Venice, Florence, Rome Trip Report

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Dec 1st, 2018, 03:07 PM
  #1
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Venice, Florence, Rome Trip Report

My family (DH, me, and 2 teens—DS 16 and DD 13) went on an awesome trip to Italy in the middle of November. We saw Venice, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Roveretto, Trento, and Balzano. This wasn’t a “normal” trip in that my daughter was with her choir performing in the various cities. The rest of us were doing our own sightseeing and then catching up with the choir every day to watch the performances, which were at varying times. So if I were repeating this trip, I wouldn’t necessarily do the sightseeing in the order of this report. I ordered our sightseeing so that we would avoid where the kids (100 of them) were touring as well as where the official parent tour was sight seeing. (you could pay a bunch of money to be bussed around or you could do your own thing—I am a do my own thing kind of person).

Resources I used to plan this trip: Fodors Guidebook is always my starting point for logistics. Then I add in Rick Steves for quick lunch spots and inside advice on optimizing my time. I triangulate this info by visiting the websites for the attractions to see if there are any new exhibits or restoration that I need to know about. And this Forum—for ideas, for questions, you name it this forum is amazing!! I consulted the website “man in seat 61” to learn what I needed to know about train travel. I downloaded the Rick Steves app so I could have some guided tours of key museums and churches. I will include other websites/apps in my report as they are relevant.

For travel within Italy, I booked all of our trains in advance. That meant we had to wait for an hour for our train in Florence vs. grabbing the next train but I am too anxious about making sure everything works. I would rather have it booked than have to worry about getting a seat, etc. We went on the high speed trains and, per the recommendations from “Man in Seat 61”, upgraded to Super Economy—got leather seats and snacks on the train. I used the ItailiaRail sight. I was fine paying the small surcharge for a site that was in English and I was thus less likely to make mistakes. We flew Easy Jet from Naples to Venice—for less than it would have cost to take the train and we saved time as well.

I am going to start the trip report here and continue it in the comments sections because it is very long.

Venice

We landed at the airport at 10:30. There is a TI right in baggage claim—which is great. I got the following items: ATVO bus tickets to Plazza Romano, 24 hour vaparetto passes, museum passes, and a map of Venice. We grabbed our luggage and got on the bus. The bus is nice and the ride is quick. It is also a fun glimpse of life on the main land-as much as can be seen on the main road to an airport. Having now entered Venice by bus and boat and left by train and boat, I will say that the bus and train win. It is faster, so much easier to store your luggage and not so queasy. You can’t see anything in the boat—you are down below. So if you can do it, take the bus from the airport or train into Venice. The vaparetto pass was awesome—we used it quite a bit in just the 2 days we were here. Note—download the CheBateo? App—it shows which vaparetto is coming next and how many minutes from any stop. It was helpful in finding the quickest route and reassuring us that there would be a boat coming! There is one snag with the museum pass—I wanted to do the Secret Itineraries Tour to the Doges Palace so I booked ahead and the pass to the palace was included. In the end, it wasn’t worth it to have bought the museum pass—I would calculate that a bit more carefully and I would determine if you really want to see the sites included in the pass. I took a risk on it and it didn’t pay off for us.

Note: I used Google Maps the entire time we were in Venice and it worked very well. There were a few times that we took a wrong turn, but otherwise it worked well. The only thing I would say is to add 5-10 minutes to whatever time it says it will take to walk somewhere. Add in some wrong turns, the fact that you have to see something in a window, or there is a long string of scouts walking around the city with large backpacks and you have to wait till they get through before you can pass! There are also great directional signs to all of the main landmarks—search up on the building walls.

We then walked 10-15 minutes to our flat which was near Campo San Rocco. It is the “Tipical Venetian Apartment” hosted by Betty Oscar.. This place has an amazing location. Just 10-15 minutes walk to the train or bus station, 5 minutes walk to the St. Toma vaparetto and traghetti stops. Near the St. Toma vaparetto stop there is a nice mini mart with a decent selection of cheeses and other ingredients. There were plenty of bars and snack places near us to provide serviceable food. The flat has 3 good size bedrooms, a nice large bathroom, and a smaller bathroom. The kitchen is well stocked and they provide bread, coffee, milk, jam, butter, orange juice for breakfast. We were happy to each have our own room. (DH and I are tall and are used to having a US king sized bed for our long limbs!) There is a lovely canal view out one window.

The kids were dead and could not be roused from the room JDH went to a nearby bar and got sandwiches for lunch. Then he and I went to see the Basilica Frari. It was gorgeous. We had downloaded the Rick Steves Europe app and he has a guided tour of the church, which was informative and helpful. We wanted to see Cuola Grande di San Roco but we figured it was best to get our daughter to her meeting place with the rest of the school choir.

This is when we discovered the traghetti!! These are gondolas that get you across the canal—big time saver vs having to walk around to a bridge. How cool to have a cheap gondola ride in Venice! We walked to Plazzo San Marco and delivered our daughter and then we walked back to the flat. We grabbed some pizza from a snack place and some wine and other food stuff from the mini mart.

The next day we took the Vaparetto to St. Salute—what an amazing church!!! And a great view of St. Marco across the way. We wanted to see the Sacrsity but it appeared to be closed. Then we walked to the Academia. Wow, that was amazing. There were some rooms closed for restoration but there was still plenty of art to be seen. It was fun seeing Venetian art—I am not familiar with it.

Next we had lunch at Bar Foscarini—amazing views of the canal. And I had a good mixed salad and pasta carbonara. Then on to Ca Rezzonico. This is an interesting museum. Part seeing the rooms of the upper class and their furniture, part art museum. It is covered by the museum pass. I had hoped for some more history on the city itself but that is not what this museum has.

Then we hopped a vaparetto to Rialto and walked to Basilica dei Santa Giovanni e Paolo to pick up DD from the mass where her choir sang. We would be seeing her in many masses so it was ok to skip this one. We did get to hear the end of it and it was beautiful. To hear this music sung in the spaces for which it was written was amazing.

Next stop—gelato and the Jewish Museum. It was a good 20 minute walk but it was fun watching the local kids “trick or treat” on St. Martins Day. They were all banging on pan lids, going into shops and singing songs. The merchants would give them sweets. We got to the museum at 4:15 so we just had time to take the tour. That was fascinating. I have never been in a synagogue in Italy and it was really something to see these amazing historic places of worship. The tour was in English, which was great! And it was good to see what the Ghetto was like—the size etc.

We had dinner at Il Calice on Sestiere San Marco. This is a very casual eatery that was good for the kids. I had a large mixed salad and spaghetti with meat sauce. The other dishes were pizza, the steak and potatoes, and the fried fish—which is very fishy and includes shrimp with eyes on and little tiny squid. It was decent food and ok for the price. I wanted to make sure we were close to the drop off point so I didn’t have to worry about getting my daughter and her friend back to the group.

See the trip report after Rome/Pompeii (below in other comments) for our final day in Venice.
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Dec 1st, 2018, 03:21 PM
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Florence

DH and I went here on our honeymoon 18 years ago. It was my favorite city we visited then and it still is. So beautiful. We arrived in the train station and then walked across the street to the TI at Santa Maria Novella. We bought 2 Firenze passes and we saw almost every attraction on that card. It was so easy and convenient. I absolutely recommend it. DH was nauseous from riding on the train backwards, so we walked to our apartment which was next to the Barghello Museum. It’s a long walk dragging luggage. I would have been happier getting a cab. We could have gotten a bus as well but I am not sure if it would have been one of the mini buses—I don’t know how well that would have worked with our luggage



We stayed in an apartment called “Barghello Florence Around You” hosted by Andrea. The owner was there when we showed up at 10:15 am—he had just gotten there so we had perfect timing. He was very helpful and showed us everything in the flat. The flat is very modern looking and has 3 beds. One queen in one room and 2 twins in the other room. It had 2 very nice bathrooms. The kitchen had everything we needed. The breakfast they provided was great—yogurt, butter, cornflakes, tea, and coffee. They had little mini “toasts”, biscuits and Nutella. I thought DS was going to weep with joy! The only issue was that the wifi was a bit sketchy—worked some times and not others. Not a big deal but DH and I had to check some work stuff and that could be challenging. They even have a tiny balcony and an herb garden. The location is fantastic and it was quiet. The best thing about this apartment is that it has a washer and a dryer!!! We basically took 4 outfits for 2 weeks. The dryer is really helpful.



Food:

We ate lunch or snacks at these places:

Eataly. The first day, we ate at the upstairs restaurant which had nice food. The second day, we had DD and 2 of her friends with us so we ate at the pizza part which is in the back of the first floor. The pizza was great, they also had pasta and other items. I actually liked this food better than the upstairs restaurant.

Pizza Toto in Piazza Cimatori: Really good pizza by the slice and cheap too. This was a bargain and DS inhaled it. It does have tables to sit inside. Drinks were cheap as well.

Il Cernacchino: This place has great sandwiches plus other warm dishes and drinks. There a few tables upstairs. It was nice and quiet.



Gelato—Nothing fuels teenagers like Gelato!! We got the best at Grom and Perche No! Truly excellent!



Dinner: Coquinarius. Oh my goodness. That is an amazing place. The Carpaccio is superb. I had wild boar with turnips—I would pass on that dish and get the carpaccio. One mom got the autumn salad as a starter—very good! The carpaccio is listed singly but the waiter said we could do ½ and ½ plates or even 1/3 plates, so that’s what people did. The waiter was so friendly and helpful. That was a great experience.



Grocery: There is a Carrefour Express near Basilica San Lorenzo where we picked up some prepared food and other items for dinner. The place is huge and has a great selection. It really is a whole grocery store stuffed into a maze. Go to the back for the better wine selection.



Sites:

We dropped our bags and headed for the Duomo. Note: I booked the Duomo climb online from home. The only issue with this was that we wanted to see the Duomo and Duomo Museum on Monday and climb the Duomo on Tuesday. The ticket you get starts on the day you want to climb the Duomo and then lasts 72 hours. We were lucky—the very nice people at the Museum let us in on Monday. Don’t repeat my mistake! The line to get into the Duomo was ridiculous so we went to the Duomo Museum first. It has undergone quite the renovation since 2000. It really is an excellent museum. My favorite pieces last time were the choir stalls and they were this time too. The joyful children playing their instruments is very fun. The huge model of the Duomo is great and the recreation of the old façade is something else.

Next was the Santa Croce Church which is really pretty and has a lovely courtyard.

Then we walked up to the Basilica San Lorenzo where the kids were singing mass. The Basilica looks like nothing from the outside—it’s the inside that is amazing. Really beautiful.



The next day we had to pick up kids at the Uffizi at 1:15, so we started at the Museo San Marco. This place is so amazing. I remember it as one of my favorites from last time and it still is. The courtyard is so peaceful. The paintings on the first floor are beautiful and the frescoes upstairs are exquisite. The Annunciation fresco is probably my favorite image of this scene.

Then we went to the Barghello. This has fantastic sculptures and really should not be missed. It was fun to see pieces I had only seen pictures of before.

Next was the Galilleo Science Museum. Unfortunately, this closed at 1:00 and we were a tad behind schedule so we had to rush. The ticket woman suggested we skip the intro rooms and go straight upstairs. If you have “science nerds” in your family, this is the museum to see. It is nice to see something that isn’t more art. I really enjoyed Gallileo’s instruments—to see his telescopes was amazing. I wish we had more time for the second floor. There were some really odd instruments there and it is interesting to learn more about the emerging field of science and how it was received by “everyday” people.

Then we picked up the kids, ate at Eataly and got in line for the 2:30 Dome climb. We were in line by 2:15 or so. The line went fairly smoothly—you have to remember that you go through security etc.. The climbing is very claustrophobic and the part that just about did me in is when you walk along a balcony inside the dome with the church floor seemingly hundreds of feet below—yes there is plexiglass but I just kept thinking the thing was going to drop. Heck, there are arches in Arches National Park that have collapsed in the last few years. And people keep wanting to stop to take pictures. I stole looks at the Dome in between looking at the wall to my left. Being on the top of the Dome is the easy part—I just had to stay along the wall. DH and I have a great pix of the 2 of us on our honeymoon at the top of the Dome, so we took one of all of 4 of us—times change! The way down makes you dizzy with the round about stairs. The whole thing only took about 45 minutes.

Then we went to the Palazzo Medici to see the Progression of the Magi. Unfortunately, there was a tour group in there that was not moving anytime soon. It isn’t the same if you have to view that room with a large group in it. Oh well, we enjoyed seeing the rest of the museum as well. Next we grabbed dinner food at the nearby CarreFour Express and walked back to the flat. We were exhausted from the late night at dinner the day before and from being on our feet all day. I went to bed at 8:30!!



Our last day, we check out of the flat at 8:30 and the wonderful owner called a taxi for us. We taxied to the train station to leave our luggage. The info I had said that the left luggage is half way down track 16. It is actually outside the station. If you are facing the station with your back to Santa Maria Novella it is on the right hand side of the station. We left our luggage there instead of even asking about leaving it with the flat just so we would have our luggage there at the end of the day.

Then we walked to the Galleria Academia and followed the Rick Steves tour. Next, we went to the Uffizi and followed the tour there. I just love this place. The Botticellis are so amazing. And then we went to the Palazzo Vecchio and got to see the various apartments. The paintings of the accomplishments of the various Medici heirs on the various room ceilings are very interesting. By that time were d.o.n.e. We were ahead of schedule so we got DS some pizza and we all got gelato and then walked to the train station. We picked up our luggage and waited for the train. We took the 5:08 train to Rome.
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Dec 1st, 2018, 03:43 PM
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Rome

We took a taxi from the train station to our apartment. All I can say is, pick a better apartment. It is called “Unique Place in the Heart of Rome” hosted by Marco. On the plus side, the location is fantastic. It is steps from Piazza Navona. There is a taxi stand at the end of the street, the bus stops we needed were all within a 5 minute walk. Breakfast is included at a bar around the corner and it was excellent—a great caffe latte and a brioche every day at a family run place that is hopping with locals—Emporio alla Pace on Via della Pace, 28. The beds were good. And then the negatives: 1.the washing machine doesn’t work correctly—you have to take your clothes out and then put them in a separate spinner machine and you have to put a pan on the floor to catch the water. Then you can put them in the dryer. The dryer is ok. 2. You can only use one shower—the one in the 2ndbathroom just drains on the floor vs having a shower box. 3. There were no cooking basics—oil, vinegar, etc. 4. We couldn’t get phone reception—had to go out to the street to look up travel arrangements or weather etc. 5. The thermostat only works on the ac units. The apartment was cooold so we had to move knobs on the radiators and change the heat manually. 6. The one shower box is so small—fortunately we were thin enough to fit through the opening. 7. The owner was installing a new shower box when we arrived—the plumber came back the next day to fix something else and left the apartment WIDE OPEN. We came home to open doors—thank goodness nothing was stolen. 8. The stairs to one sleeping loft is really a ladder—fun when you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. This is a highly rated place on AirBnB and I have used them for all sorts of trips—both in the US and overseas. This was the first one that did not work out well. I would advise going with One Fine Stay in Rome—we did that in London and got a great flat. It is more expensive but you get a good apartment backed by a good company. There were other people in our group staying in apartments and they had good experiences. I wasn’t looking for La Dolce Vita—I just wanted a functional apartment.

Food
Breakfast was at the bar I mentioned above—very good.
Lunches:
Capitolene Museum Café. We ate at 2:45, so we had to have the panini instead of restaurant service. The food was fine. The view is fantastic!!!
L’Insalata Rica (near the Vatican museums)—what a great place. They had pizza, pasta, and fantastic salads!!! This was a great lunch

Dinner:
Osteria La Quercia: (near Campo Fiori) This was ok. Not spectacular but quiet and nice.
Bar del Fico (near Piazza Navona): This place was fantastic!! We had a group of 2 adults and 3 kids and we all found food we liked. The service was very good. I would highly recommend this restaurant.

Sights:
Day One: Colloseeum, Forum, Capitolene Museums.
We slept in a bit and then took the bus to the Colosseum and then had to walk up the street a little bit to the TI stop to buy our Roma passes. We used the Roma passes to get into the Colosseum, the Forum, and then the Capitolene Museums. We also used it as a bus pass.

The Colosseum is amazing but the stupid tour hawkers out front make it so annoying!!!!! We were able to use the Roma pass to go in the fast lane, which was nice. We used the Rick Steves app to tour us around the Collosseum.

Then, on to the Forum. Top Tip #1—do NOT use the entrance that is right behind the the Arch of Constantine. Use the Pallatine Hill entrance on Via San Gregorio. If you are facing the entrance I told you not to use—the Palatine Hill entrance is down the street to your left. There was zero line there!! And then you just stroll over to the Forum! We used the Rick Steves app for this tour, too. There were doing some restoration so we had to use a side exit and then walk up to the Capitolene Museums. We at lunch at the café where there is a spectacular view.

The Capitolene Museums are fun—the large pieces of statues outside in a courtyard and some other cool statues inside. It’s interesting for an hour or so. We took the bus home. We picked up my daughter and her friend at Piazza Navona—which is crazy at night!!!! And we ate at Bar del Fico—which was excellent.


Day Two: Churches, Castel St. Angelo, Vatican Museums
We got a good start today. We first walked around to the Pantheon, Sopra Minerva, and St. Ignazio. The Pantheon just does not disappoint!!!!! So amazing. The other churches were quite beautiful as well. I would add in the Il Gesu church to your walking tour. That place is something else. We didn’t go there because the kids would sing a concert there at night so we could see it then.

We walked over to Castel St. Angelo. This place is truly fascinating. I love being able to see the pathway the popes used to get here from the Vatican. Just all of the layers of history in this one monument is something else.

Then we walked to L’Insalata Rica for lunch—excellent choice.

And then the Vatican Museum. I remember visiting in July and waiting forever to get into the Museum. We were there at 2:00. There really wasn’t a wait—I didn’t even see a line for people who were buying their tickets???? There were so many group tours!!! It was very crowded and, as usual, everyone is packed into the Sistine Chapel. We followed the Rick Steves tour for this. There was plenty of the museum we didn’t see—but we saw enough. And, at the end, we were able to step out of the Sistine Chapel with the tour group exit. This puts you right into the church, if you want to visit it. We didn’t because the kids were singing mass there the next day and we would see it then. We took the bus home and relaxed before dinner and the concert that night.

The kids sang at Il Gesu Church. This place is amazing—there are sculptures on top of paintings on top of…it is kind of mind boggling actually. Definitely a must see.


Day Three: St. Peters, Campo Fiori, Villa Borghese
The mass time got changed from 10 to 9:00 am and we assumed that we needed to be there by 8:00 for security, which meant we had to get on the bus at 7:30. Good news is that at 8:00 am on a Saturday in November, there was no security line. We had time to do the Rick Steves app tour of the church. The Pieta is still my favorite. The church is staggeringly huge.

After mass, we picked up the kids in Piazza Navona and grabbed snacks at Vivi Bistrot, which was fine.

Then we walked through the market at Campo Fiori. They had some interesting things but nothing was a must buy. We strolled along Via Giulia and saw the church with the skulls but otherwise, there really isn’t much to see there. So we got gelato and walked back to Piazza Navona.

I was starting to feel sick, so I took a nap and DS wanted to hang out in the apartment. DH went to Villa Borghese. I had made the reservations from home. DH said it was a haul and lots of climbing/walking to get there via bus. He said it was interesting but not necessarily a must see. (that’s his opinion and he generally likes art museums)


Day Four: Crypts and Catacombs
Things got a bit mixed up on this day. I had originally planned to have us go to the National Museum of Rome and then Basilica St. Clemente. The idea of another art museum got vetoed. I thought they wanted to see catacombs, they thought they were going to see a crypt. Oh well……

We took a taxi out to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. The Appian Way is very beautiful. There were many people biking it on Sunday. That didn’t look very safe to me—and I bike a lot. But people seemed happy. The catacombs were very interesting. It is fascinating to learn about the early Christians and the early Popes. This was a very spiritual experience as well as historical. We all really enjoyed it. It was so nice to be out of Rome as well.

Then we took a bus and the Metro to the Capuchin Crypt. We stopped first for lunch at the restaurant that is right next to the church—if you are facing the church, it is just to the right of it. We had the regular menu on the outside patio. Inside, they were serving Sunday brunch for 20E a person. That would have been the better bargain and the food looked interesting. There were a number of locals in there for brunch. Our food was fine, quite good actually. The brunch just looked better.

The Capuchin church is ok and there is a museum explaining/giving info on the Capuchins. The main attraction is the crypt that is decorated with the bones of priests. I didn’t want to go because I knew it would be creepy. DH and DS had no idea that it would be that creepy. (um?? Bones? What did they think??) So I would absolutely skip this attraction!

Last, we went to the Basilica de San Clemente. This is truly interesting. 3 Levels of History. We really enjoyed seeing this.

Then we taxied back to the apartment.


Pompeii
We had a lot going on for this day. It worked out ok, but you have to prepare yourself for a long day. If I were doing things differently (less time in Rome, more time to see Pompeii) I would have taken a later train to Pompeii, seen Pompeii and Herculineum, and stayed overnight at the Naples airport.

First, we taxied to the train station for a 7:30 high speed train to Naples. Then we left our luggage in the Naples train station (easy to follow the signs for “left luggages”). Then we hopped onto the Circumnavigation train. You go downstairs under the main terminal and then you need to buy tickets for the circumnavigation train—do no use the red ticket machines. Those are for TrenItalia. We had to walk a ways to get to the right place, where we bought round trip tickets. Then make sure you ask what platform the train is departing from. We didn’t because I assumed (why???) there was only one platform or it would be marked. It isn’t. The circumnavigation train is old and it travels through areas that are less than scenic. It was nice to see the ocean and Mt. Vesuvius. The ride takes about 35 minutes. The trains leave 2x an hour. Get off the train and look at the time tables posted next to the ticket window—that way you know what train you need to take back to Naples. (we had a time frame) Don’t buy anything when you get off the train. Go to your right to the Pompeii entrance. We used the Rick Steves auidoguide app. You can also rent an audio guide there.

We spent about 2-3hours at Pompeii. It is huge. We wanted to hit the highlights. This is truly a bucket list item for me—and it should be for anyone.

Then we took the train back to Naples—you cross under the tracks to the other side to wait for the train. (it was too crowded to sit, FYI—we did get seats on the train from Naples to Pompeii).

We got our luggage back and took a cab to the airport. We flew Easy Jet to Venice. This was the fastest, most cost-effective way for us to get back to Venice.


NOTE on Florence--the easiest way to see the Duomo is after you are done with the climb--just peek around. The best part of the Duomo is the outside and the Dome interior--which you see better on the climb.
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Dec 1st, 2018, 06:39 PM
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Venice. Round 2

We did not get a chance to see all of the sites at St. Marks Square earlier-too jet lagged and I knew that everybody else from the tours would be there and I didn’t want to deal with the crowds. DS really, really, really wanted to see the WWI Museum in Rovereto. He is really interested in WWI and we just don’t have WWI museums in the US like they do in Europe. I thought about going south from Rome to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast but it looked like so many of those towns are closed down by November—its not exactly beach season. Some other people in the group did do this and they took a bus tour of the Amalfi Coast, so it would be an option if you wanted to do that in the off season. But one group stayed on Capri and nothing was open. We chose to go north.

This time, we took the Alilaguna Orange line to St. Angelo. Unfortunately, it was dark so we couldn’t really see anything. The host met us at the dock and walked us to the apartment. This place is fantastic!!!!! It’s called “Ca’ Sant’ Angelo Terrace” and is hosted by Elisabetta. After our Rome experience, it was sheer heaven to step into this warm, bright, welcoming space. The apartment is just off Campo St. Angelo and steps away from the Opera Theater. There is a good grocery store just a 4 minutes walk. It has a washer and dryer, a nice kitchen, a large living room, and a fantastic bathroom. The best part is a gorgeous terrace. We didn’t use it because it was cold, but on a nice day, that would have been great. The only issue is that it is on the 4thfloor. Lots of steps to carry luggage. And it takes a while for the water to warm up in the shower—when it does, it is great. That first night, we just ate food from the grocery store. That was a long day-of planes, trains, automobiles, and vaparettos!!

The next day, we ate breakfast from we bought the day before and we walked to St. Marks Square for the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour. I had booked this from home, which was good because it looked like the tour was full. I didn’t realize that Casanova had escaped from the prison—lots of info about him and his escape. The guide gave an excellent over view of the Venetian government system at the time of the Doges as well as the commercial and geopolitical landscape. I learned quite a bit. This was an excellent tour. Afterwards, we wandered the palace by ourselves—it is breathtaking!!!

We had lunch in the Palace Café. I had plans to eat at a nearby sandwich shop but it was cold and raining and I was happy to stay right where I was. Lunch was actually good. I had pasta carbonara, DH had lasagna, DD had a panini, and DS had yet again another margharita pizza.

Next was the Basilica. We used the Rick Steves app for this tour which was very good. This place is AMAZING!!!! Seriously, this beats St Peters, the Florence Duomo, and just about any other church I have seen. The Byzantine style is just so different and so gorgeous. We paid to see the treasury and the Golden Altar piece. I could skip the Treasury. Do NOT skip the Golden Altar—whoa!!! It was really interesting to go upstairs and see parts of the ceiling/domes up close. I loved the 4 horses—really beautiful and the view from the balcony on the Basilica is really good. The whole experience is a must.

Lastly, we went to the Museo Correr. I thought this was going to focus more on Venetian life. It was more of a tour of the rooms used by the Austro-Hungarian Empress “Sisi”. I have read about her so that was sort of interesting and the rooms are beautiful, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess I could have skipped this museum.

We went back to the apartment to rest up and then went to Vino Vino for dinner. The food was ok, the wine list was fantastic.

We spent the next 2 days in Roverto, Trento, and Balzano—I put those in a separate trip report. If you click on my user name, you will find it.

In the end, if I were doing this trip without regard to a tour group schedule (DD’s school), I would spend 2-3 days in Venice, 3 days in Florence, and a max of 3 days in Rome. I would even take out a Rome day to go to Pompeii. We didn’t focus on great restaurants for this trip—we never do when we travel with the kids. The trip seemed too long. We went to London/Dublin last year for 2 weeks and that worked. I think this was harder because of all the traveling in between places and being tired. I certainly won’t be planning another international trip for quite some time. So many logistics and my family are not spontaneous travelers!!! We are all glad we got to see some amazing sites. And November is a darn good time to go as far as crowds.
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Dec 2nd, 2018, 10:16 AM
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Great trip, StantonHyde! I couldn't find your Roverto, Trento, and Balzano trip. I clicked on your name and did a search.
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Dec 2nd, 2018, 02:42 PM
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TDudette--working on that today. My family decided that pizza on Thanksgiving was not sufficient so I had to cook the meal this weekend, which takes a lot of time....
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Dec 3rd, 2018, 07:06 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,788
Pizza not sufficient? I'm shocked. Looking forward to the next part.
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Dec 3rd, 2018, 08:48 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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StantonHyde, thanks for the nicely detailed report.

Your name always reminds me of old friends whose last name was Hyde, and who lived in Stanton Heights.
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Dec 3rd, 2018, 02:37 PM
  #9
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tuscanlife--that is a fun coincidence!!!
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