October 31, 2022
Several months ago, one of my best friends contacted me because she would be visiting Italy with other friends but also wanted to travel with me. She had a list of where she wanted to visit. Venice, Florence and Ravenna, if possible, plus seeing where I now live were all on her wish list list.
Her name is Dorothy Fletcher and we have known each other since we were in our twenties. In 2004 we traveled together for a month, leaving her husband back home. Now we would visit our old haunts and new ones once again.
We decided that she would fly into Venice and leave from Genoa near my home. She loves Venice and had to return. I met Dorothy, or Dot, at the Venice Airport after her flight from the western USA. We shared a water taxi ride that left us exactly in front of our Grand Canal hotel, The Hotel Continental. After checking in, and storing our luggage, we sat on the canal side in the bar and enjoyed lunch and a beverage.
We watched a Gondola pass us by as Dot enjoyed the Best Carbonara pasta dish of her journey. She Loves carbonara.
Dot had not slept on her two flights. So we needed to go slowly. I also have a torn meniscus and need to be careful. Still, with me wearing a knee brace, we often walked 4 to 5 miles per day.
We wandered around the neighborhood and as the sun was setting we caught a vaporetto, a water bus, with the intention of going back to the hotel area. We inadvertently took the long route home, and I am so happy that we did.
Venice at night is truly La Serenissima, the very serene one.
Dot is not a night person generally. When we traveled together in 2004 we NEVER went out at night. I am the night person. And night comes early in Autumn..
We saw the sunset gondola traffic jam shown above. I love the colors.
After we left the main area of Venice, we saw what I think is the Amerigo Vespucci ship lit up in the Italian colors. Wow.
Our first night in Venice was magical.
The next day we wandered and got lost as everyone does in Venice. Every little calle, pronounced Ciy-ye as you would in Spanish, the very narrow walkways, was an adventure. Now, it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a meal at an outdoor restaurant in the Cannaregio area where locals and tourists ate.
After our very good meal, we wandered and Dot got her shopping fix. Neither of us bought much at all but enjoyed seeing the artistic use of blown glass, and other local jewelry and handbags. Note to all reading this: do your best to support the locals wherever you travel in Italy. Buy less but buy quality and support the local artisans. Your purchases will last much longer.
We caught another vaporetto for the ride along the Grand Canal to St. Mark’s square. Until we visited St. Mark’s, it wasn’t all that crowded. When we exited the vaporetto and walked near the entrance by the Doge’s Palace, we were bombarded with tourists—wall to wall.
This was the end of September and there were so many people in Venice.
We still enjoyed our time having a bit of a snack and a drink at one of the most expensive spots in Venice and on the piazza. The bands played and Dot bought us a drink and a sweet. We savored the food while enjoying the music. We chatted about our lives and just enjoyed the ambiance.
As we wandered a bit we passed the Bridge of Sighs.
Note the gondola traffic jam again.
Criminals passed along the Bridge of Sighs on the way to their final punishment. It was their last glance of freedom. We see it as such an incredible work of architecture—it is so much more.
When we traveled back to our hotel area, we took the vaporetto again and passed my favorite home on the grand canal—Dot’s too. Isn’t it detailed beautifully?
It seemed like time flew by while we were in Venice. Dot needed sleep and I read in our lovely room. After a few hours in the morning saying arrivederci to Venice, we caught the Freccia train to Florence. We would be returning to where I spent a month in language school and Dot spent the first two weeks there with me. We had an apartment there and wanted to visit our old haunts.
It was American Dinner Time, about 600 PM, when we wandered past our old apartment. We saw an enticing Osteria on the square and thought we would see if we could enjoy a dinner there.
I loved the eclectic look of the place and prices were decent. The food was even better.
Check in out on Instagram and next time you are in Florence. And the House Chianti wine was lovely.
Before I share more about our Florence adventure, I want to explain the main reason we stayed only one night. When planning our travel adventure I discovered a very unique way to visit Ravenna. Dot was so thrilled that we actually could stay overnight too.
We took the Dante train, or il treno di dante. In its second year of operation, the Dante Train is is a historical train first put into service in the 1930s and passes through small villages on its way to Ravenna.
One stop along the way was the town of Brisighella. We enjoyed a quick lunch with local workers and then back again on the train to Ravenna.
Notice the old, oen luggage racks in Business and first class.
We were moved to first class on our ride back to Florence. Before that we were in coach.
We met Dante himself in Coach. There were several tour assistants and guides on the train. We also received the history of the train the surrounding areas as we traveled. It was an adventure in itself.
Here I am sitting at the desk of the on board post office person in the 1930s. This particular car was for sorting mail.
When we arrived in Ravenna both Dot and I were excited to drop our luggage at our hotel and enjoy the city. Ravenna is the resting place of Dante, the Florentine wordsmith of Dante’s Inferno and so much more. We had a private, English speaking guide who, on the first afternoon, walked all over the city with us and told us the history of Dante and how the city of Ravenna provided his burial place but also, over the centuries, hid his bones in several different places from Florentines and even from enemies during the world wars.
This plaque states: Under this mound Dante’s bones had a safe place to rest from 23 March 1944 to 19 December 1945. One of the hiding places of Dante’s remains.
We truly enjoyed this walkaround and the tour. But the next day was a 3 hour walking tour including 5 locations featuring the exquisite mosaic work from many centuries ago.
Early the next day, we met the group and our English guide for the mosaic adventure including Justinian’s church. We were thrilled by this adventure. I will finish this chapter of Travel Across Italy from Ravenna to Camogli with some of my favorite photos. The sheer beauty and talent required to accomplish these feats of wonder are forever imprinted on my soul. Enjoy the photos. Next blog will have the rest of the adventure with my friend Dot.
Tiny mosaics cover the walls completely.
Yet another location.
So much detail.
Incredible depth of color.
You will be moved by these magnificent mosaics when you see them in person.
Thanks for traveling with Dot and me. More to come.
Ciao for now!
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Ciao for Now!
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