We had a blast on the first half of the trip, but I was ready to start riding some trains and stop driving around in a car. We woke up pretty early to leave Fornoli to make the drive into Florence. From Florence we took a direct train into Venice. The train ride was only about two hours and it was super comfortable. If you're planning to commute between major destinations in Italy, I highly recommend going by train. It's reasonably priced and fast. As soon as we made our way out of the station, we knew we were going to love Venice (and we did). After spending a couple of days in Venice we made our final stop of the trip in Rome. It was a trip that flew by (like most good vacations do), but we seemed to cover a lot of ground in that time span. After the jump, some highlights and photos of our time in Venice and Rome.
We were really lucky to have such a beautiful day on our first day in Venice. As soon as we arrived we made our way to our AirBnb to check in with our host. It helped that we were less than a mile from the train station. I also have to mention that our AirBnb was located right next to this little bakery in the alley along the entrance to our building. The smells coming from the kitchen were amazing. Fresh breads and pastries each morning. We didn't want to waste any time, so as soon as we got settled in, we headed back out to explore. Venice is a walking city, there is absolutely no way to get around by car or train in the city. Your options are the water bus, water taxis, or walking. Water taxis are extremely expensive, they all start off at 50 euros, so avoid them if you can. The water bus is the more economical choice. Unfortunately I can't comment on the water bus service since the workers had gone on strike while we were visiting, so it was walking for us! It wasn't bad though, we got to see so much of the city and also burn off all the gelato and pasta we had been eating on the trip. Our first day was mostly spent walking around Venice. We stopped for a quick lunch, which included some of the best pizza I've ever eaten. After our lunch, we continued on towards Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal. After walking along the Grand Canal, we headed back to our AirBnb before our best dinner of the trip. Club del Doge offered an amazing dining experience. The service and atmosphere were exceptional, not to mention the food. After dinner, Courtney and I got to walk the empty streets of Venice late at night. It was one of the more memorable moments of trip for me.
We didn't have the same luck with the weather the second day. It was pretty foggy the entire day. It wasn't such a bad thing though, because the fog provided for some gorgeous black and white shots of the city. We started the day by making our way to Saint Mark's Basilica. The square was beautiful. The backdrop of the fog provided a great setup for some shots. We spent a few minutes relaxing along the outskirts of the square and people watched. We decided to take in a couple of museums for the day. First we stopped off at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. This was a wonderful museum with a great contemporary collection. The grounds of the museum were beautiful as well. if you have time to visit, I highly recommend it. After lunch at the Peggy Guggenheim we made our second museum stop of the day at the Punta della Dogana, which had an amazing Damien Hirst exhibit throughout most of the museum. After our stop at the Punta della Dogana, we continued on exploring Venice. We made our way back from the southern tip of the city back to the Grand Canal area. We were in search of a gondola for a ride. One thing that is nice about the gondolas is that you won't have a problem finding one. You may have to wait a few minutes for one, but there are several stops everywhere in Venice. The ride on the gondola was another highlight of our time in Venice. You might think that it is a very tourist thing to do, but it was especially romantic given the moody fog in the city that day. After our Gondola ride, we had some more gelato and then headed back to the AirBnb before dinner. We spent the rest of the evening walking the streets of Venice at night again. It was a great way to finish up our time there.
We had an early start the day we headed to Rome. We actually incorrectly set our alarm and woke up with only 45 minutes to catch our train. Luckily we were so close to the train station that we were still able to shower and get dressed. By the time we had arrived at the train station we had a few minutes to spare before the train's scheduled departure. The train ride from Venice to Rome was about three hours. It was a scenic train ride that seemed to fly by. We arrived in Rome just before noon. We didn't have too much time in Rome, so we really wanted to explore the city and soak it in, but there were a couple of landmarks we wanted to visit. The first thing we did when we arrived was walk to the Colosseum. The walk was really short from the train station to the Colosseum. After spending some time at the Colosseum we needed some lunch, so we made a quick stop for a bite to eat. We were finally able to get settled into our AirBnb and then made our way back out again. We headed towards the Trevi Fountain. It was a little rainy that evening, but again, it provided a great backdrop for some shots. For dinner we ate at Pasta Chef. It was recommend by our host as a great spot that locals eat at. This was one of my favorite places on the trip. We actually ate there a second time. It was also great for Courtney, who has an allergy to gluten. She had no problem getting delicious gluten free pasta at this place. The second day we headed to the Vatican for the a trip to the museum and a visit to St. Peter Basilica. The wait to get into the museum wasn't too bad. Apparently it's really bad in the summer, but since we were visiting in the off-season, we only had to wait about an hour. We made our way through the museum and saw all the highlights, including the Sistine Chapel. After spending a couple hours at the museum we walked over to Mama Frites for some lunch. This place offered some pretty amazing gluten free options, including variations of fish & chips, donuts, and calzones. The Nutella donut was pretty amazing. That's really all there is to say about that. After lunch we headed to another line, this time for Saint Peter's Basilica. The line seemed to be longer than it actually was. The wait wasn't too long and it was definitely worth it. The inside of the basilica was beautiful. We also opted to climb the top of the duomo. At first it didn't seem too bad, but towards the end we both were definitely feeling it. The sights of Rome from the top were amazing. If you don't mind a little climb, go for it. We took in the sights for a few minutes as the sun set over Rome. We made our way down from the duomo and headed back to our apartment. We picked up some pasta and a bottle of wine, and had a relaxing last night of our trip.
Visiting Italy was a great experience. There was a slight language barrier, but we managed just fine. The people were so friendly and helpful. Like I mentioned in my first journal entry, we didn't have a bad meal the entire trip. The trip seemed to fly by. By the time we were set to head back home, I couldn't believe how much we had seen and done. One thing that was really nice about this trip was the lack of planning we did. That might sound a little crazy, but we didn't have a real itinerary in set in place besides the travel plans between stops. It was nice to just have a list of places we wanted to see and then go if we had the time to. If we didn't, it wasn't a big deal. We were lucky to have such great hosts on this trip. We definitely relied on their recommendations, especially for food. Maybe one day we can go back. I know I would love to visit Venice again and definitely explore the countryside again. Below are some more shots from our trip.