Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vacanza in Italia (Vacation in Italy): Part One: Venice/Venizia

Ciao everyone!

     A few weeks ago, in August, I spent 15 days in the lovely country of Italy with my family!  As an (obviously) Italian girl, whose father taught me about Italian culture, food, and language since I was a little girl, I was definitely excited for this vacation!  I love everything about Italy: the people, the culture, the food!, the pretty places to see, the history, the way of life...all of it!  I had been there once before, about 6 years ago, but somehow it seems like I've spent more time there, probably because I grew up around my father (who was born in Italy and came to the U.S. when he was in his 20's) and all of his Italian family.  I even studied the Italian language and culture for four years in high school, became co-president of the Italian club, and then took another year of Italian in college.  Anyway, it was a lovely vacation!  I got to visit and spend time with my dad's sister and all of her family there in Calabria (a region of Italy at the bottom of the boot), see a place I'd never been before, the gorgeous city of Venice, and eat a lot of really amazing food! Haha!  Seriously, if you need a reason to visit Italy (there's so many wonderful things!), the food is a good enough reason to go!  Hehe!, I'm not kidding!  I know you can get "Italian food" in the U.S. or wherever but it just isn't the same and a lot of the time is not anywhere near as good!  Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in restaurants, pasticcerias (pastry shops: Italy has the best desserts!), and gelaterias (gelato shops!...Oh my goodness, gelato is amazing! So much better than ice cream!).  Food seems to be really important to the whole culture...everyone is always trying to feed you, especially older Italian women (love them :) )!  The meals have so many courses; you would think that the huge bowl of pasta they gave you was the entire meal and then apparently that was just the first course!  It's also really important that everyone comes to the table and eats together at meals.  I don't remember one time I was there that there weren't 10 or 15 people at the table.  All of my aunt's children, grandchildren, and even some friends and neighbors were always at her house for a meal.  Also, they LOVE espresso!  I didn't ever see anyone say they didn't like it.  They drink it often too, possibly a little too much; I used to think it was just my dad until I went to Italy.  They have one or two in the morning, one in the afternoon, one after a nap in the middle of the day, and maybe another later at night!  It's crazy!  Haha!  I do love espresso (I can't stand regular American coffee), but I'm not one of those people that likes to drink it everyday, just once in a while, definitely not 4 or 5 times a day!  

     To balance out all the wonderful food, Italians love to take walks!  "Fare una passeggiata" (to take a walk) is a very commonly used phrase.  They usually don't even have any specific destination either, they just walk for the fun of it and to see all their friends around the neighborhood.  There always seemed to be people out and about.  Another thing I've noticed (in person, from my family, and I've studied all of this in school in case your wondering) is that the bar is a really popular place for Italians to spend time.  In Italy though, a bar is not really the same type of thing you envision it being in America; it's more family friendly.  It's a place where anyone, of any age, can go and socialize, have a gelato, an espresso,or a drink, or snacks, and some even have games and things for kids.  Of course there is alcohol and you can drink there but you won't often see lots of people going to bars just to get really drunk or anything like that.  Also, Italians are not big on drinking age; they see drinking wine, etc. as a regular part of a meal, an ancient custom, and usually allow older children/teenagers to drink.  I believe the official age to buy/consume alcohol is 16, but I don't think it's enforced very much.  Personally, I think that their philosophy about alcohol makes more sense than what goes on in America.  If alcohol is introduced in small amounts throughout life as a part of a meal, like a glass of wine with dinner, then kids/teenagers don't need to get all excited to go out, drink, and get drunk just because they're not allowed.   It teaches them to drink responsibly throughout life and as a result there is much less of a problem with alcoholism there.  Okay, enough of that random rant!

  So, now on to the pictures and some videos (and a few more words to explain them)!  I'm going to break this up into a few posts so it's not too extremely long (I took like 1500 pictures and I love them all!, having a hard time choosing which to post!) so check back for more! :)

The flight was pretty long...about 10 or 11 hours!  So to entertain myself, of course I took some pictures from the plane window.
Pretty!   :)
As soon as we got off the first plane in Rome, we saw this lovely little pastry shop (pasticceria) and we had to get a cornetto (some tasty pastry!). :)

     We spent the first 2 days of our trip in the gorgeous city of Venice, known around the world for being "The City of Water" or "The Floating City."  It was truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  The architecture, the water, the boats, the streets, and the whole city was absolutely gorgeous!  Of course, since I'd never been to Venice I took a lot of pictures in those 2 days because who knows if I'll ever see it again.  When we got out of the airport we took the first of many different boat rides (on many different kinds of boats!).  It was a bus boat type of thing that transports a lot of people to the main part of the city, away from the airport.  If you don't like boats, I don't suggest you visit this city.  I haven't been on too many boats in my life, so I thought it was a really fun thing to do.  After those few days though, I was a little tired of wobbling around every time I needed to travel.   

I read on some travel websites before I left, that the water had a really bad smell.  I didn't notice it that much.  If you got really close to it, it did smell a little, but it was not anywhere near as bad as they made it sound.  Most people probably wouldn't notice unless they put their head close to the water! 
It's just so pretty!

I love all the pretty architecture!  The buildings, the pretty colors, and the interestingly shaped windows are all so amazing!

There are so many of these little bridges and a few huge ones to connect the sidewalks over the water.

These are some poeple dressed up in costumes to look like the old Venetians.


     As I was walking through the streets of Venice, I was so excited to see the stores of almost every famous, amazing designer I could possibly think of.  Below you'll see a bunch of pictures of every one I could find!  As someone who loves fashion, I was freaking out over all of the pretty displays and stores!  What's more exciting that designer dtores in Italy!?  My brother and father were not as interested...or at all!  Haha!

This was our hotel, which was gorgeous!  There was so much gold, lovely antique furniture and gorgeous paintings.

Of course, I couldn't go to Venice without seeing and taking a ride on the gondolas!  We rode in one twice while we were there and it was pretty amazing, a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  I was a little scared when getting on and off of them because they rock a little bit and I was scared I was going to fall over the side! Haha!  I didn't fall thankfully, but I did have to hold the gondolier's hand to get on the boats, and I tripped a little the first time...slightly awkward!  It was worth it though!  The rides each lasted about half an hour and the gondolier told us about all the historical buildings and things we passed, along with various bits of history about Venice.  Some of the gondoliers sing, so as we went along the canals, we heard these Italian men singing random Italian was neat.  Also, we went by a house where Marco Polo grew up and a place where Leonardo da Vinci once stayed while working in Venice!   :) 

This huge bridge is called the Rialto Bridge, and is one of the oldest ones there.  There are a bunch of shops and things all along it.
I love these windows! 

Pinocchio! :)

First Outfit: (Sadly not Gucci, lol!)
Tunic top: Jessica London, Leggings: Lane Bryant, Flower: Dots, Bangle: Torrid Shoes: (you can't see because my dad cut off my feet in this

     Venice is famous for making the Carnevale masks.  They are available absolutely everywhere there, and they are all so pretty, intricately designed and decorated and sparkly!  Obviously, I love them and felt the need to take a picture of them everywhere I went, and although I wanted to buy all of them, I bought one pink one with feathers. :)

I'm not sure what the deal is with all the cats?? Lol!

Shoes! ;)
Prada! :)

I loved this poofy skirt! 

     This is one of the most well-known places in Venice, Piazza San Marco (or Saint Mark's Square).  In the front of the Piazza is the gorgeous Saint Mark's Basilica and St Mark's Campanile (bell tower).  We went here twice, once at night and once in the daytime.  It was a pretty magical place.  The edges of the square are lined with lovely shops, restaurants, bars, and gelaterias.  At night, the whole place is gloriously illuminated  and a few different little orchestras who play in front of some of the restaurants.  It's so dreamy at night, people were dancing, or strolling along listening to the music.  It was such a wonderful place to visit! :) I included a video below too. :)

Nothing better than a gelato after a long day of traveling! :)

Second Outfit

Dress: Jessica London, Belt: Torrid, Shoes: Avenue,  Necklace, Headband, and Bracelet: Forever 21

Here's the Piazza San Marco in the daytime. :)

Another thing Venice is known for is it's amazing glass making.  We took a speedboat (that was superfast! and fun/scary?!) from our hotel to the island of Murano, where most of the Venetian glass is made.  We saw a demonstration of how a glass vase and a horse figurine are made.  There's a video below of that.  It was pretty amazing to see how they can take a pile of sand and turn it into a beautiful, colorful, little figurine or chandelier or vase.

After the demonstration, we toured the glass museum/shop, which was full of really, really expensive and beautiful glass things like chandeliers, figurines, etc...  You weren't allowed to take pictures in there...but maybe I did sneak a few through windows or when no one was looking...Shhhh!  But the pretty chandeliers were just so gorgeous, with detailed little flowers and gorgeous colors!  If I ever acquire extremely large amounts of money, I want one of them in every room of my house! Haha, I wish! ;)

Look how pretty!

We wondered around the island for a bit...

Then we went back to Saint Mark's for a few last pictures.  The art on the Basilica is so lovely!

     Next, we visited La Fenice, an old and very famous opera house/theater.  The name is Italian for the Phoenix because it has been burnt down and rebuilt a few times since it was first built.  You weren't allowed to take pictures in there either but....well, it was so beautiful....I had to... ;) They're a little blurry because I couldn't use the flash.
We listened to these little audio things that told you about the history of the theater, which was neat and educational. :)  I was most interested in the fact that almost everything in there is either made out of or coated in gold...very shiny! :)

You can't go to Italy and not have a glass of wine with dinner. :)
Here's a cute little restaurant we ate at that day.
The pasta was tasty. :)

I got excited about this sign because I've studied Lord Byron in English classes...nerd! :)

How cute is the baby doll gondolier! 

The day before we left, we went on our second gondola ride, this time at night. :)

This picture looks creepy...

Here's a video of some of our gondola ride at night :)

Goodbye Venice! :)

     So, that's the end of the first post of my Italian vacation.  I know it was long but there were so many pretty and interesting things I wanted to show/tell you guys.  I hope you enjoyed!  I think there will be at least 2 more posts on this vacation, so check back for those! :) Thanks for reading!  Please follow my blog if you'd like (Google Friend Connect) and comment below on anything you liked or if you have any questions or anything. :)  Feel free to leave your blog link as well if you have one.   Talk to you all soon!

P.S.: Like my new Facebook page for the blog too! :)

                                                                                                           Xoxo Gabriella 


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