Bella Italy, Part 2 of our Venice adventure, Gems of Venice, Gelato, and Gondola’s

We awaken with excitement of what today may bring, I open our window and as I look out to see water taxis going by, I hear the sounds of the city, I take in a deep breath and remind myself how blessed I am to be in this amazing city and tell myself to appreciate every site and sound. We join the group for a traditional breakfast.  Croissants, fresh bread, sweet rolls, eggs, prosciutto, cheese fresh fruit and yogurt, as well as strong coffee, this is the kind of breakfast the will greet us every morning for the next 8 days.  We meet our guide and will get to experience the Gem’s of Venice, The Basilica San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Prisons of Venice. There have been many days of flooding over the past few weeks as we get to the Piazza San Marco it is dry, but you can see that they are expecting more water as the raised walk ways are beginning to be put up.  We enter the Basilica also known as St Mark’s Basilica.  To think that this church was supposed to be only for the Doge family is unbelievable. The artwork, mosaic and architecture are a thing of beauty. We moved through the Doge Palace, in amazement as it was so grandiose.  The bridge of Sighs and the prison gave us such a solemn feeling thinking of how many people last act was to walk across this bridge and that this would be the last time they would see the magical site of Venice, before they entered their imprisonment. By the time we exited the Piazza was flooded the many people were now walking on the walkways although there were the young at heart that kicked off their shoes and walked through the water, as you could see they were thoroughly enjoying the experience of this land called Venice.  We then we boarded a water taxi that took us across the canal to the island of Murano, to visit the Murano Glass factory. We were treated to a sample of how these precious items are made. The craftsmanship is perfection. We got a tour of the showroom where we were able to see these works of art up close. We returned on the water taxi, where we were on our own until we met for the Gondola ride.  A few of us found a quaint little restaurant and had lunch outside enjoying a wonderful glass of wine and gnocchi that were little pillows of heaven, as well as good company. After lunch we found a gelato shop that was amazing. It was Bert’s first taste of gelato in Italy, although I told him how wonderful it was 30 years earlier he never realized how good it could be.  You just don’t understand the difference in the taste of gelato in Italy, until you actually experience it. Bert and I used some of this free time to wander in and out of the stores, and just soak in the atmosphere. We rejoined the group for a traditional gondola ride. It was exactly what I imagined. The music that drifted around us, the friendly gondolier that chatted with us. We floated out into the grand canal to see the sunset, it was an experience that I will never forget.  We had an Aperitivo with the group and then walked to the Rialto bridge. The view was enchanting, we left the group for a wonderful walk and an amazing dinner for two. We found a great little restaurant write on the Grand Canal, we sat outside and made friends with a wonderful waiter.  I stepped out of my box and tried a cuttlefish pasta paired with a couple bottles of Moscato dinner was perfect.  We strolled back to the hotel to get ready to experience Florence tomorrow.

Bella Italy, A land of beautiful people, amazing culture and remarkable scenery


Venice, part 1

Imagine, you step off you train with wide eyed anticipation and you see the Grand Canal, your first stop of this Italy adventure, the ancient city of Venice.  Your greeted by a lady with a the Italian accent you dreamed of hearing and she leads you to your private water taxi.  The young man helps you aboard his vessel and off you go up the Grand Canal. You are awe struck that you are actually in the land of your ancestors, a dream you never though would come true. After a short ride you stop in front of a quaint hotel and as you leave the boat you enter a hotel lobby with old world charm.  You are greeted like family, given your key and escorted to your room.  You enter your room and open the shutters on the window to hear the sound of a gondolier singing and people clapping along as it passes under a bridge.  You are filled with excitement.  You go down to lobby to meet your group and your tour captain.  A bright bubbly woman who even though you know she’s been there before, is displaying all the excitement that you are feeling.  You are also greeted by 7 couples and there is an immediate connection, because you are all waiting to experience this picturesque land together.

You set off for a short tour with your tour captain to give you lay of the land, you have so many thoughts going through your mind you can’t even take in all the info, except were to she points out to get the best Gelato.  You stroll through Piazza San Marco as you listen to the sound of the music coming from Caffe Florian. Your tour ends at a little café that looks out onto the Grand Canal and as the sun sets you enjoy and learn what an Aperitivo is, early evening appetizers and a toast with wonderful sparkling prosecco that will become your favorite drink.  You slowly walk back through the cobble stone street taking in all the sights and sounds to the hotel, so you can dress for dinner.

Eating is an experience of it own and with Story’s small group tour the food is endless at their welcome dinner as well as their other dinners.   Together we walked to a small little restaurant where, the smell was amazing and we sat for at least 2 and half hours, course after course. It began with plates of fresh prosciutto and melon, delicious cheeses, grilled vegetables, stuffed artichoke blossoms, a delicate appetizer stuffed with fresh ricotta and deep fried. The food kept coming with homemade pastas, veggies, steak and fish and it was topped off by frozen fruit sorbets served in the original fruit.  The amazing dinner along with the many bottles of wine, the laughter and the stories, we stopped being a small group and became friends.  It was a night to remember.  Following me on my next blog as the adventure continues and friendships grow a true testament to traveling with a small group