Venice (and Verona too!): Our last weekend trip in Italy

Our last weekend in Italy.  And we chose to spend it in Venice.  We could have picked an easier place to get to and a cheaper place to be, but we decided we had to see the city on the water before we left the country.  Did you know that from 1100-1500 Venice was the largest city in the world?  Amazing, and now you have a factoid to use when you watch Jeopardy.

The week leading up to our trip, neither JW or I was excited about the prospect of traveling to Venice for a one night trip.  I think it was a combination of just getting home from being gone for 8 days and all of the packing and organizing left to do before we leave for America on Thursday afternoon.

Moving overseas is so much more difficult than you would think.  There are soooo many details that we have to check off our list before we can even hope to get back into America.  We have to make the most detailed lists of what our boxes and our crate contain so that they can get on a ship to cross the Atlantic and somehow make it to our little corner of the world by Chicago.

We have to pack, organize, repack, see what we can fit in the car to go to the airport, make sure our luggage is the required weight for the flight, recheck the car because we have forgotten a few things we might need to pack, put some things that don’t fit in the “crate” pile….ugh….so you can see why we weren’t super thrilled about packing another suitcase and dragging our toddler and preschooler around Venice.

But once we were on the road, it became clear that we needed this space, this break from everything happening in our lives right now.  We drove about 2.5 hours and dropped our bag off at our hotel, a small agriturismo and working farm on the mainland.  We decided to drive into Venice because having kids and a stroller makes the super crowded public transit to and from the island a headache.  Right now we just want to cut the headaches in half.  We parked and, with two sleeping little ones in tow, climbed onto the Vaporetta/bus boat towards the Grand Canal.

Venice was the MOST unique city I have ever seen.  Obviously, there are no roads or cars, only boats.  The “parking lots” are for boats and include a bunch of posts sticking up out of the water.  The front doors of houses ended directly in the canals, some with a small dock or place to park a boat instead of a driveway with a car.  There were gondolas, fishing boats, taxi boats, people joy riding on their speed boats, police boats, and every other type of imaginable water transportation going everywhere.  If you thought driving on the roads in Italy was bad, just try to drive on the Grand Canal in Venice…

a parking lot
The lighting and colors in this city are insane…for anyone who enjoys photography at all this is a goldmine.
See? Out the front door and into the canal…

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We saw the Rialto bridge and decided to disembark the bus since the kids were waking up.  We moseyed around and found a great little place for lunch, Antico Calice.  We knew it had to be good because we sat next to a table full of gondoliers.  Locals always know what is best!  Caroline and I munched on some yummy clams…she likes to eat the inside and then lick the shell but I totally don’t blame her…they were delicious!

After lunch, we took a short walk over to St. Mark’s Square.  The church was undergoing some renovations but the outside was still spectacular.  The line was really long to get in and with only one day in Venice and 90 degree heat, we weren’t willing to wait it out.  Instead, we enjoyed the square and then walked through the winding streets until we found a gondolier to take us for a spin.

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The gondola ride was great, much different than I expected.  The boat was a shiny black with gold embellishments.  He had furniture inside, including a small couch that JW and I got to enjoy.  He took us on the Grand Canal and through some small, beautiful “alleyways”.  It was so quiet and serene.  We felt like we were the only people in the city, which is hard to do.  I did realize, though, that the city itself isn’t that loud.  I think it is because of the absence of car traffic.  It really is the most peaceful big city I have ever seen!  We got some great pictures and Vance and Caroline thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our gondolier…I asked him what his boat’s name was and he said “Gondola” so obviously he was a really creative chap.
You know you are traveling with kids when…there is a stroller in your gondola, ruining about 85% of the pictures you want to take….(note terrible orange eye sore)

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Afterwards, we climbed over the Rialto Bridge and walked a little more, stopping into shops here and there.  We popped into a small bar and got some drinks (a beer and a spritz hugo) to go.  We walked some more, sipping in the beauty of no open container laws in Europe, and wondering why we don’t do cocktail hours more often.  We found a great place for dinner on this side of Venice, in the Marco Polo district.  After dinner, we boarded the taxi boat back to the parking garage, but not before riding down the Grand Canal with some spectacular sunset views (which I wasn’t able to capture because I didn’t have enough hands…mom problems).

Mask shop! Caroline and Vance loved looking in the little mask shops at the animals. Vance actually took this picture, she smiles bigger for him than anybody else!
View from the Rialto Bridge
The Rialto bridge market scene
Venetian street food

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The next morning, we decided to visit Verona once more on our way back home.  I am so glad we got to see this city again, for those of you that remember, it was one of our favorites in the beginning and one of the first day trips we took in Italy.  It is like we came full circle!  Caroline couldn’t walk the last time we were there and Vance was only 3, so it was fun seeing how they had grown since we last visited.  I didn’t know this last time we were there, but the entire city is protected as a United Nations World Heritage Site.  So cool!  We walked and shopped and ate an amazing lunch at Trattoria Greppia before walking some more and heading back to the car.

Now THAT is a buttload of black truffles on that pasta, amiright?

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I will miss the fun weekend travel, that has been my favorite part of living in Europe.  The vast number of wonderful places that are only a few hours away make my head spin. I am grateful that we spent the time and energy to see as much as we could while we were here.  I know our children won’t remember too much, but I think it has shaped their personalities already in many ways.  I think it has changed all of us, made us more interested in future travel and adventures.  I will still write on my blog as we have many more adventures to come!  Vance starts school in the fall, JW will still be traveling in Italy, and I am making a career move that I am really excited to tell you about.

I hope you will keep checking in!  Ciao Ciao!

Italia, ci mancherai, ma dobbiamo andare



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