While it was very difficult to say good-bye to Florence, Venice awaited us. Again, we headed out by train and this time we made sure the girls were wide awake to watch out the windows - there is simply nothing like the approach into Venice - when you see the land slowly give way to water and before you know it you are right in the middle of a very beautiful and very magical city.
An ancient city of 100 islands connected by a multitude of bridges and narrow streets, Venice is a study in authentic shabby chic. There are no cars, only boats. No roads, only water canals. There are seemingly a zillion streets that can lead everywhere...and sometimes nowhere. But getting lost is half the fun.
In the evenings, when the sun sets, it turns everything below into a pink and purple-hued wonderland.
I have been very fortunate to visit many beautiful places in my life, but Venice is absolutely one of the most stunning.
The funny thing is that I don't remember seeing it that way when I was there previously. Truth be told, I believe I found it rather dirty and dilapidated and was in no real rush to return. Thank goodness we did though, because it turned out to be our favorite part of our vacation. Like in previous cities, we tried to get to all the important sites...St. Mark's Square and Piazza San Marco with the overly friendly pigeons, the Rialto Bridge, etc... And, while they were all very nice, they were also very crowded with tourists. What we actually enjoyed the most, was heading off the beaten path and wandering the quiet, back streets. It was amazing that all we really needed to do was walk a street or two away from the crowds and we would find ourselves practically alone on the streets - free to take in everything at a leisurely pace.
Venice is saturated with color - the green water, the blue sky, and the brightly colored boats. And the buildings are so pretty - many were former mansions and all are in a state of beautiful, shabby decay. Chippy, peeling paint, old moldings, and ornate details.
Pastel painted facades, overflowing flower boxes, and delicate linens hanging out to dry were found around every corner.
Each day, we walked and walked and, when we got tired, we dined al fresco on delicious pasta and fresh seafood...
...and managed to consume even more gelato! Grom was fabulous!
To get around the city, we took the vaporettos (water taxis) - more than transportation, they were such fun and a great way to see the entire city. You just hop on and off. (*Be sure to get the multi-day passes - they pay for themselves in about four rides!)
One evening, we decided to take a gondola ride - touristy and expensive, yes, but totally worth it.
We timed our "voyage" to coincide with the sun setting, so we could enjoy both the sea and the sky...it was truly breathtaking.
Our hotel in Venice was really cool, too. We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky and it was great. It's situated in a historic building (a former arsenal), just a short water taxi ride from St. Marks Square. And it has the most spectacular rooftop pool (and bar!) with a 360 degree view of Venice. The girls loved it - the pool, not the bar. ;-) Here's the view from up there...
It was a truly wonderful vacation and we all can't wait to go back to Italy. I would love to see Lake Como, the Tuscany region and Monterosso. But for now, it is back to real life - back to school and carpool and laundry - LOTS of laundry. Oh, and blogging. Definitely back to blogging!