Venice gave off the strongest movie vibe of any of the cities we visited for two main reasons...1) A city on the water just doesn't feel like it can exist outside of a set and 2) We ran into a few dilemmas there that were script-like in nature. Turns out navigating Venice is not for the faint of heart. It goes without saying, however, that it's a phenomenally gorgeous place to visit...case in point:
After finding our way to Hotel Pesaro Palace (which was beautiful and in a great location, for the record) we headed out towards the famous Piazza San Marco. We strolled around for a few minutes and enjoyed the grand architecture, abundance of live music, and the strange feeling of being around so many people without the sound of cars in the background. We even saw a couple get engaged (and more than likely dominated the background of their pictures...here's hoping we're out of focus)!
We walked from the Piazza San Marco to our first official Venetian activity, a night at the opera, and enjoyed a performance of The Barber of Seville in the spellbinding Musica a Palazzo. The lighting didn't lend itself to pictures, but I snapped this shot just before we left to give you an idea of one of the rooms we were in.
The venue, Barbarigo Minotto Palace, was a treat in and of itself and set the evening apart from any other opera we're likely to experience. The performers' powerful voices filled the small, intimate rooms of this 15th century palace and it was all but impossible to not feel like a part of the story. The various acts took place in different rooms of the house and we moved about accordingly, stunned at how each space was somehow more beautiful than the one before it.
We spent our last full day in Italy exploring off the beaten bath with an Urban Adventures Cicchetti of Venice Tour. Our guide, Cecelia, was perhaps the most entertaining character we encountered all trip (true story: my Mom is actually somewhat intent on getting her on television). She showed us the value of wandering even one block away from touristy areas and gave us a really fun taste of local life. Our tour focused on sampling Cicchetti, the Venetian equivalent of Spanish tapas...small, often bite size dishes that pair oh so nicely with Venetian wine.
We toured five different Bacari wine bars, each with a different delectable offering, all filled to the brim with people.
There were a couple we couldn't even fit in, though standing in the street came with it's own set of benefits.
Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
We had the great pleasure of taking our tour alongside another traveling family of four, a lovely couple from Chicago and their two young daughters. Turns out their eldest, Caitlin, is a food blogger! While she and I exchanged information, Joey attempted to teach her sister a few youngest child strategies, explaining how you can- and I quote- "get away with anything" (which he- true to form- got away with haha). For detailed notes about every dish we ate and all kinds of other really tasty looking recipes, check out Caitlin's blog, A Ginger's Gourmet Goods.
Not surprisingly, I think I can best compare our trip as a whole to a really phenomenal meal. Rome was an ideal appetizer- the best imaginable introduction to Italy's storied history and culture, Florence turned out to be the heart of the trip- an unforgettable main course if ever there was one, and Venice was the intensely rich dessert- too much could get to you but the right amount is the perfect ending. I'll be forever grateful to my parents for taking us on this trip of a lifetime! In a phrase, Italy was more than- more than I imagined, more than I expected, more than I hoped- it was just more. To be able to share this experience with the best family in the world was such a gift. Every day with them is the best kind of adventure...can't wait to tackle our next one together.