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.
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.