Day 1 Arriving in Venice
We arrived in Venice on a gorgeous spring morning. The temperatures were in low 60s and it felt warmer in the sun. So, overall it was ideal weather to be in Venice.
From the airport we took the boat to get to the island. We could have also taken the road over the only bridge from main land, but it wouldn’t have given the same Venetian entry, would it? We landed at the San Marco dock, it was late afternoon and the place was bustling with activity. As we walked to our apartment, we passed lane after lane, lined with high end designer stores from around the world.
We spent the rest of the evening exploring the Venice, finding our way around, getting dinner, soaking in the beautiful sunset lighting and settling in.
Day 2 – Walking Tour of Venice
We spent the second day taking a guided walking tour of Venice. It was amazing! We learnt so much more than we would walking around feeling lost. Our guide explained the how Venice was built and governed over the last 1,600 years. We walked though some museums and hoped return for more. We learnt some quirky things about Venice and tasted delicious authentic Venetian foods.
Day 3 – Islands around Venice
While Venice is the most famous man made city on water, it’s predecessor islands are smaller but no less fascinating. Each one has its own character and claim to fame. They can all be visited by a water-taxi tour or the frequent water buses. The latter will be more time consuming but inexpensive.
Torcello is famous for its ancient and the oldest church in the area. The lovely walk along the canal from the port to the church and fields was peaceful and serene. For the most part it was just us an few more visitors.
Murano is a life size painting. To describe its streets as a canal lined by vibrantly colors is a huge understatement. Only seeing is believing. Murano also prides itself in the finest lace work, but now its hard for Murano artisans to compete with the many Chinese imports flooding the tourist joints.
Burano is famous for its glass work. There are many stores around town. Also many factories that give tours on the glass making process. Arrive early to get a tour, as they all close before 4pm.
Day 4 – Pompeii
Pompeii is the once flourishing Roman city that was buried alive one fateful night as everyone slept. For centuries Pompeii has provided a great way to look back a couple of thousand years and see what life was like back then.
Walking around the city, I feel, so much, yet so little has changed between then and now.
There are some other ancient buried cities around the area that are worth visiting if one can make the time. The Italian tourism board is promoting the other sites which are less famous but impressive in their own way.
Day 5 – Positano
Positano is my favorite of all the little towns and villages on the Amalfi coast. The quaint little town with the beach, boutiques, restaurants, cooking classes, out-of-the-world views and fantastic hikes make for a perfect vacation.
We spent much of the day hiking on Walk the Gods Trail (Sentiero degli Dei). True to its name, it’s definitely one of the most incredible hikes in the world. Nature’s grandeur is certainly at its best on this trail. Also, when we visited in April, we had the entire trail to ourselves, making it extra enjoyable.
Day 6 – Hiking in Rovello, Amalfi and surroundings
We spent much of the day in the beautiful town of Rovello, perched up in the high mountains overlooking the ocean.
As we arrived in Rovello, were greeted by displays of iconic performers over the years. Arts and concerts are a part of the Rovello story for hundreds of years.
Rovello has a couple of popular villas. Villa Rufolo is a must-see for any visitor. It has changed over the years and each owner left their mark. To me the highlight was the garden overlooking the ocean hundreds of metes down. It would be mind blowing to see one of the famous concerts in Villa Rufolo with the ocean in the backdrop.
Ravello Cathedral and town square are a fun place to hang out and listen to concerts. There are many cafes in the town square but we found one in the narrow allies, which has been run by the same family for over 100 years. The food was was absolutely delicious! The hospitality is such it made us feel part of the family.
Like much of Amalfi, beautiful ceramic factories and shops are all around. We had fun experience tasting olive oils from farms around Amalfi. We brought some home to enjoy for weeks… yummy.
Day 7 – In Rome
For anyone with a even little interest in history or architecture or engineering, Rome is one of the most incredible places in the world! It is filled with mind-blowing marvels of architecture and engineering, any one of them will be worth a flight alone. Rome has seen the rise and fall of many civilizations and cultures – the Greek, the mighty Romans, Christians, Renaissance, Mussolini and modern Italy. Each era and icon leaving its mark in this place in huge way.
Exploring modern Rome though food was so much fun – gelato, spaghetti, pizza, breads, affogato, cookies, cheese and more. There are many food tours but we made our own vegetarian, kid friendly food tour and tasted the best of all thinks Italian.
Day 8 – The Vatican
The home of the Pope, the seat of Catholic spiritual leadership wasn’t always the same. Starting as ruthless political & religious power, it is now home to the most respected Popes, yes two Popes, Pope Benedict XVI living a life of worship and Pope Francis changing the world with compassion.
The Saint Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s Square are a must see in every lifetime. For Christians it holds special meaning but even for non-Christian its awe inspiring with a grandeur that can only fathomed when seen in person.
Day 9 – Coliseum and Appian Way
On the last full day we walked over to the Coliseum and took a tour of the grandest Coliseum, the Palatine hill, the Forum, the Imperial palace, Augustus house and Livia’s house. It was another day steeped in the fascinating history of the Roman empire, it’s pinnacle, the propaganda, it’s decline, submersion under mounds of silt and recent excavations telling stories of the grand past. The stories of ancient Rome and its slaves from other kingdoms, remind me of the Hunger Games.
Its amazing how much history is buried in Rome. Just walking around we saw excavations everywhere. Apparently a few years ago the construction of the subway was stopped in its tracks, when they found they were digging through important Roman building.
We ended our day and the trip with a relaxing horse back ride in the Appian Way. The Appian way is one of the many ancient roads that still remains straight and as-was for hundreds of miles. It’s a serene stone paved road in the Roman country side, lined with remains of ancient structure and trees from the Roman times. The beautiful stone paved road offers a relaxing walk, jog, bike or horse back ride.