After two weeks of eating, drinking, and shopping my way through Italy I am a little bit excited to be going home. Don't get me wrong, I loved almost every second of my trip (minus the long lines and the occasional driving mishaps courtesy of crazy Italian roads and some rather reckless drivers.) I feel so grateful to have gotten to spend time with my mom and two of my aunts in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, seeing a handful of what Italy has to offer in both its big cities and smaller towns. However I am also already dreaming of my cosy bed and feather pillow and a much needed lazy day on the sofa with my friend Netflix. I could wait another week or two to go back to work but we can't have everything can we...
After parting ways with our Rick Steve's tour group in Florence (who were an absolutely lovely group) we continued on to Venice via train. As a side note I was a little apprehensive about the whole group tour thing but now after having completed one I would highly recommend the Rick Steves tours for those looking for a nice mix of guided and free time. The local guides were all excellent and the group dinners were some of my favorites. Definitely took some of the stress out of planning for the trip. Speaking of stress, now in Venice, the four of us had a bit of a hard time finding our way to our Airbnb apartment that we were renting for the 3 days in the area of Cannereggio. After a somewhat strenuous journey up and down a few bridges and some winding cobble-stone roads we met our apartment host and unloaded all of our luggage (which was now much fuller after a few days in Florence!) While the neighborhood we were staying in was very peaceful and a had a true local Venetian feel, in hindsight it would have probably been easier for us on this short stay to have found a place closer to the Grand Canal and a vaporretto or boat stop. Regardless we had a great time wandering through Venice, drinking many more Aperol spritz's and buying lots of beautiful Murano glass jewelry.
From Venice my mom and I rented a car- a sporty little Audi A3 hatchback- and made our way north and west towards some of the smaller towns and lakes in Northern Italy. While we could have easily continued to see more of Italy using trains and buses, we wanted to see some of the countryside which is more conveniently accessed with a car. All I can say about driving in Italy is get a GPS and prepare for a wild ride! While service may be slow in Italy, they make up for it on the road where they drive fast and furious! In three short days we tried to cram in time in Padua (Padova in Italian,) the wine producing town of Soave, Lake Garda and the town of Sirmione, Lake Iseo, and finally Milan. Again in hindsight I think we would have been better off staying 2 nights near Lake Garda and the countryside surrounding it (which was gorgeous,) skipped Padua and Lake Iseo, and then finished in Milan to spend the last of our Euros. However we made it through, a little bit exhausted, but overall happy with our final days.
I plan on sharing more travel tips and final thoughts on my trip. For now here are a few photos from my travels, sure to inspire a trip of your own I think!