Travelogue: Venice

This is the fourth post of our trip to Italy. If you want to read about our visits to RomeSiena, and Florence click on the links.

Venice, in my opinion, has some major pros and cons. The city is so cool. The quintessential gondolas, gorgeous water, quaint little streets and classic Venetian architecture. But the city is showing it’s age in a negative way. Many of the buildings could use re-plastering, but it probably just isn’t worth it with the constant flooding. The streets aren’t laid out very logically (a pro and a con). Pro – it’s fun to get lost and just wander. Con – if you get lost you might be lost for a long time. And more than the other Italian cities we visited, Venice seemed 80% tourist, making it more crowded and more expensive. I am willing to admit that some of those cons may have stood out to us because by the end of a week trip with a toddler, traveling starts to wear on us!IMG_7603 IMG_7701The grand canal is stunning. Just by leaving the train station we were greeted with a fantastic view.IMG_7553
IMG_7609Since we only had one full day in Venice we chose to see the city rather than trying to see the city’s museums. I don’t regret this. We saw art that I cared about and was excited to see in Florence. Venice was about Venice.
IMG_7690IMG_7594IMG_7602I had read that a 40 minute gondola ride could cost at least €80, more if taken at night and even more if you want your gondolier to sing. So 100+ €uro. Not on our budget! We went the boring route and booked a walking tour + gondola ride. We had seen enough other tour groups in every other city that we figured we’d try one out. Plus this seemed an easier way to take a gondola ride because whenever there’s bartering involved Derek pushes me forward and mutters something like “work your magic.” I can be pretty good at bartering, but I hate it. So as I was making decisions for this part of the trip – I decided no bartering! The walking tour was fine (no complaints or compliments) and the gondola ride was… crowded. BUT gorgeous and a check mark on our bucket list.
IMG_7743Even if our gondelier was totally into his iPhone, haha.
IMG_7747Super-Sunny-Selfie!
IMG_7333We followed the plan of wander, get lost, find yourself. Unfortunately that meant that we walked all day. Thanks to our walking tour roughly following our afternoon’s “wander” path, we walked down some of the same streets two or three times.
IMG_7673IMG_7562Below you can see Little L walking on the platforms Venitians put out during floods. These had been in use less than a week before we got there which makes me extra grateful for the weather we had!
IMG_7742My favorite things about Venice: the sun on the grand canal,
IMG_7637a free Vivaldi Violin Museum (even if we walked in circles trying to find it. Advice – get a map, in this old city GPS on your phone = total time waster!),
IMG_7347and this little smile.IMG_7646Ciao Bella!

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Travelogue: Florence

This is the third post of our trip to Italy. If you want to read about our visits to Rome and Siena, click on the links.

We spent the perfect amount of time in Siena. I was left wanting more, but I was so excited to get to Florence and see all of the art in the city that birthed (that sounds weird) kicked off (?) the Renaissance. Seriously though, this city has so much art!
IMG_7296IMG_7261IMG_7493IMG_7281IMG_7256On our first day we saw the outside of Il Duomo and the baptistry, the Orsanmichele church, walked down to the Piazza della Signoria, and over to Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge). We went to the Uffizi Gallery, got some gelato, then walked to the Accadamia to see David. As in THE David.
Pictures aren’t allowed inside the actual art galleries (the Uffizi or the Accademia). And I’m generally a rule-follower, so here are some favorites from the internet.uffizi-gallery_6803_600x450botticelli-primaveramartini-annunciazione800px-Da_Vinci_The_AnnunciationMichelangelo_Slaves_Prisoner_Prigioni_Florence_ItalyAbove you see: Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (I think it’s so cool to observe the observer like in this photo), La Primavera – also Botticelli, The Annuciation by Martini and Memmi complete with raised words coming from the angel Gabriel’s mouth, Da Vinci’s Annunciation, and Michelangelo’s Slaves. Are you glorying in all the art? I was.
David_von_MichelangeloSometimes, after studying works of art and hearing about how big and grand and important they are, when I see the real thing I’m a bit let down. Not so with David. I seriously can’t fathom how Michelangelo created him out of a slab of rock. He (David) was commissioned to go on top of Il Duomo, but authorities thought raising the 6-ton sculpture to the roof would prove less than simple, so he was placed near the entrance of  Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s town hall. He stayed there until the 1800’s when he was removed for safety and put in the Accademia gallery underneath a dome built specifically for him.
800px-David_by_Michelangelo_in_The_Gallery_of_the_Accademia_di_Belle_ArtiBefore we saw David I thought it was dumb that he wasn’t with all of the other famous art in the Uffizi. But after seeing how the dome frames the statue so perfectly and adds to the effect, I decided it’s best that way. Although that meant more lines, even with advance reservations! I wasn’t super happy about that:IMG_7284 On our second day in Florence we hiked to the top of Il Duomo between the two domes (Brunelleschi’s innovation so a dome that large that could support its own weight), IMG_7523IMG_7517went inside the baptistry, wandered to the other side of the river to Basilica Santo Spirito and the market in front of it. Derek is a crazy person and also hiked up the bell tower directly after climbing down from Il Duomo. At least he got some nice pictures.
IMG_7533Understandably, we were pretty tired by this point in our trip, but we had one last stop. Venice!

P.S. If you’re interested in more images of art appreciation/observing the observer, go here. I love all of these photos, but here are my two favorites:iPbrAnSv3urtG5011483825_a041692025_bAlso, this image of David as a fatty makes me snicker a little:fat-david-statue-move-dont-get-fat-campaign