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August 2021 trip to northern Italy

I posted some on the ground updates when we were in Italy that mostly focused on Covid requirements. I thought I would post a more traditional trip report now as really our trip was not dominated by Covid. Our trip began in Milan, moved to Lake Como, then Verona, and finally Venice before we returned to U.S. I thought I would be brief but once I got writing, it didn’t work out that way!
There were seven of us traveling together-my husband and I, our daughter and her husband, our son and his girlfriend, and our nephew. Five of us had traveled to Greece together. Only my nephew had never been overseas. We came on three different flights. My daughter and her husband went first to Rome and then took a train to Milan. My son and his girl friend came on Delta’s JFK flight to Milan. We were supposed to be on that flight. But our flight to JFK was delayed by 2.5 hours. They were on the plane waiting to take off for Milan as we arrived in JFK (the wonder of cell phones). So my husband and I and my nephew went to Milan via Paris. We met up at the Duomo. My daughter and her husband’s cell phones didn’t work in Europe, despite their carrier’s assurance that they would and so they had not yet met up with her brother and gf who were on wrong side of building (where you wait to go to rooftop). I got everyone together and after a two minute line, we walked around inside the Duomo. I had been there before but still the scale is just overwhelming.
Afterwards, we went over to Galleria Victorio Emanuele II. It is a soaring iron and glass structure housing shops and restaurants, which everyone found very impressive. We found the little bull tiled into the floor that Rick Steves claims the locals spun around on his testicles for good luck. And sure enough, it is well worn. Some of us had to do our own spinning!
We then decided to make our way back to the train station and go to Bellano, which is the town we had an air bnb in. I persuaded everyone to walk as I wanted to get some more fresh air. We had taken a taxi to the Duomo since we were running late and I had timed tickets. My son had the GPS up on his phone. Well, somehow it was much further than I remembered from other trips or he took us some convoluted way. Or I had not been as jet lagged when I previously walked it. Eventually, we got to the train station but only after four of us had crammed into the backseat of a taxi. We managed to pick up our luggage out of storage, and catch the train to Bellano.
Bellano is one town further on the train line than Varenna. We decided in June to go to Italy in August. We had a trip planned for May in 2020 that did not happen. I had intended for us to stay at that time in Menaggio but there wasn’t anything available. Bellano was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of location. The mid lake ferry runs between Varenna, Bellagio, and Menaggio. The ferry ran less often from Bellano and some of them were what are called fast ferries which cost more. It was a great plus that it was on the train line as the train went to Varenna once an hour most times of the day and did so much later than the ferry. We liked Bellano a lot as it was more of a regular town and wasn’t as touristy. There were three grocery stores and we visited them all. There was a small public beach which everyone but my husband and I frequented and it had a dock which made it a favorite.
The manager of the rental company met us at the train station with two cars and took us to our apartment. It has the most wonderful views over the lake framed by the mountains. It is really large too. However, he tells us that we cannot run two appliances at once and we can’t run anything else with the air conditioner that is for the main living area. Or the power will go out. He also tells us the wi fi doesn’t work that well. We aren’t sure what to think.

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Day 1 continued
He tells us how to walk back into town, as we do not have a car, and four of us soon head down a pretty steep path in hopes of finding a grocery store before they close. We come out at the hospital as he said we would. My son in law and I end up going grocery shopping as my daughter and husband are moving more slowly. We decide to buy food to make that night as well since it is quite a walk into town and everyone is tired. I find pasta, cooked spinach in the deli department, hard cheese, pesto, some small bottles of two different kinds of pasta sauce, and wine. I have my son in law figure out how to weigh the produce.

We find my daughter and husband sitting on a bench near the water by the ferry dock. They have been enjoying gelato. My husband shows us where the gelato shops are and decides that since we go to a different one than he had patronized already that he ought to try it too. He loves gelato. One day I think he had four!
My daughter does laundry, since they had been in Rome first and it had been hot and most of their clothes were dirty. After the washer was finished, I turned on the dishwasher. It was hot in the apartment and we were exhausted. Since the wi fi turned out to work just fine, we make the decision to turn the a/c on even though the dishwasher is running. We thought (or hoped I should say) that the property manager was just overly pessimistic. He wasn’t. As soon as we turned the AC on, the power went out. We managed to find the box outside in the dark with our flashlights on our phones and after several people’s attempts to open it, we have power again! We gave up on the dishwasher for the night.
Day2
I had planned for us to hike from Bellano to Varenna on our first day. That didn’t exactly work out. We could not find where to go to start the hike. I was trying to reverse the hike I had originally planned for May 2020 which had us starting from Varenna and going to Bellano. After it became obvious that we were walking on the road to Varenna (which had no sidewalks after a point), we turned around and decided to take the train. The train wasn’t running or something (I wasn’t sure what ) so we ended up on the bus. That actually was quite nice because we went right by the lake and it was different than what we saw coming into Bellano the day before by train.

We walked around town and were quite impressed by the promenade by the lake. The restaurants were not as badly priced as I feared but we kept walking up the hill as our final destination was the Vezio (castle) above the town. We stumbled on a little restaurant that had three tables outdoors. Two people were at one but we decided to stay. The sandwiches were excellent and not very expensive (about 5 Euros). By the time our food came, the two people at the third table had left so we had it all to ourselves.
After wards we made our way towards the castle, following the signs but right before the road became steep, we saw signs to the Villa Monastero and garden which I had read about in guidebooks. We took a detour and went in and bought tickets for the garden. It really was beautiful, although probably not as grand as the gardens we saw in the following days. But the sun was out, the gardens stretched down to the lake, and we had just arrived in Italy. Everyone enthusiastically took way too many photos.
It was a pretty steep climb up to the Vezio. There was a tiny church right before the last steps that we went in. It was a village church, far different in atmosphere than the Duomo the day before and a nice contrast. The Vezio itself was mostly a climb to the very top for some great views. But frankly, we were a bit underwhelmed, especially for the effort involved. I was glad we had stopped at the garden because that was much more impressive.

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Day 2 continued
We went down an easier way than we had come up. We saw a sign then for the trail to Bellano but no one wanted to hike now—the train seemed much more appealing. There were a few houses on the way down and there was a man carrying a watermelon which gave my son an idea. He wanted to carry a watermelon up the hill to our house. I am not sure why he thought this was such a good idea but he insisted and over the next few days, we ate every bit of it.
We decided to have carry out pizza for dinner, going to the place the property manager had recommended. So some of us went to the grocery store again (can only buy what you can carry so we went to store every day) while others went back and changed clothes and went to the beach. I texted them our choices of pizza and after swimming, the three of them carried boxes of pizza up the hill to our air bnb. Those of us who skipped the beach ate the left over pasta from the day before as an appetizer of sorts. We had way too much pizza as it turned out but our crew was not adverse to pizza for breakfast. I managed to figure out how to turn the oven on so there was even hot pizza for breakfast. The pizza was excellent but of course, different than in the U.S. My nephew, who had never been overseas, wasn’t so fond of it and started telling us all about his favorite pizza at home which had much more cheese on it. By the time we had pizza again in Verona, he had become a fan of Italian style pizza.
Day 3
The challenge staying in Bellano is that there were not very many ferries. We decided to go to Villa Carlotta and the ferry left at 9 am. We had not all left the house until 11 am the day before so definitely a challenge for our group. I left by myself at 8:30 so I could buy the ferry tickets. I had asked on this forum about using a credit card to buy tickets and was reassured that I could. That turned out not to be the case. I had to pay cash, at least in Bellano. But we all made the ferry, and there was hardly anyone on it. It was an hour to Villa Carlotta stop and we enjoyed the ride very much. The air was cool and the view of the water and the mountains was breathtaking.
All the guidebooks seem to rate Villa Carlotta lower than Balbianello which we saw the following day. But we all liked Carlotta better. The grounds are very large and not crowded as a result. There is a wide variety of plants including some flowers with many places that there are tremendous views over the lake. It is more like a botanical garden than the grounds of a house. Now my husband is an arborist, so we have been to many gardens. I am a bit more mainstream in my taste than him-I am partial to flowers over rare trees for example. The entry price includes the house which was interesting too. Afterwards, we ate lunch not too far away. My nephew and son’s girl friend have a hamburger which, of course, was not like an American hamburger. Three of us tried spritzes. I was surprised by how strong the alcohol taste was. I had expected a sweeter drink.
We then went to Bellagio. I had read and seen pictures of a beach there south of the downtown. I asked someone at ferry booth where it was and she pointed in the direction we were going but said it was quite a long walk. And it was. Part way there, my son and his gf decide to take a detour to a market he found on his phone to buy beer for the beach. The rest of us continued walking in the heat until I spotted a restaurant selling gelato with outdoor seating. We bought gelato and sat there recuperating. We found out we were not far now from the beach. We decided to change here and it was a good thing we did because there really were not any places to change at the beach. The two who went searching for beer returned empty handed: it was siesta time!

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Day 3 continued

We finally found the beach. It wasn’t quite as pretty as the pictures I had seen online. I knew it would be rocky but there was a lot of debris on the beach (not trash but plant material). The view though was beautiful and I went in for awhile even though it was very cold. Some of our group spent most of their time jumping off a dock into the water.
It had taken us 40 minutes to walk to the beach and we really did not want to walk back too. While we were eating gelato, I had talked to a woman who was waiting for a bus back to Como. So I knew there was a bus stop by the gelato shop. My son in law and I figured out the schedule and bought the tickets from the tobacco shop. My feet really appreciated the bus ride back into town.
We realized while we were at the beach that we were going to miss the last regular ferry back to Bellano. The next ferry was a fast ferry and would be 6 Euros more for each of us. So we decided to take the ferry to Varenna and eat dinner there and then afterwards take the train back to Bellano.

We ate by the water which was super touristy. The food was decent but not exceptional. I had seen a different place that looked better in my Rick Steves guidebook but I couldn’t pull it up on goggle. I wasn’t sure if it had gone out of business or not and didn’t want to drag a hungry group to the middle of town to a restaurant that might not exist.
Afterwards, we walked around town and made our way to the train station. We liked Varenna a lot, even though it was a bit touristed. We liked it better than Bellagio, which seemed a bit more assuming. Personally, I think it has the best location because it is on the train line and the mid lake ferry shuttle. But accommodations are limited for a larger group, and I had looked here for our 2020 trip and did not find any more than I had this year.

Day 4
We took the same ferry this morning as yesterday but this time continued to Lecco where we got off and walked to Villa Balbianello. I had wanted to hike in the morning the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio which is an Unesco site . It was a pilgrimage up a hill with a series of chapels to a wonderful view. I then thought we would go to the Villa Balbianello in the afternoon. Ossuccio was close to the Lecco stop but some distance that I had not been able to determine. My lack of precision with the hike from Bellano and the beach in Bellagio gave me pause as well as the fact that the temperatures had steadily warmed up over the week. The high was forecasted to be close to 90 and it seemed like one activity would be enough. It turned out to be the right decision.

The walk to the Villa Balbianello was lovely. There are large houses spread out. It feels very different than the other places we had been which were more like towns. When you enter the property, there was a choice of how to proceed. We choice the easier route there. It took about 15 minutes. Once we were there, we bought tickets for the garden. Apparently, you had to make reservations ahead of time to tour the house. We saw a few rooms from the courtyard and it looks like it would have been interesting.

The gardens were sculpted and set against a gorgeous backdrop of the lake and mountains. They are beautiful but not as large as I had expected based on our visit to Villa Carlotta the day before. They also were fairly crowded. We had to wait for people to leave to be able to take pictures. We did watch the video about the last owner, Guido Monzino. If you go, the video is very worthwhile.
Afterwards, we foolishly decided to take the more strenuous trail out of the villa’s property. I say foolish because it was unexpectedly rough and yet there were no views at all. The easier path was actually much more enjoyable.

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Day 4 continued

Afterwards, we took the ferry back to Bellano. We had not had lunch and stopped at a restaurant not too far from the ferry dock. It was well after two now and still all the outdoor tables were taken. So we went indoors and ordered sandwiches. They were not as good as the ones we had in Varenna. I think they were made somewhere else and it was the end of the day.
Afterwards we went to Orrido di Bellano which is a waterfall. It was at the top of Bellano. It was beautiful—much more than we had expected. It was cool which we appreciated in the heat of the afternoon. It is certainly worthwhile if you are in Varenna and want to take the train to Bellano. There is a cemetery nearby and my nephew was fascinated with it. I sat on a bench and took in the view.
That night we had the most fun eating wonderful food at Albergo Ristorante All’ Orrdio in Bellano. I had found it online and selected it based on reviews. It had several people who said their land lady recommended it and that everything was in Italian. Having eaten in Varenna in the most touristy part of town the night before, we were ready for something different.
We ate inside (outdoor tables were already reserved). It was a Thursday night and most of the time we were only ones inside. The menu was handwritten and only in Italian. We were not doing very well figuring it out. The waitress who spoke a little English asked us if we wanted her to pick out primo course dishes that we could share.

The food was fabulous and it was so fun passing the dishes around and having a bit of everything. We then picked out with her two second dishes (we were pretty full) and vegetables like she recommended. The second was good but I liked the first better myself, however, the vegetables were a favorite. We had two plates of a selection of various vegetables and they were so tasty.
She picked us out a bottle of regional wine too. The tab for seven of us was 165 Euros.

Half of our group had gelato afterwards! Good thing we had a walk up hill of .8 miles back to our air BnB to burn it off!

More later.

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How old are you folks? This is exhausting just to read it.
I applaud you for taking charge. You sound very resourceful. I think I wouldn't have been too happy with the pokey pair who were outside eating gelato while I shopped.

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Fun to read your report, Beth. I stayed in Varenna on a RS tour 5 years ago and in our free time, a few of us went to Villa Carlotta which we enjoyed very much, especially the fantastic gardens. We also toured the house, beautifully decorated rooms with lovely paintings and amazing views of the lake.
Are you back home now? I read you went to Venice, did you fly home from there? I just spent about 10 days in Venice and returned this past Friday.
Sounds like you are enjoying your trip!

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We are 62. And I must say that my nephew, who is 18, had trouble at first with the pace we were traveling. Of course, he had been home doing zoom classes for the past year snd a half.

I was fine with the pokey people. It was much easier frankly for two of us to decide what to buy in the store than four. And they helped carry our purchases up the hill, which was the hard part.

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You certainly were a good sport! We always visit Villa Balbaniello when we visit Lake Como. We went inside the house once; the former owner’s story was interesting but we really just go for the views from the garden.

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What a fun trip report! Thank you so much!

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Some more, for those who are interested.

Day 5
For our last day on Lake Como, we headed over to Menaggio. I knew from my research that there was lots of interesting hiking around there and had picked out a stretch on the Antica Strada Regina that was between Menaggio and Rezzonico. But it was going to be 90 and the first ferry was at 11 am. So we decide to explore the town and go to the beach. (Do you see the pattern? I have a hike in mind. We end up going to the beach.)

Menaggio has a very elegant lake front promenade. The sidewalks are broader than in Varenna which meant that even at midday, it was not crowded. A couple of us visit the tourist office (the only one we saw during our trip) and then we all make our way up to the historic centre. It has narrow medieval stair stepped streets. There is hardly a soul out and so we explore in relative solitude. We had brought sandwiches and eat them on the shady side of the castle which is high enough to have a nice view.

There are other things we could have seen in town but we decide due to the heat to make our way towards the beach. We walk down from the historic centre so we can walk along the lake. We come to a private Lido. We go in and the cost is 10 euros per person for entry plus more for a “bed”. We decide to continue to the public beach by the camp ground with the idea of returning if it didn’t work out. The woman in the tourist office said she didn’t know how much beach there was with recent high waters on the lake due to unusual amounts of rain. The beach doesn’t have a beach, as she said, but it does have a sidewalk in the shade where we set up camp. The erosion meant you could sit on the sidewalk and hang your feet down. Further down, people are on the grass but the sections without people do not have any grass. Because it is connected to a campground, there are bathrooms and a store/restaurant where our party buys ice cream and beer (not the same people!). The view I think is even prettier than what we had in Bellagio. After awhile some of our group discover that the stone walls down further make for good jumping into the water.

We are there for a couple hours when my husband and I decide we will take an earlier ferry back to Bellano and go to the store and pick up some food for dinner. We are missing our beach chairs. We are also leaving the next morning at 8 am and we all have to pack. The house is large and everyone’s stuff is all spread around. Dinner the night before was wonderful but took all night.
Some time later after we are back in our apartment, our son and his girlfriend come back. He is really upset. Somehow he lost his wallet while on the beach in Menaggio. It had his driver license, 300 Euros, and credit cards but thankfully his passport was in a different place. His girlfriend manages to find the number for the campground and call them. It seems that they have his wallet. I text the property manager and ask if he could call them too. The person who answered did not speak much English and none of us speak Italian and the campground is a ferry away. He confirms that they had it. So the plan becomes for my son and gf to take early morning ferry to Menaggio to get the wallet while the rest of us go to Verona. We will take their luggage so that they don’t have to contend with it.

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Day 6
My son and his gf leave our place a little after 7 am. But at 7:30, he texts and says there is no one at the ferry booth. Apparently, the 7:30 am ferry does not run on Saturday, even though the schedule seemed to say it did. They have to wait until the 11 am ferry; it is a good thing we have their luggage.

We make it to Milan without any problems. I thought that the tickets I had bought left Milan at 10:30 am but instead the time on the tickets is an hour and a half later. We decide to try to take the earlier train. I had assumed that it would be another regional train but a few minutes after we depart, we notice the numbered seats. We were on a fast train. I thought we might be able to pay the difference in fare on the train but when the conductor came around, he told us no. We had to depart at Brescia and wait for the correct train. It was a new experience being kicked off a train, I must say.

We found some outdoor seating at a Turkish restaurant right across from the train station and ate an early lunch once we arrived in Brescia. The food was inexpensive and thus the portions were unexpectedly large. We didn’t finish out food. Judging from dress, that area seems to have lot of people from north Africa which is different than where we had just come from.
We finally are on the correct train but it is not air conditioned! The regional trains we took from Milan to Lake Como were. The windows are open so bearable but quite hot as the high was to be 99 in Verona. We had traveled on unairconditioned trains around Sorrento but had not expected them in northern Italy. We arrived rather wilted but were met by the son of the land lady of our air bnb.

Our place was very close to the train station which we really appreciated. We appreciated even more that the apartment was well airconditioned. We had to turn the a/c off in Lake Como a couple days after arriving as it kept setting off the circuit breakers even when no appliances were running--but it did cool down at night with the mountain air. That would not have been true in Verona where the night time lows for the time we were visiting were not exactly low. We were so happy to be in air conditioning that we did not venture out for two hours. In the mean time we decided that it would make sense to go to Lake Garda tomorrow as it was going to be almost as hot while the next day (Monday) it would cool down to 93 degrees. My son had wanted to rent a boat at Lake Como but by the time we got organized to do it, there were no boats available. So I tried to find a boat on Lake Garda. The first place I called had a boat from 10-12 the next day. The cost was less than the few times we had rented boats in Florida.

After our rest, we went back to the train station to buy Verona passes and bus tickets. It took some doing. The Verona passes were sold by Western Union and the bus tickets to Sirimone in a building in front of the train station. We walked then to Castelvecchio which I knew was closed on Monday. Castelvecchio is the castle built by the Scala family, who controlled Verona, in the mid-1300s. It has a combination of religious art and weapons and armor. The building itself is worth seeing, even if you have less interests in the museum. My nephew, in particular, was taken by it. It does strike you that knights and armor are not just the makings of fairy tales but real life at a certain point in time.

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Day 6 continued

We then walked towards Piazza Erbe to climb the Lamberti Tower for a view over Verona. We were mesmerized by the historical district. There are multiple ruins from Roman times. I had seen pictures of the Arena but it isn’t just the Arena—it is the whole area-blocks and blocks of it. It was convenient to stay near the train station but it would be amazing to be close enough to this area to walk around at night. After walking to Piazza Erbe from the Arena, we paid a couple extra Euros to take the elevator, rather than walk, to the top of the Lamberti Tower. Considering the heat, it was well worth it. The view was wonderful—it helped us to visualize the city.
Afterwards, we walked back to our apartment and met outside my son and his girlfriend, who now were in possession of his wallet. After they recovered a bit, we decided to go to the pizza place our landlady’s son recommended (Pizzeria & Ristorante Bella Napoli) which wasn’t too far from a grocery store. With an 8 am bus, we needed to have food for breakfast. It was about a 20 minute walk to the restaurant and when we arrived, we were asked if we wanted to eat indoors or outdoors. It was still quite hot and when we found out it was airconditioned, we opted for indoors. After we ordered dinner, my son and I decided to go to the grocery store; we were worried they would be closed by the time we were done. That worked out well—the food was just being served as we returned.
The food was excellent. We had wine, bottled water, individual pizzas or calzones, and salads to share. Half of our group took home food that they then ate for breakfast. I had spinach and ricotta pizza. I ate every bit. The tab, as I recall, was 103 Euros for seven of us.

Day 7
We got up early and took the 8: 00 am bus to Sirimone. The bus was new and air conditioned. The ride was pleasant with some vineyards to view. The boat dock was just a few minutes from where the bus stop was. We soon were ready to go. The price included gas and a few navigation pointers. We actually had 2.5 hours for the price of 2.0 hours, since we had arrived early. It was a wonderful way to spend a few hours and for a group much cheaper than ferry rides. We followed the map provided plus my son put the GPS on. Because we had extra time, we were able to put the anchor in and swim near the island that the rental place had told us to circle around to return. The water was bluer than Lake Como and warmer—perhaps because the temperatures are higher at Lake Garda. My son admitted on the way back to me that he had been nervous at first driving the boat. But by the time we were returning, he was clearly enjoying the experience.

We ate lunch afterwards in a sandwich shop. While we were about to leave, the power went out. No one working there seemed phased. Apparently, this is a regular enough occurrence and as we walked around, it was obvious that power was out all over. It was a Sunday and streets were quite crowded, although not with Americans. We walked then to the castle to get a tour but it was 1:30 pm and the castle had just closed. I was a bit surprised because I knew it was closed on Monday.

It was quite hot by now so we decided to go to the beach (surprise, surprise). The most noteworthy thing about the beach for me was the pay bathrooms. I paid 50 cents for the bathroom and was a bit taken back by the hole in the ground. I had encountered such bathrooms in Serbia years ago and more recently in Greece. The look on my face must have said it all because the attendant motioned for me to wait for someone who was in a different stall. I noticed as I waited that this one was marked for handicapped but the woman who was in there before me was no more handicapped than I. Apparently, this “regular” bathroom was also for those of us who don’t do well with the traditional style!

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Day 7 continued

My husband and I also walked around the peninsula and discovered that on the peninsula there were undeveloped parts with beautiful gardens and tiny churches outside the crowded commercial area.

When we went to return to Verona, we had the unpleasant surprise of learning that the bus did not leave from where we had been dropped off in the morning. We learned that the very long line there was for a bus to the bus. We would never make it on the next bus so decided a bit impulsively to walk. It was probably a mistake as it was about a 40 minute walk in the still hot air and we could have taken the second bus in that time. But we all made it there and got on the next bus. It wasn’t air conditioned like the one that morning and every seat was taken. It wasn’t as enjoyable as the morning ride but it was transportation and we were glad to make it back to Verona.

That night we went back to the same restaurant as we been at the night before. I had wanted to go to a restaurant specializing in risotto that our land lady's son had also recommended, but it was closed. It was a Sunday night not a Saturday and we had a big room almost to ourselves. My husband tried to practice his almost nonexistent Italian on the waiter who spoke perfect English. When the waiter came back, my husband told him it was his third trip to Italy. The waiter then told him, that if it was his first trip, then OK but that his Italian wasn't very good for three trips!

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I am very much enjoying reading about your adventures! Thanks for sharing!

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Here are a few more entries, for those interested.

Day 8

After all the unexpected walking the day before, we decide to take the bus from the train station to the historical district as it was included in our Verona pass. We got off near the Arena. The Arena wasn’t open yet so we moved on walking through the historical district. It was fun to see our son and his girlfriend’s amazement at the sites they were seeing, as they were not with us the night before.

We end up at Juliet’s house where Monday meant that the house but not the courtyard is closed. There are a fair number of people there and while it is corny, it was fun to watch them pose for pictures with the Juliet statue. The sign says do not touch but clearly from the wear on her right breast, tourists pay little attention. The legend, as I understand it, is that touching her breast brings good luck. There is also a chain link fence that is full of lovers’ lockets. The gift shop is open even if the house is not. However, my son and his girlfriend find one with their initials on it already on the fence. They decide to pose for a picture with it and save themselves the 5 Euros.

We wandered from here to see the courtyard where Dante’s stature is. There were no tourists admiring it, in contrast to Juliet’s. Close by are the tombs of the Scaligeri family, the ruling family of Verona. They are elaborate and high above the street. I remember hearing Rick Steves comment on his video of Verona that the Scaligeris wanted to be looked up to even after death. It does seem like an accurate description.

From here we walked to St. Anastasia. We went around the wrong way and it was a long walk to the front doors. On the way around, there was a court yard and I thought it was the way to the entrance. Everyone followed me like I was the Pied Piper as I walked into a building that turned out to be the school! What struck me was that I was able to accidentally walk into the school. Where I live, there are check points and police officers, reflecting the prevalence of school shootings in the U.S. When we finally find the entrance, we enjoy the medieval church and its beautiful frescoes.

We walked down by the river and across the Roman Bridge. We read that it had stood until it was bombed during WWII but that it had been rebuilt in the same style using as many of the original bricks that could be retrieved from the river. Shortly after crossing the bridge we come to the building with a funicular in it that takes you up a steep hill to Castello San Pietro. Now you could walk up there too and after we ascended, we observed people doing so. But it was hot, the building was well airconditioned, and had bathrooms. So a good choice and only a couple Euros. Plus it was fun to be in this glass car going up the hill. We took too many pictures and agreed that the views from this hill were even more impressive than from the Torre Lamberti the night before.

By now, we all wanted lunch. My son’s girlfriend had spotted a reasonably priced place on the other side of the river with outdoor seating as we had made our way to the Roman Bridge. The seating was almost all taken when we arrived but we were told to wait. We were taken to a veranda on the back of the restaurant that over looked the river. The setting was magnificent and the food was too. We decided to make this our main meal of the day, as the shade made the hot day much more pleasant and we needed a break. Most of us had pasta of some sort but my nephew had these amazing ribs that he shared.

Refreshed we made our way to the very edge of the historic district where the Duomo stands. It is huge, actually multiple connected buildings. It was started in the 12th century which makes you really think about how people were able to accomplish such feats before our modern time. After a leisurely visit, we return to Piazza Bra where the Arena is intending to visit.

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Day 8 continued

But it is closed. I had checked online and everything I saw said it was open on Monday afternoons. I immediately regret that at least those who were in Verona earlier on Friday did not take advantage of that and visit. I had thought it would be more fun for us to all go together. Disappointed, we regroup and those who had yet been to Lamberti Tower head that way while the rest of us return to the bridge next to Castelvecchio. On the way back to our apartment, we stop and pick up some food for dinner and breakfast as I am tired and do not want to do any more walking.

That night a storm hit that made us think we were back home in Florida having a hurricane. We heard a loud bang of the window banging in the kitchen and quickly secured it and took down the laundry hanging on the lines off the balcony. Then the power went out. It was Lake Como all over again! After about an hour, I heard voices in the hall and found our neighbors across the hall had power. We managed to convey that we had no power and the man took my husband downstairs to show him how to turn it back on! In the mean time, we learned later that the rest of our party had moved indoors at the Indian restaurant they went for dinner when the storm hit as chairs outside were being blown around. Apparently, it was just a front moving through but it was quite violent.

Day 9
We take an air conditioned train to Venice this morning. We were taken back by how crowded it was. Much more so than Rome according to our daughter who went with her husband to Rome before joining us in Milan. The vaporetto was jammed as was the way to St. Mark’s square. But St. Mark’s square itself was not that crowded, although there was a long line to get into the Basilica. We noted someone who was distinctively dressed and the time and went to check out where we would go for our Doge’s Palace tour the next day. We came back and figured out that the line was about 20 minutes long so we got into it to visit the Basilica.

The Basilica is amazing with all the mosaics but the only disappointment is that due to the pandemic, it is no longer lit. It was lit during a tour that is no being given. It is fairly dark and thus it would be easier to appreciate the art had it been illuminated. We do visit the museum upstairs which allows for a closeup of the mosaics and a chance to see the bronze horses that once graced the outside of the church (copies are there now). We also appreciate the chance to go outside and see the square from the balcony.

Afterwards we intend to go across the canal and visit San Giorgio Maggiore which a friend told me has a tower with a better view than St. Mark’s. But I get us on the wrong vaporetto and soon we are at Lido---the narrow island across from Venice with a long stretch of beach. We figure we might as well visit as long as we are there. So we walk to the beach which actually has sand unlike the beaches of Lake Como or Garda. We end up eating at a restaurant outdoors on the way back to the vaporetto which takes us back to Venice.

Our apartment is near Santa Maria Dei Miracoli, a pretty little church that we never managed to visit but was our landmark. It is on the southern edge of Cannaregio about 10 minutes walk from the Rialto bridge. It is a good location but that is the best thing about the apartment. The air conditioning in one of the bedrooms does not work, the wi fi doesn’t work, and only one set of the keys work. And worse of all, the management company does not respond at all to our emails. We make the best of it but regret not staying in a different apartment that we had eliminated because it was close to St. Mark’s, thinking it would be noisy at night. But we found that there never were very many people in St. Mark’s square, even though the vaporettos were very crowded.

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The vaporetto lines are tricky but you got to see the Lido which is beautiful. It has a resort feeling to it. After being in Venice for over a week, the cars took me by surprise, I had become used to the quiet.

I’m sorry about your apartment in Cannaregio and the unresponsiveness of the management. I hope your visit to Venice was lovely anyway.

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I’m taking notes! We are supposed to go to Varenna next May and I’m enjoying your specific details. I know reports like this take lots of time, so thank you.

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Judy B. --the apartment did not ruin Venice for us. I really was the only one very bothered and that is because there were clear red flags that I ignored because I didn't want to reconsider where to stay. Ironically, the management company did not contact us until we returned and then it was for the city tax we had not paid because the person who met us at the vaporetto stop was in such a hurry to leave us that she did not collect it!
Patty-how exciting! Consider taking the train to Bellano to visit the water fall and eat at the restaurant we enjoyed so much!

Day 10
I think we started liking Venice when we left the house at 6:30 am and discovered the joy of the uncrowded streets. Arriving midday did not make for the best reception, although I am not sure how we could have avoided it. I had expected to be overwhelmed by the beauty of Venice as we rode the vaporetto for the first time down the Grand Canal but instead I was overwhelmed by the throngs of people. We are on the street at 6:30 am because my daughter convinced us to do to go to the train station to get tested for covid for our return home to the U.S. in three days. There had been a very long line yesterday when we arrived and all the places we were given names of for testing by the apartment management company were priced at 80-100 Euros a person. I later found cheaper alternatives (more like 20-30 Euros a person) but we are concerned about scheduling with a group of seven.

The streets are nearly empty as we embark on the half hour walk to the train station. We watch Venice waking up as men haul carts with huge wheels over the bridges full of goods. We see first hand why prices are higher in Venice. After a few bridges, the sidewalk is actually quite wide and it is an easy walk to the train station through the Cannaregio district. The plan is to arrive by 7:00 am so that we can be there an hour before it opens at 8:00 and out in time to make it to our 10:30 Secret Itinerary Tour of Doges’ Palace. When we arrive, there are already 20 people in line. By 7:30 the line was twice as long and by 8:00 am, it is out the door and down to the canal. But we are finished with negative results for all by 8:45 am.

Three of our party decide to walk to St. Mark’s square while the rest of us take the vaporetto. We are able to get into the front of the vaporetto after a stop or two and it is a totally different experience. The view of the canal is everything I had hoped for the day before. We decide we should do this again before we leave Venice.

St Mark’s is nearly empty when we arrive except for a very long line to get into Doge’s Palace. We fortunately are able to totally bypass that line because we are there for the Secret Itinerary Tour. We are in the courtyard in a few minutes where we meet our guide who tells us to leave our backpacks at the check in. We are the only ones on the tour. The guide tells us that usually there are 20 allowed but only 8 because of Covid which she likes very much. She tells us stories about the prisons and the once occupied offices that we are seeing. Everyone enjoyed the tour very much. I had read that sometimes in summer the building is warm but it is very pleasant. All of Italy has cooled down and the high was forecasted to only be in the low 80s that day. We had worried the most about the heat in Venice but it was warm but not uncomfortably hot the whole time we were there.

Afterwards, we are allowed to tour the rest of the palace on our own. Although I had viewed the palace multiple times through episodes on a Great Courses series on Italy, I still found it hard to determine exactly where I was. There was grand room after grand room and several times I thought we had finally arrived in the Chamber of the Great Council where all the council would meet. I think a guide would have been helpful here too but it would have to be through a tour company as it didn’t seem that the site itself offered such tours.

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Day 10 continued

Afterwards, some of us stayed and had lunch at the cafeteria that was located on the grounds. My son, girlfriend, and nephew went elsewhere as they were going to go back to our apartment to get the vaporetto pass that my nephew had forgot to bring that morning. (We had bought 3 day passes when we arrived). My husband had an absolutely huge salad that was in a glass bowl that looked more like decoration than for serving food. I think I got pizza, but it wasn’t nearly as memorable. The prices were not much different than what we had paid the day before in Venice and the surroundings are much nicer.

After some gelato, we meet up with the rest of our group and go to the Giardini Gardens which are just off St. Mark’s square. They are a bit of an oasis in a city without much green space. There are benches all around and we find a few and sit for a bit before embarking on a vaporetto ride on the correct vaporetto to San Giorgio Maggiore which we had planned to visit the night before (but ended up on Lido instead).

The church is huge and very impressive, built in a Palladian style with huge columns. Inside was interesting. There was this multi-story silver object in the middle of the church. We assume it is related to construction of some sort and was temporary, but my husband reads on a board in the front of the church that it is a sculpture. Clearly, none of us understand modern art! I saw later an old episode of Rick Steve’s that included the interior of the church which did not have this sculpture. I thought the church was far more beautiful without it. The view from the church tower is splendid, especially since we can see St. Mark’s square from it. From the other side of the tower, we see manicured grounds that we explore before heading back to Venice.

Once in Venice, half our group goes back to Lido to spend time at the beach. They just can’t seem to get enough of the beach. The rest of us plan to visit the grocery store and a take out pasta shop I had seen the night before for dinner. The grocery store goes as planned but later when my husband and I visit the pasta shop it is closed. Apparently, it is closed on Wednesdays! These closings just feel so random to me. We wander around aimlessly for awhile trying to figure out what to do for dinner. We come upon a larger Coop grocery store than the one near us and find fresh pasta in the deli section. We buy two kinds of ravioli: one with cheese and pepper and the other spinach and cheese. And several small bottles of pasta sauce. As it turns out, while the spinach and cheese is very good, the cheese and pepper is simply amazing—as good as any upscale restaurant. I don’t think it is something I have ever seen in the U.S. unfortunately.

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I’m glad you ultimately got to see the view of Venice from the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore! That was one of my favorite things from my visit a few weeks ago. By the way, I believe that the somewhat perplexing silver box sculpture taking up the inside of the church is a temporary installation for this summer’s Biennale Architettura.

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Rick's guide to Venice has an extensive section on the Doge's Palace. He mentions that the audio guide offered by the site is dry but informative, but I don't know how convoluted it would be to go get that audio guide at the end of the Secret Itineraries Tour.

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I must say I am glad that the sculpture might be temporary!

And I don't think we could have gone back to the beginning for head sets: there was a one way path because of Covid. Anyway, at this point, I think my best bet is to rewatch some videos on the palace and try to place what I saw!

Second to last day detailed below.

Day 11
Four of us left the apartment at 7:30 am to go to the fish and vegetable markets to purchase food for dinner. It was such fun walking around the fish and vegetable markets in the early morning. Some places were still setting up. My son, who likes to cook, had said he wanted to buy whole fish but once we got to the market changed his mind (none of us had ever cooked one). We settled on sword fish which every vender seemed to have and shrimp. We bought from one with very good prices—at least in comparison. Between different measurement and different currency, we were not quite sure how much we were paying. But we bought more than enough sword fish and shrimp for 6 (my daughter is not fond of fish) for less than 30 Euros. We then turned to the vegetables which were so beautiful that we had to control ourselves to not end up with more than we could eat. We ended up buying eggplant, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, and lots of garlic. On the way back to our apartment, we stumbled upon a stand selling Italian themed tee shirts. All made in Italy. My husband bought one with symbols of different parts of Italy on it while my son went home with a stripped one like the gondoliers.

After we had put away all our purchases, we set off to catch a vaporetto to the islands. It was a less than 10-minute walk from our apartment to the ferry station. But it was very crowded. We get off at the first island, San Michele Cemetery Island-partly because we wanted to see it and partly because the ride was so unpleasant (I read about 80% capacity because of Covid but don’t see how a one more person would have ever fit on that vaporetto!).

The island was different than anything we had ever experienced. It has been the final resting place for the dead since the early 1800s, when Napoleon insisted that the Venetians stop burying in Venice itself. At times, we felt like we were intruding on others’ grief. There were widows and widowers cleaning gravestones and leaving flowers. We tried to stay a respectful distance away. There seemed to be some sorting of gravestones by the age of the deceased with a section filled with still born babies which we found just terribly sad. Other parts seemed to be filled with people who had lived long lives. There were many people who had lived into their 90s. One of the more interesting traditions is that the gravestones often had pictures of the deceased person on them.

When we went to leave, our group got separated. My daughter and her husband—the ones without working cell phones—got on the vaporetto to Murano and before the rest of us could join them, the gate closed. We had to wait another 20 minutes for the next vaporetto. My son-in-law and I had discussed getting off at the second stop in Murano so I figured that was our best bet for meeting up with them. And if that wasn’t fruitful, I thought we would go to the glass museum, since that was our plan for Murano.

But when we docked at the first stop in Murano, we were greeted by my daughter jumping up and down waving her arms madly. She had worn a bright yellow dress that day so she was very visible. So we got off and reunited now we made our way towards the glass museum, making note of shops to which we wanted to return.

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Day 11 continued

There was a line outside the museum but it moved very quickly. The museum was full of beautiful glass objects and told the history of glass production on Murano. There were several videos that showed how different types of glass and objects were made. Some of the rooms had gorgeous glass chandeliers. Towards the end, there were more abstract art made from glass (as opposed to vases and jewelry). We all found the museum to be very worthwhile. (however, it was only open Thursday through Sunday due to Covid cut backs so do check hours to avoid disappointment).

Afterwards, we had lunch under a big grove of trees away from the main artery. My nephew, and son’s girlfriend had hamburgers again which they agreed were much better than what they had earlier in Lake Como. They also agreed that ketchup was different—much better—than in the U.S. It was less sweet and tasted more like tomato. The rest of us enjoyed menu staples of ham sandwiches and pasta.

We returned to shops we had noted on the way to the museum to make some souvenir purchases. We found that the shop keepers were not very friendly or helpful which was in contrast to Sirimone where we had also bought souvenirs. Sirimone was actually much more crowded than Murano so we were not sure what the explanation was. But while it was not as enjoyable as it could have been, we still collectively purchased ornaments, shot glasses, and jewelry. After probably four hours in Murano, we finally made our way to the vaporetto stop for Burano, where we find an unbelievably long line.

While standing in line, we debate what to do. It seems like it might be better to just return to Venice. The line starts moving and we decide to see how many people get on the vaporetto that just arrived. My daughter runs ahead and comes back to report that the boat is bigger than any we have seen and is empty. We become more optimistic but still are surprised that we end up in the boat and that it actually is less crowded than the others we have been on that day.

We get off at Mazzorbo which is an agricultural island connected by a bridge to Burano. It was simply delightful to walk through a vineyard on our way to Burano. We were the only ones there except for some people eating outdoors in an upscale restaurant on the edge of the vineyard. Burano itself was as colorful as the pictures and perhaps because it is now after 4 pm, it is not as crowded as Murano was. We wander around. We sit for awhile at the edge of a canal, nursing our sore feet. Away from the shops, we find homes, some of which are boarded up. We find the church and visit briefly. After a couple hours we make our way back to where the vaporetto comes on Burano and there is again a huge line. We decide to walk back to Mazzorbo with the idea that we can get on the vaporetto there first.

That works except that it goes past Torcello and instead of turning around like we expect it to, it continues to a stop where everyone but us gets off. We ask and find out the vaporetto does return to Venice. This time we do go to Burano and the vaporetto fills up with people. We debate whether the move to Mazzorbo meant that we rode around on a vaporetto instead of standing in line in Burano or whether we would have been on the vaporetto faster had we stayed in Burano. Sometimes it is hard to beat a system you don’t totally understand it! But we do eventually get back to Venice where my son, his girlfriend and my nephew announce that since it is almost our last night in Venice, they want to go have a drink somewhere. The rest of us are ready to go back at our apartment.

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Day 11 continued

They show up at 9 pm and I am rather annoyed because I have been preparing dinner for 7 by myself. They shoo me out of the kitchen, and bring me wine which does improve my mood. They make the fish and shrimp and cook the eggplant. I return to dress the salad and to cook the garlic bread. The dinner again is wonderful. The fish in particular is fabulous, even my non fish eating daughter likes it. The only thing that is left is some pasta—but that probably is because we have run out of olive oil. I bought a large bottle on our first trip to the grocery store in Bellano on Lake Como and carried that and the red wine vinegar from Bellano, to Verona, and finally to Venice. We ended up eating at our apartments for about half of meals, rapidly depleting our supply of olive oil. We will have to eat our last meal at a restaurant.

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Really enjoying your report. Picking up lots of tips for my future travels.

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The end of our trip....

Day 12
Everyone is conscious that this is our last day in Venice. While we did not immediately become enamored with Venice, it has grown on us. We have learned our way around our neighborhood and have the grocery store and bakery we frequent. Several of us have learned to use the GPS on our phone (mapquest works better than google) which has made getting around pretty easy. Now we set off from our apartment at 7:30 with most of our group going to the Rialto Bridge to take pictures before it gets crowded while I accompany my nephew to a cigar shop near the train station where he wants to buy gifts for his friends back home.
Once again, it is wonderful to walk the streets before the tourists are out. We find our way without any trouble to the street that the cigar shop is on. There are some stands selling fish on the street and I note with pleasure that we paid far less the day before at the fish market. With the help of the GPS, my nephew finds the shop but it is closed, even though online it said it opened at 7:30 (it is now 8:00). But just as we were starting to think about what to do a woman shows up and opens the door and the awnings. She tells us to come in and that she will be with us shortly.

She very patiently and with perfect English walks my nephew through various options. She seems genuinely interested that he buy the right products for his needs. She sells him some cigars that are made locally and a device for cutting that she says he can take through security on the plane (he does). He is delighted and the experience was a total contrast from the day before shopping in Murano.

We then walk to catch a slow vaporetto with the goal of being able to ride in front. The boat that first comes is designed differently than others we have seen and doesn’t have much of a front for passengers. We want to wait for the next boat but feel pressured by the staff to board (it is hard to explain when you don’t speak Italian). However, it really is just transportation while we wanted to experience the canal for the last time. We get off at the first stop and wait for another boat.

After we board a second boat, we are able to sit in the front and have a relaxing ride down the Grand Canal. It is still quite early and the sun is pretty bright in our eyes. In that sense, the ride two days earlier which was about an hour later was superior. But we enjoy it just the same. My nephew takes my phone and gets some wonderful pictures of the Rialto bridge for me. We go all the way to San Marco where we depart and wander into the square which is still quite empty.

We take a few pictures and go visit our favorite nearby little grocery store for some caffeine and snacks. We really feel like we know our way around which is such a contrast to the first day. I understand now why people who are only in Venice for the day are not overly fond of it. It is not just the crowds. The city takes some time to grow on you. I am very glad we decided to stay four nights. And I must admit, I was already planning my return that morning.

The plan is to meet the rest of our party at the Academia when it opens at 10:00 am. We are there but they aren’t. They text us that they have had some challenges with the vaporetto. We purchase tickets so we can be more efficient when they do arrive.

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Day 12continued

What is most striking about the paintings in the museum is their size. It is room after room of absolutely huge paintings. There are benches where you can sit (and it is not crowded) and appreciate what you are seeing. Many had decorated various halls across town. I am struck by how the community invested in art and by the genius that existed during this time. The colors are brighter than what I think of as renaissance art and the paintings are more lively. None of us know a lot about art but we find the museum very enjoyable. It probably didn’t hurt that it was air conditioned—the only place other than a few restaurants that has been true in Italy.

Afterwards, we walk through the Dorsoduro district which we had not yet explored. I had a list of inexpensive restaurants I had researched and one of them—a Turkish kebab place- was in this area. We actually manage to find it but then to our disappointment discover that they do not have any doner kebabs (similar to a Greek gyro). We do not understand why but since that was what half of group was intending to order, we do not stay. We end up in a lovely square where we have a relaxed lunch of pasta (good thing we were walking a lot!).

When we are finished, most of our group makes their way back to the apartment, while my husband, son-in-law and me go to Frari Church which is about 10 minutes in the opposite direction. It is a huge church without many pews whose Franciscan simplicity has been challenged by various additions over the years. But the sculpture by Donatello of St. John the Baptist nearly starving is very moving. The Assumption of Mary over the altar by Titian is magnificent. Apparently, this was Titian’s church and as he requested, he is buried here. I had downloaded all relevant tours from the Rick Steve web site but I must admit this is the only one I listened to in its entirety while it Italy.

When we exit the church, the streets are much more crowded than when we entered. We make our way back to our apartment where we find that everyone else has packed for our flight tomorrow. Some of them go out again to explore Venice while my husband and I crash. We decide that we are going to take a siesta and then pack which hopefully will allow us to preserve enough energy to go visit St. Mark’s square a final time after dinner.

We all meet up at the restaurant my son, girlfriend, and nephew had visited for drinks the night before. They told me that the prices were good and the setting was perfect and that it would make a wonderful last supper in Italy. And it does. The restaurant, Ristorante d Alvise, is located near the stop for the islands on Fondamente Nove away from central Venice. I had called the night before for reservations and we have a table on the terrace overlooking the lagoon. The setting is spectacular and the food matched the view. My husband and I had seafood risotto and it was delicious. Everyone else was similarly happy with their choices. We had wine, several salads, and three different vegetable dishes. The vegetables, like the place in Bellano, are exquisite. After finishing our dinner, we share several servings of tiramisu which, like the food, is wonderful. The tab for seven is 165 Euros, the same as we paid in Bellano for similarly special meal. It is a fitting end to a wonderful trip.

Afterwards, my son and his girlfriend take off to enjoy their last night in Venice. The rest of us go back to our apartment with my nephew who has painful blisters and does not want to walk anymore. After leaving him with band aids and antibiotic cream, we walk one last time to St. Mark’s square.

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Day 12 continued

The cafes on the square all have live music and we wander from one to another enjoying both the music and the ambience. The square is not very crowded. We walk along the canal one last time before heading back to our apartment where we finish the night with the cannoli I had bought earlier in the day at our neighborhood bakery. My son and his girlfriend come back about an hour later. They too were on St. Mark’s square and they enthusiastically share how they had spent part of their evening discussing politics with a English speaking German couple their age. My husband and I retire as they enjoy their cannoli.

Day 13

We leave for the U.S. this morning. We make our way towards the Rialto Bridge to meet our water taxi which will take us to the airport. I had planned for us to take the Alilaguna but then learned through a link posted on this board (thank you Christine H.) that the water taxi would only be 5 Euros more a person. The Alilaguna would have required us to be at the Rialto stop at 7 am instead of 8:30 am for our 11:20 am flight and would have taken an hour as opposed to 20 minutes. And the water taxi was really a memorable and fun way to end our trip.

We went from the Rialto bridge stop down the narrower canals we walked by the night before, giving us a different view of the city. When we reached the open water, our driver sped up and we went quite fast almost the whole way to the airport. I was told the trip would take 30 minutes but we were there in 20. The walk into the airport took us an additional 10 minutes.

The line to check in was quite long but proof of negative covid tests were being checked (and matched to passenger records) as we waited. My son and his girlfriend who had not bought refundable tickets (and thus able to pick their seats ahead of time) lucked out and ended up in Delta’s comfort plus, as all the economy seats were sold out. Our flight was very full with U.S. service members returning on leave to the U.S.. Delta had them board first and there were not that many tourists left to board after they were on the plane.

REFLECTIONS
This was a revision of a May 2020 trip to Italy that was cancelled because of Covid. I planned this trip in about six weeks during which the requirements for entry to Italy became more lenient. We were able to enter with just our CDC cards and masks were required only indoors not outdoors. Just before we left, Italy started requiring proof of vaccination to enter tourist sites and to eat indoors at restaurants. We found that all the tourist sites carefully checked our CDC cards while it was more erratic in the restaurants. One restaurant in Verona, for example, just waved us in without looking at our cards after we indicated that we had been vaccinated. We mostly ate outdoors and in our apartments so we don’t have a very large sample, however.

Our trip was more affected by the heat of August than Covid. We had been wearing masks at home so wearing them in Europe was not that big of a deal. The flight to Europe is a very long flight to wear a mask, but it wasn’t as difficult as I feared, even though with flight delays we were masked for 18 hours. In any case, we were all willing to put up with it to get to Italy. Once there, we adopted the European style of having masks always available and wore them, when not on our faces, on our arms. Carrying our CDC cards became routine and we never had any issues showing them instead of the Green Pass Europeans have.

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Reflections continued

We had changed up our itinerary to focus on Northern Italy for our August trip, hoping to avoid heat but we still hit significant heat. We spent a lot more time at the beach than I would have liked and missed some things I would like to have seen. But for us, it was August or nothing, as half of our group is on an academic calendar and thus cannot travel in the fall when the weather is cooler. I am very glad we went as we had a fabulous time, heat, covid, and all. But I must say I am planning to return next year to Europe in May not August!

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I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this report. I love that you included the few flies that landed in the trip ointment. But most of all, I appreciate reading your story with the Covid details relegated to a different post.

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Glad you enjoyed it! It was really a great trip. So glad we went!

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Senior Alert: Those walking to Villa del Balbianello be aware. If in fair physical shape it’s most uphill for 10 minutes. Best take water taxi.

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What a thorough and enjoyable report. Thanks so much for sharing your Italian adventure!

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Thank you so much for this very detailed trip report, I absolutely loved reading it! Planning on taking RS Best of Italy in 2022, so all Italy travel news is very relevant for me, thanks again! Sounds like you and your family had quite an adventure! Even those less delightful memories will become funny future family legends to be reminisced forever! Happy Travels!