For those new to this series, I’m Alexia the Flight Risk Mom. I was once an adventurer, collecting exotic stamps in my passport and filling photo albums with snapshots and memories. Four children later, however, and my adventuring days have been reduced to trips to the grocery store and deciding what to cook for dinner. This summer, however, I’m back on the road, dragging my four children and somewhat reluctant husband around Europe. Come follow me for fun in the sun and sights not to be missed.
I had originally planned to write this post only about Venice, Italy. After all, it’s billed as one of the world’s most romantic cities. But before we got there we stopped in Siena, a very small city in Tuscany about an hour out of Florence. I had always wanted to visit this medieval town and I wasn’t disappointed.
Siena is divided into 17 contrade (districts) and you can tell which district you are in because the street lamps change. On July 2 they have an annual horse race between 10 of the 17 districts. Winning this race is a matter of great pride and the district we were staying in won! They were going to party for six weeks. Here’s a parade we stumbled upon. And the gathering in the Piazza del Campo when they decided who was going to participate in the next race.
The first night there was a celebration in the main square with a band playing and general merriment. Sitting on the warm, sunbaked tiles with the stars blazing above, music wafting over the warm night’s air, enjoying it with my family, will be an enduring memory of my time in Italy. If you have the chance, visit Siena, especially if you can coincide your visit to early July.
Next stop on our itinerary was Venice. I had been here years before but with my brother (not romantic). I do like Venice, but have found it’s the kind of place you visit once and you’re done. The main tourist attractions like the Rialto Bridge or St. Mark’s Square are overcrowded and after five minutes I’d had enough of people jostling for the best photo. My oldest daughter and I got up at 6.00 am to get some photos before the crowds hit. It’s also not a city for the less-mobile. With tons of stairs and bridges, you’ll soon rack up the mileage on your step counter. One of my favorite things to do in Venice, however, is to wander around the back alleys and tiny streets and canals. This is where you’ll find the real Venice.
If you’re going to do a little shopping, compare prices. It seems every store carries almost the same thing but those that are farther away from the main squares and tourist attractions are a few Euros cheaper. Although I only saw these snazzy pair of underpants in one store.
Venice was our last overnight stay in Italy before we headed for France. Stop back next week for adventures in French rail travel. Ciao!
A former world wanderer, Alexia writes contemporary romance stories that reflect her love of exotic destinations and diverse characters and cultures. She currently lives near Vancouver, Canada with her husband and four children and dreams of a world without housework. As a flight risk mom, romance is her escape and she can often be found with her nose in a book, pretending she’s somewhere else. Check out her website at http://alexia-adams.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter to discover your next escape.
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