Backpacking Blogger, Part III: Venice, Florence, Rome

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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Italy.

If Prague had greeted us with fairly Mediterranean weather, we got the actual Mediterranean weather in Italy, forcing us to shed our warmer Oxford-ready layers.

We spent about six days in Italy in total, spending two days each in Venice, Florence and Rome. Venice was our first stop. Central Venice (or Venezia) is a city built on water, and encompassed basically every stereotype of Italy that I’d ever received from films and photographs. Romantic lights, gondolas, gelato, pasta, accordion music, Venetian masks – it was all there.

Rather than bore you with listing all the landmarks, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

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Out of the three Italian cities we saw, Venice was my favorite. I guess there’s something about reflecting on the waters, away from the crowded parts.

In Florence, we got to take it pretty easy since we did all that we wanted to do in one day rather than the two that we booked, which ended up being for the best since it rained the second day.

Florence, although pretty, didn’t live quite up to what I’d envisioned – except for maybe the speedy little Vespa drivers. Seriously, watch out for traffic. What we did see was of course beautiful, but I couldn’t have imagined us staying there for longer than we did.

Nevertheless, here are some images for your perusal:

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To end our travel break with a bang, we hit Rome. How a city notorious for gladiator fights and martyring Christians evolves into one of the world’s romantic cities is beyond my explanation. It was also the perfect time for us to make obscene amounts of Lizzie Maguire movie references, as we traipsed through the Coliseum, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.

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As a whole, the city culture of Rome was super-overwhelming. The combination of the heat, relentless vendors, secondhand smoke, terrible traffic, crowding and the fact that I was running out of the energy I had had at the beginning of our travels was overpowering, so sadly, this is probably the strongest impressions of what I’m left with when I think about how my time in Rome was.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do – as in don’t be an obvious tourist. Talk quietly, avoid leer-ers, watch your bags, don’t make it evident that you don’t know where you’re going, and don’t fall for any tricks.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again – BATHROOM FARES. It usually costs between 1-1.5 euros to do your business in a public toilet. Which sucks, because when it’s hot (which it was), you need to drink water as to not get dehydrated. Water naturally makes you have to “go,” and go shell out those euros in order to do so. Come on, it’s a basic human right that’s being exploited for profitable purposes!

Okay, enough of my ranting.

I think I’ll take the easy way out and again post photos of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the other landmarks I mentioned above, since a picture’s worth a thousand words anyway:

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What I learned in Italy was how to appreciate art as a form of religious reverence, especially as I wandered into various cathedrals and basilicas. I also learned that in spite of all of Italy’s artistic beauty, I resonate much more with the natural beauty that I’d been so fortunate to witness in Western Europe. I guess the romantic cities just aren’t for me, but I will be happy to keep visiting them even if that means re-confirming this notion.

I saw and did a lot in Italy, and have memories there which I can look back upon with fondness. But I was ready to go back to jolly England, where I hold greater fondness, by the time I said “Ciao” to my little Italy.

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