With a few days at home and a little less jet lag, I’ve started to go through the thousands of photographs we took on the trip and realized how special our adventure was. The whole trip was centered around the Carnivale in Venice, something I have always wanted to experience, and the timing of the celebration couldn’t have been more perfect. Celebrating Valentines Day, an anniversary (happy 29th mom and dad!) and my 25th birthday all in the magical city of Venice was a dream come true.
We flew into a wet and snowy Milan, something we hadn’t entirely packed for, but got to see some of the most beautiful Gothic architecture and taste some traditional Milanese food. From Milan, we picked up our Fiat 500 (a very sporty little number) and drove to Saluzzo, a small town at the base of the Italian Alps in the Piedmont region. After staying in a snow covered, hillside castle, taking a country tour which included what could be described as cheese heaven and tasting some fabulous Barolos and Barbarescos, we picked up and drove to Verona. We had been to Verona six years prior for a day trip but when the weather topped out over 100 degrees, we stayed just long enough to enjoy a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. Verona was decorated to the nines for the celebration of Valentines Day with piazzas decorated with heart shaped flower arrangements, red hearts hung from the buildings in the center of the walkways illuminated at night and the balcony of Juliet was constantly packed with groups of people coming to ask Juliet to grant them true love. From Verona, our last driving leg was to Venice. There is a chance that when I stood next to the statue of Juliet, she put some kind of spell on me to fall in love and from the moment we walked down to the canals to catch a water taxi, I was head over heels in love all over again. I have always found Venice to be mysterious and enchanting but for my third time there, it was like we got to discover and fall in love with its charms and quirks all over again. With it being Carnivale, there were added surprises around every corner, confetti covered the ground and the walkways were lit up with lanterns leading up to St. Mark’s Square. Throngs of people covered every inch of Venice during the day but in the morning it was a completely different and serene experience. It was here that we got to take a majority of our costume photos since the only people out were the people dressed up and other photographers. We got to spend five perfect days winding our way through canals and over bridges to see all that Venice could offer during the winter. Catching the high speed train to Florence, we said our goodbyes to Venice and sped away to our last city of the trip. Florence, much like Venice, was like coming home to an old friend. This wasn’t our first time but with winter upon us, the tourists were a tenth of what they were during the summer and the temperatures were around 40 instead of 85. As popular study abroad location, we had some fabulous recommendations and only two full days to cover a lot of ground. We ate, we shopped, we walked and then we walked some more. Florence was a wonderful way to end our trip, but, like every other town we had been to, it ended too soon. 17 days of traveling to five different towns was a perfect mix of cultures, foods and everything else in between. I have so much to share with you and so many pictures to show, so we will start here, with a snapshot of each of the towns! Enjoy!
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