My Italian Adventure- Italia Ti amo

These past ten days have been a wild ride filled with eating, shopping, culture and architecture.

The countryside in Tuscany is gorgeous with patches of yellow sunflowers and vineyards everywhere. We walked around the city centre passing churches, city squares, restaurants and shops. We climbed up four hundred steps to Torre Del Magia, for a spectacular view of the city. The climb was tough but the view made it worth it. After that it was time for the Civic Museum, where there was a timeline of the Italian government, and the Teatro Del Rinnovati - an old hospital where archaeologists discovered cities built on top of other cities. After spending the afternoon in Sienna, we went to Antinori Chianti Classico winery in the Tuscan Region. We sipped on rosé and learned about the history of the Antinori family. The rosé was delicious and worth the drive!

The drive from Arezzo to Cinque Terre was nice up until the mountain to get to Monterosso. It started pouring and the mountain was covered in a thick fog, we could not see two feet in front of us. Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Levante and Riomaggiore. All of the five villages are accessible by train or by hiking. We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza up the side of a mountain in the heat and we were quite thankful when we arrived. We took the train to the other villages and walked around the shops. Each village has something unique to offer to the thousands of tourists that visit each year. My favorite village by far was Monterosso. It had a spectacular view of the ocean.

Off to Florence on day three. It is a city filled with gorgeous architecture, culture and fabulous shopping. Florence has the best leather shops in Italy, so of course we spent the day shopping in the leather markets surrounding the Duomo and all of the various Piazzas.

That afternoon we went on a private winery tour of the Ornina winery. The Ornina winery is privately owned by a guy whose family has been making wine in that region for four generations. We learned all about the process of growing just the right grapes, to fermenting and bottling of the wine. It was a really cool experience. We tasted four different kinds of wine. Good thing I was not driving because I was a little tipsy by the end of the tour!

The next stop was Verona. Tourists flock to Verona to see the fictional home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We visited Juliet Capulet’s house, walked around the museum, and stood on Juliet’s famous balcony. The wall before Juliet's house was covered in love letters. We stopped by the Juliet Club where they have been responding to letters over the past twenty five years. The Juliet Club told us that they have people right letters not just about love, but about loss, friendship, etc. The Juliet Club was depicted in the movie "Letters to Juliet".

Burano is full of colorful houses. Burano residents paint their houses different colors to distinguish their houses from their neighbours. We walked around the beautiful houses and of course took lots of photos. Burano is also known for handmade lace. Murano is of course best known for Murano glass. The residents of Murano can turn glass into any shape, color or size. I fell in love with the balloons and even bought three! All the glass is made with exquisite detail and craftsmanship.

The next day we walked around and shopped in Padova. Padova is one of the oldest cities in Northern Italy and has the oldest University in Italy. Padova also has an amazing Botanical Garden from the 1500's. To this day any plant or vegetation grown in Italy has to be grown in the botanical garden first. It has amazing plants and a tree dating back to the 1500's, it is a botanists dream. Padova is beautiful with its cobblestone-lined streets, squares and city parks. It has high end designer stores and ready to wear stores. We spent the day shopping and eating our weight in pastries and gelato.

The last place on the Italian adventure was a day in Venice. Venice is breathtaking and extremely magical. It has a completely different feel than the rest of Italy. It is only accessible by water taxis, gondolas or by foot. We took a gondola ride through little canals. Our gondola driver shared some of the history of Venice with us as well as some interesting facts. We walked through San Marco Square and across the Rialto Bridge stopping along the way in many different shops. In San Marco Square, we took a lift to the top of the Campanile where we could see an amazing view of the city. Venice is one of my favorite Italian cities and it did not disappoint me.

All in all, this was a pretty amazing trip to Italy that went by way too fast! Fino alla prossima volta l'Italia.

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