Italy, Vatican · 16 Days · 127 Moments · August 2015

Our honeymoon- Italy!

11 September 2015

Photos from Mara

9 September 2015

Home time
Byyyyeeeee Venice!! Bye Italy!! ❤️😘☺️
Private water taxi to the airport... A fitting way to end our honeymoon, as we first really "met" on a boat!
Where we bought our painting... this is the artist's brother. We watched the artist actually create a few of these yesterday!
Funny memory: losing my sunglasses in the Venice canals 😔😎
The lifts are so small we sent the suitcases down by themselves and walked down the stairs haha
All packed, ready to head home and start married life. ❤️❤️

8 September 2015

Our final dinner before heading home. What a beautiful meal to end a beautiful holiday.
Gondola ride !!
The perfect way to end our honeymoon... A gondola ride at sunset in Venice with my husband and a bottle of Rose Prosecco, gifted to us from my Italian family from the Prosecco farm they took us for dinner. Perfection.
More Venice
More Venice
Some experts say that Venice could be a ghost town by 2030. It would be populated only by tourists that would come at the morning and leave in the evening, something like people do in a theme park.
Interesting Venice facts: Ca’Dario, a Palazzo with an attractive Venetian Renaissance architecture along Grand Canal, is known for the series of unexplainable deaths which seem to affect all of its owners, which first started way back when the structure was built in 1847. There are 3 major bridges across the Grand Canal – Accademia, Rialto and Scalzi. There is a fourth one, just a few years old. What is interesting about that one is that it already begins to show signs of decay, unlike the centuries old ones. Venice has one of the narrowest streets in the world. Calletta, or Ramo Varisco street, is only 53 cm wide. Canals were the main communication routes, that’s why main entrances in old buildings were always on the canal side. They didn’t worry much about space between buildings on land, that’s why Venetian streets are often narrow, sometimes weird and without logic.

7 September 2015

Loved having Chinese food for dinner in Vennice!! Was actually an awesome change from pizza and pasta.. Andrew loved his fried ice cream!
" on the air plane ... Air plane? opposed to sea plane? ... Who cares...I'm in a scrumpled shirt.
How Aussies do Venice..
We didn't need to see Pisa after all... Here's our honeymoon version of the leaning tower.. of Venice!
Interesting fact: Venice is 3,000 years old (10th century BC) and the whole city is heritage listed in its' entirety. It is made up of 118 islands linked by canals and small bridges. Venice is sinking at a rate of 2mm per year.
Funny moment of today: dropping the car at the wrong Vennis Avis, meaning we were charged $29 euro for parking. Not to mention having to squeeze our car into a car park, Andrew having to climb out the window, and then to close the window and lock the car, me having to climb to the front seat by Andrew lifting me up after taking all my jewellery off so as to not scratch the other cars, turn the car off, and climb back out ...
Meeting my Italian family and seeing where my great grandma grew up! The peach tree in the photo is 200 years old.. It was around when great grandma was a baby!
More family ❤️

6 September 2015

Family ❤️
Some cute little town..
Cable cars with Mara Memories: the cable car stopping running with people in it because of the wind for 20 minutes and Mara's fear of heights! A bike coming around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road and almost hitting us!
Cable cars and Stefan looking for grappa plants
Now he is really a full blown tourist!
Cortina - Tre chime Moments: Paying $0.50 to use a hole in the ground! Realising the next bus to leave to get back down to the car park was an hour and a half or more away so Mara and her partner chatting to the attendee and him pulling over a random van and asking if we can have a lift down... So 7km down a windy mountain range in a van with 4 friends, including a world champion female "biathlete" (skiing + shooting!!), chatting about Australia and Crocodile Dundee! Hahahahhahah

5 September 2015

Cortina... We made it!!! Just in time for a beautiful dinner in the lovely town. Such a cute town, reminds me of Thredbo but much nicer! Would be amazing in winter to snowboard here!! Lots of designer shops and 3 fluent languages.. English, Italian and German!
Taps in Italy... Either normal.. Automatic...... Or foot pedals... This one took me a while...
Left Lake Como at 8:30, we're half way to Cortina and it's 1:30... We stopped for lunch and that's it... What a drive!! But the scenic route really is scenic... We're driving through spectacular mountain ranges!
Random lunch pit-stop on the way to Cortina and walk into a beautiful, and cheap, restaurant in the mountains... And they speak English!

4 September 2015 Andrew spilling red wine on himself..
Wine @ Bellagio point with the girls. Close to a sunset as Bellagio gives
More boat
More boat hire pics...
Menaggio boat hire
More Bellagio... Funny moment from today: Andrew being given the wrong ferry ticket even after paying for the right one and being told the correct details for our ferry (wharf 3 at 11:45)... Getting on the ferry and being told the ticket was for another location Filargio?) and the value was less... So Andrew sprinting back over to the ticket booth and trying to explain (in English) what had happened and that he has been sold the wrong ticket... To someone who doesn't speak English.. While I waited at the boat and they waited for him. So one of the guards sprinting after Andrew to find out what the hold up was, realising the language issue, finding a multi-lingual local and bringing her over... Finally Andrew got the right ticket and he and the guard sprinted back over to the boat.. We would have held the boat up for a good 10 minutes! Still not sure if we paid the right amount or not...
Local fruit shop!!! Yuuuummmm... So fresh!

3 September 2015

Storm rolling in.. Was awesome watching this while drinking our honeymoon champagne from one of the hotels..
Where we've been so far in Lake Como ❤️
Cadenabbia - looking back at Bellagio
Car ferry between towns on Lake Como Plus the people ferry
At Menaggio for lunch.. I asked for a Caprioska and the waitress didn't understand me even though it was on the menu... So I mentioned it was a cocktail.. Oh!!! CAIPIRoska!! Ok ok! googled it and there is one reference to the drink spelt the way it is on the menu... Haha Another common English mistake in Italy... Artichovies on the menu. We're still not sure if they're referring to artichokes or anchovies that are both commonly used here...but I'm not willing to find out!!!
Boat trip from Bellagio to Varena Amazing that the clouds sit below/in the mountains.. Nestled right into the creases and grooves

2 September 2015

Sunset, plastic cup prosecco, and ducks
You can definitely go all out at Lake Como... If I was rich this is where I'd live (or at least own a house)
More Lake Como. Check out the 3 wheeled car! In one of the photos you can see our yellow apartment
❤️ My husband ❤️
Northernmost point of Bellagio. Breathtaking.
More Lake Como... Fish, flowers, mountains, swans and cocktails ❤️❤️❤️🌸💝
Lake Como, day 1
Wow... Lake Como
More Italian quirks: If someone helps you fill up at the petrol station, it costs around 0.20 extra per litre. 3-wheeled cars are common in the mountains due to the narrow streets. You pay tolls at the end of the drive not the beginning Speed limits are almost a "suggestion" - there are speed cameras but that doesn't stop cars going 160 in a 130 zone .....
Breakfast in the courtyard before leaving the hotel in Moneglia for Lake Como Benefits of having a husband... No food envy because you can try his food! YUM that omelette with oregano was amazing!
Funny moments from yesterday.. Me being a giraffe's wife and smashing a beautiful wine glass from a restaurant into the cobblestone street! The lines for the trains between stations.. Oh my gosh. So many people!! Freaking out someone was going to steal our bags and swimming ferociously towards them and this 18 year old kid who was innocently trying to help bring a boat in Getting on the wrong train back to our hotel and having to wait on an in-between platform and listen in Italian to each announcement to find a train stopping at our stop (at 9:30 at night..)

1 September 2015

Wine on the beach at Monterosso after dinner ❤️❤️❤️
Monterosso dinner at Bar Gio (before I smashed the wine glass.....)
Monterosso in the afternoon...
Reomaggiore for a swim after lunch So funny watching the boat hire people having to help their customers out of the bay after trying and failing to paddle with the oars on the boat.. Including 5 minutes of standing up facing the wrong direction... 😂😂😂
Welcome to Cinque Terra trains...
Interesting fact: take away Italian pizza is sold in rectangles, not triangles, by weight, not slice...
Vernazza - town 2, Cinque Terra, for lunch - salami pizza and bruschetta with capers and wine ... And gelato!
Turns out it's not just our "Blue Mountains" that look blue from a distance... What was that about them being blue because of eucalyptus oil or something?
Monterosso... First and biggest town in the Cinque Terre (5 towns)... Another weird Italian quirk.. It costs 0.50 euro to use a public toilet! ..about to take paddle boards out!!

31 August 2015

Hotel 3 - Moneglia (Cinque Terra) Another bottle of champagne on arrival for our honeymoon! They cooked us breakfast -bacon and eggs - Like at a cafe.. Awesome. Assortment of amazing cheeses, breads and meats as well. wow. Feeling spoilt! They have this beautiful courtyard downstairs to eat breakfast in ❤️ The hotel looks like it used to be part of the church that is connected on the other side of the courtyard.. Wonder if the 8 rooms of the hotel used to be where the nuns lived?
Moneglia - near Cinque Terra Night 1- decided to try a cheaper night and took a bottle of red that we'd been given at one of the hotels for our honeymoon and some plastic cups down to the main strip of shops, bought some take away pizza and fruit and sat on the sand to watch the sun set. The wine was actually really really nice, we polished the bottle pretty quick! There are all these restaurants on the beach in the archways under the main bridge for entering the town... They own part of the beach and cover their part with hundreds of umbrellas and sun chairs for their patrons.. Only a small part of the beach is accessible "free".. All of the restaurants shut at 7pm and because the beach side of their restaurant opens onto the beach like a balcony, they literally board up the beach side with wooden boards when they close.. Makes the beach a bit eery at night! Watching the sun set between the mountains was pretty cool...
Driving to Moneglia near Cinque Terra... Such a stunning drive!!!!! We literally drove THROUGH the mountains...
Lucca for lunch and a cycle ☺️😄 Am I brown yet? What's with no toilet seats in Italy?!? And no tap water... All bottled...
Interesting that in Italy they charge a city tax at hotels - and it's not included in the price of accommodation - you pay at departure - around $4 euros pp per night

30 August 2015

Olio for dessert - as recommended by mum and dad. Started with an amazing red Italian dessert wine We then had degustation dessert with 4 amazing servings - a gelato, cheesecake, creme brûlée, then a light pastry with cream!! Soo delicious!!!
Florence, night 2
Words of the honeymoon: Dandosaurus Diplodocus Incredible Grazie / Prego / Buonjourno (the extent of our Italian vocabulary) Am I brown yet?
Dinner - La Petite cocktail restaurant - night 2, Florence. Yummmmmy Cosmopolitan to start!! Food was incredible - highly recommended!! And not too pricey. Maybe slightly more than usual. We had a Greek salad, carbonara, and chicken
Ill Duomo - climbing the dome - and Andrew destroying his claustrophobia!! 🎉🎉🎉 There was such a traffic jam between people going up and down to the dome - we got stuck and had to wait a few times... Much to Andrew's distress... But we had 2 chances to give up and not get to the top... But we got to the top!! ....and left a padlock at the top!!! ❤️❤️❤️☺️ Proud of my baby!! ❤️❤️❤️
Lunch! Started with stale bread :( Pizza was incredible though! Salads here seem to all have corn?
More Florence... + view from Piazza Michelangelo ❤️
Uffizi gallery
Conversion to tourist: COMPLETE.
The river at Florence and that amazing bridge!!

29 August 2015

Florence at night... Photos aren't great because they were taken with my iPhone with low light
Incredible dinner!! So looking forward to going back for dessert there tonight!! Thanks mum & dad!! ❤️❤️❤️
Exploring more of Florence - scooters are definitely the way to get around! The streets are beautiful and narrow and cleaner than those in Rome and you don't get hassled by people trying to sell you things. Even in the markets!! There are still gypsies begging for money and trying to rob you when you're not looking though..
Basilica of Santa Corce - where Galileo is buried Andrews expression shows his contempt with my new selfie stick..
Exploring Florence. Found a statue of someone cutting off Medusa's head... She has snakes for hair. Pretty amazing! There are some incredible street artists in Italy - Rome and Florence
Lunch day 1- Fiorenze/Florence! Free glass of sparkling on arrival plus 2 small paninis! Prices are half of that in Rome and this place is incredibly big and beautiful!!! Looks high class and expensive but it's not!! And the dark grey-brown sauce with the fish? Squid ink!!! Andrew loved it!... I can say I tried it at least.. Haha Oh, and smoked cheese is extremely rich and salty haha ...We finally got our first limenchello in Italy!!! Courtesy of Fuoco Matto! 2 euro each for cover charge (usually 10% in Rome) included bread, paninis and sparkling wine!!!) Amazing value!! Other places in Rome charged 10% cover charge plus charge for mandatory bread basket on arrival. So impressed!! When we said ciao, Grazie, the chef, after posing for a photo for us earlier, said "g'day mate!!" Hahahaah! Oh and I beat my record.. 4 drinks at once haha
Hotel 2: Hotel Alba Palace, Fiorenze (Florence). On a pretty rough street but super close to the train station (less than 5 minutes) and it's really quite pretty! Much nicer than the last one... Much bigger room and bed (still 2 singles pushed together though...) and another "happy honeymoon" bottle of wine (red) waiting for us! ☺️
Soo does this feel more like an airport than a train station to anyone else? Culture here is so different to Australia, which may be influenced by the high unemployment rate.. But coming from Australia it's hard to remember that EVERYONE has an agenda. Someone helped me up the steep stairs on the train and pushed our luggage into a section for us - I thought he worked on the train- and then he asked for money! We only had a few euros and gave him them but he got pretty upset at us for not having more!! He stood next to us for ages and eventually left. Andrew then moved our bags closer to us and made sure they were locked.. Ahh you have to be so careful here! Anyway the 20-something aged girls sitting across from us were having trouble putting their bags in the overhead compartment so I stood up and helped them with a few heavy bags ... With no expectation but a thank you.. So interesting

28 August 2015

First selfie stick photo to test it out Hahahaah now we seriously are tourists
Ok. So I just bought a selfie stick. Don't judge me.
Absinthe shopping.. No decision made yet but there is an amazing absinthe shop in Rome!!
Turns out "Prosecco" is a type of grape, not a brand!! There are heaps of incredible "Prosecco" champagne / sparkling wines in Italy!
Amazing dinner at "That's Amore" .. Best pizza so far in Italy, plus the service and wine was amazing!! Had the yummiest Peach Bellini! Andrew about the white wine he just tried ... "Not that I'm a connoisseur or anything but at the back of my tongue..." "...there is an abrasiveness that is absent" PS this wine is incredible ❤️❤️ We even got a (bright yellow) apron and a free (tiny) glass of Prosecco for liking and tagging them in a photo on Facebook hahaha.
Loved getting served a "Peach Bellini" at PastaMore in Rome which consisted of "Prosecco" (sparkling water) and peach... Weird that their name is so similar to where we went to dinner which is across the road and has amazing reviews, "That's Amore"...
Heading out for dinner on our last night in Rome 😃😄 Andrew loved this beer!! Also, when did I get paler than Andrew?!? Haha
Attempt 2: Google translate to the rescue! I think Andrew made a pretty good attempt! "Ah!! Ok ok ☺️" haha
Colosseum: 10,000 gladiators and 11,000 animals for fights in the arena There were breeding grounds for the animals There were stage sets that would emerge into the centre of the arena where mythological episodes were played out eg whale with bears pouring out of its mouth or mountains and trees appearing. Gladiators could either be slaves who aspire freedom and fight for it. After a few successful fights they were set free, or common people who wanted fame- they could retire after a few successful fights. Gladiators could ask to be spared after a failed fight and the emperor could decide whether to let them free, usually based on what the crowd wanted. To test fighters were actually dead, a burning iron was placed on their skin to prevent people "faking" their death.
Roman Forum
Italian water bubblers.. Haha so elaborate! Some look pretty scary .. Took us at least a few days to trust the water would be ok... Turns out the water tastes amazing and is super cold!! The water for the nasoni (small water fountains) comes from a huge reservoir in Peschiera which runs approximately seventy miles of channels before emerging from the spout of a city fountain. There are 2,500 nasoni fountains in Rome alone!!
Catacombe San Callisto- oldest Christian catacombs. Christians weren't allowed to be buried in Rome so the catacombs are just outside of Rome.
Lots of scooters, and the cars are tiny! Even the police cars!
It's really sad to see how many people in Rome work on the street trying to sell things- jewellery, toys, newspapers, selfie sticks.. Anything. Andrew said the unemployment rate is the highest it's ever been? 43% youth unemployment rate and 13.3% for the country. Sad that everyone selling on the streets are dark.. I wonder what that says / means about racism in Rome? Yes they are annoying as you're constantly being approached but it's really sad. I feel sorry for them.
Funny moment 2 from day 2: the waitress at dinner who didn't know any English losing balance of her tray and having our glass of white wine and glass of red wine spill all over the table and us! Somehow we both managed to avoid red wine all over our clothes! We got some great service after that and lots of apologies and laughs, plus a free glass of wine ☺️

27 August 2015

Funniest moment from day 2: skipping ahead on the Vatican tour and then hearing the tour guide on the one-way radio count heads and having to near run back up 7 flights of stairs in the wrong direction pushing through hundreds and hundreds of people and then walk back up to the tour guide like nothing had happened.... Hahahaah oops. Oh, and my hair got caught in someone's hand fan in the middle of a doorway ... We weren't very popular ..hahah
Solo a Roma a cena con mio marito...
Outside the Vatican in their courtyard
St Peters Basillica - all real solid gold. The white marble on the floor is from the Colosseum!
Vatican 3: they have their own fire brigade and if you were not on a tour you would need a passport to be here! There was a woman pope in the 9th century!!! They didn't know she was a woman until she got pregnant and had a baby! To prevent it ever happening again, where they carried the pope they would cut a big hole in it so from underneath they could double check the gender!!!!! The last photo- the roof is solid gold
The Vatican part 2- the ceiling is actually flat!!!!! Painted to look 3D ( see last 2 photos)
Vatican - 11 miles!! Has its own army- 110 soldiers! It's own bank! Sistine chapel is the pope's own chapel. He can shut it down from public at any time he wants. No photos or speaking in the Sistine chapel! The lion and pine cone are over 2,000 years old The purple marble is no longer available in any quarry. It was from Egypt and is worth more than diamond. The room with the horses is completely white marble and the ceiling is a replica of the Pantheon we saw yesterday (which in both cases was used as a sundial)
Every single apartment in the outer suburbs of Rome have their own aerial! Weird... ...turns out Rome is the same!! See photo 2..
Repubblica train station on the way to the Vatican
Aberdine Hotel days 1-4... It did the job. A place to stay that was very central and didn't make us want to spend too much time there (haha). The shower was the smallest one I have ever seen, and the bed was 2 singles pushed together so one of us was always sleeping in the crack, and Andrews legs fall off the end of the bed from the calf down... but the service was good and staff were friendly. The free bottle of champagne on arrival for our honeymoon was a pretty nice touch though!
Day 1 continued: lunch was incredible - we went to a very fancy and highly regarded local restaurant where we enjoyed bruschetta, grilled vegetables, a salami and mozzarella pizza and some amazing Italian wine.. Turns out that you are given and charged for a bread basket with olive oil and balsamic vinegar by default, but it's day 1 so we can splurge. Dinner was also incredible at the most highly regarded Rome restaurant where we enjoyed locally produced cured meats and cheeses with truffles and locally produced red and white wine. 4 courses including a tiramisu and we definitely made up for the 17+kms walked today!
Day 1: was absolutely incredible!! We started early with breakfast at the hotel at 7am. Turns out Italians have a sweet tooth at breakfast time! Glazed croissants, only sparkling (no still) water, jam but no peanut butter, yoghurt.... And only espressos for coffee (which was ok by us) The day then started with a "stroll" around Rome which had us see the local "termini" ( train station) as well as the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and a whole bunch of other amazing buildings and locations which weren't even on our map (and were actually much more impressive than the ones that were)... We went to a huge, beautiful stone Museum not too far from the Colosseum which was probably my favourite spot for the day, as well as some absolutely incredible churches including one huge church which had a ceiling dripping in gold and spectacular paintings! Just such an incredible day and I feel like we did and experienced so much!!! All in just one day!

26 August 2015

Some more photos from day 1
More photos day 1..