Where I’ve Been #2: Italy, Summer 2007Posted: July 8, 2016
Welcome to Travel Month on 14 Shades of Grey! While I’m off to Europe, please enjoy these posts about travels I’ve done in the past.
I’m never much of a “backpacker around the world” type of traveler. I prefer to travel extensively in one place rather than to try and see as many countries as I can, so when I visited Germany in the summer of 2007, I was happy enough to just stay there. However, when my sister and her husband planned to visit Italy, naturally I tagged along.
Now, my brother-in-law had already been to Rome, so when they planned the trip, they decided to skip Rome and went with Milan – Florence – Venice instead, and I, being the rookie traveler, just went along without protesting. Now, in hindsight, I wished we’d gone to Rome instead of Milan, but then again, in the short time that we have (we were there for a week, and got just one day in Milan), we might not be able to do Rome justice.
Most of my regret comes from the fact that I really didn’t like Milan. My impressions of it were huge, grimy buildings and glittery luxury shops we could not afford. Also, the night train from Milan to Florence was possibly the worst train ride I’d ever had, which did nothing to endear Milan to me.
I liked Florence better. The architecture is still impressive, but it’s friendlier; the famous Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo seem cozy rather than imposing (even though the Duomo up-close is pretty imposing too.) We had two days there, and half of the first day we spent getting lost in Uffizi. Afterward, we went out into the street, were immediately caught in a huge thunderstorm, and had to walk under shop awnings and duck into coffee shops (which all suffered power outage) for shelter, but that only made it more fun. The next day, thankfully, was nice, so we climbed to Michelangelo Square and enjoyed the view before catching a train to Venice (no more night train for us!)
Venice is my favorite. We stayed at a hostel on Sant’Erasmo, an island in the Venetian lagoon and a short boat ride from Venice. Sadly I didn’t remember its name, but it is the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at – it’s the middle of a vineyard, you wake up to roosters crowing, and there was hot breakfast. I would go back in a heartbeat. Venice itself is lovely too. We didn’t spend too much time at the touristy places like St. Mark’s Square or the Bridge of Sighs; mostly we just wandered into the little nooks and crannies of the city, which, in my view, is much better. You get a more authentic feel of the place, and avoid crowds at the same time.
We also went to Murano, a nearby island famous for its glass making (not to be confused with Burano, the one known for its colorful houses.) And no, we didn’t go on a gondola. Why spend 45 euros on it when you take the water bus for 3 euros, enjoy the canals all the same, and the drivers are just as handsome?
We’ll be back to Germany in the next post, so stay tuned!