Showing posts with label living in Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label living in Italy. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TPThursday: Hauntingly Beautiful Venice

While Halloween’s celebrations in the United States came to an end last night, All Saints Day celebrations begin today in cities around the world.  Venice, where we were last week, is among those places observing this more reserved, somber day of remembering the dead and departed.

With Travel Photo Thursday bridging Halloween and All Saints Day (also known as All Soul’s Day or Day of the Dead, depending on location and varying in date by a day or two) here are some of our hauntingly beautiful memories of our stay:

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While Carnivale is the celebration marking end of Lent each year; a time when party-goers will bring these masks to life, there was something about those sight-less eyes peering out of window displays that gave a ghost-like feel to them. . .

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The city is filled with statues of heavenly saints.  This one, deformed by time and the elements, gazed with blind eyes on visitors in Venice’s Music Museum.  Or was he still able to keep an eye on the visitors like me who aimed their cameras at his weather-worn being?

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This skeleton is a modern art installation at the side of the Grand Canal – his sightless gaze as spooky as the saint’s above.

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Ever notice how your imagination comes to life in the dark? As our lone  footsteps echoed on the walkway we thought we heard the voice of an opera singer.  The music seemed to come from someplace above us. . .but from where? It wasn’t recorded, but was it live?

We’d not finished pondering the source of the music when a large rat scurried past me and hurtled into the canal with a corresponding splash – now that one did give me goose pimples!

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As we walked along that dark canal route between the restaurant where we ate and our apartment, we came upon another mask shop with these two fellows looking out at us. The song, Music of the Night from the musical, Phantom of the Opera, came to mind:

". . .Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night. . .”

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday. Head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.  We’ll get back to more practical matters in the coming week with posts about a new guest chef on the Celebrity ship, a don’t-miss-this-restaurant in Bologna, and who to call for tours there and give you a ‘spritz’ of place in Venice and a taste of KLM’s Business Class Food and Wine Celebration. . .

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Meanderings: A Second Helping of Bologna

The night we spent in Bologna, Italy as part of a return to Seattle from Venice a few years ago wasn’t enough. 

The snippet of a taste we had – Roman ruins, great food and wine, architecture – was enough to draw us back this fall for a ‘full meal deal’ taste of this gourmand land known for its stuffed pastas and 'Bolognese' sauce. 

We’ve extended our ‘land-time’ prior to the cruise from Rome which allows a visit to Bologna. After successfully changing our frequent-flier mile airline seats, The Scout (that’s Joel) went to work on finding accommodations there.

An apartment named Cassiopea, in central Bologna, won out over the dozens of other options he perused.  Joel was taken with the more than 40 reviews singing its praises and I was sold when this photo came up as part of the information:

A flower trimmed deck for morning espresso and afternoon wine will sell me on a place every time.  We’ve booked this  little Italian ‘home away from home’ on a quiet side street with a view to the hills beyond town for four nights.

One of the previous guests wrote that the La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese cooking school is nearby and an afternoon lesson and tasting there shouldn’t be missed. Others wrote about places to visit and people watching in the piazza each night.  Will we have time to fit it all in?

The photos in this post are courtesy of the apartment owners/hosts, Anna Rita and Piero.  I’m not showing you all the apartment views yet, but those of you who know what animal lovers we are, will understand why the second photo --  after the one of the deck -- to catch my eye was this one:

Portraits with cats and dogs line the walls. We've learned through our email exchange since booking the apartment that these works are Anna Rita’s.  A quick visit to her web site shows she’s an artist who loves animals as much as we do.  If you want to see more of the art (or videos of her furry ones) just follow this link:

One of the best benefits of this type of rental is getting to know real people. On the flip side, renting any place – hotel or apartment – does requires a somewhat moderate leap of faith; you hope photos and reviews are truthful. In the case of Cassiopea the reviews not only sing praises of the place but of the people as well.

One guest proclaimed, “It was like staying with the most wonderful cousin you could ever have.” And in my mind that said a lot. I suspect that our stay in Cassiopea will only make us want another – bigger -- serving of Bologna the next time!

If You Go:

We found Cassiopea on  Vacation Rental By Owner where deposit and payment is accomplished using Pay Pal.  It is also listed on the French-based site, Homelidays, or on Perfect Places.  

Bologna is about 2.5 hours from Rome and a half hour from Florence by fast train. For more information visit the city's user-friendly website:  Bologna Welcome.

Map picture

Now that you know we’ll be in Bologna, do you have some recommendations for us?  What shouldn’t we miss while there?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Meanderings: La Dolce Vita in Venice

An early morning shopping trip to the famed Rialto Market where we’ll stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables from the stalls of long-time vendors, then we’ll laze away the morning sipping cappuccino at one of its many cafes while ‘people watching’ . . .

In the evening we’ll stroll along the Zattere, the large concrete promenade that runs the length of the southern shore of Venice’s Dorsoduro District. It was originally built in 1519 to be a landing dock for the delivery of timber to build ships and buildings.  Zattere, Italian for raft.

We’ll be acting just like the locals with our shopping and strolling because for six nights we’ll be ‘living’ in Venice in an apartment we rented a month  ago as we planned how to fill the week following our cruise from Rome to Venice. The apartment is in the area of the red pin on the map.

We’ve found that one way to save travel dollars is to avoid the more costly hotel rooms – and Venice certainly has plenty of those.   So, after having enjoyed the apartment we rented in Madrid last year, we decided to try our luck with apartment living in Italy. (Maybe it is our way of working up to a longer stay somewhere, sometime. . .)

In addition to saving money on the accommodations, we’ll also eat a couple meals a day at home and not rely on the local bar for all our Happy Hours.

Of course renting travel accommodations based on books, photos, traveler’s recommendations and advertisements is always a giant leap of faith.   Joel, “The Scout” began researching our options several months ago.  When we found this apartment on Vacation Rental by Owner we were on our way to . . .

. . .La dolce vita; the sweet life, in Italian.

Have you any tips for us?  Have you rented an apartment? If so, what was your experience?  Add a comment below or send an email to us at  And if this is your first visit, hope to see you back on Thursday when we look at the Joy of Travel.


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