Alphabet Dating - I is for Italy

Alphabet Dating – I is for Italy

November was the month for our letter ‘I’ alphabet date. November was also the month of my Dad’s 60th birthday, where we decided to surprise him by taking him to Rome for 4 nights with my mum.

So Alphabet Dating letter ‘I’ became ‘I for Italy’, slight cheat but hey ho, when in Rome (see what I did there?).

I hadn’t been on holiday with my parents for 10 years but things went pretty smoothly, infact I think they were glad of our company as my husband became Human Sat Nav and I became Event Co-ordinator.

When in Rome

We visited all the typical tourist attractions – Vatican City, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum etc. Plus I tricked my Dad into visiting an amazing Cat Sanctuary in the ruins (more about that coming soon!).

The joke of our trip occurred on our last day when my mum suggested that after lunch we head to Piazza Navona, which for the fact geeks out there was built over the 1st Century AD Stadio di Domiziano and hosted the city’s main market.

According to Lonely Planet it is nowadays “Central Rome’s elegant showcase square”.

According to my mum “There’s nothing there, but it’s all going on”.

Lonely Planet call it "Central Rome's elegant showcase square". My mum says "There's nothing there, but it's all going on". Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy. #Inspiring #Travel #Quote

When we got to Piazza Navona however, we realised that it really WAS all going on. There were cameras rigged up, important looking people busying about, crowds of gawkers and part of the square had been cordoned off. We later found out, through the brilliance of twitter, that they were filming a Hollywood movie that day! The film is called American Assassin and stars Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton. And if you see a girl in a yellow coat hovering about in the background, then that will be yours truly!

Making a movie in Rome

The filming of 'American Assassin' in Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy.

We had a wonderful time in Rome, sadly it was too cold to eat as much gelato as I might have liked but otherwise November was a good time to visit as the crowds were alot less (we queued for 30 minutes to get into the Vatican unlike the 3 hours we could have spent if we had gone earlier in the year).

Stay tuned for more Rome posts coming soon and keep an eye on my instagram for a few of my pics!

Arrivederci Roma!

The vibrant island of Burano – Weekly photo challenge

According to its official website, Burano is often named among the top 10 most colourful places in the world. Having been there myself, I knew it would be the perfect contribution to this weeks WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme – VIBRANT.

Burano is an island that lies in the Venetian Lagoon and is easily visited on a day trip by boat from Venice itself. Often these trips include the islands of Murano and Torcello too, but Burano was my favourite.

The vibrant island of Burano is mostly famous for two things – lacemaking and the coloured houses that line its canals. The coloured houses that inspire many photographers and tourists to get snap happy.

This is one of my favourite shots from my visit.

The vibrant island of Burano in the Venetian Lagoon, Italy.

If you like this picture, why not follow me on instagram or check out some of my other photo challenges.

Venice at sunrise – Weekly photo challenge: Early bird

I love a weekend summer morning. A bright, fresh, brand new day ahead of me gives me a sense of optimism and freedom – especially if I have no plans for the day. Ironically, I am not really “a morning person” and as much as I love a sunny morning, I love my bed and my weekend lie-in more. However, sometimes we have no choice but to get up before sunrise and sometimes we are glad that we did.

After a long weekend in Venice, our departure was an early one, but this was one of those ‘drag yourself out of bed’ moments you can look back on and be grateful for. St Mark’s Square at sunrise is wonderfully peaceful and a complete contrast to the the square during the day, overcrowded with tourists.

st-marks-square-first-thing-in-the-morning

These photos were taken at approximately 5.30am, when there was just us, one or two early morning wanderers and the pigeons up and awake. Oh and not forgetting a bride, groom and photographer… although I wasn’t sure if they were genuine newlyweds or if they were actually fashion models. I didn’t like to ask, but either way they were avoiding potential photo-bombers.

venice-at-dawn

If you’re in Venice, try to take a walk at dawn. But shhh keep it to yourself otherwise everyone will be doing it!

venice-at-sunrise

For more Early Bird inspiration, check out this week’s photo challenge.

Orange you glad…

…it’s a photo challenge.

“Wow us with punchy pops of orange!”

For more tang-tastic images check out the Weekly Photo Challenge here.

The only blog post you will need to read if you are visiting Venice. You can thank me later.

A girl’s guide to… Venice

Venice. The name alone conjures images of romance and history, uniqueness and grandeur. For centuries, poets and artists have tried to capture its beauty in their work, and even today, people are still enamoured by this Italian splendour. I too could compose many a beautiful word about the city and describe it the way every other writer does, or I could tell you the truth.

Now, I don’t want to shatter any illusions, Venice IS an exquisite and special place, but when people write about it they tend to get swept away with the romance of it all. I am here to offer some practical advice, after all, how romantic is a gondola ride when you’re swatting away mosquitoes?

Know before you go

Get a map of the city and decide whereabouts you would like to stay. Learn about the districts – if you want all the major tourist attractions on your doorstep then the San Marco district is the one for you but the best way to ensure you have your dream trip is to do a little research before you go.

What to pack

  • Pack as lightly as possible. The only ways to get around Venice are by boat or by foot. The boats aren’t going to take you to your hotel door, so be prepared, you may have to lug your suitcase for a 15 minute walk through the hot, busy streets from St Mark’s Square to your accommodation.
  • Wear sensible shoes. You will be doing A LOT of walking during your visit. A trip to Venice is no time to break in your new pair of heels, regardless of how stylish the Italians are. Gladiator sandals may have been worn by the Romans but they still managed to blister my feet (yes, they were flat as well!) so a pack of plasters and some comfortable trainers are recommended.
  • Avoid becoming a mosquito buffet. Nothing can dampen a romantic evening dining at a waterside restaurant more than becoming the main meal yourself, so make sure you pack some insect repellent. You want to return home with a glowing golden tan, not itchy red bumps.
Don't feed the pigeons!
Don’t feed the pigeons!

Sensible spending

Venice is a pricey city, so unless you are a Dolce-clad darling, you may find the following few tips useful.

  • You will see street vendors trying to sell “designer” handbags to passing tourists. Do not be tempted. As well as being fake, they are also illegal and even buying one – if caught by the police – could land you with a hefty fine. That cheap “designer” handbag wasn’t so cheap after all, was it?
  • Beware of hidden extras. So you’ve just enjoyed a pleasant meal and received the bill when you notice you have been charged for something called ‘coperto’. You didn’t order this? Well, this is the cover charge which is in addition to the service charge (the tip) that they also add onto your bill. Cover charge is basically what you pay for the privilege of sitting in their restaurant – it could be the bread that the waiter/waitress brought over that you never asked for, or it could even cover the cost of washing the table linen!! If you want to avoid nasty surprises like this then look out for restaurants which state NO COVER CHARGE.
  • Try take-away. The price of even a margarita pizza in Venice can vary alot, so one of the best ways to eat cheaply is to get take-away. As well as being cheaper there is also no cover charge involved. Another idea would be to buy some sandwiches at a supermarket or deli for lunch and find somewhere nice to sit and dine alfresco. If you do decide to dine in, then skip the expensive desserts and head to the nearest gelateria to sample some divine gelato (Italian ice cream).
  • Avoid eating at the major tourist hubs. At the time of writing, a glass of coca cola at a café in St Mark’s Square will cost you around 9 euros. Unless you have a burning desire to tick the whole dining in St Mark’s Square experience off your bucket-list then I would avoid. Head out of the square and up into one of the side streets to find more reasonably priced refreshment. And don’t even think about eating that take-away baguette on the steps of St Mark’s Square – you may get fined!
  • Carry a bottle of water with you. Sightseeing is thirsty work but you don’t need to keep buying overpriced bottles of water, simply fill up from one of the many drinking fountains dotted around the city.

Lastly
Don’t forget to carry a map with you. Getting lost in Venice is part of the fun but at some point you’ll want to find yourself again!

Alfresco dining!
Alfresco dining!