Monday, October 24, 2011

Post Card 3:

Our first stop in Italy was Venice. It is an amazing place. Our apartment was well located and on the ground floor, but then I think it is pretty easy to get to most places on the island. It is the lane ways that cause tourists to get lost.

It was still quite busy so I dread to think what it would be like in the high season. It was lovely to walk about cars or scooters etc. The canal is clearly where all the traffic is. We decided to go on a gondola ride. We had the only female gondolier in Venice. It was worth the Euros. Hannah in particular loved it and laughed every time we went under a bridge and the poor gondolier had to duck, and there are lots of bridges there.

There were even more masks so Kit and Hannah chose one each and spent an afternoon preparing a performance for us. It was a lovely relaxing way to spend an afternoon. As was waking to the smell of croissants and bread rolls being warmed up in the kitchenette just outside our apartment.

From Venice we caught a train to Florence. By now our luggage had expanded somewhat so wrangling the children and the bags in an unfamiliar place was a bit of a challenge. Our fellow travelers were patient and a couple lent a helping hand too which was great.

Florence is such a pretty place. Where we stayed (near the Ponte del Vecchio) was more shopping than I have ever seen. The kids were starting to miss home by now but they enjoyed their birthday. Mine was the day after theirs so Phil bought us a cake and candles to celebrate. Kit sang 'happy birthday' in Italian which I loved. 

We found a local trattoria which was friendly and flexible. We ate there twice because the kids really liked eating somewhere familiar. On Sunday we went to the Uffizi Museum. I did not know what to expect there but it was fabulous. Room upon room of luscious paintings and rows upon rows of sculptures.

The wait to enter was about an hour so I decided to ask if it was possible for Hannah to skip the queue. One of the museum guards helped us. He was efficient and friendly. Not only did he take us straight in but we all got complimentary tickets. Avoiding the hour wait was a big help because it meant Hannah could conserve her energy for the zillion stairs inside. Inside we each found things we liked. Kit liked an interactive screen of maps and pictures, Hannah the models of the magnificent building. So far Hannah has claimed Florence as her favorite although I think she'd say Paris as well and Kit generally chooses Oxford as his favorite place. 

We are now on the home stretch of our 'big holiday' and I have to say much as we have loved it, we will all be glad to get home again. The twins in particular have found Rome very hard. It is a fantastic city with so much to see, perhaps we should have started our Italian leg here instead of in Venice. Oh well, we did manage to visit Vatican City which I loved. It did involve a lot of walking though which was made a little tricky by two weary kids but I still got to savor lots of the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel as well as squeeze in a fast paced walk through the magnificent St Peters Basilica (we bribed the kids with promises of yet more gelato).

On our last day in Roma we woke up to thunder and lightening so it was lucky that we had planned a lazy day on the hop on hop off bus, still reasonably manageable in the wet. The skies cleared briefly so we also stopped by the Trevi Fountain. Phil took a couple of photos there, I have included the one where I am coaxing a smile out of Hannah, as opposed to the one where she is clearly signing her home address!


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