We traveled to Venice first and then on to Verona. We had no problems with flights, airports, people or anything. We did learn that the deGualle airport in Paris is never the fastest place in the world. No worries, the flights are always delayed. We learned that the euro is funny looking money. The coins are valuable. Everything costs more than in the states. You are always paying for your water because if only comes bottled. We preferred the "no gas" water, thank you very much.
Many people from around the world speak better English than the immigrants that we find in TX. (Honestly this was a huge surprise.) We find more language barriers trying to order at McDonald's from the young lady that knows absolutely zero English and is upset with us for not knowing Spanish here in Houston. In Paris at the Airport, in Venice, Verona and all around we found that with our little Italian and their little English we could understand each other just fine.
Another surprise was that the people were much kinder than we had been told. J and I had memories of the Bahamas in our minds. The people there were fake. They were only as nice as their tip. If you were to stop a random person on the street to ask a question they would be so rude. We found the Italians to be very different. Now they didn't run around trying to wait on us hand and foot like they did in the Bahamas but they were consistent. The people were pleasant and helpful. Even the ones that we stopped in the street. That helped to make this our favorite trip. We have been to Cancun, San Fransisco, Alaska on a Cruise, The Bahamas, Hawaii and now Italy. Combine the good nature of the locals, the history all around, the embedded Catholic culture, and all the art work . . . it is safe to say that Italy is our favorite, hands down!!
The trip began in Venice. No cars, bikes, roller blades, or scooters on any of the islands at all. Everyone moved by walking, boat or a combination. The main Island of Venice was very costly. Everything was hand carted. We even watched trash pickup on a cart. The open food markets just off the "Grand Canal" was filled with wonderful smells of fresh fruits and vegetables. The smell was not so great when we reached the fish portion. The seafood was all fresh. I preferred the Pizza but I will admit the seafood was very good. It seamed like the guides were constantly saying "well it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1445." Or "Napoleon stole this artwork and it is now in the Louvre."
We were surprised to find out the Venice that still deals with the floods that come in with the tides. St. Marks square is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is crowded with people from all over, there are pigeons all over, it is just as exciting in the day with the crowds as it is at night with the water on the ground. For the Christians in us we loved that the center of the area was the church named for St. Mark the Gospel writer who's remains reside inside the church.
The gondola ride was wonderful. Not at all what I thought it would be like but wonderful non the less. Movies do not do Venice justice. It is so different that anything we have ever experienced. J said he would love to live their for a year. Long enough to live the life, I would like to spend a week there but I would hate the live off of seafood.
We stayed on an island that at one time was built up by monks, it later became a convent and then is now a 5 star hotel. The Island was named in honor of St. Clement. I loved that considering I grew up in St. Clement's parish. In a small way I was connected to the history on this beautiful little Island. I was surprised to learn that at one time there were several little Islands that had monastery's and/or convents. We peaked into the forgotten and abandoned chapel on the Island. It is now used as a storage facility for tables and chairs for the hotel. The statues, crucifixes, stations, and alters still attached were long forgotten, not to mention the gorgeous fresco's that covered the ceilings. I wish that our churches in America could purchase more of those forgotten pieces of art. J and I were so sad to realize how many forgotten works of art are just lying around.
We visited a few of the other Islands. One is known for its lace making. The island has few inhabitant with just a handful of elderly ladies stitching away. They admit that the craft is dying. None of the youngsters want to take the time to learn the skills. Machines in China make most of the lace that the sell to tourist on the Island. They true lace is very expensive, but gorgeous. We visited a church while on the Island. It was so beautiful! Most of the artwork was only 1000 years old!
This is a slide show of Verona. I wish I had more time to label each pic and explain, I just don't have the time. Maybe over summer when school ends and swim team is over and it is too hot to do anything else . . . who am I kidding. Maybe when I am 60 years old and have finally finished the laundry I will find the time. I just hope I remember the details until then.
Anyway, Verona is the home town of the characters that Romeo and Juliet are based on. Verona had remnants of Roman occupation from the years just after Christ. The colosseum was close to being 2000 years old. It was so cool to see. Of course it has been "rebuilt" a dozen times but it was awe inspiring to be surrounded by so much History. We found the best pizza here in Verona. The gelato (ice cream) wasn't too bad either. We stayed in a hotel that Mozart had stayed in. The sights were wonderful. The cars were small and everyone walked or biked. The cobblestone streets were crowded but the experience was wonderful!