On the free tour of the city we took they showed us a few gelato shops with homemade gelato and it was AMAZING!!! The first day I had chocolate fudge then the second I had half strawberry (so flavorful) and cheesecake (one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten). We ate gelato almost once a day :)
Erin and I eating our gelato
Santa Croche, one of the other churches in Florence and apparently where a bunch of famous people are buried like Michelangelo and Galileo.
A tripe sandwich :) it was actually pretty good! Tripe sandwiches of Lamprodatos are a Florantinian specialty.
There wern't too many street performers in Venice but this guy was awesome! He was playing actually recognizable songs on crystal glasses near our hostel.
Who wouldn't fall in love with that? I especially loved the little bridges that crossed the small canals and the doors that opened directly to the water. They really do use the water to get around too. We saw plenty of actual residents using their boats. There are the gondolas yes but also garbage boats, police boats, delivery boats, mail boats and even UPS boats.
The Grand Canal. This is where most of the activity was. There are water taxis that go up and down the grand canal and also to the other islands. We took one of them down the canal and saw a lot of the sights from the water as they were meant to be seen. Rick Steves (that guy who writes the tour books) also produces a podcast (an audio file) of tours all around Europe and he was our friend on this trip. We took his tour of the Vatican, Florence, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, St. Marks Basilica and the Grand Canal. Its so interesting to listen to him and actually learn things about what you are seeing without having to pay for an actual tour. Some of the palaces along the Grand Canal are so pretty! The amount of wealth that used to be centered here is amazing.
Gondola, gondola, gondola!!! The gondola men kept on trying to get us to take a ride but well... a bit out of our price range. Some of their boats are so decked out its crazy. I loved their costume of the striped shirt and the hat though :)
sitting on the grand canal. I could have sat here for days on end! There was so much going on and well... I'm in love with this city!
St. Marks Square. There were so many tourists it was a bit crazy but it wasn't too hard to look past them all and see the true beauty of the square. There is St. Marks Basilica (which became my favorite church), the campanile (the tower) and the Doge's palace. For as much as they say the lines here are awful we had no problems whatsoever. It took us maybe 10 minutes to get into St. Marks Basilica (the final resting place of St. Mark after crusaders "rescued" his body from Muslims who were about to desecrate it) The inside is COVERED in gold (see next picture) which shows how amazingly rich Venice was at one time. There is also an alter to St. Mark at the front of the church which has so many jewels and gold it is almost gaudy. The tile floors were almost the most interesting (and sad) though because it wasn't flat. They have so many floods here and the ground is moving so much that I dont know how some of the buildings are still standing. Venice may be completely underwater in a hundred years... its sinking. :(
Another view of St. Marks Square. The campanile (the tower) fell about 100 years ago and they re-built it. We decided not to go up it because we were having so much fun just wondering around the city. The first day we attempted to get lost but ended up finding us again! It was easier to get lost when we were trying to find where we were going than when we were trying to get lost.
This palace was across the canal from the palace we were staying in... and it was where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were staying because she is shooting a movie in Venice. Cool right?