Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Romance on the canals of Venice

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There is nothing more romantic than taking a gondola through the narrow canals of Venice at sunset, taking in the breathtaking sights and sounds of this beautiful Italian city. Back in the 18th century the gondola was the city’s major source of public transport and there were thousands of the vessels floating around the canals. Today the craft is one of the most popular tourist transportations with several hundred of the elegant vessels available for hire. The gondola has tight seating for two people, there are some larger vessels which can carry more people, but that takes the romance out of it.. The ride can get quiet expensive, but you the experience is well worth every Euro. You can expect to pay around 80 Euro for a 30-40 minute ride and even more with a evening or night cruise. It is well worth shopping around and bargaining a bit during quieter times, you never know what deal you might strike. For a few euro extra you will probably even be able to negotiate a serenade by the gondolier. For those a bit frightened of the high cost, a cheaper although not quiet as magical experience is to board one of the public ferries that punt around the canals around twilight. You don’t quiet get the luxury of your own gondola and are usually packed in like sardines, but you can experience the amazing palaces and architecture from the water and soak in some of the charm and atmosphere of one of the world’s most unique cities.

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The treasure chest of the Vatican

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Nearly 4 million people queue for hours to visit the amazing history, artworks and culture of the Vatican Museums or Musei Vaticani. The museum has just celebrated its 500th anniversary and is home to some of the worlds most precious treasures. The list of artwork is astounding with collections by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Caravaggio to name a few. But the highlight of the visit for most people is the visit to the Sistine Chapel to see the ceiling by Michelangelo who’s fresco is breathtaking. Painted from 1508 to 1512 and commissioned by Pope Julius II this incredible piece has been painstakingly restored in recent years to what is believed to be its original colours. The museums will easily fill up a full day and art lovers will probably want to come back for more. The museums are closed special holidays on Sunday’s except for the last when the usual 13 euro charge is dropped but the crowds on this day make it a bad choice. Its much better to pay and come on a much quieter day.

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Is the Pope a Catholic? You bet!

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The Vatican is the home of the Catholic Church and is part of the State of Vatican City which is in fact the smallest independent state in the world consisting of only 44 hectares or 107 acres. Vatican city is surrounded by Italy’s capital Rome. The head of state is the Pope who is also the head of the Catholic Church. The Basilica of Saint Peter is the huge domed church which sits in front of St Peter’s Square. This magnificent and huge basilica dates back to 1506. The church is open to the public and is home to many of the Pope’s masses. St Peter’s Square in the foreground of the Basilica dates back to the mid 1600’s and attracts tens of thousands if not hundred’s of thousands to the Popes outdoor ceremonies.

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It might be romantic but it will cost you

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The best way to see Venice is by water, but unless you our out to impress your lady the Gondola ride can be an expensive way to get around, with prices anything from 50 to 200 Euros. For something less romantic but just as good try one of the small ferries which travel around the larger canals, tickets are only a few Euros and you can even get a cheap day pass for only a little more. Sometimes the ferries are busy but you always get a great view of the canal city. The most magical time to travel is around sunset when the lights come on in the palaces and the long shadows stretch along the canal. Read the rest of this entry »

Away from the tourists and into the real Venice

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Venice is one of the most amazing places you could ever visit, but like all popular spots it is geared for the tourist, over commercialised and geared to catch the tourist dollar. But there is an easy fix just get yourself lost, go for a walk up some of the more backstreet lanes- they are relatively safe and you are sure to find a ‘real’ Venice cafe or restaurant the people will be friendly and the prices will usually be much lower than what you will see around the square and best of all there wont be thousands of tourists. Try some real Venice pasta, not the mass produced bland stuff made for the tourist’s taste buds. Many of the smaller establishments are family ran so you will enjoy some traditional cooking and friendly faces it will really make your trip to Venice more memorable. Read the rest of this entry »

Millions of pidgeons

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St Marks Square in Venice would have to have the biggest flock of pigeons anywhere in the world, there are what appears to be millions. These flying rats are everywhere, and to make things worse they are encouraged by people feeding them. Fortunately most of the buildings in the area have been covered in fine wire to stop the birds nesting and destroying the historic buildings but its hard to walk too far without stepping on a bird or their waste. They are very game and not afraid of people so it’s relatively easy to get a good photograph of these colourful pests. Read the rest of this entry »

Venice Glass – a perfect gift

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If your traveling around Venice and looking for some cheap and fancy gifts for the folk back home, you can’t go past Venetian Glass. Now some of the cheaper stuff is Chinese imports but who’s going to know its all pretty flash. You can pick up some lovely pieces for only a few euros- remember to bargain you can save heaps. Some of the more expensive and exclusive stuff can cost thousands of dollars, but its pretty easy to find something at an affordable price. Keep away from the main tourist areas when shopping you can do better in some of the back lanes and if you are interested in glass its well worth a quick ferry ride across to Murano which is about 20 minutes away. Just about the whole village makes or sells glass ware. Read the rest of this entry »