Category Archives: Venice

Day 3 Part 2 Day Trip to the Hill Towns Tour of Veneto

Now for the last part. I thought I had better get on with it, before it spends another few months languishing in my drafts.

So after a delicious lunch , we set off again. To Villa Barbaro.  It is a Palladian Villa, designed and built by Italian Architect Andrea Palladio. The same architect who designed Ponte Vecchio that we visited earlier. The villa is one of the World Heritage Sites and also a private villa with the family living in it. Some parts of the villa is open to the public and contains some amazing frescos on the walls. A lot of them have been renovated.

We weren’t allowed pictures inside, but here are a few views of the Villa. And yes, by the time we reached the villa, the bad weather had caught up on us. It was pouring, but thankfully, we had come prepared.

See how grey the weather has become? The grounds of the villa. We couldn’t get a shot of the villa from the entrance – it looked far more majestic than it appears here.

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And the mandatory lemon tree 🙂

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A Nymphaeum water feature.

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The view of the grounds from inside. As I said, photography was not allowed inside, so we could only capture so much.

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And the greenery, as usual, is fascinating!

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Onwards to the next stop – Proseco tasting. I’ve never had so much alcohol in my life, I think, before sundown 🙂

It continues to pour, but we are nice and cozy in our van.

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The scenery is such a contrast from Venice, isn’t it? And all this is just hours away.

And soon we are in wine county. See the vines?

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and more..

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Doesn’t this look picture card perfect? I love those clouds..

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Doing what we came here for – all set for Proseco tasting.

IMG_7299Want to know what I was pointing at? It’s the picture of the place we are at. Check it out.

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The wine..  I just took a sip, I think I had had my fill, and was in no mood for tasting. Husband was more busy taking pictures. The other family, though, seemed to have truly enjoyed it.

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We went outside to soak in the view a bit more. The factories where it’s all made.

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See that house, nestled in the mountains, surrounded by the clouds? IMG_7323

That was our last stop. We headed back to Venice, tired, but satisfied. And we got to evade bad weather. Atleast our holiday wasn’t spoilt by rain, for a change! Clear blue skies as we head back.

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Before we knew it, we were back in the Grand Canal..

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The rest of the evening we spent walking around, just enjoying that last bit of Venice before we took the next day. It never feels enough, does it? You can always find places that you missed out on, and you wished that you had been able to explore that little alley that looked so inviting, but you kept pushing it away, because it was just around the corner, so we could do it anytime.. But you never do.  We walked around, trying to pack in memories both in our minds and our cameras… And of course, food. We sat down in a tiny cafe, which had tables laid outside. It seemed just perfect. It is another story that weather did catch up with us, and we had to rush indoors when a sudden downpour drenched us. But even that refused to take away from the evening…

A wonderful end to a wonderful holiday.. It makes me yearn for another one now…

 

 

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Day 3 Part 1 Day Trip to the Hill Towns Tour of Veneto

*Beware : Ultra Long Picture Post*

A long, long time ago, I started a post on the day three(and final day) of our Venice Trip. It languished in my drafts for months, before I remembered. That too, just because daughter and I were going through the old pictures of the times when the three of us had so much fun.

Given that the year is coming to an end, the least I can do is do the post, before the year ends. Next year’s holidays can be chronicled the next year 🙂 without a backlog. Talking of holidays, this has been the longest time for us without a proper holiday. India trips never counted as holidays in that sense – they are just to replenish our souls, staying with parents and enjoying the cosy, warmth of being with them. For our holiday souls, we needed other holidays, like the ones to Greece, Venice or America. Or even a day trip to the Dales was good enough. So when we were planning our move to India, daughter had just one concern, ‘Where are we going to holiday next?’, and no, moving to India was not holiday by her standards. We haven’t done much this year, but we do have some plans in Jan, when husband is here. Fingers crossed.

While we plan for our next, long-awaited holiday, let me take you on a tour of Veneto’s Hill Towns. If you haven’t read about the earlier parts of the holiday, you can read them here,  here and here. You see, the weather forecast for Sunday, had been wet and rainy, so I did some research on TripAdvisor and figured that we could go on a day tour of the Hill Towns of Veneto. The tour operators came heavily recommended and the pictures of the places seemed great. So we booked the tour before we started on our trip.

Right on schedule Sunday morning dawned, grey and ready to pour. Never had we been so happy to see that we might have for once beaten the weather. Those of you who follow my travel posts, know how good we are at attracting bad weather. We’ve brought bad weather to California once,  have had our flights cancelled thanks to snow, perfectly good conditions turn nasty as soon as we plan a holiday.  So this time,we decided to do what we could to outwit the weather.

We set off nice and early, with all out bad weather clothes and food, just in case we needed to nibble. We did manage to forget one very important thing – a book for daughter  to read, and that sent us scouring the streets of the places we stopped at, to find one book in English.  They had warned the tourists to be on time, and we being very punctual when on holiday, were right on time, actually before time, but better early than late,eh? We reached Tronchetto,  which is the place from which our tour would take off. Apparently, Tronchetto is an Island that was created in the 1960s and it serves as a car park for tourist vehicles. Our tour guide had his van parked here, and off we  went with another family of four.

Our tour guide was guy called, oops, I seem to have completely forgotten! See, this is what happens when travelogues are written after a year(almost) of the trip! I was telling husband that I was writing this up, and he was amazed, ‘Do you still remember what we did’? Well, not everything, but whatever I do, will get documented.

Our first stop was Marostica.  Marostica is famous for the Human Chess game that it hosts every other year. The square was closed for renovation, so we couldn’t see the chess arena, but we do have some other pictures of the quaint little town for you.  It has these fort like walls surrounding the city, which gives it such a romantic air. Like someplace out of medieval history.

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On the right is the boarded off chess square

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As I go through the pictures, I come to the same conclusion that I come to, everytime I do a picture post, the best pictures have one of   us in them! This is what happens when we forget that we also blog, we need to take pictures without people!

We had about an hour, so we grabbed a gelato, rather husband and daughter did, while I tried to abstain, only to grab bites from both of them, and ambled about in the empty, cobbled streets of Marostica. It was a Sunday, so most shops were shut as well. We did take this picture, I think it was a chocolate box cover, in case any of you wanted to see how the chess square looks normally.

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Can you see the cathedral at the back?

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Funnily, a lot of houses looked boarded up, which felt rather sad.

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But other vibrant windows made up for the forlon ones above. Aren’t these cute? I love plants, and I love creepers all over.

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An hour runs by really quickly when we are on holiday. We set off for the next stop, Bassano Del Grappa, where we were heading for some Grappa tasting! The first thing that caught my eye was this window. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. I had dreams of replicating it in my windows in Bangalore, only for the dreams to come crashing down. It is way too windy on the eleventh floor, to try something like this. Sigh! One day…

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Bassano Del Grappa, is famous for inventing Grappa, the traditional Italian after dinner drink.  The town also has the famous Palladian Bridge, a covered wooden bridge, which apparently had been destroyed many times during the second World War.

The entrance to the bridge.

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The wooden structure of the bridge.

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The buildings near the bridge. Can you see those marks? Those are the bullet marks preserved from the World War. What a painful reminder that must be…

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Crossing the bridge we went on our way to the Grappa tasting, which was high up on some hill. The view of the bridge from up there.

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The view of the mountains..

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And finally, we reached what we were here for – the distillery.

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We got to see how Grappa is made, got to sniff at the various flavours, and got to taste. Again loads of pictures, some with us behaving like monkeys, so you get to see just these 🙂

These were the ones we got to taste. I loved the coffee flavoured one -it tasted close to Baileys – but better. And after all that, I was drunk before it was noon 🙂

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Light-headed after all those tasting sessions, we walked around, took some more pictures. I would have posted, but I’m running out of patience now. I guess I should do some picture posts later.

Onward to the next destination – Lunch! Our guide gave us an option of traditional fare or a pizza lunch. We opted for the pizza lunch, when he said that the traditional fare might not work for children, and we had three kids under the age of 6. He promised to take us to the best pizza place in Italy, and true to his words, the pizza was absolutely delicious and massive!

We were starving by then, and would have eaten any pizza, best or not.  I have no decent pictures of the pizzas, because we gobbled them up before we could take any pictures. So famished we were, that pictures were the last things on our mind. Husband ordered wine, and they brought it in a huge jug. It was more than enough for me and him. And delicious too, if I might add. The combination of Grappa before lunch(it is supposed to be the other way around), and wine with lunch, had me more than a little tipsy). The after lunch expresso was the best thing to be had. I have to say, the memory of that lunch still has me sighing! Simple and yet so delicious!

More lemon plants – how I love them!

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Some of us even got some pizza dough to make our own pizza on our way out:)

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And then it was time to walk back to our van. On the cobbled streets of Bassano. There is some old world charm to these streets, don’t you think?

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Full and sated, it was tough not to fall asleep on the next leg of the trip.

The next stop was Villa Barbaro, a Palladian Villa. It was post lunch, and the weather was still brilliant!

I’ve just realized that this post has been going on and on, and there is still so much I need to cover! I guess the best thing is to give you guys a rest, while I go and compile the next post 🙂

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Venice Day 2 Part 2 Streets of Venice..

After half a day of walking around in the Murano and Burano, we decided to head back to Venice. Do read the previous parts of the travelogue here and here if you haven’t read them yet.

We had a day trip planned to the hill towns of Veneto for the whole of the third and last day, so wanted to experience as much of Venice as we could that evening.

So I had read of the Bridge of Sighs in loads of books. Silly as I am, I hadn’t checked out how it looked. I had asked the receptionist at the hotel, where it was, and she had indicated it on the map. Now, Venice has just too many bridges, each one as pretty as the other. We couldn’t figure out which one was the Bridge of Sighs. We took pictures of every bridge – just in case, asked lots of locals, who pointed us in the general direction, which we already knew. It was only when we got on our gondola ride, that we finally managed to confirm which bridge was the Bridge of Sighs.

TGND had asked me about the legend behind the bridge. The bridge connects the interrogation rooms in Doges Palace to the old prison. So according to Lord Byron, the convicts would sigh at their last view of Venice, giving the bridge the name. When we first saw the windows of the prison, we had no idea it was a prison, and had wondered why they were so secure. Check out the picture below.

As I mentioned in another post, it is said that if you kiss while passing under Bridge of Sighs, your love will last forever.

One of the things on our agenda was gondola rides. I had read somewhere that gondola rides were over hyped, and touristy, so initially I had plans of doing ‘non-touristy’ things, but the first sight of a gondola had me succumbing to its charms. There seemed something extremely quaint about sitting in a gondola and weaving through the streets of Venice. We found ourselves a gondolier, who was a real charmer. We had him giving us a wonderful commentary as we passed different parts of Venice, the library(which seemed massive), old houses, most with the ground floor boarded up. There was a massive flood in the 1960s which left thousands homeless. Many left Venice to never return. A lot of ground floor apartments are boarded up. The risk of floods combined with high maintenance costs and Venice being an expensive city made it an unviable place to live in for a lot of people.

I decided to create collages in an effort to avoid my media limit exceeding again. Clockwise from the top left picture – The library that I mentioned, our charming gondolier, one of the houses on our route and just before entering into the grand canal, right outside San Marco Piazza. 

Tallking of floods, Venice is flooded about 60 days every year between Oct and March. San Marco Piazza is the lowest, and is flooded quite a lot. Apparently it looks gorgeous even in floods, and there are tourists out there who try to go to Venice during these times, in the hope that they would get to witness a flood. I’ve seen pictures and it does look gorgeous! Although I have to say, I’m not too keen on braving floods to actually see it for myself.

So going back to the Gondola ride, our gondolier also told us about how they trained to become gondoliers. There are around 4oo gondoliers in Venice, and they have a very tough set training to qualify. Apparently when the Pope visited, he was one of the seven gondoliers chosen to row the Pope through Venice- it must have been such a cherished memory for him.

The smaller canal ride was quite smooth, the ride through the Grand Canal was slightly choppier, given the currents,  but a wonderful experience all the same.

Clockwise from top left: In the Grand Canal, facing the Doges Palace and San Marco, going back into the little canal,  passing under the Bridge of Sighs.

When the ride came to an end – much too soon, for our liking – we could have gone on and on, we went off on our favourite pastime of walking around aimlessly – Window shopping.

We weaved through streets after streets, catching glimpses of the Grand Canal every once in a while, crossing bridges onto islands and stopping to savour the atmosphere every once in a while. At one point, we reached a completely residential area, with only houses, no hotels or anything touristy. The only people we saw were people coming back from work, some with briefcases, others with delicious looking loaves of bread. Made me wish that one of them would invite us home for some delicious home-cooked meal. If wishes were horses…

We posed outside clotheslines hanging from windows, took pictures of quaint windows, and gorgeous windows with bursts of colour from the flowerpots placed at the windowsills. Made me want to live there..

We also passed street musicians singing, dancing, and one man was actually skating to the tune! We were so enthralled that we forgot to take a video! We had the fortune of having dinner listening to street musicians playing right next to us.

Dinner done, we took ourselves back to the hotel, and decided to turn in early. We had an early start the next day, and we certainly did not want to miss our tour.

PS: Recorded just so that we don’t forget, husband switched on English news on the telly in our hotel room. Daughter looks puzzled and says, ‘There’s something strange about this channel, I can actually understand it!’. All the other channels had been in Italian 🙂

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