Very Venetian Venice

Traghetto
traghetto

“I can’t believe he didn’t even charge us,” my mom said.
The conductor of the train had just come by. He had revealed that we had gotten on the wrong train. We were surprised by his kindness to not charge us. We still had to get off on the next stop, though. When we got on the train we were supposed to get on in the first place, we realized that it was much slower than the train we had accidentally got on. We reached Venice and got off, I was so impressed and amazed. “Awesome,” I thought, “This is really, really cool.” We got to our apartment and hung out there for the rest of the day.

Jewish Ghetto
Jewish Ghetto
Holiday Celebration in The Jewish Ghetto
Holiday Celebration in The Jewish Ghetto

The next day we walked around and explored the city. We found the Jewish ghetto. It was the only place in Venice Jews could live in the 16th – 18th centuries. There were only a few bridges, and these bridges used to be guarded. Talk about strict! Tiny, too! It was so small. It was just one plaza with buildings all around it. This plaza wasn’t as big as Saint Mark’s Square. It was about 3/4 the size of Saint Mark’s Square. Not only that, but the day we went was also a Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah. We saw them sing and dance. They were really partying!

Opera Balleto
Opera Balleto

We got back to our apartment and a few hours later saw Opera Balleto performance, which is a performance of arias and short ballets from various operas by various composers. The players wore masks and the singers wore wigs. Sometimes they sung such high pitches that I covered my ears!

The next day we went to Island of Murano. There we saw a glass-making demonstration. The company had one of their best glass-makers make a small vase and a little horse. The horse took about two minutes to make. The vase took much more time to make. When the vase was done, another glass maker threw in some paper. The paper caught fire and burned to ashes!

Next we took a vaporetto to the Island of Burano. A vaporetto is water bus and is one of the major forms of transportation in Venice.  Burano is known for its colorful houses and its lace. We saw a lot of lace there. I wasn’t particularly interested. We walked around Burano, and mom popped into a lot of lace shops. We tried to find a place to eat lunch, but we were unsuccessful. We ended up skipping lunch and going back to the main island for an early dinner.  We ate at Osteria Mascaron. We picked it because Anthony Bourdain ate there, too. I had cuttlefish with black sauce. It was surprisingly really, really good.

Sunrise at St. Mark's
Sunrise at St. Mark’s

We woke up early the next day. We walked around Saint Mark’s Square and took some pictures. We almost had mass in Saint Mark’s Cathedral, but when we checked inside it was really noisy from all the renovation. It was too noisy for mass. We went back to our apartment. Later we took another walk around the city. We rode a traghetto, which a gondola that takes you across canals, across the grand canal. We had a very awesome time in Venice. It is very – how do you describe it – Venetian. #PureUniqueness

 

 

Bergamo and Verona

Under Juliet's Balcony
Under Juliet’s Balcony
Bergamo - Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Bergamo – Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Bergamo Cathedral
Bergamo Cathedral

I got out of the car. My family and I saw a great big church. We went inside and saw arches, columns and vaults inside. I could tell this was Romanesque. It was very big. Very, very big. By the time we got out, we went into another church. This one was Baroque. It was made out of white marble. It had lots of pictures about stories from the bible. They used these pictures to learn bible stories, since most people at that time were illiterate. We headed out, and we started walking around. We saw a lot in the narrow alleyways. We saw a Pinocchio thing and some old buildings. When we got back, we saw a guy playing “Hotel California” by the Eagles on his guitar. His version didn’t have words. As we got on the road to Verona again, I asked Dad to put that song on the radio. I didn’t think I’d ever request that!

Verona
Verona

The next day, we woke up early to see Verona. We had already returned our rental car. We got out and starting walking around again. We climbed a hill and looked at the view. There was a castle on top of the hill, but we didn’t see it. When we got back down, we saw a big Romanesque church. This one was not half as big as the one in Bergamo. After that we found a nice café to eat “breakfast” in. The reason we couldn’t find a good place to have a decent breakfast in was because Italians don’t really have breakfast ( you may already know that ). Then we walked around and found Piazza delle Erba. There we found a small art gallery and people could bring their dogs inside! Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Italy.

Verona Pano

Then we walked to the arena, but on the way we had a chocolate break. The arena almost looked like a small version of the Colosseum in Rome, but they use it as a theater! Isn’t that cool?!? I love it when people do something like that. After that, we went to Juliet’s balcony. It was built in the 20th century totally as a tourist attractions. It was overcrowded with many, many, many young couples. It was not even worth going there. After that we had another chocolate break. This time it had fruit, too. Finally we went to Giardino Giusti. My favorite part was the hedge maze. I also liked the turtles. There were at least 10 of them in one fountain! Too bad they weren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

To Bellagio and Beyond!

Bellagio
Bellagio, Italy

One day we went hiking in the forest in San Bartolomeo, which is a tiny village in Northern Italy. We collected lots of chestnuts! Our inspiration for this was that we saw a man collecting chestnuts. We filled our pockets with them, and we ended up having eight pockets full of chestnuts. They were really tricky to get because they came in pods that were super spiky. We found lots of big ones, even two huge chestnuts. We had a great time. We ended up giving them to our friends at our AirBnB Apartment. I didn’t know that hiking could be so fun!

The next day we went to Bellagio and it was so amazing. I thought I was in Disney Animation Studios. It is just so beautiful. You have the lake, then the mountains in the background. The water is so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom. We walked among the many narrow alleyways cutting through the town. At one time we stumbled upon a café and I had a glass of hot cocoa. My parents had some coffee. Then we kept walking among the narrow alleyways. At one point we explored some gardens. After that I had some gelato. Yum yum!

As I told you, we stayed in a AirBnB Apartment. The owners of the AirBnB apartment had two kids: a 3-year-old named Jimmy and a 10-year-old named Jessie. I enjoyed playing board games with them. We played “Crazy Monopoly”, which is just like regular Monopoly, but you make up the numbers and whatever’s on the Community Chest and Chance cards. That was very fun. I also played “Guess the Code” with Jessie. Once she even guessed my code in one try!

James, Jimmy, Jessie
Me with Jimmy and Jessie

“This church is round. Are you kidding me?” I asked.
Columns circled the inside of the building. They supported small arches that held up the building. Each level up they got smaller and smaller. It was all made of stone. I was told that the church had been built from 1150 – 1180 A.D. This was during the Romanesque period. Next we saw a complex of three churches that were built into one. The first part of the church was a Renaissance building that was built in the 1500s A.D. Its arches were much bigger than the ones inside the round church. Through a doorway we found a 9th century church. This place was more like the round church. It was rectangular, though, and had thicker columns that were the shape of the building itself. The next level contained a 7th century crypt that was much smaller and more closed than any other building we had seen. We exited and next we saw a church that was built in the 1100s A.D. Inside were many frescos that were used to teach bible stories, because reading and writing was too rare. The pews had been replaced by pop-up chairs for cleaning. A whale bone was on one of the arches. During the building of the church, workers found it in the ground.
As we left, we were given rosaries, medallions, and bracelets. We got back in the car and drove to our AirBnB apartment.

I said, ” The medallion actually warms me up. ”