A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Day tripping to Padua

Mon, Sept 30, 2019


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I got up on my own this morning and headed out while the sky was still dark. It was actually kinda neat to be out early morning, 2 other people at the vap stop. Of course, vaps aren't frequent at that time, so I probably had a 10 min wait or so. But I got to admire what stars I could see. The sky was 'brightening' up to navy blue when the vap arrived. I decided to get off at Accademia, and went up on the bridge to get some shots of the sun coming up over Santa Maria Della Salute and the lagoon. (As an aside - the guy that was doing the model shoot by St Mark's the morning before was there on Accademia this morning - but just him and his assistant - no model - and the poor short assistant was trying to hold up some gauzy curtains - as they were the morning before by the model - I'm assuming some photoshop would be happening). No grey skies this morning so I got some gorgeous shots (which I will hopefully rem to post in my photos!).

After about 10 min I hopped back on the vap and got off at the stop just by SMS. I was able to get some more great photos - again - almost total lack of people. It was just before 7am. I spent about 20 min enjoying the quiet, then walked to Rialto Bridge and went past to see if the market was setting up - a few people there, but maybe Mon isn't a big day. I waited at the Rialto Mercato stop for a vap - that was a bit of a long wait - I could have walked faster, but I kept thinking one would be along shortly. Went back to the room for breakfast and to get ready for our daytrip to...

Padua! By the time we got to the train station and caught the train to Padua (not a long train ride - about 30-40 min) we arrived around lunch time. We stopped at (yes, again) a McDonald's close to the train station - we just wanted food and wanted it fast. We walked towards Piazza dei Signori to check out the Astrological Clock (which looked very much like the one in Venice). In the piazza was a gelato shop so we went in - I got two scoops - pear w/cinnamon and apple - it was amazingly good. Next we decided to head for the Padua Duomo - only to find out they were closed for lunch or the afternoon! (It was before 2pm when we arrived). I can't recall which, but it was going to be a few hours until it reopened. So disappointed. We went off to try and find another cathedral we wanted to see, but got a little turned around and just decided to head for Scrovegni Chapel. I had booked our timeslot the day before for 3pm. We arrived a bit early and just wandered around the block. We went in about 15 min ahead and wandered around a courtyard where there was some bits and pieces of buildings. About 5 min before our time, we turned in our large bags at the bag check then got with our group. They first take you in and show you a very informative video about the chapel but I was so hot and tired from wandering around Padua, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. I believe the video was about 20 min long. Then they set you free in the chapel - I believe we had 10 min to look and take photos. It was well worth the visit. After we went to a little shop in the building as my cough was getting more irritating - and picked up some cough drops. Ri-co-la!!

We decided to head back to Venice after this, arriving around supper. This was our last night in Venice so we decided to do a little shopping - picking up a glass fox for the Xmas tree, some chocolate spread, a t-shirt for my husband (to replace one he outgrew since our last visit). Another last visit to Il Doge for (more!) gelato - this time their crema de doge (again) and Nutella. Amazing. We went to Rialto for one last visit and I got a few nice sunset shots. Picked up a few snacks at the grocery store, then decided to go on the hunt for food. It was dark by now - we had to wait to let our gelato settle. We ended up eating at a spot we'd eaten at on our last trip - and most likely the trip before that. (Maybe even the trip before that!). Hubby got gnocchi and I had lasagna.

Then it was time to head back to the room to get our bags sorted for our plane ride out of Italy!

  • *As an aside - I'm finally getting around to finishing this blog during the Covid pandemic. It is breaking my heart to see what is happening in Italy and all the deaths. I look forward to the day we can return.**

Posted by u2traveller 05:30 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Let's get off the beaten track

Sun, Sept 29, 2019


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Managed to get my husband up early this morning - unfortunately, the sky was cloudy, so no spectacular sunrise, but we did get to watch a couple wedding photo shoots taking place in SMS (seemed to be Asian) as well as a model photo shoot. We walked back towards our room, passing across Rialto Bridge, then back to the room for breakfast.

Today we decided to see Scuola Grande di San Rocco. It's been on my radar for our last 3 visits and somehow we just never made the time to go. It isn't even that far from where we were staying! Well, it is absolutely gorgeous. The paintings on the ceiling by Tintoretto are divine. It can be a bit hard to follow along the 'map' they give you, so I just gave up and admired the paintings. They were in the midst of a set up for maybe a concert, so there was some setting up of chairs going on. Luckily, they have mirrors that can ease the strain on your neck of looking up. BUT - I was even more taken with the wooden carvings. I'm not sure who did the work but they were so detailed - there was one section that looked like a bookshelf but it was all carved. I can't even describe how gorgeous - look it up on google and make sure if you're ever in Venice to take the time to visit!

I believe right beside the scuola there was a Da Vinci exhibit, so we decided to go in there - it was actually quite interesting, but not much different from another exhibit we went to back in '08 in Rome.

Next we hopped the vaporetto and got off past SMS (not before I picked up some meringues and a mini sfogliatella pastry - we dropped the meringues at the room). We headed down towards the Arsenale, walking down via Guiseppe Garibaldi to the end, where we crossed a bridge to a very quiet residential section - hardly a soul around. I popped into the Basilica di San Pietro di Castello, before we headed over a different bridge and wandered back to Garibaldi. Again - not many people down there - I did come across a nice alleyway with some very colourful blankets out on a line! Made a great photo.

By now it was well past noon and we were starting to get hungry and cranky. There was a gelateria on my map that was in the area behind and SMS so I decided to go off and find that. It's called La Mela Verde (the green apple) and the guide book said you should try the green apple gelato. Also, they didn't have any that day but I did get an amazing scoop - I can't recall now - it may have been pear, but whatever it was, it was so good. BUT - we still needed food! We wandered a bit past La Mela and came across some restaurants and ate at one called Da Roberto in Campo san Provolo. Had - what else? - pizza.

So we finally had some food and were now happy campers, but still didn't really have a plan. We headed back towards SMS and took the vaporetto across the lagoon, past San Giorgio and got off at Zitelle - we'd never been on this island before, so we just wandered along - it being late afternoon on a Sunday there wasn't really much happening. We sat and watched a massive cruise ship go by for it's pass of SMS. We headed down an alley and came across what looked to be a spot where people stored their boats for the winter. (Guidecca). We decided it was a bit boring so we hopped back on the (very crowded!) vap at Redentore and headed back to the room to relax a little. The vap was quite crowded, but we eventually found a seat - chatted with some lovely people from the USA along the way.

I could also tell on that vap that I was starting to get my cold I always get when we are on holiday. Never fails. On the vaporetto I noticed my throat getting cloggy feeling...and I was sneezing. A sure sign.

We decided to go back to all Amarone for supper - I got the cacao e pepe (cheese and pepper) and hubby got the carbonara. Another great meal. Walked over to Rialto to try and do some long exposure pics, but the bridge was really really crowded, and the vibrations made my photos blurry (I managed to get one good one), so I gave up.

Back to the room to plan for our visit to Padua the next day.

Posted by u2traveller 10:48 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

17. Hot and crowded in Venice

Sat, Sept 28, 2019


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Morning started out with our lovely little breakfast at our B&B - Marco always has cereal, some breads/croissants with jams and Nutella, offered us cheese and cold cut meat, along with juice and coffee/tea.

With no real plan for Venice, we had to decide what to do today. I wanted to find the other marbled paper shops and hope for some luck finding colours I wanted. We headed towards an area that had a few stores close together - the first one was a bust, but at the second I managed to get a few sheets and hubs got a bookmark. I can't even quite recall where it was now (it may have been near Santo Stefano) - but we noticed a crowd of people in white outfits with instruments. So we decided to sit for awhile and see what was going to happen. It took about 10-15 min but then they fired up - it was a marching band! From - oh goodness, I want to say Brazil, but it was def S America. We sat and watched them for about 20 min - it was great fun, and quite interesting to stumble upon. Lots of folks watching. I want to say the band numbered about 50-60 - drums, brass, flag bearers.

For some reason unknown to me, we headed over towards St Mark's Sq - it was close to noon and we wanted to head across so we could head back to our room. It was so hot and humid and SMS was teaming. We took a deep breath and dove in - it was like trying to part the Red Sea - I got trapped in the throng and was trying to push my way thru - lost my husband in the melee but somehow he beat me to the other side! He must have skirted the edges whilst I stupidly went right thru the middle. We went back to the room to cool off then decided to head to a quieter part of Venice. But first - back to mask store to get my sun/moon mask, which is now hanging in my kitchen. We decided to walk the 'back way' to the train station - along the way we stopped for some fries and pizza for lunch, grabbed a gelato, popped into a few shops and into the church directly across from the train station (San Simeon Piccolo). We walked across the ped bridge and went into some of the stores in the train station. Next, we went into the church beside the station (Santa Maria di Nazareth). There was a little shop there where I picked up some honey gummies and soap made by Italian churches/convents.

We wandered a bit more and found ourselves at Accademia Bridge, where we watched a bride and groom come in to their wedding party on a gondola, and the not so spectacular view of a huge cruise ship passing by SMS. There was a beautiful sunset happening, so again we just wandered and found a restaurant where we got the special of chicken and spaghetti and potatoes and split between the two of us. I was still on the hunt for a glass bird ornament that I get one of each time we visit Venice - we found a shop in the SMS area where I got two - I was only going to get one by hubs insisted on two (since one of my birds from a previous visit broke a leg, I guess we can call it a replacement). I picked out an owl and hubby picked out a toucan.

Then we headed over to SMS to enjoy it at night, listening to the orchestras play before heading back to the room to plan our next day.

Posted by u2traveller 06:55 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

16. Venice Time

Fri, Sept 27


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So today we were off to Venice - the train ride was about an hour-hour and a half. We were going to try and figure out a bus to get to the train station, but we just walked it. Finished up our juice and food at the room, then walked up to the train station. We had just under an hour to wait, so hubs got a coffee drink and we sat inside.

We noticed the train was on the track so went over and got on - about 20-25 min before departure. Chatted with a young girl in the row behind - she asked if it was the train to Venice and whatnot. After about 10 min I suddenly remembered the 'validate your ticket' which we hadn't done. Oh poop! I asked the girl behind if she did hers and she hadn't, so we both hustled off the train to punch those tickets. Phew!

It was a slower train and made some stops and started filling up. By the time we got to Padua it was pretty full, but a lot of people got off there.

When we got to Venice, then the fun began. We got our 3 day vaporetto pass then got in line for the vap. We weren't too far at the back of the line, but by the time the next one came, it was quite crowded. Vaps and luggage doesn't mix. Not many people got off at the stop, so we had to squeeze ourselves on and couldn't get over by the side or inside where there are seats, or even towards the front where we can hang on. Nope - we were basically held upright by the crush of people around us. At the next few stops, lots of people were getting off from behind us and you couldn't even move left or right as they just shoved off around both sides of you, not giving you a chance to make room - really annoying. At least we didn't lose anything over the side like the poor lady beside us. She took out what I believe was her phone and fumbled it - it hit the deck and slid right into the lagoon. She was quite upset. I think she was speaking German and was quite upset at the man with her - who I think asked her to take it out and look at something. It got me wondering how many phones or cameras are at the bottom of the lagoon! On one of our vap rides, I noticed a Birkenstock floating in the middle of the canal...lol.

We made it to the room and decided to just relax for a little while after that vap ride. After an hour we decided to venture out and get something to eat, we wandered a bit looking for a place to grab a bite and finally we ate at Al Campanile pizza and got a pizza with hot dogs. Also got some gelato - there was a small store front of a very popular gelato place very near our room (which is the same room we've stayed at on 3 of our 4 trips) - il Doge - I got their crema del Doge flavor, which is crema with orange and chocolate swirled - divine.

We decided to do some shopping - I was on the hunt for some marbled paper and had some places marked on my map. The few we visited today were a wash - either too expensive or didn't have the colours I was looking for. Luckily, I had a few more on my list - and my hubs did pick up a bookmark!

We decided to re-visit the Frari Church - my fav Venice church. Last time we went, you weren't allowed to take photos, but now it was allowed, so I got a ton. It was actually bigger than I remembered! And it is still my fav church (well, it might be tied with the Jesuitenkirche in Vienna!)

After that, we just wandered a bit more, popped into some shops. In the campo right by our room there is one of the famous mask makers so instead of gazing thru the window like on our last 4 visits, we actually went in this time. I would LOVE to have purchased one of the big masks - they were all so pretty. But had to keep it small and packable. A sun and moon mask caught my eye, so we knew we'd be back. Also new in the 'hood was a little grocery store (I can't recall what was there on our last trip, but it wasn't that) so we were able to go in and pick up some snack foods.

Supper was coming on so we went to a place we'd eaten at on the last night of our last stay and really enjoyed - All Amarone. We even found it fairly easily even tho it was down an alley (turn left at the coconut vendor!). I had a Caesar salad and hubs got Bolognese (what we had last time - still delish!).

We still had some wandering time so we were passing by an area and could hear live music. The gates to the courtyard were open, so we stuck our heads in and caught the tail end of 'Hit the Road Jack'. We sat for 5-10 min listening. Some people passed by and stopped and started talking...more Nova Scotians! I had my New Scotland shirt on and they asked if we were from Halifax. I said no - Truro - turns out the man was born in Truro (didn't live there now) and when I said my dad used to deliver milk - he said he used to work for the competition. But he didn't know my dad as he was a few years younger - but I'm sure their paths had crossed at some point.

It's a small world!

Posted by u2traveller 10:24 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

15. 24 hrs in Verona

Thur, Sept 26


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So today we had a lot to jam into our hours in Verona, as the next day it was off to Venice. We went across the street for some croissants and coffee (for my hubs - he finally will drink caffe latte!)

We headed over to the Verona Arena, just a hop skip and a jump away. There we got the 24 hr Verona card, which gave us free entry into a bunch of places, as well as discounts on some others. You couldn't walk all around inside of the area - we maybe spent 25-30 min there total. It was...ok. I guess if you were going to an event there maybe it would've been more interesting.

Next we headed over to Castelvecchio - we actually spent over an hour here - there were lots of pieces of 'things' - statues, gravemarkers, stone 'stuff' - and also some beautiful paintings as well. Plus the views over the river - it was actually nice to walk thru.

Then we went over to San Zeno church - we thought to try and take a bus but couldn't figure out where the proper stop was, so we ended up walking (our card also included transport). The church was quite beautiful with alternating colours of brick outside and in. It is huge inside, and maybe a little empty. Didn't have the over the top feel of some of the other cathedrals we've been in. I was quite fascinated in a few spots on the stairs you could see seashell fossils in the marble. We picked up a sheet with the layout of the church and information about each part. It was getting on past lunch (and another hot day) so we found a restaurant nearby and split a pizza.

After lunch we went over to the bell tower - the Torre dei Lamberti. Our Verona pass gave us a free ride on the elevator (I think, or we might have paid a few euro extra for the elevator). I cannot believe the people who were opting to walk up the tower! I'm not sure how many stories it is, but I would never had made it. The views over the city were amazing. It was a nice clear day with deep blue skies and you could see for miles.

Then it was time for more churches - first was Santa Anastasia - another tall church but with a bit more decoration than in San Zeno. I won't go into descriptions...it had some nice paintings on the walls and ceiling and inlaid floor. Next was the Verona Cathedral - again - a lovely tall church. Beautifully decorated alcoves on the sides. But it being our 3rd church that day, I was getting all churched out.

After that we walked across the river to the Roman Theatre, which wasn't far away. There is a bit of a museum, then we were outside thru the arena (where they were setting up for a performance) then took an elevator up 4 stories or so to another museum where they had displays of excavated items - stone work, some glass bottles, wood carvings - and again - some lovely views across the river. I think we spent an hour here.

Then it was back over towards the arena as I was interested in doing the road train ride. I thought we had missed the last one as I thought they finished at 6pm, and it was about 5:45. Hubs and I got separated trying to find where you loaded on and I ended up sitting for 10 min waiting for him to find me. He had found where you get on. And we saw the road train afterwards as we were having supper, so not sure why I thought the last one was at 6. We loaded ourselves into the back and paid the extra fee. OK, this thing was crazy! I can't quite recall where it went (past many of the places we'd seen) but man - the driver was driving rather fast (tho probably only 20-25 kmh) over some extremely bumpy roads and taking corners like he was in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift! It was scary and exhilarating and rather painful - as my hips would attest when we got off 25 min later!

Then time for supper. There are a ton of restaurants right near the arena and we roamed up and down trying to find one with food we wanted that wasn't outrageously priced. We ended up at a spot called Mamma Mia - we had pasta and gnocchi and I splurged on a 'fancy' drink (as opposed to water for the 50th time) - not alcoholic - more like a Shirley Temple. I seem to recall it being black cherry something - a little more sour than I expected, but I drank it all up.

Then it was back to the room for my hips to recover from the road train and to get ready for our onward journey the next day.

And we did get great use out of our Verona card - we packed a LOT into our day and saved a little $ by getting the card.

Posted by u2traveller 06:18 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

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