After our month-long trip in July of 2016, we decided that we wanted to do another long trip like that. This time, for the last three weeks of October, we visited Italy – one week staying at a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel to the northeast of Rome’s historic center, and two weeks in an apartment in Venice’s quiet hamlet of Cannaregio. And it was just as magical and incredible as you might imagine.
I had read lots of travelogues of Rome and Venice while I was planning our itinerary, and in Rome especially, there were lots of people who expressed disappointment in the food. So I was a little wary, first of all about how much good food without dairy I might be able to find, and secondly, how much good food of any sort we might encounter. The good news is we did great, and I did great. I would say that in three weeks, we had maybe two meals that were not great. The rest? Lots of good food, and some of the best meals we found in unexpected places!
Now Italy is full of historic sights on a scale that even France doesn’t reach, I don’t think. And of course both Rome and Venice have sights that are incredible, almost sickeningly popular. Let’s start with the latter – many cruise ships stop at Venice, and untold numbers make a bee-line for the Piazza San Marco, with St. Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile and the Doge’s Palace (as well as Harry’s Bar and Caffe Florio). We did our best to schedule our visits to that part of the city on day’s when no cruise ships were docked on Venice (I will share with you at least one website that gives you that information); and even then, things were busy, but not so much so that it made it impossible to enjoy the majestic square.
Then there was Rome and its juggernaut of popular sights – the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Forum and the accursed Trevi Fountain (give me any other Bernini fountain but that one, please!). We did spend time at the first two (as you can see from the photo above), but did our best to limit the damage to our souls from being crammed in with a million of our closest friends paying homage to the thing we are programmed to believe is culture. I will tell you more about how well we did avoiding the crowds, which to me were insane even though we were there in October, far from the height of the tourist season (God bless the poor folks who do a trip like ours in the middle of June!).
Anyway, so as usual, keep checking back – as I get more and more of the stories posted, you can check here to link to them. The three weeks went something like this:
1. Friday, October 6 to Saturday, October 7: traveling to Italy.
2. Saturday, October 7: first day in Rome.
3. Sunday, October 8: Braving the crowds at the Colosseum. Also visiting San Pietro in Vincoli, and San Clemente.
4. Monday, October 9: Early morning at the Sistine Chapel. Gelato at Frigidarium and shopping at the Traveler’s Bookstore.
5. Tuesday, October 10: MACRO (modern art museum); the Borghese Gallery; dinner at Il Viaggio.
6. Wednesday, October 11: Our self-guided walking tour of Bernini’s masterpieces in Rome – Santa Maria della Vittoria; Fontana della Api; lunch at Pane e Salame; Pantheon and its Fountain; Elephant and Obelisk Bernini Sculpture; Bibliothe for healing snacks; Piazza Navona; dinner at Mastro Ciccia.
7. Thursday, October 12: Villa Farnesina; Tonnarello for lunch; Santa Maria della Trastevere; Piazza Venezia; Piazza del Campidoglio; Capitoline Museums; dinner at the Hotel Forum.
8. Friday, October 13: Our day of exploring Rome’s Mosaics. Santa Maria Maggiore; Lunch at Antico Caffe Santamaria; Santa Pudenziana; Santa Prassede; San Giovanni in Laterano; healthy sweets at Oliva Dolci.
Okay, this is only what we did in Rome. Unbelievable how much we accomplished during this trip. We know well that it is going to be hard, maybe impossible, to ever plan a trip that will be more excellent than this one. Onward to Venice/Venezia.
Day 9, Saturday October 14. Taking the train to Venezia; taking a water taxi from the train station to our incredible apartment; exploring the Cannaregio neighborhood.
10. Sunday, October 15. Madonna dell’orto; getting a peek at the Lagoon; Lunch at Ristorante Diana; making chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.
11. Monday, October 16: Piazza San Marco – getting a Museum pass at Museo Correr; the Doge’s Palace; Lunch at Ristorante Trovatore; San Zaccario; Gelato Fantasy.
12. Tuesday, October 17: The Accademia Gallery; Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti; Gelato Fantasy again!
13. Wednesday, October 18: Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari; lunch at Trattoria dona onesta; Scuola Grande di San Rocco; Band concert in the square; Gelato Il Doge.
14. Thursday, October 19: Day trip to Verona – Piazza Bra and the Arena; Piazza delle Erbe; Piazza dei Signori; Basilica of Sant’ Anastasia; Castel San Pietro Hill; lunch at Re Teodorico; the Baptistery; the Duomo; L’arte di Gelato.
15. Friday, October 20: Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Punta della Dogana.
At around this point, we realized we hardly had to extend ourselves to seeing too many sights, to just have an absolutely fabulous time. The mass of incredible experiences we’d already had was such that we were riding the wave of enjoying ourselves. Each new thing just delighted us that much more.
16. Saturday, October 21: Boat ride to Torcello; lunch at Villa 600 (Go risotto!); Burano with its Lace Museum; Gelato Dai Fradei; Esse cookies; Mea Libera Tutti Sas.
17. Sunday, October 22: Palazzo Grassi; Gelateria Paolin.
18. Monday, October 23: Trattoria da Denis; Scuola Grande San Giorgio degli Sciavoni; Santi Giovanni e Paolo; Rosa Salva Gelato.
19. Tuesday, October 24: Rialto Fish Market; Lunch at Osteria Banco Giro; Palazzo Museum Mocenigo; Fontega delle Dolcezze; Ca’ Pesaro.
20. Wednesday, October 25: Day trip to Padova – Scrovegni Chapel; Palazzo della Ragione; Piazza dei Signore; Baptistery to the Duomo; University of Padova tour; Gelato from Ciokkolate; Prato della Valle; Basilica of Sant Antonio.
21. Thursday, October 26: Isola San Giorgio; San Giorgio Maggiore; shopping for the violin mask; Suso Gelatoteca.
22. Friday, October 27: Lunch at Bistrot de Venise; Museo Correr; Biblioteca Marciana; Suso Gelatoteca once again.
23. Saturday, October 28 – Monday, October 30: returning home. Staying at the Rome Airport Hilton, and the JFK Airport Hilton.
So much. It will take me a while to get all these posts written. Bear with me.