A roadtrip through Italy…my dream vacation! Of course you can go with a tour bus or do the train, but a car offers freedom and flexibility. The short five hour drive from Vienna flew by with all the amazing scenery! One of the many benefits of being married to Markus (born and raised Austrian), he has an insiders view on traveling Europe. We are able to go where the locals go and vacation where they do, avoiding the tourist traps that are expensive and usually not so authentic.
We left Vienna and headed south through the Alps then the Dolomites and on into the north eastern portion of Italy, close to Trieste in the Lignano area. The beach was pristine and we spent three days enjoying some R&R and great food. Being one of the few if not only, Americans in town on the fourth of July, we were treated to warm hospitality and delicious food. We even had one waiter, recognize that we were Americans and it was the fourth of July, add an American flag to our dinner table.
Then we headed to Venice, to explore the city and spend the night. The city is absolutely ridiculously beautiful! The accomodations were not bad and not as expensive as you would think (Roughly $180/per night for a 3.5 star hotel). Venice is an amazing town, however one of the most overly touristy places in the world. Because the city is built on stilts over water, there are no cars, only water buses and taxis. We acted like tourists and took the 40 minute gondola ride, which was worth every penny(cost:100Euros).
Taking pictures and eating up every visually stunning scene, you also are aware of the amount of people that visit the city on a daily basis. We were absolutely exhausted after a day of sight seeing by foot and dealing with the crowds of people. It is not hard to understand why residents are not happy with the tourism and their vanishing city. Venice is considered a vanishing city based on raising sea levels, tourism that has forced local residents out, and the pollution and erosion of the lagoon. One of the biggest problem is the large cruise ships that dock daily in the lagoon – this creates a lot of pollution and wear and tear on the already delicate infrastructure. Venice has an estimated 55,000 permanent residents and receive roughly 90,000 tourists every day. Because of the declining population, Venice has been placed on the UNESCO endangered list.
After a long day of walking the streets of Venice, sightseeing and braving the very warm temperatures, a cold shower and a short nap was required before dinner. Many people visit Venice for the day and don’t spend the night, which makes it a bit more quiet and very romantic once the sun goes down. The restaurants in Venice are tricky, they cater to tourists – expensive and not necessarily quality food. Many of the restaurants had nightly spending minimums and gratuity included…very odd for Europe. We walked around a while before we noticed what seemed to be a less tourist focused venue called Ristorante San Provolo. The service was impeccable, food amazing and reasonably priced. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,12.3425547,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s52474hOW2mPPqQdFu63NXA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
Next stop Verona. A beautiful town with tons to see. In high school, I was lucky enough to have an English teacher with a passion for Shakespeare. Back then reading Shakespeare was a bit of a chore, but in Verona it really comes to life. We visited the house that inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo & Juliet and the walls leading up to it with all the letters to Juliet – how romantic! The Arena, an ancient Roman amphitheater built in the first century and one of the best preserved arenas still standing, is breathtaking. It is most well know for hosting operas and is still in use today.
We ended our tour through northern Italy via Lake Como on our way to Switzerland. Lake Como was the perfect way to say “arrivederci”to a lovely few days in this amazing country!