The Rest of Italy

 

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I will spend a little time on a few of the other cities I visited.  Since I didn't spend more than a couple of days in each place, there will not be much detail.

I will say that my comments on speaking Italian only seem to apply to the less touristy places in Italy.  In the cities listed below, you probably don't need to know a single word of Italian, although they seem to appreciate that you try.

Venice (Venezia) -  If you have not spent your entire life around water, boats, and mardi gras masks, then Venice will be much more shocking for you.  No cars, scooters, bicycles, etc.  Walking or by water taxi (vaporetti) here.  Only way in is by train, plane, or boat.  I came in by train, and was pleasantly surprised to find that when you exit the station, the grand canal is staring you in the face.  I bought an all day vaporetti pass, and took the slow "tour" up and down the grand canal before I jumped off and started walking.  Most of Venice is dedicated to shops (except obviously where the people live).  Hundreds and hundreds of shops all selling basically the same thing (mardi gras masks, glass from the isle of Murano, and jewelry).  Also scattered throughout are food stores.  Walking is interesting because I now know where the phrase "a maze of twisty little passages" comes from.  You can get turned around pretty easily, but don't worry, use it as excuse to explore a new area.  Venice is an island after all, with a fairly obvious central feature (the grand canal).  Walk for a while and you are bound to find water, follow it till you get to the next vaporetti stop, and like magic, you know exactly where you are.  Shops close down at dark, and food shops open.  It is a very interesting place, but it reminds me a lot of New Orleans.

Pisa - Pisa is another SMALL town with some museums, churches, and one really cool thing to see.  Obviously the leaning tower.  Actually, its the bell tower of their Duomo.  I will admit, I spent a total of 3 hours in this town, I came in on the train, walked 20 minutes through town over to the tower, took pictures, went into the duomo, walked around, and walked back to the train station.  Not much to see here, once you have seen the tower, that's about as interesting as it gets.  Of course, you may have different tastes, so its up to you.

Florence (Firenze) - Is a larger town with lots of churches, and a unique style that I didn't see anywhere else.  If you like churches, there are plenty to see.  Some statues, and such as well.  I spent a day and a half here.  Come here to buy leather goods at the hundreds of shops and outdoor stalls you will find around their duomo.  I wasn't overly impressed, but apparently I don't like this style.

Rome (Roma) - Ok, Rome deserves its own page, but I only spent 2 days there, so it doesn't get one yet.  Wait till next year, I will go back and write one.  Rome is cool.  This is THE place to go, and is where I will base out of next time.  I have been told that Milano is the most expensive city in Italy to visit, but my two days in  Rome have convinced me that Roma is.  Anything you want to see can be found here, no matter what your tastes.  The metro is not nearly as convenient as Milano (I have been told that's because every time they start to dig, they find something else historic).  Only 2 lines that leave large sections of the city with the nearest metro stop quite a walk from where you want to be.  The city CAN be walked (I showed up on a day the metro and busses were on strike), but you should be in fairly good shape (i.e. if you think you have any limit to the amount of walking you can do, you should rethink walking here) to do it.  The cobblestones, and hills make it not as easy as you would think, and the distances are pretty good.  Busses work, but beware (on the metro as well, but not may tourists take the metro, its an acquired taste, so the thieves are not as thick there), thieves abound in this city, and you are obviously a tourist, and they will attempt to go through your packs on a crowded bus/metro line.  I am untrusting by nature (and I grew up in New Orleans, not a shining example of law and order itself), so its wasn't a problem for me, but I did actually need to push people away from my friends because they were attempting to unzip the fanny packs he was wearing on the bus.  But it does give me an idea for the uses of one of those little bear trap like devices we use at work for nutria, they would fit nicely into a fanny pack.  Hmmmm.....I may ride the bus more next time.

   

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This site was last updated 12/03/03