Gondola in Venice

A train with transfer to a bus ride through the Alps was an incredibly beautiful way to get to the city of Venice, where we spent just under 24 hours. Despite this short time, we were able to see some of the major canals and eat highly recommended pizza, take a tour that highlighted the narrow streets and small squares of Venice less often seen by tourists, and even ride a gondola ferry across the Grand Canal for only 2 euros.  The tour ended near St. Mark’s Square and we were able to ride the water taxi back toward the train station to get a very different perspective on the sunken city.  I certainly now understand the romantic charm of Venice, and see why it is hailed as one of the world’s most unique cities.

View of Palazzo Vecchio

Our train ride to Florence afforded us the time to get a wonderfully traditional Italian pasta dinner before seeing sights such as the Duomo lit up under cover of darkness.  In the morning we returned to the Duomo to see its incredible scale and dome from the inside, and continued on to tour Palazzo Vecchio.  The magnificently decorated city hall also offered a view that I would say surpasses that from the Duomo dome, as you are offered a full 360 view of the city from an even higher point.  We then wandered past the immeasurably long line to enter the Uffizi Gallery.  We instead walked along the Arno river, ducking into curiosity shops including an ornate paper products store, a historic wooden toy shop, and a traditional chocolatier.  A quaint and quiet lunch spot impressed us so much that we returned for dinner, before climbing to Piazzale Michelangelo, with its incredible panoramic view of the city and the setting sun.  This was by far my single favorite sight of our time abroad, and a spot I know for certain that I want to return to in the future.