San Marco. Quiet, empty and beautiful, the whole piazza glowed hazily in the light rain. The sun was barely up and the lights in the buildings were still on. A magical entry to the piazza - I couldn't have asked for more. It started raining more heavily as we made our way around the piazza and dashed for the door of the Basilica.

In broken Italian (which got progressively better as the trip went on), I convinced the person inside that we wanted to attend 7am mass. We got to see Basilica San Marco in the setting it was intended for - church service (we were 2 of the only 7 people, including the priest, attending). The acoustics in most of these old buildings are great. The floor is a mosaic of so many different coloured pieces of marble that it should have been gaudy but was beautiful instead.

The wall and ceiling mosaics impressed me with the subtle colour gradations achieved with tile. Later when I was in Pompeii and the museum in Naples, I was to think back and feel that these mosaics are crude, in comparison to mosaics made 1500 years before. It brought home how much of the renaissance is a re-learning of lost knowledge as opposed to just a renewal from the point where it was left.

On our way back, the rain had eased off into a drizzle again. The piazza was still empty except for the 2 of us and 3 cleaners/ janitors. I was so thrilled to have this slice of Venice all to ourselves, that I went out into the rain and was twirling through the piazza. My father, from the walkway around, was amused and exasperated with my juvenile joy in getting wet, but I think he was kind of expecting it. I can never resist getting wet in the rain. Dancing in the rain in an empty Piazza San Marco, is just one of unexpected delights I never knew this trip would bring. Again, its Venice and her magic.

Later, after breakfast, all 3 of us set out towards P. San Marco again, with Palazzo Ducale as our destination. We never quite made it there. Acqua alta had set in, and boy, was it ever alta that day! The platforms were rendered quite useless in many places. We splurged on those boots (20E a pair) and they were still useless. Water above the knee in many places where there were no platforms set up. In retrospect, the best idea would have just been to roll up our pants and go in bare foot. Yes, I know many have written of how dirty the water is, I can't disagree, but legs wash. Many people were doing this and boots notwithstanding, our feet were still soaking wet. We wizened up the next day. Anyway, it was a long, slow procession to the palazzo only to be told to turn around as it was flooded too and not open to the public any longer that day. Aborted excursion, but, well, where else but Venice could we have experienced this? So we turned around and went back to our palazzetto.

Regrouped, lunched, napped and went to the Accademia, Chiesa Frari and Scuola di San Rocco in that order. After the Accademia we decided that any other chronologically ordered museum in the future we are going to tackle in reverse order. I understand the significance of Giotto, but am still very unimpressed. The Titian's that are in the end, when your brain is saturated, however, deserve more focus.

The Frari was beautiful and grand. I like art in churches and palaces, basically in situ, far better than in museums. It's less overwhelming and better presented.

Scuola San Rocco. Followed our 'reverse route' strategy and headed straight upstairs.
Instant Ecstasy.
The first time that Renaissance art has totally blown me away. 'Visual feast', 'a delight for the senses', 'cannot be exaggerated', 'breath-takingly beautiful' and every other cliche that I can think of, applies.
I was expecting to be impressed by Titian and by the Florentine artists. I was expecting the grandeur of Piazza San Marco and the vitality of the Rialto. I was expecting sparkling canals and pretty bridges. I was expecting good food and friendly people. And while none of those things were diminshed because I was expecting it, Tintoretto very nearly made me cry. This is, by far, my favourite museum for paintings in Italy. I liked a lot of paintings in quite a few places, but this concentrated delight was unique to Scuola di San Rocco. If I had to pick my favourite panels, they would be:
1. The nativity scene - adoration of the shepherds.
2. The crucifixion of Christ and the opposite panel of the procession with the crosses (entering the light, i think it was called).
3. The ceiling panel depicting the collection of manna from heaven.


Got gelati to eat in the campo near Scuola di San Rocco while waiting for the dazed delight to settle a bit. Noccionut, I begin to understand your alias a lot better now. Nocciola has to be the best flavour of gelato. Divine.

Dropped my parents off at the vaporetto and went for a meandering walk through Dorsoduro to the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute at the tip of the island. On my way there, I found this tiny alimentari and bought a bottle of wine for the next night. Am using my Italian a lot more now and am enjoying it. These solitary walks at night and runs in the morning are the highlight of trip to Italy. So many more people were willing to talk to me and had so many fun interactions during these excursions. This time, it was the shopkeeper at the alimentary who explained the virtues of Veneto wine to me. I am not a alcohol drinker (I have tasted plenty of wines in the US, Napa valley included, and beer and some liquors as well, but did never like it), and the shopkeeper, Francesco, was sure his wines would 'seduce me' (his words, not mine). This 3 Euro bottle of wine was supposed to be beautiful, though not as beautiful as I am. It's charming how a 60 something man will flirt so sweetly. He, not to mention his wife, would probably be taken aback if I took him up on his offers of a dinner together, but it's just the way some of them show friendship.


Joined my parents at the Cafe Florian at Piazza San Marco for the 'drinks with the orchestras playing' deal. Expensive but restful and a perfect way to wind down.

NOTE: An extra pair of shoes is very good advice. I had an extra pair, but my parents did not. I barely resisted saying 'I told you so' . They were still wearing their rain boots at night as their regular shoes were soaked. Anyway, we wrapped them in newspaper which we replaced several times. Also gave them a mild hair-dryer treatment and they were good to go the next day.
Also, it very difficult to get anything to dry in Venice. Even thin, skimpy clothes took 2 or 3 days to dry.
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