Amo Venizia! (I love Venice!)

For my recent birthday celebration, I was treated by my children to an “Evening in Italy” at a friend’s spectacular home in the North End of Boston. Prociutto-wrapped melon,  pesto tortellini and hand-tossed pizzas were on the menu, all created by our lovely host Holly, who had spent some time with us in during our recent trip to Italy. Inspired by the stunning Murano Glass chandelier that proudly hangs in her space, this week for Wanderlust Wednesday we are off to Venice, Italy! During our recent trip Under the Tuscan Sun, we took advantage of the amazing train systems that criss-cross the country and make travel easy, dependable and affordable. Zurich to Milan to Florence and then, to the final stop on our tour: Venezia!

Stepping out of the railway station, you instantly see all the hustle and bustle of a major city, with people and vehicles moving about at a rapid pace. It takes another moment before you realize that the “vehicles” are actually boats moving up and down the Grand Canal, the main thoroughfare in Venice. Every size boat, from water taxis to cruise ships to the famous gondolas, make their way along the walls and under the bridges, with nary a close call. Our first ride? The water taxi. Shiny. Sleek. Sexy. Did you see The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie? Yup, I know, probably not. Well, we did! We rode on those very boats featured in the film!  We were able to enjoy the local architecture from below sea level, which only added to the wonder of a city built on water.

During the day, the city vibrates with the hustle and bustle of locals and tourists flocking to St. Marks Square to feed the famous pigeons,

and to visit the Doges Palace,the spectacular St. Marks Cathedral, 

and take in the rooftop views of the Grand Canal from the highest point in the Campanille (the bell tower).

Of course, a visit to Venice would not be complete without a ride on the famous Gondolas, for centuries the chief means of transportation in and around the city. Each gondola is exquisitely painted and decorated and steered by the gondoliers, typically costumed in their striped shirts and straw hats.

When the sun sets and night falls, Venice takes on a sense of mystery, as boats glide silently on the blackened waters of the Canal, delivering passengers to their local hotels and inns carved into the city’s banks. We spent our nights at the charming Hotel Villa Laguna

on the Lido, which was easily accessible by water taxi or valporetta (the transit system of barges that moves quickly and efficiently along the canal). 

Venice is an extraordinary city on the water and one that we eagerly anticipate visiting again.

We all agreed that Venice was Bellissimo!!! Susanna

L’Italia Con La Familia

“Italy With My Family” in Wanderlust Wednesdays

The first time I saw the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun“, I immediately added a stay in Tuscany to my bucket list. Longing became a reality the summer of 2010, when we rented suites in a rustic villa  Il Castello di Fulignano located on the hilly outskirts of the medieval town of San Giminano.

The living room…

The pool at sunset…The view from our villa…a gathering storm over San GiminanoThe streets of San Giminano were lined with shops and cafes, a feast for the eyes and the palate…this is me and coach having dinner in an outdoor cafe… 

We ventured out to see the tuscan countryside, with trips to Lucca

and Pisa…who could go there and not assume some crazy pose with the Leaning Tower??!

We enjoyed fabulous wine tastings (not quite as enjoyable at one villa, as we were shown the door by the somelier, whom we apparently insulted.) However, this wine came from a  farmhouse winery, Fattorio Poggio Alloro, where we enjoyed a delicious local lunch : )

We made day trips to Siena, home of the spectacular Duomo Di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) a Gothic marble treasure dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries and  Il Palio, an annual horse race through the city square harking back to medieval times.

 We toured Florence, the capital of the Tuscan region of Italy, and home of Michelangelo’s David (sorry, no picture-taking allowed)

and the Ponte Vecchio bridge, lovely at sunset.

Lovely vacation, spectacular scenery, amazing food and wine, beautiful people…next stop…Venice!!!  But that’s a blog for another day. Ciao! Susan

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