Did you know that there are discussions underway in the Italian government to stop cruise ships from docking or sailing into Venice, one of the top five most scenic harbors in the world to sail into?
The others are San Francisco, Vancouver, Sydney, and Hong Kong. They are concerned that the wave action from the big ships is damaging the foundations of the ancient buildings.
Italy is always one of the top 3 destinations that people want to go to. I always enjoy going to Italy because I have a passion for buying shoes and handbags and there is nowhere in the world which such a fantastic selection at bargain prices. I took a group last year on a cruise and one lady spent $25,000 in the first shoe shop we went to. Every lady in the group had to buy another suitcase to bring home all their loot. The fashion and jewelry options make for wonderful shopping.
First-timers should visit St. Marks and the Pantheon, take a ride in a gondola, and see the Bridge of Sighs. You will be captivated by the people, the scenery, and the food and vow to return. This is a vibrant city, and easy to get lost in because you get confused crossing all the little bridges over the many canals, and wandering up and down little alleys.
There are over 28 museums in Venice. I like the Campanile di San Marco Museum, the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Basilica dei Frari.
Our hotel was near the Campo Santa Margherita and I recommend taking the audio tour of the Doges Palace to admire the luscious Titians and Tintorettos and absorb a thousand years of Italian culture. Visit Pastiecceria Tonolo and have a cappuccino and a croissant filled with apricot jam. I also recommend making a reservation at the Ristorante La Caravella in the Hotel Saturnia. Ask to be seated outdoors in the private courtyard. The interior is paneled in wood like an old sailing vessel, the atmosphere is very romantic, the food and wine smashing, and the service discreet and gracious. Order the risotto with scampi, a house specialty.
You should take a water taxi to the Rialto market. The daily life of Venice seems to center here where local chefs rub shoulders with housewives carrying bulging string bags as they select the choicest fruits, vegetables and fish fresh from the Adriatic. It's fun to hear the locals all bargaining loudly in Italian, with delivery carts rumbling behind warning cries of “watch your feet!”
A must is to go visit the island of Burano, famous for its handmade lace. Another place to go is the island of Murano, to visit the glass blowing shops and studios. I remember my first visit there as a university student and I bought a beautiful glass swan for my mother. When I got home it was minus its head – I hadn’t packed it properly in my case.
Don’t go, if you can help it, in August. Hot and sticky. Carnival, in February, is the biggest event of the year. The costumes are spectacular and it is mobbed with people.
I can understand why so many people are booking Italy for 2013. With such fantastic offers, like free airfare, two for one cruises, shipboard credit, and heavily discounted business class air, it is a bargain to book a cruise, then have another week on your own perhaps renting a villa in Tuscany, taking a cooking class, seeing Florence, and Cinque Terra is a good choice also.
I grew up spending every summer at the Italian lakes. My grandparents always rented a house at Lake Como complete with tennis court and two ball boys. There is so much to see in Italy, you cant go wrong no matter which area you want to visit.