Venezia, Part I

Buon giorno, Venezia!

When David and I were planning our wedding five years ago, one of the honeymoon ideas we threw around was an Italy trip as I had never been and always wanted to go to Italy. We realized it would probably cost us too much to do an Italy honeymoon, but David promised me that someday we would have a chance to take an Italy vacation.

Now that we live in Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria – that is, the mountainous part of Bavaria), Italy is astonishingly close, as the border is within a four-hour drive from our home. Needless to say, this makes Italy a tempting and affordable travel destination for us. And especially with Baby Budlet on the way, we figured Italy would be a great trip for Rosebud and us, before we become a family of four.

When we were looking at maps of northern Italy, we eventually settled on making Venice our primary destination. In February, we went online and found a vacation apartment in a near suburb of Venice, in the town of Oriago/Mira. Our little apartment is comfortable, and although the town of Oriago is not much to write home about, we have been very comfortable and Venice has been extremely accessible via the bus.

Our drive to Venice was breathtaking, as we crossed the Alps. We headed due South, as we drove through Innsbruck, Austria; then through the Germanic Italian province of Bolzano (all signs there are bilingual), through Trentino and finally on toward coastal Venice.

We arrived on Easter Sunday, and then spent Easter Monday exploring Oriago, mainly walking along the canal. As in Germany, most shops were closed on both Sunday and Monday, meaning I had to pack a few days’ worth of food with us. We did, however, find a pizzeria that was open on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, we arrived in Venice fairly early and David purchased seven-day Venice cards for us. They have more than paid for themselves, as the cards include such advantages unlimited valporetti usage (these are the water buses), free or reduced admission to many museums, admission to a group of well-known churches excepting the Basilica of San Marco and even free public toilet usage (usually one must pay between € 0.50 cents and € 1.50).

Venice itself is a beautiful and fascinating city, as it is built on a series of islands that Venetians say look like fish. Although I would have loved to take a gondola ride, they’re expensive and I wouldn’t want to risk it with an active toddler who is prone to throwing her Bitty (blanket) on the ground. We brought our hiking backpack with us instead of a stroller, and that has been an excellent way to explore Venice with Rosebud. A stroller would have been a challenge because of the boats and the many stepped bridges. Additionally, I think Rosebud has been able to see a lot more riding around in the backpack instead of in a stroller.

What I’ve enjoyed most about Venice is that there is something interesting around every corner, and I’d say the best way to see Venice is to simply walk around (or travel by boat). We’ve visited the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Correr Museum, the Glass Museum on Murano Island, the Jewish Museum and several of the chorus churches. We also went to the Accademia art museum, which wasn’t included in our Venice card. And of course, it’s been delightful simply walking around, discovering little shops, cafés and restaurants.

In Venice itself, we have been able to communicate in English, but in Oriago, most people assume we’re German. I imagine that most vacationers who stay in Oriago are probably German. However, when I bought some bread in a local bakery, the shopkeeper said she thought I sounded German and seemed surprised to learn I’m American.

With most of the local shopkeepers in Oriago, we’ve been able to communicate in a smattering of German or mostly through pointing and talking with our hands. I have never formally studied Italian, but because I’m fluent in French and have a very basic knowledge of Spanish, I’ve been able to read and understand most of the signs, menus and even some basic newspaper articles. I have been able to decipher basic conversations, too. But anything more complicated than that, and I’m at a loss! Don’t ask me to speak any Italian, either – but this trip has inspired me to consider learning Italian at some point, because I think I could easily pick it up given that I already know so many basic words.

Tomorrow we plan on a day trip to the city of Parma, home of Prosciutto and Parmaggiano-Reggiano cheese. Perhaps later this week we will travel to Modena, which is known for balsamic vinegar and maybe to Trieste in the opposite direction. The city of Bologna is also not too far away; nor is Verona so perhaps we’ll see one of those cities as well.

And of course we’ve been taking lots and lots of photographs! I unfortunately forgot the cable to sync the pictures with my computer, but I promise to post them later on so all of you can vicariously travel along to Italy with us.

Rosebud has especially enjoyed the food. This isn’t too terribly surprising, as she loves pizza, risotto and pasta! But the food has been quite good. I’m especially looking forward to eating out in Parma tomorrow, which is certainly known for its cuisine.

Another lovely benefit to traveling in Italy in early April is we’ve been enjoying the lovely spring weather! While spring has arrived in Upper Bavaria, it’s further along here in the Venice region. While we have been here, we’ve been enjoying the budding trees and spring flowers, not to mention the slightly warmer temperatures.

On a personal note, I’m feeling well (apart from the occasional pregnancy woes). I do get more easily tired, and for that reason we have been taking our time at lunch, for example. I’ve been sporadically feeling Baby Budlet, which is both exciting and reassuring.

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14 responses to “Venezia, Part I

  1. I’m so glad to hear you’re all having a great time! Eat some parmaggiano-reggiano for me!

    • bowmansinbavaria

      We were in Parma, and David had the most amazing Parmeggiano-Reggiano risotto while there. I also bought a big hunk of the cheese. It’s so amazingly good, better even than what I can buy here in Germany at the deli.

  2. Matthew Spencer

    It’s funny that Italians think you are German. I’ve surprised a few Austrains too by being American, especially in bookshops.

    It’s also great that you can understand some of the Italian using Spanish and French. I’ve heard that the Venetian dialect is really hard to understand, but there are probably not many natives left in the city.

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I asked the manager of our apartment about being identified as German. She said that it’s probably because most of the tourists who stay in the Mira area are German, as we have foreign accents when we speak Italian, that’s probably why they thought that. I think that makes sense.

      I had a harder time understanding regular spoken Italian, unless someone spoke very slowly and simply. But reading proved to be pretty easy for me. You know what also helped was my musical knowledge! (musical expressions like mezzo, troppo, etc)

  3. So fun to read about your travels. We wish we could be there with you! Sounds like an awesome trip….keep enjoying it!! (And so fun that baby budlet is getting to enjoy it in his/her? own way. 🙂 Love you and miss you all!!

    • bowmansinbavaria

      We miss you, too! How I wish you were able to be here to help celebrate Rosebud’s birthday.

      Baby Budlet really liked the Italian food, as I started really feeling baby wiggling around during our vacation.

      Although I still hope that J. gets his job, on the other hand we’d be so thrilled to have you visit this summer!

  4. I remember that Venice was like a maze; the one word of Italian I found essential was Ferrovia. I was only there for a day and I wanted to be sure I could find my way back to the train station in time. Conveniently, there was an arrow pointing the way at most corners, along with arrows for San Marco and the Rialto. I remember seeing a Disney store there and wondering “Who goes to Venice to shop at a Disney store?”

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I liked all the arrows pointing you in the direction of Rialto, San Marco, etc.

      And I can shed some light on the Disney store. Yes, I have got a story!

      Because, you see, during one lunchtime, Miss Rosebud got particularly fussy and simply wanted to walk around (plus, she ate little of the cheese pizza I ordered her and instead stole my lasagna!). Rosebud was, overall, great in all the restaurants on our vacation, but by this point she was just tired of having to be on her best manners, I think, and ready to walk around some.

      She started to throw a toddler tantrum, as they do, and it just so happened that we were close to the Disney store. I walked her there, and that did the trick. When we walked in, she was delighted to see the rack of Minnie Mouse dolls (her favorite Disney character). She wanted to touch each one, she instantly calmed down and was happy.

      So, there you go! Parents of toddlers throwing a tantrum go to the Disney store in Venice.

      Believe it or not, nearly everyone else in the shop was Italian, so I suspect that they were from Mestre or nearby, buying stuff for their kids.

  5. How funny that you were driving into northern Italy at the same time as me! We were on the school ski trip on border with France and travelled there over the Easter weekend.

    I’m glad to hear you are enjoying Venice, I love that part of the country. We went to Lake Garda on our honeymoon. You must definitely pick up some balsamic vinegar and if you’re supermarket shopping, there’s a delicious pumpkin risotto in a yellow box which is usually with the other risotto rices, which I can recommend. I always stock up when we go skiing. I would also recommend getting some Prosecco but I guess not for you at this time!

    Enjoy the rest of your trip xx

    • bowmansinbavaria

      Sally, thanks for the tip about the risotto! I didn’t find the exact kind you mentioned, but I found some squash risotto made by Knorr and picked that up. It sounds delicious!

      Did you enjoy your school ski trip?

  6. Lawrence Bowman

    Melinda, David and Ronni, the photos of the trip are great. Thanks for sharing. Glad you all had a wonderful time. It is fun to see my granddaughter walking around in Venice. We are looking forward to our vist with you this summer.

    Larry, Dad and Papa

  7. That’s interesting that you’re getting flagged as German, I don’t think the folks in Rome knew what to make of us. I wasn’t dressed like an American and made an effort to use Italian but I only know a wee bit and when I’d try to speak Italian the words out of my mouth were French. Though one of the guards at the Vatican knew immediately that I was American, perhaps because we were the only ones in the antiquities gallery.

    Don’t forget to keep notes on the wines you’re drinking! We are happy we did, but found out some of our favorite stuff comes from right outside Rome and isn’t produced in large enough quantities to export.

    • bowmansinbavaria

      Erin,

      David has been keeping good notes on the wines he tried. I look forward to returning to Italy because then I’ll get to try the wines, too. He did buy a few special bottles to open this coming fall.

      You know, I expected that I would want to speak French as that’s the other language I am fluent in, but oddly enough, I wanted to answer in Spanish (limited as it is for me).

      I really hope to get to Rome and the central part of Italy; also Torino/Tuscany/Piedmont; and also the Cinque Terra (I think that’s what it is called). So many places to go, so little time!

  8. Pingback: Venezia, Part 2 « Bowmansinbavaria’s Blog

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