This time we went to a place which lived up to its name of not only being beautiful but also very romantic – Italy!!!
We were so excited about this journey since this was one country we not only grew hearing about back home but also loved the food that had origins from this place which included pasta, pizza, cappuccino, barista, latte etc. Can we imagine a world without Pizzas and coffee?? Certainly no!!!
We took this journey from London during May 2017.
Day 1: Airbnb Reservation in Cannaregio (Venice)
We took our flight from London to Venice Airport. Outside the Airport, you’d be pleasantly greeted by huge ocean with water taxi stand. And during this time of the year though it is very hot, we still loved the welcome embraced by the blue skies and turbulent waves!!!
We boarded a shared Vaporetto (water taxi) to the Rialto Bridge. It was a fun ride with our 2.5 year old daughter, Smaira, who was sleeping for most of the time in the taxi. We got down at Rialto Bridge and coordinated with our Airbnb host to reach the apartment. And believe it or not, we felt at home as soon as entered.
It was a lovely place and in the middle of the town full of hustle & bustle. This place was so close to the Rialto bridge that every time we were out to hire a water taxi, we would go past the bridge so full of life and love!!!
After having relaxed for some time, we headed out to visit the places of interest!!!
While Venice has lot of museums and art work to offer, we had already decided not to visit any museums, but rather prefer to go slow, let the whole idea of experiencing Italy seep in our mind and soul and walk through the beautiful alleys of Venice.
We walked to the first place named St. Mark’s square. The vibe of the place was awesome. With lots of local vendors selling stuff and so many coffee shops around, it is definitely a place to sit in a café and watch the architecture of so many beautiful monuments around.
We did not buy tickets to any of the places, but thoroughly enjoyed here. We spent a good load of time here, since our daughter enjoyed the open place, feeding pigeons and just moving around clicking pictures.
Then we decided to walk as long as we can and stop at as many places as we could for pictures. The views here are breath taking; there are small bridges that run like arteries connecting various points to various points in the entire city.
From here we took a water taxi back to our stay since our daughter was tired by this time.
When it was dark, we wanted to experience the night life of this place. So we decided to go out late in the night and spend some time at Rialto Bridge, shining in its full glory. Guys, it is a very safe place and there are so many joints/eateries open late at night to grab dinner.
Tip: Do visit Rialto Bridge at night!!! Sadly, we were so engrossed, we forgot to click any pics here.
Another thing, we found the Gondola ride a little expensive, so we avoided the same. But do try if it attracts you and share your experiences!!!
- Avoid carry a buggy for a child, the alleys in Venice are narrow and it can get crowded.
- Do plan to move around at nights as the views are beautiful at night
Day 2: Time to visit Murano & Burano
Next day we boarded a ferry to Murano to see some glass blowing factories. One can see the glass artifacts being made right in front of their eyes. While they show you around for free, I would not recommend anyone to buy as they are overpriced here. But it’s worth watching and great fun for a grown up kids (but gets a little warm inside while you are viewing).
Then we took another ferry and moved to Burano Island. Now this was one place which had picture perfect views and all those images we would’ve seen on Google, it felt like somebody magically has infused life into them!!! We spent three to four hours here. We strolled along the canal and clicked lots of pictures!!! We also bought pizza for lunch from one of the many eateries and it was worth it.
Sadly, my wife, Minal left my new iPhone at the shop billing counter while we continued to stroll by the canal for almost 15 minutes. Once the reality dawned upon us, I rushed back to the shop and the owner was kind enough to return it back to me.
Finally, we decided to return and boarded the ferry back to mainland Venice. We checkout from our apartment and took another fairy to the Venezia San Lucia Train station. With beautiful memories, we boarded the train for our next destination – PISA. From Venezia San Lucia, we boarded train at 17:25 to Firenze Santa Maria Novella which had a 20 mins stop over and then to Pisa Centrale. We had pre-booked our train through Italia Rail.
Our next destination was Pisa. We reached Pisa Train station late in the night at 9 PM and from there we boarded a bus (one can buy the ticket inside the bus) to the place of our Airbnb accommodation. We de-boarded at a distance of 7min walk from the stay and all three of us decided to happily walk to the stay. The biggest palm moment at that time was to go past the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was tilting in its full glory under the moon lit dark sky. It was simply breath-taking view and though we informed our host we’ll soon be there, we actually spent quite a long time in the lap of the Tower, which was so mesmerizing. And the best part, there just a few more couples strolling around and it felt like the whole place belonged to us.
Our daughter got a little tired now, and it was getting late as well as we needed to check-in, so we decided to rush with a self-promise to be back here early in the morning.
Guys, this was one place my wife was least certain about visiting but I was adamant and it certainly paid off!!!
The host was an amazing guy, very gentle and accommodating. He had a lovely, cozy apartment and was generally available. For those interested, I would definitely recommend to stay here: Cardinale Maffi Pietro, Pisa (2 mins walk from the Leaning Tower):
So this was the day we were quite excited about. My wife, Minal got up early in the morning and made sure we all are up early to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Since the tower was just two min. walk away, and with not many people around, it felt like walking to a Maharaja welcoming you with folded hands (the ‘leaning’ Maharaja)!!! In those surreal moments, I chose not to click any pics but rather enjoy the full view!!!
After having finished our breakfast (by the way it was quite an experience to get stuff from local shops and prepare food at home), we three went to visit the Tower, this time like any other tourist. It was really hot by now, but we did manage to find a place to sit in shade and enjoy the fun & frolic around. We decided to not go up the tower (there are only stairs) and we had a buggy and our child, so didn’t find it feasible to go up the tower.
We then watched the Piazza dei Miracoli/ Piazza del Duomo from outside. Having seen couple of good churches from inside, we were not really keen to visit another church.
We ended up spending almost four hours here and in the afternoon; we walked to Pisa Centrale from this place (1.5kms approx.). There is a decent market on the way if you plan on shopping. We bought our tickets to Rome and it was a four hour long journey during which we had a good time with our daughter.
Tip: If possible do visit Leaning tower in the nighttime or early morning to avoid the peak time rush.
We finally boarded a bus that would take us from Rome Central Station to reach our Airbnb stay. The owner was waiting for us at the gate by the time we reached (very well coordinated). He also brought in a wine bottle and some cookies for our daughter. It was a very welcoming gesture. Sadly, we are not alcohol lovers, so we ended up playing a spoilsport but as reconciliation happily accepted the cookies for our daughter. The owner was an old guy but very polite in his conversations and left the whole house for us to leisurely enjoy.
Definitely another recommendation for stay: Link and this place is located very close to the Colosseum.
Link: Website to check and book trains: https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html
Tip: There’s no need to book train in advance since there are trains every 30 mins between Pisa Centrale Station and Roma Terminal, one can download the app and can check the train timings when it is time to make a move.
Day 4: Time spent in Rome
Next day, we ventured out to explore Rome and nothing could have made it better than the visit to the Colosseum!!!
Please know that buggies are not recommended if you have kids since you have to climb up and down the alleys with lots of steps because of the architecture of the place. We did not pre-book our tickets. We just found a person/dealer there from whom we purchased tickets and he took us straight inside the Colosseum without any wait time. But for gullible/first time travels, this could be an ordeal interacting with these people. It would be wiser to book tickets online and make a peaceful visit.
The tour guide was brilliant in explaining the different points on the Colosseum. The only problem was he was quite fast in moving from one section to another of the huge Colosseum and our daughter was really tired because of the scorching Sun. So, I had to carry her around during the entire tour and it was quite a struggle to keep pace with the guide. Nevertheless, definitely a place worth the visit!!!
Next, we went to Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. If you are a history buff, you will love the place. But for us it meant lots of walking along with our daughter. So, we had to curtail our trip and we were back home by four in the afternoon. We decided to rest!!!
After having re-energized, around 9 PM, we decided to visit the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. This was the best decision ever. Since the weather was quite nice by then and our daughter, Smaira was ready for the travel to these places without the scorching Sun.
To be honest, we found Trevi Fountain more beautiful than Colosseum considering the time enjoyed by our daughter. The whole area was well lit and the whole place was quite crowded with people thoroughly enjoying, dancing around. We were just dumbstruck at the beauty of the place. And cherry on the cake was, Smaira loved fountains.
Tip: Visit Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps at night only; pretty safe and it’s a great view when they are illuminated!!!
Sadly, the fifth day of our trip was a total dud. I fell ill and had fever and couldn’t gather courage to visit anywhere. Minal decided to go out, buy medicines for me and do some grocery shopping from Carrefour Supermarket (2 mins away). We ate home cooked food and in the afternoon, both Smaira and Minal played with the cat outside our home (there was a cat which stayed there all the time) and went for a little stroll around the area to kill time.
I gathered myself back and we decided to visit the Vatican City. We started quite early and took a train direct to Vatican City. Since we reached there quite early, we were fortunate enough to wait for just 30 minutes (with every minute passing by, the queue becomes a never ending serpentine!!!)
Since I wasn’t fully well, we decided to travel slow and see the architecture as much as possible. Once we reached the St Peter’s square, this place was huge; we stayed here for an hour. We clicked many pictures around the Square fountains and Smaira loved getting drenched with water droplets that floated with bouts of air.
We went to see the St. Peter’s Basilica (no ticket, it is free); the architecture of this place is truly magnificent. All the pictures that we saw on the internet before starting with our trip suddenly became a reality now. It was truly magnificent and would definitely recommend for everyone to visit.
And now it was time to leave the Vatican City. We headed back to our stay, packed our luggage, bid adieu to Italy until we meet again!!!
Trivia: The word quarantine comes from the Italian Quaranta Giorni, meaning “40 days”. Ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing as it could take 37 days to die from the plague and only the lucky living would leave, while the infected would have died during quarantine.