Author Topic: August Italy and Switzerland  (Read 2772 times)

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
August Italy and Switzerland
« on: September 17, 2022, 12:57:19 AM »
Still sorting through pictures but will start the trip report and build as I go. If I am posting too many pics, let me know and I will post less

Basics - Family of 5 with kids 18 - 23, flying from Florida,
Flights Miami to Milan - 5 in business, 55k each and around $270 in taxes each on Air France. Converted 200k amex bonus points to 260k AF miles. Separate check-in lane in MIA, very quick, good flight,AF food and service so much better than Delta or United flights we have taken. 3 hr layover at CDG. AF lounges were well suplied with sufficient room in both MIA and CDG. Pour your own drinks, good food selection
Itinerary - 2 nights Milan, 3 nights St Moritz, 3 nights Zermatt, 3 nights Florence with day trip & 1 overnight in Venice, 4 nights Rome with day trip to the island of Ponza

fly home from Rome to Miami, Air France with connection at CDG. WIfe and I in business, kids in economy 155k AF points earned with AF card and transfer or another 60k amex points

AMex Biz NLL offfers flowed last year 150k biz platinum x 2 and 100k/90k biz gold offers restored my love of the game while I sit in 5/24 jail. After recovering $200 dell credits *2 per platinum and the airline fees, the gold cards cost me more than the platinums. Use dell credits for wireless ear buds and made money ont he sale on FB marketplace for new, unopened bose noise cancelling earbuds. Banked over 500k total amex points for around $700 in annual fees after subtracting dell credits and airline incidental fees (United gift cards in $100 increments still worked)

three days before departure, my 21 year old daughter tells me that the British consulate in NY quit expediting student visa applications and her passport, with the visa stamped in, wouldn't make it back in time for her to make the trip. In between urges to inflict something, not sure what, on my daughter and wife for keeping this from me until it was too late to try and make something happen I scrambled to cancel tickets, rail passes, seat reservations, prepaid tours, etc that my daughter would not be experiencing. Thank you NY British consulate, she sent in the information in 3 days after she received it from the college in Uxbury and apparently 37 days wasn't long enough for them to process her student visa application. So our family of 5 became a family of 4. AF was kind enough to redeposit my miles and taxes, much props to them, and the EURail refunded her 7 day pass, the local seat reservations and food deposits of the Glacier Express were non-refundable.

We purchased a 7 day EUrail pass that entitled us to 7 days as many miles as we could book. We then had to purchase seat resrvations on certain high speed or occupancy trains. Those are purchased separately from  the EUrail pass. Tooka me a bit to figure out that whole system. We spent $1700 for first class cabin passes and another $900 or so on seat reservations and meals on trains

Train trips

Milan to Torino Italy by local train, then bus
Torino Italy to St Mortiz - Bernina Expresss, slow scenic ride uphill and through the Alps to St Moritz. this was one of 7 days of pass

St Moritz to Zermatt - Glacier Express, 9 hour train trip, relatively slow, absolutely gorgeous scenery along the route. Seat reservations and advance dinner orders are suggested. day 2 of 7

Zermatt to Florence day 3 of 7

Florence to Venice roundtrip days 4 and 5 of 7

Florence to Pisa roundtrip, same day - day 6 of 7

Florence to Rome - day 7 of 7

masks were required on the trains and on the water busses in Venice, everywhere else was optional

We spent two nights in Milan Hilton on points. 2 rooms, 134k points total was good value with diamond status getting access to executive floor for sodas, beer, juices, etc. Breakfast bar was surprisingly good. $10euro per person daily city tax so $80 euro bill at checkout.

Landed, got a 48 hour local rail ticket, took train to hotel and walked the neighborhoods and visited the local palace that was converted into a grouping of small museums. The following day, we had reservations and visited the church where the last supper painting is on display. Didn't know that the painting is a fresco on a wall in a relatively modest dining hall and one of few paintings that Michaelangelo would paint. He was a sculptur, and felt that painting was beneath him. The few commissions he accepted were as a favor to the church. A known homosexual, lived to 89, was not well liked by anyone. Contemproray and antagonist of di Vinci. and visited the Milan Cathedral, the duomo di Milano, begun in 1386 and not finished until the 1960's. Did the roof top tour also and then visited the restoration museum that houses many pieces  and parts from the church and old stained glass windows that were replaced over the years as the church went through reformations. Transit was via local train/subway that wasn't difficult to navigate. Small grocer adjacent to the hotel, maybe two blocks to the rail depot, Good sized rooms for Europe. Would stay there again

Only needed cash for restrooms

Lots and lots of high-end fashion shopping in Milan and Venice had the most upscale shopping centers

Milan images

20220813_105831 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_113242 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_125104 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_131703 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_144617 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_151326 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_154114 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_161056 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_160629 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220813_172207 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland- family of 4, kids 19, 21
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2022, 01:07:01 AM »
We left MIlan on a Sunday, and that meant no direct train to Torino so we took a train along Lake Como to a stop where we caught a buss to get to Torino. Bus picked up in parking lot at train station. Not difficult, just cumbersome when transferring luggage. It was a good way to see some of the countryside.

In Torino,we had a wait before boarding the Bernina Express so we dined at a local restaurant and had some good salads, bread, and pasta. Which seemed to be our diet for much of our time in Italy. Note that while the ticket is covered on this train, seat reservations must be made in advance and the train was full in the first class cabin.

20220814_082113 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220814_122236 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220814_132019 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220814_140055 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220814_140657 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220814_144707 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr



Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2022, 01:18:07 AM »
when we arrived in St Moritz, we realized that our BNB was in the small village next door and took a $40 cab ride to the BNB, got checked in, found a nearby restaurant and grabbed some dinner after purchasing a family card taht we could load with cash to pay for local train and busses to get to St. Moritz and to the hikes we wanted to do. Glad we are mobile and in decent shape, we were averaging nearly 10k steps a day.

we took gondola to top and did some hikes from there. wife broke her leg 9 months prior and was not ready for downhill biking but there are some great bike trails there and electric bike rentals are widespread.

many places didn't speak english or offer english menus so google translator was very helpful.

I was surprised at how quickly one could become short of breath at 10k feet after living near sea level for so long.

20220815_114214 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_120152 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_134554 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_140118 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_143836 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_145040 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr




Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2022, 01:25:57 AM »
while in town we stumbled upon a Bughatti exhibit. My son is a bit of a hypercar fan so this was big thing for him Impressive collection of rare vehicles under one tent

20220815_161717 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_162142 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_162200 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_162223 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_162223 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_162538 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220815_161916 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Online PlatinumGuy

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Apr 2011
  • Posts: 14827
  • Total likes: 2341
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2022, 01:54:50 PM »
Curious how you'd compare St Moritz to Zermatt?
״וזה כלל גדול: שישנא אדם כל דבר שקר. וכל מה שיוסיף שנאה לדרכי השקר יוסיף אהבה לתורה.״ - אורחות צדיקים

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2022, 09:13:11 PM »
Curious how you'd compare St Moritz to Zermatt?
St Moritz has much more land to spread out. It is a traditional town transected by a road network next to a lake on the main highway traversing the area. It is much more german/swiss centric with many of the restaurants with no english language menus for example. Long walk from one end to the other and across the width of it.

Zermatt is at the end of the canyon surrounded by mountains with lots of walking avenues. It is much more condensed and westernized. No cars, only electric powered minibusses/cars and lots of e-bikes. Easily walkable.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2022, 09:40:05 PM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2022, 11:41:46 PM »
Our second full day in St Moritz found us traveling around 15km down the road on local bus and taking a vernacular up a mountain, hiked across the mountain witha pit stop at a cafe on a cliff before hiking to a different chairlift that ook us down to the bus station and back to our BnB. We were treated to a show of three different gliders swooping in and around each other and the hill we were on. Did I mention that high altitude was killing me. 300 with maybe 10 feet of incline and take a breath...

20220816_104521 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_103602 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_122132 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_133305 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_135232 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_135232 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_132911 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_130712 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

After the hike, we made our way back to the BNB, ate lunch, changed shoes and went into St. Moritz where my son wanted to rent a sailboat and say he sailed on top of the world. He sailed, I sat in the sun at the restaurant by the lake and drank a good beer or two. winds were shifty but steady with some big blows putting him at his limits so he had a good time

20220816_160837 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220816_161912 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2022, 11:59:51 AM »
The following day was all about the train ride. We took the Glacier Express direct from St. Moritz to Zermatt. It was a full 9 hours on the train and was full of scenery along the route. Was surprised at how warm the train was with the sunlight flooding in through the big picture windows. Please do not confuse Express with fast, as it is likely the slowest express train anywhere. The service and meals were good, not great, and the seats were large and comfortable.

The ride ended in the Village of Zermatt which sits in a dead end canyon at the end of the rail. There are only electric carts allowed here with some streets pedestrian only. Much more condensed and westernized town than St. Moritz. We only had two full days here and the weather forecast was for rain both days.

Town is very walkable, the gondola and vernacular network to the surrounding mountain trails and attractions is extensive (and expensive). Lots of premium shopping opportunities

20220817_092658 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_092957 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_094341 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

52309398726_1b2bef807d_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_112850 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_124547 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_183059 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_190836 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220817_194920 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 12:03:51 PM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2022, 10:25:37 PM »
The weather forecast was for 70% chance of rain all day the next day, not exactly what you want to hear when the plan is to go to the top of the mountain and view the majesty of the vistas. SO we made the classic mistake of sleeping in (7:30) before checking out the window and it was relatively clear so we hustled down to the Furi station and bought a day pass to take the gondola system to Glacier Paradise, enter the tunnel and display attraction cut through and into the ice, and then take the gondola system halfway down before traversing the mountains and glacier to the Gornegrat station. We were one of the first ones on the lift which proved to be pivotal as the clear sky didn't last past midday, that and the Glacier Paradise attraction was empty, something rarely seen if stories are to be believed.

At the top of the lift is a station with a restaurant, summer skiing, an outdoor viewing point of Matterhorn, and the Glacier Paradise glacier tunnel

52317115069_e6b502389d_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_080820 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


20220818_083400 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_084430 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_090254 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_090521 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_090724 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_090817 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_091621 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

52340033893_137091857e_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

dragon by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_090927 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_101935 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_101913 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

52317630199_f494fca55f_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr






Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2022, 10:31:59 PM »

click images to go to videos on flickr

20220818_091004 (1) by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_081642 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr
« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 10:35:21 PM by g8trgr8t »

Online tavster

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 2901
  • Total likes: 551
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 60
    • View Profile
  • Location: Israel
  • Programs: LY TP
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2022, 05:38:58 AM »
Nice TR - beautiful pictures

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2022, 11:52:50 PM »
more from our day on Matterhorn, Gorgen Grat is a peak about a mile away with a telescope, restaurant, and outdoor viewing decks. we had to go back down the mountain to go across the mountain. the views are worth every penny of the cost of the ticket. by 3 pm the clouds had taken over and run us off the mountain.

20220818_121522 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


hill by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_114852 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

52316119337_f45522d609_6k by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

GLACIER by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220818_110529 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr





20220818_101935 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr
« Last Edit: September 21, 2022, 12:00:05 AM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2022, 10:17:50 AM »
That evening and the following day were 55 degree and steady rain in Zermatt, not Florida rain but enough that you didn't want to be out in it. We rented mountain e-bikes (got to get one of these) and tried to ride a loop but it was miserable and we abandoned our efforts halfway up the hill. No pictures for that day or the following when we took the train from Zermatt to Florence. Had two change of trains which were easy enough to navigate with 15 minutes between trains.

Now that my pick for the portion of the trip was complete, we headed off to Italy for what my wife and daughter wanted to see. Florence, Venice, Pisa, and then Rome. And then a day trip to the island of Ponza...

Thing I  learned about Italy that were surprising to me. Italy wasn't a country until Mussolini cut a deal with the pope to unify the 7 city states. The dialect between villages 30 miles apart can be so different that they had great difficulty understanding each other.

Florence was the artistic and banking capital of the 7 city states of Italy (outside of the Vatican private bank). The Michi family was the patron family that controlled the biggest bank. They were the family that sponsored both Michelangelo and Leonardo di Vinci. Miche and DV hated each other. Miche was a known homosexual with an unpleasant disposition that apparently nobody liked. Al of his sculptures look like men's bodies and women had hair and breasts but the muscle size, thickness, structure of their bodies all looked like men. He did two of his most famous sculptures before the age of 30 and lived to 89. David was a sculpture that nobody wanted to do because the marble stone commissioned for the work was not of the best quality and nobody wanted to risk their reputation and crack the stone block. He considered painting to be beneath him "Anybody can paint" and sculpting was his life. He accepted commissions and the person paying only got to see the work when it was finished.  He took over as architect at the age of 71 to revise and complete St. Peters Basillica at the Vatican City. Lived to 89 when 50 was considered sr citizen

Florence - Bridges, shops (lot of leather goods), churches, sculptures, castles. Easy to walk but we were walking 12 - 16k steps a day while touring the citys
20220820_164114 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


20220820_164401 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_165242 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_170027 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_170644 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_172308 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_191151 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_191503 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_192322 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220820_192655 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

david1 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_104958 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_113556 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_105146 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_110720 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_124812 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_125626 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_132220 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_144653 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_145012 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 10:39:34 AM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2022, 10:21:09 AM »
That afternoon we took a 1 hour train trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower. Hard to appreciate how much of a tilt 5.5 degrees is until you walk it and do something like try and tie your shoe and not fall over...the sheer amount of marble in these structure sis impressive when you consider the manual labor it took to move that much marble and place it. Building these churches and monuments were massive public works projects that kept many employed during their construction periods. Pisa was much less touristy, meals were cheaper.

pisa by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_174704 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_181536 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_183718 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_184156 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220821_190758 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

and then back to Florence for dinner

20220821_213959 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2022, 09:52:44 PM »
sorry, got pulled away from posting when Hurricane Ian went over our house and  we have had a few things to do and people to help as some lost a lot and the flooding requires so much to recover from. No real damage to our house or flooding but friends had some bad flooding issues. Thankful that our problems were limited to a new roof and a couple of weeks living off a small generator, ie no stove, no washing machine, no air conditioning, and worst, no hot water

After a full day in Florence, we woke up early and took a high speed rail to Venice. Venice was one of the independent city states that controlled a lot of the trade routes. It was about a 2 hour train ride with 3 or 4 stops along the way from Florence to Venice. That was on the HSR where you needed seat reservations in addition to the EURail pass. Note that Venice has two stops on the HSR train in Venice, one on each side of the bay, so pick the correct station when you make your seat reservations. I didn't but was allowed to plead ignorance and there were plenty of other seats when we got to the first station and someone else had our seats booked out to the island. Trains run on time, food offerings were limited, so we got some breakfast from the pastry shops at the train station while waiting on our train to be assigned to a track. Track assignments would occur between 10 and 30 minutes prior to boarding times. Train systems we used everywhere ran smoothly and were efficient but security was minimal other than police and some military presence in the stations.

Upon arrival in Venice, we bought a 24 hour pass that allowed us to use one of the many aquatic busses. Venice is a city spread out across a couple of different islands with many other islands nearby as well as a port town with a fairly large size industrial area. The main island in Venice has a grand canal that bisects the town and serves as the artery that makes the city go.

Everything that would normally be moved by vehicle is moved by boats to the many docks and manually propelled wagons. from the docks to the final destination. People, deliveries, garbage, etc all moved up and down the grand canal by a fleet of public boat/bus that would seat/stand around 100 - 120 people +/- , private water taxis for hire, gondolas for the experience, garbage boats, delivery boats, private boats, even DHL boats.

The grand canal was a constant swarm of boats all vying for limited space. Operated by long time captains, the boats all yielded as needed to make the system work. I believe that the water busses had first ROW followed by the bulk haulers that made deliveries and took trash away. There were refrigerated vessels used to move perishables to their final destination on the island.

Off of the grand canal, there are lots of smaller, narrower canals and lots of streets/alleys with little bridges crossing all of the minor canals. In Venice, there is no straight way to get from A to B and it is easy to get lost with all the twists and turns in narrow alleys. With the narrow alleys and limited coverage. the GPS would often put us in an alley 50' over from where we needed to be that led to some interesting dead ends and an increase in the step count for the day.

Venice had a very impressive row of high-end shops (as many or more than Milan) if you like shopping as well as lots of nice architecture and big churches. Good food in Venice too. We rented a two bedroom BNB that was very large and nicely upgraded about a 5 mintue walk from one of the bus stations on the grand canal. We decided to spend the night in order to get the full experience, left most of our stuff at the BNB in Florence, and took just a day pack to Venice. Once we got our waterbus pass in Venice, we boarded the shuttle boat/bus and made our way to our dock and then to the BNB. Dropped our packs and spent the day just walking, and walking, and walking, with a great lunch mixed in...to see the most of the City that we could in a day. Found a small grocer to grab snacks, sodas, and something to eat in the am. Had a great day and night in Venice, got lost for a minute or two when phone battery died and busses weren't running so had to find my way home.  More steps...

One could easily spend a couple of days more here if they wanted to tour the various churches and palaces. This was one place that we neglected to buy tickets in advance to the palace tour and to be able to climb the tower. We had more time doing that in Florence and in Rome and didn't have the time to do it here, but one could easily spend 3 or 4 nights here to explore the city, the churches/palaces, and do a day trip on the ferry to one of the outer islands

Gondolas only took cash and price went up as sunset time approached. I think it was 80 Euro for about a 20 minute ride and prices went to $100 or $120 for the sunset experience. We went partially grand canal and then a loop canal where we passed Marco Polo childhood home. Gondolas, like homes here, are handed down generation to generation. Some gondoliers seemed to be much more personable than others and it was a crapshoot as to who you got when it was your turn in line.

20220822_101938 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_111749 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_112036 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_125208 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_144911 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_154326 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_193702 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_213538 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_214514 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_214641 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220822_221459 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr
« Last Edit: October 19, 2022, 10:07:26 PM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2022, 10:30:23 PM »
We returned the next morning via HSR to Florence and spent the day exploring the Boboli Gardens, the Pitti Palace, and the Palazzo Vecchio. We saw so many marble statues it is hard to fathom the number of sculptors that must have been employed to create all of them, knowing fully well that we were only seeing a small percentage of the number of original creations.

The level of detail in every little piece of painting or tapestry is remarkable when you consider the sheer size of the halls and ceilings in the Pitti Palace and the Palazzo Vecchio. I particularly enjoyed the map rooms with very old maps of different parts of the worlds and hand painted globes.

Still hard to imagine that Leonardi DaVinci and Michaelangelo were both alive and practicing at the same time in this little town in Italy. We did not make it to the DaVinci museum or the Uffizi Gallery and could have easily spent another full day or two in Florence.

20220823_132123 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_134228 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_141134 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_164432 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_170130 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_170430 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_171715 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_171756 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_212206 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_212734 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_215553 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220823_223842 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr


Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2022, 11:57:44 AM »
Picking this up after Ian decided to disrupt our lives. Been through a lot of storms but the surge from this one was unlike anything we have ever experienced. Fortunate to not have had the problems that many of my friends and colleagues experienced. Do not have time to post as many pictures here but the whole album with videos included can be viewed here

https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA2Qv8

Post Florence, we took HSR from Florence to Rome which was a whirlwind few days. Needless to say, Rome has so much history and incredible architecture and engineering to build such structures to last so long. One thing I didn't realize is that Italy, as a country, is less than 100 years old. Mussolini made a pact with the Papal states that was the final holdout state needed to unify the individual states that unified to become Italy.

We arrived late and made our way to our air BNB in the heart of the city right near the main synagogue and went for walk to see what we could that first night. The local streets were closed off with bollards to prevent vehicular traffic and there were armed private security guards that patrolled the area. Below is the monument built to memorialize the creation of the country. It sits in the same area as the coliseum and the forum. It is a massive structure and for a fee you can take an elevator to the top. For scale, they actually held a celebratory state dinner inside the horse statue that is front and center.

20220824_222041 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

The next day we had passes to visit the Vatican on a guided, skip the line tour. Money well spent as the lines were long and the tour imparted information we never would have known otherwise. The sheer volume of history and artwork there was overwhelming to the senses and hard to take it all in during the 4 hours we had to spend there. The wealth in the Vatican versus the poverty around the world was disturbing to me. The history and the power struggles over the centuries that were conveyed during our tour read as much like a criminal syndicate as it did a religious history.

After spending most of the morning at the Vatican, we made our way to the Pantheon, a truly amazing structure. Much of the metals from the original structure were melted and used to make forge many of the structures within the Vatican when the structure was converted to a Christian church, the materials and the workmanship to create a structure to survive this many centuries is impressive to this engineer.

After the Pantheon we made our way to the forum which was the center of the city where the marketplace and many libraries and official buildings were. So many of the ruins are beneath current ground level because of the frequent floods that deposited so much material there that it has raised the elevation of the city over the years. The current attempt to build an additional subway line is taking forever due to the sheer number of artifacts that they encounter during construction and the delays associated with each find.

The Trevi fountain was an impressive structure and one of the most crowded areas we visited. I observed more than one apparent pick pocket working the crowd.

The following day we visited the Coliseum and did another walking tour

On our last day we took a bus to the west coast and boarded a ferry for a 1.5 hour ride out to the island of Ponza. There, we boarded a boat and circled the island and did some snorkeling and were served lunch before retracing our path back to Rome. Amazingly clear water, fresh, some of the best water I have ever swam in. Only place I think I have ever been where they ship their fresh water in. I could have spent a week there even though there wasn't much to do beyond bars and snorkeling and fishing.

Flew Air France home Rome to Paris to Miami in business. Tickets that cost us 57.5k AF miles now seem to have lowest priced redemption rates of 2x that or more. Liked Air France product and service, disappointed they have devalued their program so much since.

Apologize for the delay in finishing this and the brevity but life has been busy trying to repair the flood damage and quibble with the insurers and lawyers. First world problems so I have to keep reminding myself that perspective is always important.

52320063327_da3d900429_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220825_123322 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

52319041931_02827b679e_o by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220825_171641 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220826_152033 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220826_143505 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr

20220824_183101 by bluewaterfever, on Flickr









« Last Edit: December 15, 2022, 12:30:35 PM by g8trgr8t »

Offline g8trgr8t

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 301
  • Total likes: 39
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2022, 12:35:25 PM »

Offline yelped

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Mar 2015
  • Posts: 8620
  • Total likes: 2506
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 36
    • View Profile
Re: August Italy and Switzerland
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2022, 12:35:41 PM »
Thanks for posting! Good luck on rebuilding! Sorry for your loss!