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italy: 2011 trip Archives

January 29, 2011

bought my ticket for Italia this morning!

I just could not get motivated about the PhotoHunt theme (standing) this week. Instead, I would like to share my Italy plans. YES :) I am heading back to Italy this summer!!!!

To get into the spirit, first I would like to share a few Italian flag photos I took during the same afternoon and evening as my previous post.

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Now about my trip...

I will be flying in and out of Malpensa Airport. I don't have the first four nights of my itinerary set yet but will either spend this time with my friends in Coccaglio or possibly spend the time in Verona or Parma or who knows? There are tons of possibilities.

My next stop will be 6 nights in Venice staying at a cool little B&B that my blogging friend Annie discovered.

I have been to Venice four times so far. I didn't like Venice during my first visit. In Venice's defense, I did the two night rush around and try to see as many things as possible type of stay. Two years later, I booked a hotel in Venezia Mestre my last night in Italy and spent the afternoon/evening in Venice and I liked it. Five years later, I returned to Venice again. This time, I fell in love with Venice. I returned again following year for a week and loved every minute of my stay. This will be my fifth time in Venice and as a bonus, my blogging friend Sandra will also be staying at the same B&B for 4 of the 6 nights of my stay!

My final destination, well final before the boring last night at the airport hotel stay, will be 10 nights in an apartment very close to Piazza Maggiore in Bologna.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know how much I love Bologna. This will also be my fifth stay in Bologna. During this trip, I will not only enjoy more time in this wonderful city, but I will also be taking Italian lessons for a week with Andrea of Bolognalingua. My blogging friend Palma spent three weeks last summer studying with Andrea. I read her blog every day while she was in Bologna and dreamed of doing the same thing one day. At first it didn't look like it was going to work out because he was booked during the time period I planned to be in Italy but then the person reserving one of the weeks that worked for me had his dates mixed up and the week opened up! What luck!!

I have not formally studied Italian for many years now and my Italian has suffered because of this. I will definitely be doing some cramming before leaving for Italy this summer. I planned my itinerary so that I would have some time to shake out some of the cobwebs and become a little more comfortable speaking before my lessons begin. I am hoping that after a week of intensive Italian language lessons, I will then be able to use my improved Italian during the last few days of my trip while I hang out in Bologna and/or take a few day trips.

I tailored this trip so that I would only have to travel by train with my luggage on four occasions. Also, most of my train travel will be direct, meaning I won't have to lug my bags up and down stairs at lightening speed to catch connecting trains and I purposefully made my last stop in Bologna so I could take advantage of the new direct train from Bologna to Malpensa Airport.


Just for fun, I made a word cloud of this post:
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*To see a larger version, click on the word cloud.

March 16, 2011

first two nights of my trip

It took me a while to decide on where to stay the first two nights of my trip. My first thought was to return to Verona, but I could not find an available hotel I was happy with. Staying somewhere on Lake Garda also crossed my mind however arriving on a holiday made me a little uneasy about the bus and ferry schedules that day. Spending my first day in Italy having difficulty with transportation options to arrive at my hotel was not high on my list. I also thought about Torino, but that was going in the wrong direction and would make both my arrival day as well as my travel day to Coccaglio for the weekend much longer.

I then started to think about staying right in Milan. Why not Milan? I have flown into Malpensa Airport (located right outside of Milan) four times before and have also flown out of Malpensa airport four times in the past yet I have never stayed right in Milan.

I have however taken a quick daytrip back in 2001 with Katia to Milan. We took the train in to see the Duomo (back when it was gray and gloomy) before the restoration began. We also climbed up onto the roof of the Duomo (which was very cool), stopped for a gelato in the famous Galleria, saw the outside of the Teatro alla Scala, and walked up and down some of the high fashion streets where we saw some sort of princess with a bunch of guards around her in one of the stores. I have also spent many hours at the Milano Centrale (main) train station in Milan and have taken one scary ride on the metro to get to the Cadorna train station to take that train straight to the airport (long story). Scary only because it was rush hour, packed with people as well as crazed fans going wild on the eve of the World Cup final right before they won the World Cup and I had no idea where I was going.

I am not sure why I have never thought about staying right in Milan before. I guess the big city thing kept me away. But after reading Michelle's blog post: "What to Do in Milan" and checked out her beautiful photos of Milan last December, I was inspired.

After shooting down Verona & Lake Garda, I started to give Milan some more thought. I have been wanting to see the Castello Sforzesco for a while now. Katia and I have talked about taking another daytrip into Milan to check it out.
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I have also wanted to see the Duomo again now that it has been all spiffed up, especially since I only had a crappy camera the last time I visited the Duomo.
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AND of course it would be very cool to see the Last Supper if only I would be lucky enough to snag a ticket.


So I started looking at reviews of hotels in Milan. Because I end up spending more time in my hotel room during the first two nights of my stay (jet lag) my criteria is always a little more stringent (no single tiny boxes and the bed needs to look very comfy). After checking out a few hotels, I came across Hotel Canada. I was able to get what I thought was a great deal and booked the room for two nights (made this reservation about a month ago/am just behind in sharing my plans). I can cancel my reservation up to a night or two before I arrive leaving me that reassurance that I can still change my mind but I am already pretty excited about staying in Milan. It is a 10 minute walk to the Duomo from my hotel and it sounds like there are a few good restaurants nearby.

I arrive early in the morning, giving me two full days to explore. From past experience, I know that I will be in a haze much of my time there since I will be dealing with jet lag and so I am going to keep my "to do" list to just the three things I mentioned earlier in this post.

Oh, and I did manage to snag a ticket to the Last Supper!! I kept my eye on the date the tickets for June would be released. I checked the ticket website about 9pm my time (8 am Italy time). No tickets yet. I got distracted doing other stuff and almost forgot to check again! I checked back again about an hour or so later and the tickets were released. The best time left was a mid-afternoon time on the second day I will be in Milan. There were only a few tickets left for one of the two dates I will be in Milan. I was able to reserve a ticket but the site would not take either of my credit cards. The website gives you 24 hours after reserving the ticket to purchase the ticket. I sent an email to Katia to see if she could purchase the ticket for me. Thankfully, she was able to sign in as me and pay for my ticket. My reserved ticket time may prove to be a challenge since I usually fade around that time of day during my first couple of days in Italy, but even if I have keep my eyes open with toothpicks, I will be there!

SO, Milan it is for my first two nights in Italy!


*Photos are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons ~ click on each for info on the source of each photo.

June 7, 2011

getting to Italy & the Duomo in Milano

I am now in Venice but will begin from the beginning…

Tuesday, May 31st:
A week before my trip, I started gathering all of the things I planned to pack using the same packing list I have used for the past few trips. I knew it was going to be a challenge this year to fit my new camera, lenses, and MacBook Air, as well as everything else into the same bags I took with me on my last trip. I was hoping to not have to take a larger bag. On the day of my flight, everything was going so smoothly until a couple of hours before I planned to leave for the airport when I tried to fit one last thing into my bag. That is when my mini-meltdown occurred. I tried over and over to fit everything inside my bags but nothing worked. It was getting later and later. At one point, I even dragged out my larger bag. I finally ended up unzipping the expander zipper of the original bag I planned to take, something I hate to do until the last leg of my trip, and managed to make everything fit.

I arrived at the airport just in time to check my bag, go through security, and arrive at my gate as the last call was being announced for my flight. Phew! I really cut things close this time! A big thank you to my dear friend who stood calmly by as I had my mini-meltdown and drove me to the airport.

When I reached my seat and began to lift my carry-on roller up into the overhead bin, the man sitting behind me offered to help. I thanked him and told him that I could manage. I have been working very hard the past few months trying to build up my strength in my arms and shoulders. My goal was to be able to lift my bag up into the overhead bin without any problems. My workouts paid off as I easily hoisted it up and even got a bravo from the man who offered to help me. I smiled and told him that my trainers would be proud! As I was settling into my seat, I realized that I had met this man years ago while studying Italian in Hawaii. He is the owner of La Gelateria in Honolulu and was also traveling to Italy. As I introduced myself, he told me that the man sitting behind him was the owner of an Italian restaurant in Honolulu and was also traveling to Italy. Small world!

My two flights were uneventful. I was able to sleep some on both flights. The wait in Newark between flights was long as usual. This whole Continental and United merger thing seemed to be a bit confusing. When I first saw that the name on the plane said United instead of Continental, I was worried that the plane was no longer one of the Continental planes, the ones with the little movie screens in front of every seat. I was happy to find out that the plane was still one of the Continental planes. I guess all the planes now have the name United on them. Everything else seemed to still be Continental although they no longer serve free food on the long 9 hour flight from Honolulu to Newark. At least they still serve food on the shorter flight from Newark to Milan/Malpensa (both dinner and breakfast). I heard a few passengers complain in Newark about the upgrade procedures. I think they were loyal United customers.

Thursday, June 2nd:
When we arrived at Malpensa, one of those stairway things was driven up to the door of the plane. I don’t recall having to walk down stairs when arriving at Malpensa in the past but I am always in a jetlag haze so I may have and just didn’t remember. Shuttle buses zipped us all over to the arrivi door. Passport clearance was quick. My bag also arrived very quickly which was a first.

There was a huge crowd waiting for four small elevators to go down one flight to get to the train station area. I figured it would take at least 30 minutes to get on one of those elevators, so I searched for another way to the train station below. I followed these green arrows and found both an escalator and stairs heading down to the train station. My plane arrived on time, exactly at 8:50. I just missed the 9:33 train. I took the 10:03 train and arrived in Milan 30 minutes later, finding a row of taxis right outside the train station. The train ticket cost 11 euros and the taxi cost 8 something.

My room was not ready when I arrived. I started switching some stuff around in my bags so that I could gather up a few things to take with me while I checked out the area around my hotel. Just when I finished getting out my camera and a few other things, I was told that my room was ready. The bed in my room was very inviting. I was so tempted to take a nap but knew if I did that, I would sleep the rest of the day. Instead, I unpacked my stuff, took a quick shower, and headed out to explore Milan.

It was gray and cloudy and a bit chilly outside. I headed straight for the Duomo. I visited Milan for a few hours with my friend Katia many years ago before the Duomo restoration work was done. I have been looking forward to returning to the Duomo now that it was all nice a clean.
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After taking a few photos, I walked around a bit looking for the Obika mozzarella bar that I had read about. This restaurant is located on the roof of the La Rinascente store. I was seated in the bar area and had a wonderful lunch. After lunch, I spent a few minutes checking out some of the other levels of the store while it was sprinkling outside.

Once the rain stopped, I went inside of the Duomo. The entrance into the Duomo is free. Here are a few photos from inside the Duomo.
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The climb to the roof was the top thing on my to do list in Milan. There are two ways to get to the roof – by foot (5 euros) for by elevator (8 euros). As a fan of climbing towers, I of course went by foot. I followed the signs and went to what I thought was the entrance to climb to the top. I was told that I needed to purchase a ticket at the office located in a building nearby. After purchasing my ticket, I returned. After scanning my ticket, the man told me that I was in the wrong place. That entrance was to take the lift to the top. I walked around the corner to another door. This time when the man saw that my ticket was scanned, he tried to send me back to the lift entrance. I had to explain to him that I bought a ticket to climb to the top! Finally, I was let in. I have been working out regularly and thought I was in good shape, but the climb was pretty tough, tougher than I thought it would be. When you reach the top, you traverse along the roof and then reach a second staircase where you get to the very top.

I took tons of photos. Here are some of my favorites.
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Continue reading "getting to Italy & the Duomo in Milano" »

June 10, 2011

day 2 in Milano ~ Castello Sforzesco

Friday, June 3rd:
After a wonderful breakfast at my hotel, I headed out to the Castello Sforzesco, stopping in a few shops along the way. The weather was nice and sunny and warm. After walking past the Duomo, I arrived at this street with flags hanging from many countries which leads to to the Castello.

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Milan has many interesting types of public transportation. Here are a couple of types I encountered on my walk. By the end of day two, my feet really would have appreciated riding one one of these buses or trams but I did not have time to figure out the system.

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The Castello Sforzesco was very cool place to visit. After taking a few photos of the exterior...

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I decided to tour the many museums inside. The cost of the ticket, which included all museums, was I believe 6 euros. I was thrilled to find out that I would be able to take photos inside the museums. Here are a couple of my favorite rooms of the museum.

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I am going to post this now and write about the rest of my day later. Happy Friday everyone!!

June 15, 2011

the rest of day 2 in Milano

I am now in Bologna taking Italian lessons. Way behind here and not much time to catch up this week. Busy all day with lessons and homework at night.

Here is the rest of day 2 when I was in Milan...

Friday, June 3rd:
While looking out from the castle, I saw this very cool arch called Arco della Pace or Arch of Peace. It did not look that far away but ended up being quite a walk.

Here's a photo looking back towards the castle from the Arco della Pace to show the distance from the castle. Somehow the arch looked much bigger when I was in the castle than the castle looks when at the arch.

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AND here are a couple of photos of the Arco delle Pace.

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By this time, I was pretty hungry but I did not want to stop for lunch because I wanted to make sure to find the place where Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper was located. For some reason, I thought I needed to be there 30 minutes in advance. I found it very easy to follow a map and find places in Milan. I almost stopped in a couple of restaurants along the way but continued on. When I arrived, I found out I only needed to be there 10 minutes in advance. However since it was booked for the entire day, I did not want to miss my opportunity to get in and so I found a bar (a place to eat) nearby. The food ended up being pretty bad but it filled me up.

I returned about 20 minutes before my reservation, told the man my name and got my ticket. When it was the time for my group to go in, we were let in to a hallway, where we stood and waited about 5 minutes. This hallway was cooler in temperature. Then the door opened and we were let in. The last supper was bigger than I imagined and definitely worth a visit. We were only allowed to stay in the room to view it for 15 minutes. I would have loved to stay longer. Photos of course were not allowed inside. Here is a photo of where the Last Supper or Il Cenacolo is located.

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By this time, my feet were tired from walking all day but I did not see any taxis around. I took what I thought was short cut instead of walking back towards the Duomo. I am so glad I did this because I stumbled upon this amazing Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, located on the corner of Corso Magenta and Via Luini. There were amazing frescoes covering all of the walls with a dividing wall in the middle.

By this time, my feet were tired from walking all day but I did not see any taxis around. I took what I thought was a short cut instead of walking back towards the Duomo. I am so glad I did this because I stumbled upon this amazing Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, located on the corner of Corso Magenta and Via Luini. There were amazing frescoes covering all of the walls with a dividing wall in the middle.

If you are ever in Milan, definitely plan to visit the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. Here are a few photos:
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I continued on back to my hotel. Along the way, I came across these Roman Columns located in front of San Lorenzo Maggiore, the oldest church in Milan.
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I went inside for a peek and then continued on towards my hotel. I started seeing lots of people walking by eating gelato, turned the corner and there in front of me GROM! YUM!! I bought a gelato, walked by Rossopomodoro, a chain place that makes fabulous pizza, and finally arrived at my hotel. In the evening, the rain began. I walked back to Rossopomodoro for dinner and had a fabulous pizza, packed, and went to bed.

I did pretty well dealing with the jet lag this year, probably better than most past trips. Milan was wonderful. I am really glad I finally visited this very interesting city. I would have been happy to spend a few more days in Milan and will probably return one day.

June 19, 2011

train ride and weekend with friends in Coccaglio

Saturday, June 4th & Sunday June 5th:
Saturday morning, after eating one more wonderful breakfast at Hotel Canada, I finished up my last bit of packing and asked the hotel to call me a taxi. I had an interesting ride to the Milano Centrale train station. The taxi driver, who was very nice, spoke rapidly in Italian with a very distinct lisp. It was pretty difficult understanding him. He talked on and on asking me question after question. I was glad that the ride was not too long.

When I arrived at the station, I headed for the automated ticket machines. I had read that US credit cards no longer work, or at least the majority of them, as a chip is now needed in the credit card, which I guess the US banks do not include in their cards. I have not tried to purchase a ticket using my credit card and so I cannot confirm this.

The Milano Centrale train station is huge. There are a bunch of automated ticket machines on the first floor. I cued up to wait for a machine to become available. While I was waiting, I noticed two strange men hanging around the machines. One of the men was writing down things as people purchased their tickets. Next thing I noticed was the screens on all of the machines one by one turning red with a notice in Italian that the machine was out of order. It seemed to happen when one of the men started punching buttons on a machine next to the machine going out of order.

I left the area and searched for either a ticket window or more ticket machines. I found another row inside a big room that I think also had ticket windows. I cued up for a machine. The strange men then appeared in this room. One of them asked if he could help me. I told him, "NO" and proceeded to purchase my ticket.

I was very careful to keep an eye on all of my belongings while purchasing my ticket. Just after I purchased my ticket, I noticed more of the screens turning red. STRANGE! Never figured out what was going on.

I looked for the escalator and headed upstairs to the train arrival/departure area. There, I saw more ticket machines. Good to know for next time I am at the Milan train station. The last time I was there, they were still doing renovations and the ticket machines were moved downstairs.

I purchased a first class ticket (interregional train/cheap upgrade) so that hopefully I would have more room for my bags. The train was already sitting at the binario (platform). I headed down looking for the first class car. It seemed to be pretty full already. The second class car at the very end (front of the train) was empty, so I decided to sit there instead. After the train left the station and then stopped at the first stop, tons and tons of people board the train. It was almost standing room only! A very nice young Italian couple traveling to Venice sat in the two seats across from me. I sat in a single seat next to the door. They offered to lift my bags up onto the baggage racks. I told them that I was getting off in a few stops if it was ok with them. They were fine with that and we ended up having a very nice conversation.

At one point during the train ride, there was an announcement about a sciopero (strike) on Monday! Just what I needed. I was planning to take the train to Venice on Monday. The couple was very kind to ask the train ticket guy info about the strike for me. They ended up being more affected by the strike than I did. The strike (which did happen) was a regional Veneto strike. Since I was taking one of the fast trains, which started out in another region, my train would not be affected. The couple would have to buy a more expensive ticket to return to Milan on Monday instead of taking the slower, cheaper train.

I almost got off at the wrong stop (Chiari instead of Rovato). I somehow counted the stops incorrectly. I did not realize that the train was delayed. It arrived in Chiari, which was the stop before Rovato, when it was supposed arrive in Rovato. Fortunately I saw the sign. It would not have been a huge problem however, since Chiari is not too far from Rovato and Katia could have driven there to pick me up.

After hugs and then dragging my bags down and up a bunch of stairs, we headed back to Katia's house, where we made a delicious pasta dish for lunch.

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Later in the day, after Guido returned home, we drove to Brescia to visit the Museo di Santa Giulia to see the Matisse exhibit. We had to park the car a ways from the museum. It was a nice walk until the sky opened up and and it started to pour. Fortunately for me, I had my handy little plastic fold up into a little square raincoat with me. Poor Katia and Guido were soaked. We all thought the Matisse exhibit was just ok.

The fun part though was revisiting the Roman ruins of two Roman Villas.
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The museum guy asked us if we would like to go outside to take a look at some of the ruins in the garden (sorry it is late and I am tired/I know there is a better name that museum guy).

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Continue reading "train ride and weekend with friends in Coccaglio" »

June 23, 2011

1st day in Venezia

Monday June 6th:
Monday morning, sweet Katia drove me to Brescia so I would not have to change trains (taking the train from Rovato to Brescia and then changing to the Brescia/Venezia train). I bought a ticket for the FrecciaBianca high speed train to Venice from Brescia before leaving Hawaii on the internet. Very easy to do.

When we arrived at the train station, I was still a bit concerned about the train strike. We went to the little information office to check just to be sure. Just as we were about to ask the very nice man about the strike, in stormed two tourists who did not speak any Italian. They were upset that the train they took did not stop in Peschiera Del Garda. Instead it zoomed past and stopped in Brescia. Supposedly someone told them to buy the ticket they bought for the train they took.

Fortunately for the train information guy, Katia interpreted the problem. The train information guy told them they would have to purchase another ticket costing only 1 euro. They kept saying it was not fair. They train guy told them they could try to get on the train and explain the situation but they would be risking having to pay a big fine. I even told them, just buy the new ticket. They kept saying over and over it was not fair. Well, if they read the train schedule, they would have seen that the train they took did not stop in Peschiera Del Garda. Finally after about 15 minutes (good thing we were early!), they left. The train guy was so grateful for our help that after assuring me that my train would not be affected by the strike, I could contact him if I had any problems. Of course if my train stopped at the next station after crossing into the Veneto region, I don't think he would be much help, but he was very nice just the same.

As usual, when my train arrived, it was hard to say goodbye to Katia. Hopefully I will see her again soon. The FrecciaBianca train was very nice. There was a lot of room between the seats for luggage, even for bags much bigger than mine. I sat quietly across from a dorky Italian business guy. I tried to explain "dorky" to Andrea, my Italian teacher, but did not do a very good job. Anyone know the Italian word for dorky? At one point, the guy sitting across from me started searching for something. Eventually he asked me if I had seen an iPhone anywhere. I offered to call his phone to see if we could hear it. He said he was going to go and find the train guy. I think he might have thought I stole it! He returned about 10 minutes later and the train guy called his phone. Now I could have done that! I was the one that heard it as it was on vibrate and I have super hearing. It fell between the seat.

No strike. No other excitement. That pretty much wraps up my train ride from Brescia to Venice.

When I arrived in Venice, I headed straight for the Venice Connected vaporetto ticket machine to pick up my 7-day pass. It was very easy to retrieve my pass, although it took me a few extra minutes to figure out how to validate it. They have these very cool machines where you just put your ticket in front of the machine, it scans it, beeps, and tells you what type of ticket you have and possibly also when it expires. I scanned it about 5 or 6 times before I was satisfied that it was activated. I am used to stamping my ticket and wanted to make sure it was validated. As I headed for my vaporetto, I noticed that one of my wheels would not move. A thick black plastic tie got caught up in my wheel. I could not get it out so I dragged my bag along.

I was lucky to catch a vaporetto that was not packed, making it easier to maneuver my bags once on board. I easily found my B&B after getting off at the Ca' Rezzonico stop.

Carlo greeted me and then told me that my room would not be ready until 2 pm. The skies were very dark outside. He game me a map and I headed out to grab a bite to eat. I did not want to go far since it looked like it was about to pour any minute. I walked to nearby Campo Santa Margherita since that is the only place I was familiar with nearby. I saw a few places open with outdoor seating. I continued on to the end of the campo where I found a little bar that had piadine (flat bread sandwiches). *I have the name of the bar somewhere and will insert it here when I find it* I ordered a melenzane, zucchini, mozzarella piadina. The girl at the bar asked me if I wanted to take the piadina to go. I told her that I had to wait until 2 for my room to be ready and with the black sky, I didn't want to go anywhere.

I found a seat at a little bar on the side and read the paper while waiting for my piadina to be made. Just as she brought me piadina, the skies opened up and it started pouring. A few minutes later, the tiny street outside the bar looked like a rushing river. At one point when the rain slowed, one of the other workers, or perhaps the owner, took out his broom and started sweeping the rain in the street. That was a first for me.

Once the rain stopped, I headed back outside, wandered a bit and somehow ended up at the San Tomà vaporetto stop. I hopped on the vaporetto and it started to pour again! My stop was one stop away. My B&B was only a two minute walk but still, I was soaked by the time I reached the B&B. Carlo had already had my bags brought up to my room. I unpacked and showered.

The rain finally stopped so I headed back out. First stop - Piazza San Marco
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It was getting colder and I had a reservtion at La Zucca for dinner soon so I got back on the vaporetto to return to my B&B to put on some extra clothes for dinner. Here are some photos I took during the vaporetto ride back to my B&B.
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Continue reading "1st day in Venezia" »

June 27, 2011

another rainy day in Venezia

Tuesday June 7th:
I woke up to gray skies Tuesday morning, put on some warm clothes, and went down for breakfast. I sat down for a moment and thn told Wenyu, the other person running B&B Fujiyama, that I would be right back. I went back up to my room to put on more warm clothes, adding my fleece, my purple pashmina scarf, as well as some long underwear under my pants. Now I was ready for breakfast. Wenyu was very amused.

Every morning for breakfast, I was served a brioche, two warm bread rolls, and either a little cake or pastry of some sort. I was also offered both coffee and tea and usually had a caffè macchiato and then some wonderful Jasmine tea.

I had no plans for the day. I was tempted to just stay inside until the sun came out, but according to the weather I might be waiting a few days. As you all probably know by now, I don't do well in cold weather and am not a big fan of rain. But I was in Venice, so after about an hour when it warmed up a bit, I sucked it up, packed three maps and two raincoats, and headed outside.

I got as far as the Chiesa di San Sebastiano before it started to rain. I had a lovely chat with the woman selling tickets inside the church. I had not thought about whether or not I wanted to purchase the Chorus Pass (10 euros for entrance to 16 churches in a one year period). After listening to her explain the benefits of the pass and thinking about the rainy weather outside, I figured that a day of visiting a few churches would probably be a good choice. The woman also gave me some information about the Chiesa di San Sebastiano and apologized because parts of the church were covered due to the current restoration. Many of the ceiling pieces were also missing. Someday I would like to return to this church once the restoration is completed.

Outside, it was raining and blustery. I did not have much of a plan for the day. I started to think about lunch. I checked my map and then headed out, walking towards what I hoped was the Fondamenta delle Zattere to find a place to eat. It was a short walk but still I was soaked by the time I made it to the few little restaurants I saw by the waterfront. I did not do my homework and had no idea where to eat. I chose Ristorante Terrazza Casin dei Nobili. The woman seating me was very kind as I took off my plastic see through rain jacket that I was wearing over my other rain jacket so that I would be able to keep my camera dry. I wasn't sure if she would be upset that I was getting everything all wet, but instead she helped me hang my plastic jacket on the chair across from me as she seated me.

I ordered bruschetta and spaghetti with clams. The food was ok but the view was fabulous!

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After leaving the restaurant, I hopped on the vaporetto and headed over to the Church of the Redentore (a Chorus Pass church) on Guidecca island. I took photos of this church from many angles throughout the day. It is such a beautiful church. The photo below was one of my favorites, showing the weather of the day. It almost looked to me like there was snow on the church.

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I took these photos from the steps of the church of the Redentore.

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I had never been to the Guidecca island before so I decided to walk a bit. I took these photos along the way.

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Continue reading "another rainy day in Venezia" »

July 1, 2011

another rainy day in Venezia (part 2)

Tuesday June 7th:
After stopping at the Billa grocery store to pick up a few things, I got back on the vaporetto at the San Basilo vaporetto stop. I continued on towards Piazzale Roma. Although the rain had finally stopped, it was still gray, cloudy, and cool.

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It's hard to see when I reduced the size of this photo but this is a photo of a train leaving Venice and cars traveling to/from Venice.
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Here we are getting closer to Piazzle Roma
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The Piazzale Roma vaporetto stop...
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This is the one place in Venice where you will find buses and cars.
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Continue reading "another rainy day in Venezia (part 2)" »

July 2, 2011

two visits to San Giorgio Maggiore

Tuesday June 7th:
I visited the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and had been in the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore the last time I was in Venice but since it was a rainy day and the vaporetto was making a stop there anyways, I decided to visit the island and the church once again and I am really glad I did because of the surprise I found when going inside the church. Not only did I visit the island on Tuesday, but I returned again on Wednesday!

Below are photos I took while on the island on Tuesday and if you click continue reading you will find photos I took during my return visit on Wednesday.

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When I walked inside the church, this is what I found

It is called Ascension and was created by Anish Kapoor. Not something you find every day in a church! Not thinking, I took the video sideways. I don't know how many times I have done this now, but it has been a lot! I went back the following day to take another video the correct way but the Acension was not working properly while I was there. Fortunately, I found out when I got home that iMovie 11 allows you to rotate the video.

There was a girl sitting at a table near the door with information about this exhibit. She also told me that there were two more exhibits on the island. The first was called Real Venice and the second was called Penelope's Labour - Weaving Words and Images.

So out of the church I went to find these two exhibits. They were both located to the left of the church down by where many of the boats are docked.
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The Real Venice exhibit was one of my favorite exhibits I visited while in Venice this year. There were some amazing photographs. I spend quite a bit of time enjoying them. Unfortunately, I probably spent a bit too much time in this exhibit because when I continued on, following the little arrows, I arrived at the Penelope's Labour exhibit too late. It just closed for the day. No big deal though. That was the main reason I returned to the island the following day. That also meant I was able to spend a little more time in the Real Venice exhibit again since I was back on the island.

The views from the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore are pretty cool. Here are a few photos I took Tuesday afternoon.
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To see photos of my visit the following day, click on "continue reading" below.

Continue reading "two visits to San Giorgio Maggiore" »

July 3, 2011

day 3 in Venezia ~ here comes the sun!

Wednesday June 8th:
Although the temperature was still on the cool side (for me) when I woke up Wednesday morning, the sun was shining. I could not ask for anything more. I was excited to head out to enjoy a day of wandering and taking photos on my first sunny day in Venice.

I started my day by walking to the Fondamenta delle Zattere and took the number 2 vaporetto to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, then I wandered around Piazza San Marco once again (I will do a separate post to share the photos I took while in Piazza San Marco), and finally found my way, with only a few wrong turns as well as stopping in a few shops along the way, to the Ponte dell'Accademia, also known as the Accademia Bridge.

I took tons of photos and once again it was really difficult narrowing them down to a reasonable number to share. I hope you enjoy...

My first photo of the day:
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Santa Maria della Visitazione and the Chiesa dei Gesuati (I think I got this right):
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Buildings on the Giudecca:
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Church of the Redentore:
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Chiesa delle Zitelle:
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Island and Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore (see my previous post for more photos and info on my visit to this little island & church):
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Continue reading "day 3 in Venezia ~ here comes the sun!" »

July 4, 2011

day 3 in Venezia (part 2)

Wednesday June 8th:
As I mentioned in my previous post, after taking photos from the Ponte dell'Accademia, I went back to my B&B, dropped off my larger photo bag and camera and jumped back on the vaporetto heading to the train station, taking my new little point & shoot camera with me. The skies suddenly turned gray and the wind picked up again just as I arrived at the vaporetto stop. This was a more crowded vaporetto ride and the wind was blowing hard at times while taking photos along the way. I didn't end up with many good photos but here are a few I thought I would share.

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Train station:
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I met Sandra right inside the train station. It was really nice to see Sandra again. We first met in Roma after knowing each other through blogging and Slow Travel and have been friends since then.

I really expected much more luggage than what she was traveling with. We carried her two bags down the stairs and headed to the Venice Connected spot to pick up her vaporetto pass. Then after first almost getting on the wrong vaporetto (my mistake), we waited in the correct area to take the number 1 vaporetto back to our B&B.

After arriving at B&B Fujiyama, Sandra checked in and unpacked. I went up to my room to download some photos and then went back downstairs and chatted with Wenyu and Carlo for a while.

We had reservations for dinner at La Zucca in the evening. We decided to take the vaporetto. It ended up being perfect timing as the end of our ride coincided with a beautiful sunset.

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Continue reading "day 3 in Venezia (part 2)" »

July 12, 2011

a church day in Venice

Thursday, June 9th:
Thursday morning, Sandra and I met downstairs for breakfast. The weather was still overcast and cool (for me). After talking about various choices on what to do, we decided to try to make the 11:00 Mass at the Basilica di San Marco to see the mosaics all lit up and to avoid the line.

After breakfast, we walked to the nearby Ca' Rezzonico vaporetto stop and rode the vaporetto to the second of the two San Marco stops.

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We headed straight to the side door of the Basilica as it was almost 11:00 and they won't let you in if you are late. There seemed to be some confusion when we arrived. We finally realized after trying to figure out just what was going on that all public masses were canceled for the day. Some important church person, I think a Bishop? happened to be visiting. Just our luck!

So onto Plan B. We also talked about checking out the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni at breakfast, so off we went. Let me tell you, this was one difficult place to find. We must have stopped and asked for directions at least three times before finally finding it. No photos were allowed inside the Scuola. I noticed when looking at my ticket, it says Scuola Dalmata delli Santi Giorgio e Triffon. The little sign on the building says both: Scuola Dalmata S. ti Giorgio e Triffon and San Giorgio degli Schiavoni so I guess you could ask for either when asking for directions or information about this place.

I took these photos while we were on the search for the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, and yes that tower in the second photo is tipping a little bit.
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After leaving the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, we started to think about food. Neither of us knew of any good places to eat nearby. We checked out a few places nearby but none really thrilled either of us. As we continued to search, somehow, after taking a turn down one of the little side streets, we ended up right back out onto the waterfront not too far from the vaporetto stop where we arrived earlier in the day.

So we hopped on the vaporetto and went to the Fondamenta delle Zattere where we found a little restaurant called Ristorante "GIANNI" Pizzeria, also known as il ristorante Da Gianni. This restaurant is located right by the Zattere vaporetto stop and turned out to be a great choice. Not only were there nice views but the food was also good. I ordered mussels and a caprese salad. Yum!! I can't remember now what Sandra ordered but I am pretty sure she was also happy with her meal.

Continue reading "a church day in Venice" »

the Oksana Mas exhibit ~ La Biennale di Venezia 2011

If you are fortunate to be in Venice this year during the Biennale, don't miss the fabulous Oksana Mas exhibit, one of my favorites, which can be found at two locations.

The first location, which is pretty difficult to miss if you are taking a vaporetto down the Grand Canal, is at the Campo San Stae in front of the Chiesa di San Stae right by the San Stae vaporetto stop.
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Although it is easy to notice this exhibit by the Chiesa di San Stae when taking a vaporetto, it is also pretty easy to miss out on the details of this exhibit unless you get up close to see how it was created. So make sure to get off that vaporetto and take a look.
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Never would I have imagined that this exhibit was created from little wooden painted eggs! A total of 3,640,000 little wooden eggs were used to create the various parts of the exhibit. The eggs were created by representatives of 50 nationalities and of many different faiths. For more information...
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Continue reading "the Oksana Mas exhibit ~ La Biennale di Venezia 2011" »

October 9, 2011

yum!

I still need to get back to my Italy trip and hope to one day soon. Meanwhile, sharing a few yummy things I enjoyed while in Italy this summer.

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February 19, 2012

the beautiful Santa Maria della Salute

Now don't faint anyone... finally, I am getting back to my Italy trip report from last summer. I figured I better get to it before baseball season begins and I get distracted again. I'm also avoiding doing my taxes right now...

Friday, June 10th:
My plans for Friday were to wander and take photos until later in the day when Sandra and I would meet up to head to Padova for our Scrovegni Chapel reservation. I will break this day up into a few posts.

The last time I was in Venice, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute was covered in ugly scaffolding so it was on my list of places to visit on this trip. I love this church. It has so many dimensions to it. I am definitely more of a fan of sculpture and architect than paintings and this church has so many dimensions to it. I could stare at it all day and discover something new.
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Continue reading "the beautiful Santa Maria della Salute" »

February 20, 2012

vaporetto ride and two more churches

Friday, June 10th (cont.):

Continuing on with my day... I jumped back on the vaporetto and headed up the Grand Canal with not set plan in mind, just taking photos along the way.
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Continue reading "vaporetto ride and two more churches" »

February 21, 2012

continuing on with friday in Venice

Friday, June 10th (cont.):
Once again, I got back on the vaporetto (gotta love the vaporetto pass!) and headed back from the San Stae vaporetto stop to my B&B, taking more photos along the way.

I love this little building...
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This guy made me laugh. I don't think he knew anyone on the vaporetto. He was just waving wildly as we rode by.
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It was a beautiful day with lots of people hanging out enjoying the weather and scenery.
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The Rialto area...
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More views on the Grand Canal...
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Continue reading "continuing on with friday in Venice" »

February 22, 2012

canal in Venice

Before moving on to Padova, here is one more photo I took in Venice on Friday...

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February 23, 2012

trip to Padova & the Capella degli Scrovegni

Friday, June 10th:
The train ride from Venice to Padova was short and went by quickly. When we arrived, Sandra went to the infomation area to get a map and I found the train bathroom, always a fun visit. Not only did I get to see a guy flip out at a high school age kid trying to sneak in (it was one of those pay turnstile bathrooms) but I also witnessed a woman dyeing her hair black at the sink of the bathroom. The Bourne Identity immediately came to mind.

We spent about an hour walking around Padova. It took me a few minutes to adjust to all the cars after being in Venice for a few days. I took this photo not far from the train station.
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Lock at Porte Contarine, in the old town centre.
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Caffé Pedrocchi
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We wandered into this building. Not sure if it was a museum of some kind or an office building.
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Yum!
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Palazzo della Ragione
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Continue reading "trip to Padova & the Capella degli Scrovegni" »

March 14, 2012

views from above

Saturday, June 11th:
Saturday was my last full day in Venice. I got an early start on the day, skipping breakfast at my B&B, although Wenyu insisted on making me a quick espresso and giving me a brioche to take on the go. My goal was to try to get to Piazza San Marco before the hordes of tourists arrived. This is the best time of day to enjoy this amazing piazza.

I took a bunch of photos and then decided to go to the top of the Campanile (bell tower). I have only been to the top of this bell tower once before, back in 1999 during my first visit to Venice. I was one of the first people in line, got right up to the top, and then spent about 90 minutes enjoying the view and taking photos. I probably would have stayed longer but towards the end of my time up in this cool bell tower, the skies turned black and the cold wind started whipping through the windows. Most of us were not dressed for this change in the weather. Everyone jumped in line to take the elevator back down. I had to wait a little bit for my turn. Meanwhile, I took photos of the bells.

As you will notice, the skies were pretty ominous by the time I made it back to the vaporetto. I made it back to my B&B just in time before the skies opened up. Not sure if you can see the rain in the last photo, the view from my room at my B&B.

I took too many photos to share in a blog post so I decided to make a video instead. If you double click on the video, it should open up into a full screen.

I did quite a bit on my last full day in Venice. More blog posts to come...

April 1, 2012

little narrow house

Saturday, June 11th (cont.):
Once the rain calmed down a bit, I ventured back out to check out two nearby exhibits across the Accademia Bridge. The first exhibit, called L'Acqua e La Luce, was located in the yellow building to the left in this cool little campo which I believe is part of of the opening to Campo Santo Stefano.
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The exhibit was a fascinating collection of photographs from a century ago along with a few short videos displayed. There were only a couple of other people in this exhibit. I took my time wandering through the two rooms, trying to imagine just what it was like to live in Venice so long ago.


The second exhibit involved purchasing a ticket to the Glasstress exhibit.
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It was not really the glass that I was interested in, athough I was curious to see the inside of this beautiful palazzo and many of the modern art glass pieces ended up being fun to see. Instead, it was that little narrow house that was located outside the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti that peaked my interest. After purchasing my ticket, I inquired about visiting the house. The girl at the desk told me that it was closed due to the rain. What? That was not what I wanted to hear. Perhaps she did not realize that it had stopped raining. I used my best Italian to try to charm her into opening up this Narrow House, by Erwin Wurm, and it worked.

And now, I present you with the very cool little narrow house!
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Continue reading "little narrow house" »

June 6, 2012

the Arsanale

Been a while, but I am back. I am now just about a year behind with with my Italy trip report, but I am still determined to finish it up. It just may take a few years!!

I last left off talking about my last full day in Venice...

Saturday, June 11th (cont.):
Saturday turned out to be one of those days when the weather changed drastically. It started out as a nice day, then a huge storm blew in while I was at the top of the Campanile (bell tower). I went back to my B&B to change and left my nice DSLR camera there since it looked like rain would continue throughout the day. I went to a couple of exhibits and after leaving the Glasstress exhibit the sun was back out again. At this point, I could not tell if the sun was out to stay. I did not want to waste time going back to my B&B to change again so instead, I caught the next vaporetto to go explore more of Venice.

I headed towards the Arsanale to check out the what I thought was one of the Bianale exhibits - an opportunity to see the shipyards and some of the old ships. When I got there, I found out that this was not possible (or I was misinformed and never found the shipyard) but since it was the first time I have been to the Arsanale area of Venice, I found it very interesting and it quite beautiful. I only wish I had my DSLR camera with me. Here are a some photos I took with my little pocket camera.

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Continue reading "the Arsanale" »

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