Sunday morning we cleaned up our cozy little trailer, ate leftovers for breakfast, packed our VW caddy and headed for Italy. I was pretty sleepy that morning, so I missed some of the scenery on the drive, but I was awake for enough time to be completely smitten by the mountains. It was cloudy and rainy, so we didn’t get any amazing mountain top views, but everything was so green and lush. There was valley after valley that looked so old, straight out of a travel brochure. There were also so many waterfalls, just gushing out of the side of the mountain, at first it was a novelty that really excited the kids, but there were so many that eventually I was the only one still enchanted.
I don’t usually get carsick, but being pregnant probably didn’t help so after a few hours of windy mountain switchbacks, both Eli and I were feeling pretty queasy. Fortunately just when we didn’t think we could handle another turn we came down into Italy’s vineyards and sunflower fields. Also gorgeous.
It was a really long drive and we had to meet up with the apartment landlord at a specific time, so for lunch we just ate snacks in the car, and a few sandwiches I’d made. We had pre-booked a parking spot, which was a huge relief. (If you ever take a car to Venice, definitely pre-book your parking.) There are no “roads” in the city, so once you cross the bridge over to the islands that make up Venice, you have to park your car and take a water-bus into the city. It’s really cool, SO charming, but also a bit of a hassle. We parked in the garage, consolidated our luggage, and made our way to the water-bus. Another traveling tip for Venice- public transportation is NOT cheap. When we didn’t have our luggage we just walked everywhere, and it was nice to experience the water-bus.
We got the keys to our apartment, which was really neat. It was so Italian, so old, just like out of a movie. It was in a quiet alley, with pizza and gelato just a few doors down. By the time we were all settled it was late afternoon and we were all ravenous, so first things first we found a restaurant and stuffed our faces with pizza. GOOD pizza.
Our server was really friendly and playful with the kids. There is no better way to endear yourself to the heart of a mother than to entertain her hungry children in a restaurant. Plus that Italian accent…
After we ate we decided to just explore, there was an old cathedral really close to our apartment and we figured since it was Sunday a church would be a great place to visit.
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (That’s a mouthful. )
was amazing. It was full of Italian renaissance artwork. The real deal! I was IN Italy looking at original Italian artwork, including Donatello’s first documented sculpture in Venice. It was so awesome. It also had some really impressive (and slightly bizarre) tombs and monuments inside.
After we left the church we just walked. It was hot, and we quickly learned that we were going to be accompanied by mosquitoes during our stay in Venice. But it was quiet that evening and probably the least crowded time we spent in the city.
The kids loved standing on the bridges and watching the gondolas pass underneath.
We finished off the evening with gelato (which was delicious and cheap!) and leftover pizza and cards back at the apartment. And the master bedroom had an AC unit- YAY!