I'm so sad for the vibrant, romantic and beautifully full of life country I visited last November. My heart goes out to all who are living a very different life than they could have ever imagined.
I'm posting this to honor our guest nation and as a tribute to the beautiful Italians who made our holiday happy, fun and magical.
In this post I'm sharing some memories made in Romantic Venice, Lombardy and Tuscany.
The most prominent memory of our romantic holiday in Italy was a water taxi ride down Venice's Grand Canal. We arrived at our hotel late in the afternoon and so didn't have long to settle in. The tour director was worried that we'd run out of daylight, so there was a rush to get to the booked taxi's waiting for us. We ended up cruising down the length of the stunning Grand Canal, lit with the hue of the setting sun. Losing the light turned out to be a wonderful gift.
The buildings were shown off to the very best advantage with soft light and shadows enhancing their ornately decorated facades.
I can see why photographers call it the magic hour, it was a magical ride as Sam and I stood in the back of the water taxi taking in the fabulous atmosphere and ornate city on the water. I can still feel his arm around my back as we motored through so much beauty. Alone in the back of the boat we kissed.
We alighted at St Marks square and were ushered aboard gondolas for the classic Venice experience. We were wearing our Trafalgar headsets to keep us in contact with the group however we soon forgot about those and were treated to the drama of the canals as the sun set. Later we were served a fish dinner at a restaurant on the canal near our hotel which was delicious.
Next day our walking tour took us to the piazzas where Venetians live in their city without cars. Under each of the many cobble paved piazzas is an ancient collection system for rain water that would be filtered and accessed via a central well.
Our hotel was close to the station and fronted onto the Grand Canal.
After Venice we headed to the lakes district and on the way we stopped for lunch in Milan. We had time to explore before we traveled to our hotel at the Lake Maggiore. Sam and I opted to do take a tour of Teatro alla Scala. So thrilling to see the stage where Katrina Baxter from 'The Italian Billionaire's Secret Baby' danced. Of course I had to get a photo outside with my Italian hero. Although he's an Australian like me, Sam's parents were born and raised in Italy. It was a major life experience for him to connect with his heritage.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele has many cafe's for weary tourists to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. I ordered the Milanese Risotto for lunch which was delicious and Sam claims that had the best lasagna of his life.
I love the architecture of this shopping mall. It reminded me of Melbourne's Block Arcade the first time I saw it. I later learned that it was this Galleria that inspired the Architect who designed The Block Arcade.
When we opened the curtains at our hotel room, we were thrilled to find a view overlooking Lake Maggiore. The next day we had a wonderful time cruising on this lake and visited a rather grand house on one of Borromean Islands in the middle.
The grounds were gorgeous too. I later saw them on the telly and had that, 'I've been there', moment.
After the Lakes we headed south to the Tuscan city of Florence. Sam and I went for a romantic horse and buggy ride around the city center. Our guide was a lovely old gent who chatted to Sam in Italian but would occasionally tell me in English when we were passing an important land mark, like the oldest building or the one thousand year old bridge, or point up at George Clooney's apartment, which still makes me smile.
On the last day of our tour we stopped at a postcard perfect picturesque hillside village called San Gimaniano. After walking through the city gates we climbed a narrow cobblestone street, lined with shops to an open square where we had the self proclaimed best gelati in the world.
In between the shops lane ways gave us enticing peaks of the valley below. I had to detour down one and that is how I got this next photo. This has to be the most beautiful photo of our trip.
I've updated this post after arriving home. For some reason the app on my phone wouldn't function properly which limited my ability to say much or to include the appropriate title. This update contains more picture and more about our experiences on our tour.
A day or two in Rome before our Trafalgar Best of Italy your gave us time to settle in after our long journey.
We explored the high street shops and little laneway pizzarias near our hotel. Right across the road was the ancient Roman city wall.
After joining the Trafalgar Best of Italy tour, which started in Rome, we got to see a lot of the city. We went to the Vatican and toured the museum which is beautiful but the highlight was Michelangelo's masterpiece, Sistine Chapel ceiling. No photos allowed so I've linked it for you. We didn't think we'd be able to see St Peter's Basilica because the Pope was taking a service but our tour guide dawdled and stretched out our time so we got to go in. I'd seen it before and I really wanted Sam to see it so I was very happy when we were allowed inside.
From the Vatican we had a short break before touring the Colosseum. After walking all morning I really needed a the afternoon off but I kept going. Sam was excited to see where the gladiators fought. It's an awesome place.
After all of this time on my feet I was really suffering but, I still had a walking tour of the treasures of Rome to complete. I took some pain killers and struggled on. It was worth it to see the wonderful Trevi fountain with Sam. Way more crowded than it was eight years ago, we didn't stay long and opted for a gelati from a nearby cafe.
The last time I was there I threw in two coins, one to come back and the other to find love again. They worked. But I also heard on the tour bus that two coins is to get married! and that worked too, Sam and I having been married in July. Very funny.
When we got back to the hotel I fell on the bed and didn't move until it was time for breakfast the next morning. That day we drove south to the Amalfi coast, stopping at Pompeii for a walking tour. Lot's of people, even though it was past the high season, but I got this shot of an ancient roman road and shop walls on the left. It was a large town and most of it is still uncovered.
We stayed the night at Sorrento, the next day we took a ferry to Capri and did a small boat tour around part of the island. This rock is called the tunnel of love. Those who kiss while passing under it are supposed to love each other forever. You can guess who took that opportunity.
In the evening we drove along the Amalfi coast from Sorrento to Positano. The view was magic.
We had some free time at picturesque Positano. We bought presents to take home and had afternoon tea.
Back at our hotel in Sorrento, we had dinner overlooking the lights of Capri.
We didn't stay in the town of Sorrento but up on hill, so there wasn't an after dinner stroll, but there's always next time. We had a wonderful time in the south of Italy, the next day we headed north.
The next post will have part 2 of our time in Italy, Venice, The Lakes and Tuscany.
Thanks for stopping by.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.