This summer, Matt and I celebrated ten years of being married with a two week, kid-free trip to Italy with our friends Erin and Jan (who happened to be celebrating their tenth with a trip to Italy, too... woohoo!). Italy is incredible - it totally deserves the hype. It's full of beautiful places, interesting people, and meal after extraordinary meal, and is, of course, a photographer's paradise. So as not to overload you or your computer with a million photos all at once, I'm dividing this post into three parts: Venice & Burano, Tuscany, and Positano & Rome. And because I imagine some of you might one day visit these places yourselves, I figured I'd share the highlights - favorite places to eat, stay, visit, etc. Skip past them if you don't care... the photos tell a better story anyway. Hope you enjoy... even half as much as I did ;)
We flew into Rome and took the train to Venice. I lived in Venice for six weeks one summer in college as part of a study-abroad program, but it's apples and oranges comparing my experiences then and now. That difference, of course, is all about me: Venice doesn't really change (except for the sinking bit). The entire place was built ages ago, and given its inability to sprawl, has remained much the same (save retrofitting for things like plumbing, electricity, and central heat). Walking among the canals down twisting alleys no wider than a sidewalk, one can't help but imagine life there through the centuries, and wonder how such a place was ever conceived, let alone built. It's crowded, touristy, expensive, and an absolute must on any good bucket list.
We stayed at the Ca' San Giorgio, which was lovely: close to the train station and the Grand Canal, but off the beaten path enough that it provided a quiet respite from the crowds. They had a really lovely breakfast spread every morning, including espresso made to order (a lot of hotels assume tourists want terrible coffee - watered down at best, instant at worst). The rooms were simple but comfortable, with really nice bathrooms and AC that met even my husband's rather Americanized needs. The wi-fi was spotty - better in the breakfast room and lobby than in the rooms - but that wasn't much of a bother. The staff was really fantastic, too - Alitalia lost one of our bags for two days, and the staff took care of everything from following up with them to receiving the bag when it finally arrived. I suppose the only caution I'd give is that the hotel is a bit of a hike from some of the bigger tourist attractions in Venice - a 20-30 minute walk to Piazza San Marco, the Accademia, etc.
Our meals in Venice were good, but by no means the best of our trip. Venice is VERY tourist-focused, so you have to work to find a place that doesn't post their menu in eight languages and serve food reminiscent of the Olive Garden. We had fantastic snacks and Aperol spritzes one evening at a little hole in the wall called Cantina do Spade, about halfway between our hotel and the Rialto. If you're up for it, though, Venice is the perfect place to grab some cheese, bread, and wine from a corner store, go find a spot to sit in a piazza somewhere, and people-watch.
Burano is an island known for its colorful architecture and its lace museum. Because it's almost an hour's ferry ride from Venice, it hasn't gotten quite as popular as its big sister Murano, but we had a great afternoon there walking around, and as a photographer, I'd make a trip three times that long. Make an afternoon of it: walk from the water along the canal, wend your way to the leaning church spire, then grab lunch at Da Romano... their squid ink risotto was incredible.
And now... photos! Part two next week.