Having booked quite close to the actual weekend, our hotel was out in the...interesting suburb of Spinea. Public bus trip in and out of town, it worked in that it was just a bed, with breakfast...but was a mission to get there!
In the morning of Saturday we headed to the cluser of islands that is Venice. Wandering through the tiny cobbled streets, and over the many, many bridges of the many canals, we reveled in being lost, and wandering aimlessly. This is the only way to soak Venice in! Away from the hordes of tourists, just walking through the little streets, where life is happening right there - washing strung out to dry, and people traveling by boat to everyday things.
Walking through the streets, we sampled gelati, chocolate and pastries, before arriving at the beautiful Piazza San Marco, with the Basilica and Doge's Palace. Drawing in the visual spectacular of the square over lunch, we walked through dodging pigeons and tourists. Walking out towards the Grand Canal, we were approached by a gondola driver for the wheeling and dealing.
Securing our price, the three of us jumped into our gondola, and were spirited through the canals, under the Bridge of Sighs, and past the former home of Marco Polo. Sitting at the side of the boat proved a little rocky for me, much to the amusement of the girls, and I needed to swap seats - after our placement had been specified for balance! Our driver gave a spiel as we went around, and answered questions, comically (not!!) rocked the boat, and even sang for us!
More gelati and a lounge in the sun in one of the many piazzas, after walking down to see the Rialto Bridge. Dinner of pasta and calamari ("tourist menu" with a sample of several dishes - very good!!), and several drinks later, we then made the trek back out to Spinea.
Coming back into the city the next morning, we walked to the other side of the Venice island cluster to catch a ferry out to the further islands. We disembarked on the island of Burano, an island famous for it's lace, but we were there to check out the pretty coloured buildings. Very cute, every house was painted with a different and bright colour, contrasting all the way down the street...er, canal. Lunch of pizza, and another serve of gelati, we stretched out of the few patches of grass we had seen all weekend, before the next ferry.
A short ride across the lagoon, and we arrived in Lido, another island around Venice itself. Hiring bikes, we rode for an hour covering a fair bit of the island (the first time I have riden a bike since I was a kid - a major conquest!! Hee hee!). We had been planning to visit the beaches, however the warm weather had started to drop off. Ferry back to Venice, we headed to Harry's Bar, after receiving recommendations from Niny as a 'must do'.
Sitting at our table, quite keen for a decent drinking session, we almost had a stoke when we saw the price of a Bellini! Champagne and peach juice, we actually ordered one of the tiny glasses and shared it between us!! All class!! And considering it tasted like Passion Pop, at 16 €uro, that was more class than we could afford!! Hee hee!
Drinks at an off-the-main-trail piazza, we then found a spot for dinner, and walked through San Marco's when it was all lit up. We then wandered back to the bus station through the labyrinth of the tiny cobbled streets.
Venice is so quite! No traffic, the absence of car traffic noise, honking and flow, was so apparent here. The only sounds were conversation, the lapping of the canals, and footsteps. So lovely.
Yesterday we got the intercity train across to Verona. A beautiful Italian town in the hills, Verona is the picturesque scenery you imagine. Walking through the main piazza with the Arena on one side, we headed through to Piazza delle Erbe, and the market there. Following the map, we found the Casa di Giulietta, which features the mythical balcony of Romeo and Juliet fame. Mystery surrounds whether this was actually the home of a family of the Capulet name, however this does not stop the droves from a visit and a wistful look up to where she may have stood... Not far away is the Tomba di Giulietta, where the star-crossed lovers are said to have ended their lives.
More gelati to keep to our daily quota, we then boarded the train back to Spinea, on which we got a private cabin. All very lovely, pulling out of Verona with the sun setting behind the rolling green hills.
Had a gorgeous weekend, one which even the drama of getting to the airport and arriving in rainy London for work could not dampen. (More photos.)