Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Italy: Venezia beauty

Back in 2013, I wrote here about the fact that I was going to Italy. Not that you need an excuse to go to Italy but basically what happened was that my brother was traveling abroad and stationed in Siena for an entire semester. Given the fact that my Mom is Italian and we have relatives still living over there, it would have been a huge shame to miss the chance to share in some of my brother's experience while exploring our roots.

Once the conversation between my sister, my brother & me changed from "We should get Mom there..." to "Okay, we're making this happen. Who can get off work and come?" it was a quick shuffle of schedules and discussions with employers to get the necessary time off as the decision was made pretty last minute. Unfortunately, my sister couldn't make it work but with about a 3-week notice til departure, my Mom & I had tickets to Italy in hand and were ready for a grand adventure.
^My view from our hotel: The Palazzo Sant'Angelo. Just.. wow. I just wish my yellow hair wasn't ruining the view.
Even though my sister couldn't come, she older-childed out and totally served as the travel planner for us. She booked our train tickets, mapped out our routes and even put together these bound travel packets for us filled to the brim with every single document and piece of information we would need. It was the exact kind of overachieving that made me eye-roll in middle school but that I've now come to appreciate [If you read between the lines there you can see that that's because it was 100% benefiting me now which is why I've 'come to appreciate it'. Natch.]

Our flight mapping was Portland > Philadelphia > Venice. There was something so special about that to me seeing how my Mom was born and raised in Pennsylvania all the way through college and much of my Italian family still live right there. My mom had Oregon Trailed her way out here from Pennsylvania (with a Utah pitstop, lawd only knows how many rivers she forded with meager rations) in the late 70s/early 80s so to me, it felt serendipitous to have our flight into Italy depart from the very place where she learned of her Italian roots.
We spent the 10-hour flight watching movies, sleeping, looking at our travel packets and enjoying being giddy with excitement. I mean, knowing that your plane is landing in VENEZIA, ITALY is not for the faint of heart. Being the complete moron I am, I wondered if we would have a water landing? A thought that came to me late in the flight and scared me a little bit. But thankfully, I was wrong [shocking].

Getting from the airport to actual Venezia was an elated blur. We stared around wide-eyed at every gorgeous building and drank in the sheer artistic quality of Italian fashion. Speaking of, I knew I wanted to wear nicer clothes once we were there but I didn't think of the fact that my 10-hour exercise plane clothes would be worn for such a long time until we reached our hotel. I know this is petty but I have never felt so under dressed and ridiculous in all my life. Our water bus we took to our hotel is basically Venezia's form of public transportation. To me, public transportation is full of BO and tired individuals in rattier clothes (I use public transportation every day to work so I'm every bit knocking myself here too). However, Italy's 'public transportation' consumers all look like they were extras from a "Sex & the City" fashion show scene. The hair, the makeup, the clothes!!!! So stunning. I couldn't wait to change.

Our overnight stay in Venice was just for us girls before we traveled to Tuscany the following day to meet my little brother in Siena. So for one night it was just me and my Mom which was nothing short of completely charming and fun. The rest of the story is best told with pictures...

We arrived at The Palazzo Sant'Angelo hotel to check-in and discovered we had about 30 minutes til we could get into our room. OH DARN. May as well sit outside on the canal-adjacent deck and enjoy a glass of red (me) and a cocktail (my Mom).
^Our first drinks in Venice as we waited for our room to be ready.
^Our hotel outside.
After about 30 minutes of drinks, potato chips (it's what they serve everything with) & a lot of "OMG LOOK WHERE WE ARE"s, we finally got our very old-world key to our beautiful room. From the long hallways and the decadent bathroom, I felt like I was in a movie. Truly. It was the most beautiful, European space.

In some respects it felt like a beautiful doll house. I just couldn't really take it all in at any point because it was just so.much.beauty. And our Juliet balcony (how fitting!!!) looked right out onto the canal. Once in a lifetime hotel. Imagine getting ready there every single morning? I feel like I'd have an easier time getting out of bed to face the world.

After a much-needed change of clothes, we left our room and ventured off to meet this city. First stop was obviously the Piazza San Marco a.k.a. the Square with the Pigeons to the Americans.
It was during our walk around here that we came to acknowledge our intense hunger which was heightened only by our knowledge that we'd be having Italian food actually in Italy. Definitely brought out our 'LAY OFF ME I'M STARVING' attitudes and we went on the hunt for an eatery that spoke to our desire to sit, enjoy ourselves and mangiare!

Above is our first sit-down meal and bottle of wine. It was so fun. We were so lucky to be in Italy, to be eating such great food, to be together, to share this experience: We were simply lucky. And we knew that. However, I will never forgive myself for going to Italy with blonde hair... da faq was I thinking? Moving on...

With our bellies and hearts full it was on to my favorite way to travel: Walk around, take photos, explore and stop to get a bite when you want. Yes, yes, please!

 After hours of this heaven-struck exploring, we headed back to the hotel for a lil' R&R before we went out to a very late dinner. None of this stateside 6 PM dinner time nonsense, we left our room at about 9 PM for dinner. And the night owl in my squealed with complete and utter delight. I ate my dinner too fast to take a picture (which says something) but I did manage to capture the beauty of our dessert & dessert wine.
Thereafter, we did a bit of night wandering...

.... before turning into bed in anticipation of the morning. Sidenote: I LOVE the above pic of my lovely Mom.

Morning came and the first thing I did was take the most awkward picture of my pajamas on the balcony. We had each had a set for the trip and I loved waking-up to the view of the canal, sipping coffee on the balcony in my PJs. After a bit of that, it was off to the dining area where we enjoyed brunch at the hotel:

And just like that, it was time to get dressed and check-out of the hotel so that we could make our way to Tuscany to meet my brother. We got a little morning exploring in of course...

^That reminded me of Return to Oz.
^I was more excited about the seagull than the view at that point. So cute.

See Venice in my sunglasses? :) Finally, it was time to say bye to our hotel:

^Our room & its two balconies are the 2nd story up, 2nd & 3rd window from left.
And into a water taxi for the trip into the train station. Which cost about 60 Euro for 15 minutes of travel, however- it was worth every penny. It was like our own private limo through the enchanting 'streets' of this extraordinary city.

Next stop: Siena in Tuscany, Italy to see my brother which I'll post about in my next Italy post. [Update: Posted here]

Enjoy your day! I'm kind of depressed to go about mine now that I've remembered this trip.


Pat Hatt said...

Wow, I'd be depressed to after remembering such a trip. Looks like you did just about everything there. A water landing though? lmao hmm okay.

Jax said...

Omg I am soooooo jealous!!!!!!! My family is all Sicilian. I would love to go to Italy. I love how Europe is full of culture and architecture and art... at least you got to experience it and got gorgeous pictures.