Venice

Venice Revisited

By on May 20, 2014

 

italy-austria border
By the border of Italy and Austria at dawn.

Visiting any city in Italy means going the scenic route. No matter how many hours that route would be, 5, 7 or 9, it’s a surefire beautiful and awesome opportunity to take drive by shots. It means even waking up as early as 5 in the morning while on board the night train to catch a glimpse of dawn is so worth it.

It has been six years ago since I last set foot on Venice. Then and there I have loved it and knew that coming back would be a very welcome option. Despite the fact that I would walk for hours wouldn’t deter me to explore this floating city…and, it’s exercise, too! Going up on the bridges, up and down, getting lost here and there would surely make one lose calories! Except, of course, if one eats pizza the whole time! ^_^ Here are some of the many beautiful things we saw in Venice, probably you’ll get some tips when you go for a vacation.

venice island 1
Drive by, an island seen from the train.

We got to the main Venice island shortly after 8 in the morning, yes, we took the night train which left Vienna close to 9 o’clock the previous night. We got to sleep on the train’s beds! 😀

We soaked in the smell of this Italian city, the sun barely shining yet, the scenery that welcomes tourists getting ready for a lot of walking. Of course, I sat, wonder and do what I love most, take photos of whatever I could. This trip was to actually rendezvous with H’s highschool friend whom he had not seen since…graduation.

edgesmall
Vaporeto passing by…

 The city of bridges is still as pretty as I remember, probably much colorful this time! It was still spring so the cold and blue skies were a perfect tandem to enjoy the long walks. The shade provided by the colorful buildings are a refuge when the sun gets a bit too hot. Or, one can actually cool down with a cone or cup of gelato that every Italian city offers on every corner! You just have to pick the best one! Yes, no matter what time of the day, a gelato is perfect to make you feel better! 😉

gelatopannacotta
Gelato Panna cotta

Our quest started then and there, conquering bridges, stone and wood…we went left then right, between stores to open plazas . We’ve met people going back, going ahead, selling stuff, performing with their instruments or simply singing their hearts out.

bridge, city of bridges
Wooden bridge
venice bridge
Stone bridge

While I boast of having a good memory, I seem to not remember seeing love locks on any bridge 6 years prior. This time though, the Ponte dell’ Academia have a number of them already. It would be interesting to know how this would fare, and here’s hoping it won’t fall from all the weight accumulated  by the locks. Remind me which city did such happen? Paris?

love locks
Love locks at Ponte dell’ Academia

Brunch was toast, pizza and a handful more italian delicacies under the Campanile at Piazza San Marco (featured on my food blog). The danger of dining al fresco is obviously being bombarded by pigeon droppings, good thing we never got any. 😀 There was a huge crowd (like always) at the plaza, probably because there was a mass being held at St. Mark’s Basilica (to which the bell tower belongs to).

Campanile
Campanile

Venetian experience won’t be complete without riding a gondola, despite it being a bit expensive than the usual fare. (That’s 80€ for half an hour). There are of course, water taxis, waterbuses or vaporettos you can take  to go around Venice. It would cost 7€ one-way for an adult and the same amount for children on a roundtrip, the tickets are valid 1 hour after validation. Note also that kids under 6 are free.

gondola
Gondola’s front tip
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Gondoleros at the Grand Canal

The highlight, probably, of every walking visitor in Venice is the Ponte di Rialto. It is the oldest bridge across the Grand canal, one of only four in the said canal. While there are a lot of shops on the bridge itself, both sides are open for people to walk about, gawk at and probably spend many hours wondering what if they actually find true love then and there. Uuugggghhh, sorry just got carried away.

rialto bridge
Rialto bridge

The bridge is truly a busy site…and sight. Like in any other italian city, there are those selling imitation bags and whatnots. They’d go scrambling when the Carabinieri comes by. It’s amusing to watch. 😀

While there, don’t forget to grab some murano beads, masks (they’re really neat) and what other souvenirs the colorful City of Waters offer its consumers.

tables out
Tables out, pizza time!

So finding some quiet streets and a good place to eat is not hard to do in Venice. Fresh produce, like below, is abundant and that goes well with your pasta and wine! I’m not sure what the rule of thumb is when dining in Venice but I suggest to try the restaurants  far from the Grand Canal as the ones there might cost much higher. (It must be the view!)

seafood
Fresh catch

Tired yet? Nah, with a beautiful backdrop of the sun, you can forget how far you’ve walked for 10 hours and just go on. And I haven’t started about the night landscape yet! 🙂 I would do that soon along with the musicians I’ve recorded and other details I could share.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that Venice is so worth being listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon. Its colorful history and buildings will make you fall in love and wanting to come back all-over again, no matter if it’s summer, spring or fall.

venice, water transport
Dusk

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Featured | Italy | Rome

Rome Alone

By on December 16, 2013




 

Five hours in the Eternal City is never enough to cover and discover all that this enchanting comune has to offer. That’s what I had though when hubby and I went “roaming alone in Rome” for some me-time each with the challenge of not taking a taxi but just the metro trains. 😀 I was hesitant at first but, I thought it would be good for me since I walk slowly, I could drink in the culture, sights, atmosphere and scenery more and escape the eye rolls I get from the annoyance I seem to bring hubby whenever I get left behind. ^_^

Five hours….considering my being slow, I could have seen more, taken photos of the city more but, in a nutshell, this is a story of what I did and saw in Rome…alone. Well, with a good-old map actually and my ever-reliable 7d.

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Sunny view of the Colosseo

Sun high-up (it was 5:30PM!), kissing my skin as it pleased, people – tourists and locals alike walking here and there…vendors, gladiator-clad men, each busy with their routine abound. Hubby and I separated at the metro train station Colosseo – most probably named after the  building just across – the largest ampitheatre the world has known. Albeit a famous tourism spot nowadays, the Colosseo or Coliseum still stands proud today, 1933 years after its completion and even marking its way to a spot in the New Seven Wonders of the World list.

A few steps from the Colosseum is another historical monument, the arch of Constantine. For some unknown reasons, I cannot find a decent shot of it from my archives. I think they were doing some renovations to it as on many other buildings that time. The above photo though shows it peeking a bit…(I’m sure hubby took a photo of this when we went back together but that would be in another post).

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tourists dwarfed by the Colosseo

Not being a sun-lover, I went around the elliptical structure immediately, stopping in middle-awe (where there’s shadow of course) and just savoring all the history and magnificence it imposes. Had hubby been there, we were sure to have gotten in but, I was hesitant to go in alone so I got back to the train station instead. Rome’s train stations are relatively clean…well, most that I’ve been to and as expected, the trains themselves are crowded.

Did spoke with an American family while on board…they’re from Detroit and spending a whole week in Rome, then was there last day. What struck me would be the sticker warning signs the train doors have. Quite morbid for my taste. 😀

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going down to the trains

So I got off at the metro station Ottaviano, one of the nearest station that leads to Vatican City. Via Ottaviano (street) is lined up with shops, trattorias, pizzerias and of course residential houses. I was tempted to just shop than actually go to my destination – St. Peter’s Square. Hubby and I went there early in the morning that day but, it was too warm and humid I didn’t really enjoy it so much, I was seeking shelter from the shadows of the surrounding buildings at the plaza.

It was a bit before 7 then so it has cooled down a bit. It was also at this time when I saw the time-traveller musician. (Had you been to my music and food blog you’d know him). I walked the street parallel to via Ottaviano, the wall of the Vatican city on the right and a handful of souvenir shops on the left.

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not sure which street 😀

I entered the plaza/square via the colonnades – the right side and this time, there aren’t as much tourists, no sun to annoy me but, also no hubby to go inside with and see the beauty of the Sistine chapel ceiling, nor the Pieta and not even the Vatican Library. Even not being catholics, seeing these historical pieces were on our bucket list. Sad to say, we run out of time the following days and never got to fulfill this. Rome being an hour away from Vienna by plane is easy to revisit and I’d definitely cross these out  from the bucket list when I get back. ^_^

At the square, the Tuscan colonnades were towering over the crowd of people as it was designed like to embrace them – symbolically back into the church. It is said to be one of Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most innovative design.

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St. Peter’s square – Colonnade, Obelisk and Maderno’s fountain

I walked around the square a bit more, shot this and that corner and went back the same route I had earlier. This time, I did some shopping. Bought some chocolates – Italian kisses, Baci, and a handful more sweets, some souvenirs and a few pieces from my favorite design house, Desigual.

I spent a considerable amount of time gawking at stuff there, teehee…when I finally got hungry and when my phone battery was almost dead, I went to the nearest restaurant I saw…and that’s a review shared on my food blog. ^_^ Long story told, I had one of Rome’s more known dish, pasta alla gricia made special with the experience of meeting a polyglot.

shops
Saldi…calling me to shop. 🙂 I obliged

When dusk blanketed the city, I headed for the Pantheon. I didn’t follow the map this time but the advise of the above-mentioned polyglot. I took the scenic, longer bus route. I hopped off at Lagro Argentina and went the wrong way so I had to ask for directions a lot of times. ^_^

The Eternal city lives well to its name, the night streets so picturesque, I think it took me longer than I should reaching the spot where hubby and I would rendezvous because I stop by every corner to click my camera.

Still very much alive at 9 in the evening, my perception of Rome as a very busy city all transpired there.

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streets at night

I arrived at Piazza della Rotonda in one piece. ^_^ Rome’s very lively culture, the Italians’ happy disposition and free-spirited nature can all be seen in here. I spent some minutes listening to Italian music played on guitar at the middle of the plaza….I was waiting for hubby but, I was too surprised when I saw him there held (actually dragged) by a pantomime…Had I not been so quick, he would have probably been taken away by a chinese lady! ^_^ The night went on with some more walking, night shots, wine, pasta and more walking. This trip may not be one of those cheap late holidays we booked in a hurry…we definitely spent more but it’s all worth it! Sometimes opting for the budget offer is a good idea, but spending a bit more, that’s both time and money, in a city as Rome, is definitely one to try!

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Piazza della Rotonda and Pantheon

 

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Italy | Venice

Finding Pink in Venice

By on September 8, 2012
pink water and boats
Pink buildings and some boats by the Grand Canal

Visiting Venice is like walking in history itself, definitely one of the more beautiful cities man has built. Taking its character from the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte and surviving two world wars, Venice today in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site. Every turn and route taken in Venice is a different discovery, for the shutterbugs in hubby and I, we had our CF cards full! Masks, water, vaporetto, gondolas, pigeons, murano glass, bridges, canals, polenta, tramezzini and tiramisu are some of the terms closely associated with Venice but the architecture would also draw you in.

Buildings in Venice can be identified as influenced by one: Palladium architecture, which is based on the symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. And, two: Venetian Gothic characterized by a combination of lancet arch, Byzantine and Moorish architecture. Of course, there are those ordinary looking buildings that still exudes elegance despite being monotonous.

building pink, venice
Windows on a pink building against blue sky
buildings venice
yellow and pink

One can never tell the buildings apart, you can’t immediately identify a building’s use just by looking. Which are residential, which are for accommodation and which are for businesses? You can’t point out unless you particularly look at websites like Venice hotels on Venere or spot a signpost/marker in front of the building. To the left, you’d see yellow, to the right would be orange, look behind you and there’s pink or perhaps venetian red that’s too hard to pass up not taking photos of. And here in this post, I’m mostly featuring pink. 🙂

Getting lost in a turn is like discovering a spot that no one has gone before. It’s a great escape from all the hustle and bustle that locals and tourists create. You’ll find the shortest bridge, the most unique building, the most flower-adorned window and cats looking down at you. Each corner is not just lovely, they will tell you a story all unique on their own.

hotel sofitel, venice
Hotel Sofitel by the side
pink window
Pink flowers by windows

With its status in the architecture world, Venice holds the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the world’s grandest celebration and showcase of building designs. It’s part of the Venice Biennale,  in turn a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years and where the Venice Film Festival is also part of.

The Biennale of Architecture is held in the beautiful Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) and the arsenale (former shipyards),  it’s just a short walk from St. Mark’s Square – we  unfortunately missed it. Austria has been participating since and it would have been a worthy post. Next feature: orange buildings…

pinkandbridge
Hotel or residential building? I can’t tell.
pink flowers
pink flowers


oh, join this meme, by the way:

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Italy | Venice

5 Reasons to Visit Venice: Romance and the Arts in Italian Veneto

By on April 20, 2012

Fascinating and charming sights and sounds await those who travel to Italy to visit the lagoon-surrounded sanctuary of Venice. Although the heavy tourist traffic is being pinpointed as one of the causes of the city’s decay, Venice remains to hold its charm and beauty for local and international visitors to enjoy. If you only have a few days for your Venetian vacation, here are 5 reasons to make it one of your best vacations ever:

gondola
Take your partner and ride a gondola.

1. Romantic gondola rides – Venice is surrounded by water and aside from walking, the only other way to get around is through the water buses (vaporetto) and the water taxis. The more classical and romantic way to travel through Venice’s canals and waterways is through a gondola. A gondola ride will take you on scenic routes. Those who are on a budget should remember that gondola rides cost a whole lot more than vaporetto rides.

masks in venice
Pick a mask!

2. Exciting festivals and carnivals – Among the world’s most colourful festivals are held in Venice. As a major hub of international conferences and festival, Venice is host to events like the Venice Biennale, the Carnival of Venice, the Festa del Redentore, and the Venice International Film Festival. The city will surely be packed with international tourists during times when these festivals and carnivals are held but the experience is well worth enduring the crowded venues.

glasses venice
Murano and other glass products on display.

3. The intricate art of glass blowing – A visit to Venice will not be complete without making a visit to one of the Murano glass makers either in Venice or in the nearby island of Murano. The intricate details of Murano glassware have made these products Venice’s most popular export. Make sure that you allocate some of your vacation budget to take home a Murano glass bowl or dish…or earrings and pendants!

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Fresh seafood.
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Authentic pasta from where it originated – Italy. My plate of canelloni with spinach and ricotta.

4. Palate pleasing seafood, wine, and gelato – No trip to a foreign land will be complete without sampling the food and beverages the local cuisine is notable for. Seafood dominates Venetian cuisine complemented by rice and other greens from nearby islands. Must try are the sarde in soar, the fegato alla veneziana, the cicchetti and the bisato complemented by prosecco. If you’re in a hurry you can always have what Italy is famous for; pizza and pasta or the more convenient tramezzini with your choice of spread and fillings.

5. Interesting discoveries while getting lost – Another great inexpensive way to explore Venice is to walk through the city and, as the locals jest, get lost. Search for the Piazza San Marco through an unknown trail… Walking through the alleyways will reveal architectural beauties and quaint places of interest tucked into the cityscape. Make sure to check the tourist board for information about the acqua alta or the high tide predictions for the day. Some places can get flooded during acqua alta but these places usually have elevated blocks to serve as pedestrian walkways during floodings.

It is best to visit Venice when you have more than just a couple of days on your hands. Spend about a week to leisurely explore the boroughs of Venice and all their interesting offerings.

Venice alleys
We got lost on our way to Piazza San Marco. ^_^

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Featured | Italy | Venice

Venice, the City of Waters

By on September 19, 2011

Here (below photo) starts our (mine and hubby’s) Venice adventure.  We dropped off at the Cannaregio, the district most convenient as a base for those who arrive by car or train, as both the garage and the station are just minutes away on foot from any part of the sestiere (district).

Venice . gondolas, canal, hotel
boats and those

They say (Venetians) that this area closely resemble the Venice of old. Upon getting off the bus, one could easily see the charm the city has been known for. Basking in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, geniusly engineered architecture and a unique form of transportation, you would want to go and walk as much and experience the magic thriving in it since long ago.

Venice - hotel by the canal
full water

Don’t be fooled, it may seem a small city but is not. A half-day isn’t enough to tour around all the districts.

Water transportation starts then and there. It’s one good reason that the city’s air is less polluted; unfortunately to the water’s trepidation. We got ready to enter a labyrinth of narrow passageways, alleys, canals and delicate bridges…unexpectedly we got lost but quite a beautiful experience too. Getting lost and looking for the right path back is wonderful if you’re with someone you trust. At the end of it all, you’ll find yourselves in awe of this wonderful city built on a lagoon.

Venice - canal and gondolas
bridge

This is an old post dug from my archives. More posts about Venice are scheduled. If you need some travel inspirations or ideas especially in other regions, check out http://www.escapetravel.com.au for some destinations advice. They also have great discount on flights and tours. Related posts and more photos of Venice here.

 

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Italy

Pizza and Pasta-where they’re originally from

By on August 30, 2011
sail-2 copy
sail

  This post was intended for a food theme but I’m revising it a little to fit the “Wet September” theme for Tuesday Travels. Photo above was taken at a beach in Lignano, Italy…though the sands were not as white as Boracay’s, the kids enjoyed it there and had a full week of fun – swimming in salty waters, building sand castles, collecting seashells, burying Dad and Opa in the sand or simply avoiding the waves as they come to them. This is also when my older son learned to swim without arm floaters.

When in Rome, eat as the Romans do…in this case, when in Italy, eat as Italians do! We arrived at around 2pm somewhere in Lignano, Italy on a Saturday…the trip was almost 8 hours coming from Vienna. But thanks to the bus driver, he took us directly to the villa where we are staying at instead of the agency where we need to get the keys first. lol. Tired from travelling, we sought the nearest restaurant open at that time…since it was siesta hour, most of them were closed. Il Dollaro was the nearest one we saw and was I glad too that it was as the food tastes good, the ambiance friendly, and the staff were eloquent both in German and English, they were a big help too…(in helping us find our supposed destination). We took turns giving our orders, the kids chose pizza while all 6 adults (mil, bil and his wife, hubby and I) went for pasta. While waiting for our orders I took the opp for photoshooting hehe. (Also smelling the aroma of olive oil and all those good stuff! lol)

interior
Interior
sticks
complimentary bread sticks

 

We sat at the veranda and the breeze added comfort to the smell of good cooking…

Then came food, served in hefty portions…My little boy was running around and I had to follow him so I didnt have much time to really choose what to eat, but when I saw this particular dish I know it would be loved!

salmon Tagliatelle
Tagliatelle e Salmone

Of course, bits of salmon – fresh from Italian waters served with white sauce over tagliatelle. They serve parmesan generously so I had my pasta sprinkled with lots of it! (Little boy liked it well too!)

pomodoro
Spaghetti Pomodoro

carbonara
Carbonara

MiL had a simple dish and she simply said “hmmmm…good” which I do not take much as an A-rating considering her very good cooking skills…the parmesan was actually given to her 😉 and she also had lots of it over her tomato sauced spaghetti.   Hubby, my helpful but could be critical food critic chose Carbonara, at first bite he said “Tikman mo, masarap!” I did and I knew what he meant, the taste of authentic carbonara from butter, egg yolks and pork fat and no cream!   Pizza Prosciutto Prosciutto (ham) is one of the kids’ favorite pizza topping, so my two bigger kids shared a whole (it was also a big serving).

prosciutto
Prosciutto

 

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happy!

Still, they weren’t able to finish it that hubby and I had a little slice too…and yum, one bite and I can tell the crust is really something! I could eat it even without the toppings! lol. No wonder he had such a big smile after eating!

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Il Dollaro

 

Where do you think the best pasta and pizza would be? Of course I’d suggest, where they originally are from, anywhere in Italy…

Via Latisana, 139
33054 Lignano, Sabbiadoro, Udine, Italy

0431 71265

 

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Italy | Venice

Venice – City of Windows too!

By on June 21, 2011

window1

To be in the city were Venetian blinds are named after, it was surprising to find that not much of them are in use there. Or perhaps it was still early that I haven’t spotted much when hubby and I were walking their streets.

It’s acknowledged that window blinds were first used in Asia; the Egyptians used tied reeds while the Chinese devised bamboo. It is however in Venice that the blinds we know today were first manufactured. The reason that they were invented, as should be obvious, is to have a means of adjusting how much light is let into a room…especially during summer.

window kitty

Above photo with a cat peeking from the open window has become one of my favorites. I was in a hurry to shoot and I was only able to make one as the white kitty left too soon.

moroccan stil
You’ve heard Venice being called the city of Bridges or the city of Water, I think it’s also fitting to call it the city of Windows!

 

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Italy | Venice

Venice – I Spy Orange

By on May 31, 2011
venice, orange
orange flowers

In Venice, orange, yellow and pink are the dominant colors. Buildings and flowers and souvenir shops exhibit these colors adding charm to Venice’s already colorful history.

A turn here and there would reveal one colorful building after the other. It may not be reliable to use building colors when giving instructions on how to find a certain place. ^_^

venice orange
unlike corners
venice toy store
a toy store (more on brown)

Since Venice relies on water for transportation, most of the streets are smaller, passing as alleys fit for a person or two or perhaps a bike/motorcycle. (I’m trying to remember ifI ever even saw a car on the streets.)

Seriously, I might have lost 10 kilos by now if I live in Venice. The bridges, stairs and all the walking would certainly be a big help.

venice flowers
flower wall

I spy hubby there too!  Happy 10th anniversary Moks, I almost forgot. lol^_^

 

 

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Italy | Lignano

Lignano – Plaza, Souvenir, Shops

By on June 4, 2009

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Lignano is certainly one of the few clean towns I’ve been to. Very seldom would you find a piece of trash on the street. There are lots of garbage bin around for all the trash. Everything is spic and span….gotta salute the municipal leaders for implementing cleanliness and the citizens for keeping the place clean.IMG_0128

Above is a convenience store – chips and anything to munch lol. Below is a souvenir shop, mostly murano glasses and jewelry or just postcards and other stuff.

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The plaza could also be full of street painters and well, anything colorful you’ll find. Bugs perhaps?

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Italy | Trash Features | Venice

No!!!

By on May 30, 2009

It’s a bit sad that while on tour you’d see how much trash accumulates in Venetian waters. On a brighter note, they all come up to on one side, it’s easy to scoop them out….Really though, how can tourists and local alike be of no concern?

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