Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Italia: Venezia & Firenze

Aren't the Italian names for Venice and Florence much more fun to say than the English versions?  Not sure why we felt the need to change those...

Anyway, our original plan for Ken's vacation time during the first week of August was a big road trip through the western fjords in Norway, camping along the way.  We've really wanted to explore the fjords since we got here, and summertime seemed like the perfect chance before the bad weather of fall and winter arrive.

But then it rained.  A lot.  And we started to realize that camping in the rain for a week wasn't sounding so awesome.  On top of that, a rental car and gas in Norway aren't cheap ($10/gallon...huh?)  So, about a week and a half before the trip, we booked hotels and flights for Italy at around the same price as a rental car and gas in Norway.  Sun, warmth, sleeping in a bed inside of a hotel, good food (no hot dogs!), cheap wine...this was a good decision.  

Our first stop was Venice.  It was super touristy, but honestly, what decent-size city isn't touristy in Europe?

Canals, pretty buildings, gondolas...it lived up to its image.

We spent the entire day wandering through all these little mazes, and crossing bridges.  I had no idea where we were on the map at any point in time.

Loved the buildings.

Loved all the canals and boats.

Looking back through these pics, I thought I caught Ken in a gelato moment.  Turns out it was a rare healthy fruit cup moment.  Not quite the same.

Basilica di San Marco.  A whole lot of detail and glitz going on here.

Apparently the water in the lagoon around the city isn't the cleanest, but all these stairs were so inviting for a little cool-off for the feet.  Hopefully there aren't any lasting effects...

Dragging Ken down with me.

My only shot of a gondolier.

Still enjoying ourselves after seven hours of walking.

After one day and two nights in Venice, we headed to Florence.  Upon reading that the food in Bologna was some of the best in Italy, we decided to hop off the train and have lunch there on the way.  

Beautiful covered sidewalks that were all over Bologna.

We didn't know that most places wait until around 12:30 to start serving lunch, so we ended up taking quite the walk around the city to find a place before our train to Florence.  We finally found an open restaurant, and had some delish tortellini Bolognese.  How do they make the simplest food taste so amazing?

After lunch, we rushed to the train station, full of tortellini and gelato, and headed to Florence.

We aren't always big museum-goers (depends on the museum in question).  However, like every other tourist in Florence, we wanted to see Michelangelo's David.  So we got up early in the morning and headed to the Accademia to wait in line.  Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait long.  The sculpture was indeed massive, and very cool.  Worth the not-long wait.  You can't take pics, so sorry...no nudes for you!  You'll have to settle for buildings...

The massive Duomo.

 So much crazy detail.

 View of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Ponte Vecchio.

So many people ride cool bikes and Vespas.  Bikes like this one were everywhere.  And the gorgeous Italian girls cruising around in cute dresses on Vespas made me wish I was a gorgeous Italian girl cruising around in a cute dress on a Vespa.

So, after massive amounts of walking, pasta, pizza, wine, and gelato, we made it through two big cities on our list.  Although both places were lovely, my favorite part of Italy will be in the next post, coming soon.

For now, there are the glorious Moments of Zen:

Tasty gelato - anytime, anywhere.  Cherry got the top vote from both of us.

Beautiful food and wine every afternoon and night.  This dinner included the Palazzo Pitti in Florence in the background...not too shabby of a setting!