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Category: Italy



(We visited Venice in late April – I’m only a little behind with my blog…)

After our weekend in Modena, we drove to Venice. We left our car at one of the cheap car parks out of town, and took a bus to the city centre. From there we took a water bus to Giudecca (an island just across from the “main” island in Venice), where we were met by our AirBnB hostess.

On our first afternoon in Venice, it was rainy and windy. It turned out to be a Bora event ¬†– katabatic wind, which is what my PhD was about – so quite fun to experience! This was the street that our AirBnB apartment was at, almost next to the women’s prison…

The location of our AirBnB on Giudecca

We went for a short walk around Giudecca, but we quickly retired to our apartment as getting soaked wasn’t that much fun…

Dramatic views towards the main island of Venice

The next day we took the waterbus for a long time, to the island Murano. The day started really sunny and it was so pretty. Murano is famous for all the glassmakers located there, and this artwork in front of the bell tower represented that.

The Bell Tower and glass art on Murano

Murano was a nice place to start in Venice, as it wasn’t so crowded here. We enjoyed walking along the canal and looking at all the small shops selling beautiful glass items.

Murano Canal

Such a colourful sight!

Fantastically colourful streets on Murano

We visited one of the glass factories and watched a demonstration. I bought some beautiful turquoise glass earrings – the perfect souvenir! In front of the glass factory we had great views towards Venice over the lagoon…

Impressive views over the lagoon

There was laundry drying everywhere…

Laundry drying everywhere

We took the boat back to the main island where we continued exploring all the narrow streets and canals.

Back on the main island with its narrow canals

The buildings in Venice are really old and it shows! I loved these kind of scenes…

Typical Venice view

Finally we reached Piazza San Marco. It was REALLY crowded around the piazza. That was exactly as everyone had told me before our trip, and what I was most worried about – that Venice is nice but the crowds of tourists will drive you mad.

Seagull with Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

And yes, there were a lot of people here. But if you went just a couple of streets away from the most famous places (like Piazza San Marco), the crowds are gone and the city is yours to get lost in.

The bell tower of St Mark's Basilica on Piazza San Marco

So to conclude, I would still recommend Venice – it’s old, it’s incredibly beautiful and fun. It’s easy to understand why so many tourists flock to the city, but I was glad they don’t venture very far away from the famous sights so you can still find peace and quiet in the city!

The next day was very sunny. This was our view walking towards the waterbus stop on Giudecca – and the yellow boat is actually an ambulance!

Looking towards the main island from Giudecca - the boat passing is an ambulance!

We wondered around the many colourful streets and canals again, and enjoyed the sunshine.

I loved wondering around the colourful canals

Venice is busy but if you walk away from the most famous sites you can find many quiet places too!

Gondola’s in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute…

Gondola's in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

The classical image of Venice, with tourists in a gondola…

Classic Venice image with a gondola :)

Another famous hotspot in Venice is Rialto bridge. It was really crowded with people and I actually had to wait for “my” turn to take a photo from the railing, haha… But the views from the bridge were worth a little wait.

Views along the Canal Grande from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

Lots of boat traffic on the Grand Canal…

More views from Rialto Bridge

I loved the view from the bridge, you could almost imagine being way back in time.. not a car in sight. But of course you’re surrounded by people taking selfies on their smartphone, so this illusion doesn’t last very long ūüėČ

View in the other direction from Rialto Bridge

Panorama from the Fish Market. Just steps away from Rialto bridge but here we were nearly alone.

Panorama from the Fish Market

Street scene in Venice.. I loved getting lost in the narrow streets.

Nice scene found while wondering around Venice

We tried to get really lost, but actually you easily find signs pointing to the nearest point of interest.. oh well. Lots of cute little bridges…

Michiel in Venice :)

Two pigeons in two old windows…

Old window & pigeons

After dinner we went for a sunset walk to get some photos. It’s even more beautiful at that time of day…

Gondola's at sunset

We spent some time on¬†The Ponte dell’Accademia watching the last sunset colours disappear…

Sunset from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Venice at twilight is really pretty!

Beautiful twilight colours from The Ponte dell'Accademia

Quiet moments at dusk

Finally, the blue hour – all the lights are on and the sky is a deep blue colour. Loved this view!

Finally the blue hour - magical

It was fun taking long exposures of the boats passing underneath the bridge.

View from the bridge with boats passing underneath

We spent three nights in Venice and really enjoyed our stay. It was the end of our Italy road trip, after Venice we drove back to the Netherlands (two days of driving).



After San Marino, we spent two nights in Modena. We were there on Easter Sunday and Monday, which meant a lot of places were closed. When we arrived, we went to the nearest restaurant (across the street from our hotel) for lunch. It was full of big families having Easter lunch, but they managed to squeeze us in. Modena is famous for its food, and we weren’t disappointed… We started with this amazing fish starter…

Amazing fish starter

Then Michiel had gnocchi, and I had the seafood risotto. It was all really good!

Wonderful gnocchi in Modena

Afterwards we went to the city centre of Modena – this is the central square Piazza Grande, pretty empty on this Sunday afternoon.

Piazza Grande in Modena

Modena cathedral is a curious mix of styles – I was most impressed by this window made of stone!

Windows made of stone in the impressive but slightly strange Modena Cathedral!

We walked around the town with its colourful houses…

Colourful houses in Modena

Before returning to our “castle” hotel – really nice place actually, just outside Modena.

Our 'castle' hotel

The next day we decided to visit the Ferrari museum in nearby¬†Maranello. It’s not that big, but it was surprisingly fun!

The surprisingly fun Ferrari museum

I have to admit, quite impressive…

Ferrari museum in Maranello

On Monday evening it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant that was open and not fully booked. We ended up in this crazy-ugly-seventies restaurant (look at that painting behind Michiel!) which had a smoker’s room and gave out bibs with the seafood pasta. It was actually quite a funny experience, and the food was good!

Seafood pasta came with a bib :D

Our visit was a bit random due to a lot of places being closed over Easter, but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the regional food. Next stop: Venice!

San Marino

San Marino

After a wonderful couple of days at Cinque Terre, we got back on the road and drove to our next destination, which was actually another country: San Marino! The reason I wanted to go there was (as has happened before… )¬†one photo¬†I had seen of the city of San Marino located on a 750 m high hill with great views over the surroundings – it looked magical!

Our hotel was right on top of the hill, and after dropping our bags we went to enjoy the views – they didn’t disappoint!

Admiring the views from San Marino

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon with wine and pizza on an outside terrace…

We spent a long time having drinks and some food at a restaurant with an outside terrace with amazing views

Then at sunset we walked we walked up to the Second Tower to enjoy views of the First Tower. That magical view I had seen in the photo…

The First Tower (or Guaita fortress) at sunset

As dusk fell, all the lights came on – magical! You could see all the way to the coast at Rimini…

As dusk was falling, the lights came on - magical views!

The castle was beautifully lit, what fairytale views…

What a view... you could see the coastline and boats at sea

The next day we explored the city. First, we went to visit the First Tower, from where we had this great view of the Second Tower (yes, exactly the opposite as the photos above!).

The second tower seen from the first tower

And the other way around again, haha… We bought combination ticket to visit almost all the monuments in town. The Second¬†Tower had an exhibition of ¬†weapons, from medieval to modern day. It was interesting, but we found the obsession with weapons in San Marino a bit strange. There’s a lot of shops selling knives, crossbows and guns (from toy ones to real ones…).

And vice versa, first tower seen from the second tower :D

I just couldn’t stop taking photos of the views…

Another view of the first tower

Michiel on the town square…

Michiel at the town square

We also visited the Palazzo Publico (the town hall), which had this incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council…

The incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council in Palazzo Publico (the town hall)

It was a cloudy day, but I loved the rays of sun peeping through the clouds, lighting up the hills around San Marino.

Nice views, and nice sun beams!

In the evening we had a really good dinner – what a great day! We were leaving the next morning, but when I saw that the sun was coming through the fog every now and then, I knew there would be some good photo opportunities. So we went back to my favourite viewpoint, and got treated to these views – a fairytale castle in the sky!

Fairy tale views of the castle in the clouds!

Nice way of saying goodbye to San Marino!

We really enjoyed our visit to this mini-country-on-a-cliff!

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

After Torino, we drove further southeast to Levanto. From there we drove some winding roads up in the hills until we reached the tiny village of Legnaro. The owner of the B&B that we booked came to meet us at the parking lot, to take our luggage in a tiny car, because the streets of the village are too narrow for normal car. This was the B&B, isn’t it beautiful?

Agriturismo Costelletta in tiny Legnaro

It’s called¬†Agriturismo Costelletta¬†(also easily bookable through, and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Cinque Terre. The owners are super friendly and the breakfast is fantastic! (And no, I am not getting paid to say this¬†– I just liked it that much)

The first evening we had a picnic dinner on the outside terrace. When I saw how pretty the sunset was turning out, I quickly grabbed my camera and ran back to the parking lot. From there you have this great view of Legnaro and its church, and all the way down to Levanto and the sea. So pretty!

The view from the parking lot, with the church and village of Legnaro and all the way down to Levanto and the sea

The sunset just kept getting prettier, and more colourful…

Fantastic sunset colours

And then all the lights came on in Levanto, and the church of Legnaro was beautifully lit. Magical view!

View just after sunset, magical...

The next day we took the train from Levanto to the furthest of the five villages in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore. It was a warm sunny day, we were a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists, but Riomaggiore is really beautiful!

Our first stop in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore

I loved the view of the colourful houses on the cliff, with the blue sea surrounding them.

The colourful houses of Riomaggiore

After visiting the village, we hopped back on the train and visited our second village: Manarola. We climbed up the graveyard, which we had almost to ourselves, and which had the best view of this beautiful village:

The second village we visited: Manarola, so pretty!

We continued by train to the third village: Corniglia, which unlike the other villages is not by the sea. From the station we had to climb¬†33 flights with 382 steps to get to the village – quite exhausting in the warm sunshine! We bought a sandwich for lunch, and then we started walking to the next village (Vernazza). From the first part of the walk you have really nice views back at Corniglia…

And the third village: Corniglia

Here from even higher up…

We walked between Corniglia and the next village (Vernazza), here looking back at Corniglia from above

Here we could see Corniglia on the cliff, and Manarola further away in the distance.

Spectacular views from the walk, Corniglia on the cliff and Manarola in the distance

At the highest point of the walk (also roughly the halfway point), there was a cafe and someone had made this fun cross-section / information sign about the walking path of Cinque Terre.

Fun sign summarizing the paths of Cingue Terre, from the halfway and highest point between Corniglia and Vernazza (Prevo)

We continued towards Vernazza, on paths surrounding by cacti.

Michiel on the path, with lots of cacti!

Our first view of Vernazza – spectacular! Those views made the long, sweaty, exhausting walk more than worth it!

Our first view of Vernazza - spectacular!

Beautiful, beautiful views…

Vernazza and Italian flag

Beautiful Vernazza

In Vernazza we had a well-deserved ice cream which we ate in the port enjoying this view…

The port of Vernazza

We laughed at these funny tourists going on a boat trip…

Funny tourists going on boat trip ;)

After a while we took the train to the final of the five villages: Monterosso al Mare. A nice village, but not as picturesque as the other villages of Cinque Terre.

The final of the 5 villages: Monterosso al Mare

On our final day in the area we stayed around Levanto, which is a really pretty town with way less tourists – well worth a visit!

Colourful boats on the beach at Levanto

The waterfront promenade in Levanto, which we almost had to ourselves…

Levanto waterfront promenade

We really enjoyed our visit to Levanto and Cinque Terre, beautiful area! I would love to come back and do some more hiking there. There were hiking trails going through the village that we stayed in, which also went through several other hilltop villages in the hills above Levanto – would make for a great walk!