It may sound corny, but really, you can’t help but fall in love with beautiful Italy. The fact that Italians are a lot like Indians in behaviour and attitude, reinforces this!
The Train Journey:
We reached Italy by train from Switzerland. The train journey is a story in itself. The fantastic, clean, and super fast SBB train takes you from Lucerne in Switzerland to Venice, Italy in 7 hours 20 min, through Milan. We clocked 250 mph at one point. And it felt like we were floating! You can see the speed displayed in the monitor in front of you as you travel. The ride is through beautiful tunnels. Its amazing the number of tunnels the Swiss have dug under the Alps. Its an engineering marvel! You can see the machinery used for this phenomenal task in the Mining Museum in Lucerne.
We had planned and booked hotels in Italy for our journey. The hotels were all located conveniently close to the stations. Our plan was to go from Venice to Florence, Pisa and then Rome before we flew out of Da Vinci Airport in Rome. We had deliberately planned the train ride through these two countries to experience this scenic ride.
Venice turned out to be everything we have ever read about it. People had warned us (older people) not to stay in Venice as there was no way to transport your luggage except by dragging it around. The most comfortable way is to stay in a hotel on the mainland and travel to Venice for sightseeing.
We took a grand tour of the three famous islands in Venice. There are actually 118 islands in Venice connected by bridges and boats. Murano, Burano and Torcello. are three popular islands to visit. Murano glass is well-known and we had a chance to see glass making in action. You can buy some of the famous Murano glass after the tour too.
Burano island leaves every woman breathless with its exquisite lace! The finish, the designs are sooo beautiful! If you can afford it do buy a piece of lace to remember your visit by. Authentic Italian lace!
St. Marks Square, gondolas, the walks near the Grand Canal, it is a marvelous place.
After an overnight stay in Venice we left for Florence and Pisa the next day. its a short ride by train. Here you will be using the Italian train system either Trenitalia or Italo. The ride is as much fun as the destination! There are trains throughout the day, so you can plan your trip easily.
Stay in Florence and visit Pisa by car or bus from there. We stayed at a hotel just opposite the small train station in Florence. It was a grand old hotel. By that evening we were at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can’t go there or anywhere without a horde of tourists around. Shopping is interesting as is the food! Authentic Italian food! We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant and dined on lasagna and cannoli!
Rome! So excited to be here! Hundreds of years of history! The Colosseum took me back to gladiators and lions. the blood that must have been shed here. the terror, the crazed crowds…
My thoughts flew to the book The Last Days of Pompeii. Our wonderful guide was such a proud Italian! He was so proud of the fact that here is the cradle of western civilization – a thousand years of history. It is amazing to think that so much has survived as witness to the events of the past.
The buildings are so ornate, the cobbled streets, the slow life is fascinating. We observed that all the houses still had antenna for Free-to-Air TV in Rome! No dish or cable where we were staying! And this was in the 21st century!
Our visit to Rome would be incomplete without a visit to Vatican city. Early morning at 8 am we waited at the gates of the City and our tour guide led us in. I was awestruck by the awesome museum, the Sistine Chapel, Renaissance frescoes, the Raphael rooms. I gaped with open-mouth at Michelangelo’s fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. – awed at finally ‘seeing’ God give life to Adam.
Never mind those rude Vatican guards. I was surprised to see how harsh they are. No one has taken the trouble to sensitise them to the fact that tourists are eager to see these beautiful, sacred places.
Da Vinci airport: Time to head home after a trip of a lifetime.
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