Bill and Grant's excellent aventura


Grant and Bill at top of Florence's Duomo

Cinque Terre
Amalfi Coast
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    This page covers our 3-week trip to Italy in June and early July, 2007.  Please check the map above to see where we went.

Our flights took us into and out of Venice, so we had planned to have two stays in Venice.  For our first stay, we had booked the Hotel des Bains on the Lido, where we figured we could get some sun and just veg on the beach to get over the jet lag on the first day and then sightsee the next two days.
    However, two days before we left, I checked the weather forecast for Venice.  Bad news:  it showed rain and thundershowers for all 3 days we were scheduled to be there.  All of northern Italy was under a huge nasty weather system.  So quick change of plans... we cancelled plans in Venice, knowing we would end up there anyway, and started off in Genoa, in the west, and on the Italian Riviera, hoping that would be the first area to be clear of the nasty weather... and it was.
    Except for the first day, and one quick passing shower, we never had rain on the trip.  Even on the days when the cloudy mornings made it seem like it was going to be a rainy day, it always turned sunny and warm, or downright HOT.  After we left the north of Italy, the heat (26C or hotter) stayed with us for the remainder of the 3 weeks.

All of our inter-city trips were by rail, except for a one-day rail strike.



Genoa (that's Genova in Italian) served as a home base for two day trips.  (Those will be shown in separate sections below.)

On the map, it seemed that our hotel would be far from downtown.  It was, but it turned out to be very convenient.  The location at the airport allowed us to take the airport express shuttle, Volabus, and that made the trip downtown to the train station a breeze.  That gave us a convenient start and end for our day trips because it ran hourly for only € 4 for the return ticket.

The Sheraton Genova is modern and impeccably clean, with excellent accommodations and staff.  We enjoyed every meal we had there.  Their evening restaurant, where we ate twice, was perfect in every way, including very diligent attention to Grant's allergies.

Genova Hills View From Hotel
View of Genova's hills from our hotel

Trains are a great way to travel.
We had an "Italy Pass" for 9 days worth of travel.

Sheraton Genova
Sheraton Genova from port

Sheraton Genova lobby
Sheraton Genova lobby
(2 photos courtesy of Starwood)

Map of Genova

Genova info


MONACO / Monte Carlo

Our first day trip was to Monaco, a couple hours by train west of Genova and just outside the borders of Italy.  I've been there twice before so I got to play tour guide for Grant.

The highlight of our quick trip was the palace grounds, but the entire nation-state is spectacular, even the train station.  My favorite restaurant in the world, Le Grill, is at the top of the Hotel de Paris, but unfortunately it did not open until after we had to leave Monaco.  (But we did pop into Louis XV, chef Alain Ducasse's other restaurant in the Hotel de Paris.  Just across the street is the famous Casino de Monte Carlo.

Harbour view from the palace

Casino de Monte Carlo

Monaco-Royal Castle

Principality of Monaco's official website

View of Monaco from Cap Martin



       - Monterosso
       - Vernazza

       - Corniglia
       - Manarola
       - Riomaggiore

The next day we went the other way from Genoa, east to Cinque Terre (pronounced cheen-quay tay-ray, it means the "five lands").  These 5 villages cling to the edge of the steep seaside cliffs southeast of Genoa.  Cinque Terre National Park, which includes the 5 villages, has been declared a World Heritage Site.

The villages are linked by rail, but the fun part is walking on the narrow dirt hiking path that connects them.  We visited two by train, then we walked from Corniglia's train station along the coastal path to the village of Manarola.  That turned out to be a perfect distance for what my feet could handle.  Along the way we did not get any hints of what the next town would look like.  Then, at the very end, the path turned around the big cliff and there before us was the most perfectly picturesque, colorful little village clinging to the cliffs, beautiful Manarola.

Map-Cinque Terre



5 Terre - Monterosso
Beach from restaurant where we had lunch

5 Terre - Manarola
Aerial photo (not taken by us) showing path we took from the left. It also shows the village's picturesque setting and the surrounding very steep cliffs.

5Terre - Manarola with Bill at the overlook
5 Terre-Manarola
This is the kind of scenery that makes this coast such a treat to visit.

Cinque Terre info


in transit Genova to Pisa

Along our route south from from Genova, we found that one valley near Carrara (marble center) was as spectacular as the Alps. In fact, these mountains of marble are called the Apuan Alps.  If we had one more day we would have explored this area.

            Location Map

Apuan Alps near Cararra.
The quarried marble makes the mountains look like they are covered by perpetual snow.



Moving from Genova to Florence, there was, conveniently, a change of trains in Pisa.  So we turned that into a day trip.

In Pisa, we walked 25 minutes from the stazione to the Leaning Tower.  It felt quite unreal to actually be standing there looking at the "Leaning Tower of Pisa" after hearing about it all our lives.

We really enjoyed seeing the Campo dei Miracoli, the area that includes the duomo, baptistry, and campanile (which is really what "the leaning tower" is).  This is a beautiful architectural complex, and each of the three main buildings there is interesting on its own.

Pisa Leaning Tower, Duomo, and Baptistry
Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli

Pisa-Narrow Street with tower

Pisa's Leaning Tower High CloseUp
Pisa - Leaning Tower High CloseUp

Pisa - Leaning Tower and Duomo from Museo courtyard


Map of Pisa


Pisa info



When we arrived in Florence, we checked into our funky little hotel, Hotel Andrea turned out to be more suitable than it first appeared.  The elevator was so small it could handle just 2 people, or 1 person with one large bag.  And the extremely narrow bathroom incorporated the shower between the sink and the toilet with just a shower curtain to contain the spray.  But we accepted it as "local color".  Exploring Florence by city bus, we had a great lunch overlooking the city at La Loggia restaurant at Piazza Michelangelo.  One morning we made an error boarding a city bus the wrong way and ended up on a long ride into the beautiful hills east of the city.

We visited the huge Pitti Palace with its renowned art collection in the Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments, in the style of traditional 17th-century picture galleries, one hung above the other in ornate frames, in magnificent rooms with sculptures and marble furniture.  Then we walked over the Ponte Vecchio to the duomo.  Later we found a surprising treat... in the park adjacent to our hotel there was a little stand open late at night which sold fruit and drinks.  Every night we had a big slice of cocomera (watermelon) just before bed.

Next morning-the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world's greatest art museums.  Of the many masterpieces, easy ones to remember are:  Michelangelo's Holy Family (in a beautiful gold frame he designed himself); four wonderful paintings by Ghirlandiao; Botticelli's Primavera: Moraldo's Warrior With Equerry; Titian's Flora, Caravaggio's Bacchus; and Rembrandt's Self Portrait As A Young Man.  While Botticelli's Birth of Venus is one of the best-known paintings of all time, in person it was disappointing because its colors are dull compared to what we are led to expect from its innumerable reproductions.

Later the same day we saw the Bargello.  Of all the museums we went to, this is the one we didn't feel was worth the time, despite Donatello's David, a beautiful little sculpture, notable historically as the first free-standing male nude since antiquity, pre-dating Michelangelo's David by 60 years.  Then we walked to Santa Croce, where many luminaries are buried. It makes you realize that no matter how grand a tomb is, there's always one grander.

At The Accademia, unquestionably Michelangelo's David steals the show.  In person this monumental statue truly justifies its reputation.  After its cleaning a few years ago, its marble is luminous.  Everyone appreciated the chairs supplied so people could sit and admire it as long as they liked.  It's definitely not something you can just walk past.  I also enjoyed the unfinished 'Captives' sculptures by Michelangelo in that gallery.

On our last morning in Florence, we got an early start and went directly to Il Duomo.  The "Gates of Paradise", the golden doors to the baptistry, were stunning (see photo at right), as is the highly ornate facade of the duomo.  Next we did the cupola climb.  Climbing about 200 steps got us to the mid point where we had to walk around half the circumference of the dome.  The dome has gorgeously vivid paintings on the walls, and the view is from hundreds of feet above the floor, which has an amazing 3-d pattern.  Then after hundreds of more steps up narrow passages, we finally reached the top of the cupola.  What a view!  All of Florence lay below us, even the highest campanile.

A trip back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, which took four trips down the tiny elevator, and then we headed to the train station only to find a rail strike cancelled all trains.  Luckily, the bus station is just across the piazza from the train station and, as further luck would have it, we were on the bus to Siena 10 minutes later.  If there had to be one day for a train strike, this was the perfect one.  The bus was only 6,50 Euros between the two cities.

Florence-view from La Loggia where we had lunch

Florence-Ponte Vecchio from Uffizi
Florence -Ponte Vecchio

Florence-Palazzo Vecchio
Florence -Palazzo Vecchio

Florence-Duomo And City From La Loggia
Florence -the elaborate facade of the Duomo

Florence-Gates Of Paradise on the Baptistry

Florence-Baptistry-Gates Of Paradise CloseUp
Florence-Gates Of Paradise close-up

Florence cityscape from Pza. Michelangelo
Florence cityscape from Pza. Michelangelo

Florence -Zoomed view of the Duomo from La Loggia

Florence-Duomo cupola from Pza. Micelangelo
Florence -This is the cupola at the top of the Duomo (zoomed close-up). We climbed up hundreds of stairs to get there.

Florence -Bill at top of Duomo after climb. It was quite an experience! And a great view!

Florence-View from Duomo Cupola
Florence -City view from Duomo's cupola

Florence-Statues outside the Palazzo Vecchio-David
Florence-Statues outside the Palazzo Vecchio
-copy of David

Florence-Holy Family by Michelangelo in the Uffizi

Bil at Michelangelo's Duomo Pieta
Florence-Bill at Michelangelo's Duomo Pieta

            Map of Florence

            Virtual panoramas

            Hotel Andrea



Our best deal of the entire trip was this € 15 full-day escorted bus tour of Chianti, from 9:15 to 16:45, sponsored by the Florence Tourist Office.

This bus tour with tour guide took us to and around Barberino Val d’Elsa, Greve in Chianti, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa, mostly on narrow backroads.  It gives an excellent overview of Chianti's scenery, history, wine-making fame, and what the area has to offer now.
The package included an unofficial lunch, wine tasting at Machiavelli's villa (tasted a very nice reserva), and artisans shops like an olive oil factory, woodworkers shop, fabric weaving, etc.  Great day trip.  We bought a phenomenal grappa at the Fattorie Giannizzi winery on the tour.

Chianti-Villa And Vineyard From Villa Machiavelli
Villa and vineyard in Chianti, Tuscany




Chianti-Sant'Appiano with insert showing columns
Sant'Appiano parish church dating from the 10th century.
In the large photo the columns appear to be part of the main church, but they are free-standing, which you can see in the insert with me next to the columns taken from the church door.
The columns, at least as told by our guide, are the remains of a pilgrimage shrine and shelter dating from the early Christian era.

Chianti countryside

Chianti-Barbarino Street Scene-Narrow Street
Chianti-narrow street in Barbarino Val d'Elsa

Chianti wine cellar

Map of Chianti (Once there, click on the stick-pins for more info.)

Artisans in Chianti Tour



In Siena, what a surprise when we got to our hotel room in the Hotel Minerva, which, when we arrived, appeared to be at the bottom of a hill.  Opening the curtains we found a picture-postcard view of Siena before us, both uphill toward the centro and down into a cute little valley within the city.  We only had one night there so immediately hoofed it all over town that afternoon and night.  Beautiful, loved it.  The central square is a magnificent urban experience.  We just wandered and managed to see pretty well the entire town on that evening walk.

Siena-Duomo And Campanile
The next morning we just missed the early train, but that worked well because we had 2 hours for a quick visit to see the inside of the duomo which had closed by the time we reached it the prior evening.  So glad I caught that.  I can't look at black and white stripes now without thinking of that cathedral.

Siena - Evening view from our hotel room

Hotel Minerva in Siena
Our hotel

Siena-Duomo And Campanile
Siena - Duomo and Campanile

Siena - Duomo-facade closeup showing arches and columns

Siena - Duomo-window

Siena-Duomo-facade close-up of the columns

Siena - Duomo-Library ceiling

Siena - Duomo-Library wall

Siena - Fanciful street lights

Siena-Fish District Light and Flag
Siena - Fishy light standard and flag

Siena - another evening view from our hotel room

Siena - morning view from Hotel Minerva

Virtual panoramas

Wikipedia-there are really good photos of
Piazza del Campo at the bottom of this page
About Siena


in transit Siena to Rome

On the train ride between Siena and Rome, it was fun spotting all the hilltop towns in Umbria and Lazio.

Orvieto is the ultimate hill town and it seems truly majestic from the valley floor.

Orvieto from the train station



Our "grand entrance into Rome" was disappointing after seeing the movie Cleopatra.  We took the Metro from the train station to the Sheraton Roma, about 20 minutes south.  A late afternoon arrival meant that we were "forced" to stay at the hotel and lounge at the pool and eat at the poolside restaurant barefoot in our shorts, while drinking a delicious Pinot Grigio.  No hardship there.  We turned in early and got an early start for one of only 2 full days in Rome.  We really hoofed it, seeing the Coliseum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, and the Forum (all in the same area), and then taxied to the biggest catacombs.
It was a thrill to walk Rome's ancient streets and imagine what had come before at those locations.

After just two days we moved from Rome to Sorrento for 4 days, but we came back to Rome for 2 more days after that, so the next section deals with the second coming (to Rome)...

Arriving back in Rome from Sorrento/Naples, we decided to do a "Rome by Night" bus tour.  This was not a good value, in fact, probably the worst value of the trip (we should have taken a taxi, fares being amazingly inexpensive), but the tour steered us to what we wanted to see the next day.  We were glad to see the Trevi Fountain which we would have missed otherwise due to time constraints.

The next day, we got up super early for a 7:30 start of a guided tour (by Argiletum Walking Tours) of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.  OMG. Now I know where all my family's Sunday church money went.  The museums were overwhelming, and I kept recognizing things from Jansen's "History of Art", such as the Augustus of Primaporta, Aphrodite, the Discus Thrower, etc.  The most surprising artwork I was familar with, prior to seeing it in person, was Raphael's "School of Athens" which was spectacular.  We enjoyed spotting all the Greek philosopher/scientists Raphael portrayed by using symbols of their science.

St. Peter's basilica was, to be polite, "grand".  But it's SO ostentatious. I wasn't disappointed, since it is unique and the architecture is beautiful that you have to be somewhat impressed.  It's just too excessive in every way for my taste, like someone trying to hard to impress.  In Rome we both preferred Santa Maria Maggiore where you can appreciate the richness in the details.

The Sistine Chapel was worth the entire trip. It was hypnotic, really.  We stood in various spots and then just sat, trying to take it all in.  That's what I call powerful painting!

After the Vatican tour, with its 4 hours of walking, we did more walking... over the bridge near the Castillo di St. Agnello (a.k.a. Hadrian's Mausoleum), and then to the Pantheon (see 16 pics here)(amazing architecture; too bad they bastardized this almost perfectly preserved Roman temple by adding the Christian symbols.

Then we walked to the Spanish Steps (this looks better in pictures); then we taxied to Michelangelo's Campidoglio, another stunning architectural space.  We also finished viewing the Forum's northwest end and the area around it with Trajan's column and the Vittorio Emanuele II monument.

Bill in front of the Coliseum

Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum

Rome-Grant Gadbois roamin' the Roman Forum
Grant Gadbois roamin' the Forum

Rome-Campidoglio WIth Bill

Roman Forum from Palatine overlooktoward Vittorio
Roman Forum from Palatine overlook toward Vittorio

Rome-Forum and Coliseum from Palatine overlook
Roman Forum and Coliseum from Palatine overlook.

Rome-Coliseum from between trees
Coliseum from between trees on the Palatine Hill. This view gives a good idea of the full height of the Coliseum. The top layer, seen here, is missing from most of the structure.

Amazing ruins on the Palatine Hill

Rome-Santa Francesca Romana
Roman Forum-Santa Francesca Romana

Roman Forum-Grant at pond on edge of Palatine
Roman Forum-Grant found this is unexpected water feature - a spring from the (very dry) Palatine Hill creates cascading greenery with a pond at the bottom on the edge of the Forum

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

Rome-Four Rivers Fountain
Four Rivers Fountain

Bill in front of St. Peter's, Vatican City

Rome - Santa Maria Maggiore InteriorCeilingAndDome
Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome - the ornate ceiling and dome. In some ways, this cathedral outshines St. Peters.

Click here for photos of our

Note: You will view the photos at their best resolution if you reduce the size of the view screen.
After the slideshow appears, you can adjust the size of the window by dragging the outer *corner* of the window inward toward center.

The hotel where we stayed in Rome:

Sheraton Roma Hotel & Conference Center

Map Hotel
Sheraton Roma-pool
Sheraton Roma's Swimming Pool

Check this out:

The following is a movie file (a large file):
Animated Reconstruction of the Roman Forum


Rome attractions


While in Sorrento...

The following map shows the Campania area of Italy.

Starting at the upper left / northwest corner, you will see Naples where we changed trains coming from Rome, and the large national park of Mount Vesuvius which physically dominates the region northern half.  You will see our sightseeing locations underlined in red:  Sorrento, Pompei, the Amalfi Coast and Capri.
Note the scale of the map.  This is not a large area.  The Sorrentine Peninsula is only about 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide.

Map Sorrentine Peninsula NaplesToCapri


We took the train from Rome to Sorrento.  Our RailPass took us as far as Naples and then we had to transfer to the local train that covers the Vesuvius-Pompei-Sorrento area called the Circumvesuviana.  The coast south of Naples is spectacular with views of Mt. Vesuvius and sheer cliffs, steeper and steeper as we approached Sorrento.  The smell of lemons greeted us at the end of the line.  A quick taxi ride took us to our apartment suite, down narrow streets, to the Marina Grande, the oldest part of Sorrento, still populated by local fishermen.  Our suite had windows and a balcony perched a hundred feet above the Marina looking out toward the west along the rugged coastline.  Grant eventually got used to being out on the balcony and was merrily snapping photos in no time.

There are many photos here taken from the Belvedere because we always passed through there on the walk to town.

Besides exploring interesting Sorrento, we used it as our base for day trips to Pompei, the Amalfi Coast and Capri.

Sorrento-Marina Piccolo from cliff 1
Sorrento's Marina Piccolo from the cliff above

Sorrento's Marina Grande
- View toward center of town and toward Marina Piccolo and mountains of eastern Sorrentine peninsula.

Sorrento's Marina Grande
- an evening view from our room in Coltur Suites down to the beach

Sorrento's Marina Grande
- the reverse of the picture on the left... from the beach toward our apartment. Coltur Suites is the yellow building with the orange roof at the top of the cliff to the left of the largest building.

Daytime view from our Sorrento apartment bedroom

Sunset view from our Sorrento apartment's balcony

From Sorrento's Belvedere, the view towards the Meta promontory

Sorrento-Meta cliff close-up
Meta's promontory (zoomed close-up of view at left)

Sorrento's city cliffs from the farthest pier

From Sorrento's Belvedere, the beach umbrellas below the cliff

Sorrento-Belvedere piers toward Meta
View from piers below Belvedere towards Meta

Dinner at Taverna Azurra on Marina Grande beach

Sorrento-View of Vesuvius from Taverna Azurra on the beach
From our restaurant on the beach, we had a perfect view of Mount Vesuvius -- just in case it erupted again

A toast with Pinot Grigio to a great time in Sorrento

Night view of Mount Vesuvius across the bay

Sorrento-view of Marina Grande from the boat to Capri
View of Sorrento's Marina Grande from out on the Bay of Naples on the boat to Capri

From the tip of Sorrentine Peninsula, a view to Capri

Sorrento info



Day trip via the Circumvesuviana train to Pompei...

We explored the ruins for 4 hours. It was fascinating.  There were some amazing villas with frescos still intact, a few plaster casts of dead bodies, and lots of feral dogs lounging around in the most unlikely places.

The excavations (scavi) are still going on. Pompei is BIG... the size of a good-sized modern town.  In our 4 hours we were only able to do a cursory job of exploring; if you are serious, you would probably want to take 6 to 8 hours to see most of it.

View of Vesuvius from the ruins of Pompei

The excavations reveal well-preserved buildings, statues, plazas, and even people.







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A map locating Pompeii
is above the Sorrento section (scroll up).



While staying in Sorrento, our second day trip was along the spectacular Amalfi Coast.

Sorrento is on the north coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast is on the opposite (south) side.  On such a narrow peninsula it was surprising the height the road climbs in order to cross the spine of mountains that separates the north and south coasts.

Once on the south side, the road clings to the cliffs high above the rocky coastline.  Despite the narrow and winding road, buses and scooters and trucks and cars all try to go as fast as they can along it.  Our bus driver even passed a car on a curve.  Very exciting!  Some would say harrowing.

The entire coast has beautiful scenery with the steep cliffs, craggy mountains and azure sea.  We passed thru Positano without stopping there because the buses tend to be full so getting back on is often impossible.  So we went all the way to Amalfi where we had lunch and a quick hike through the small town.  The town is totally touristy, but totally scenic.

We caught the bus back to Sorrento and returned along the same cliff-side road.  We could see "the Isle of Capri" beckoning us for our next day's adventure.

Church in Amalfi

Amalfi Coast- Bus Into Tunnel-Extended2
Amalfi Coast
The bus is about to enter a tunnel on the narrow coast road.

Amalfi Coast- Roman Tower
Amalfi Coast lookout tower dating from Roman times

Amalfi Coast- Sloping Town With Church
All the towns on the Amalfi Coast, like this one, have steep slopes down to the sea
Sorrento info


A map locating the Amalfi Coast
is above the Sorrento section (scroll up).



Capri was a day trip for us via passenger ferry, about 30 minutes from Sorrento.

This small (4 sq. mi.=10 sq. kms.) mountainous island lies just 5 kms. off the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula.  It is dominated by sheer cliffs, the cliffs that rise from the sea and those that rise from the interior of the island.  Most roads we saw on the map turned out to be walkways not wide enough for cars, but there is a bus system that covers the island.

One top item on our list was the Blue Grotto, but unfortunately on the day we were there those tours were cancelled because of high seas.  The grotto has very low headroom and needs a calm sea.

We really enjoyed the rugged beauty of this island and we walked a good distance given the short time we were there, much of it taken with a very leisurely lunch at a chic restaurant, outside and our booth right on a busy walkway.

Any town or city anywhere would be envious of how clean and well-maintained everything is on Capri.  Without a doubt, this island is one of the most photogenic places on earth.

Faraglioni Rocks from path above Marina Piccola

Capri Town View From Top Of Funicular
Capri Town view at top of funicular

Capri Town View From Top Of Funicular 2
< continuation of scene at top of funicular

Capri 's east cliffs from boat

Capri-Grant-Colonnade And Cliffs
Grant at church with colonnade and cliffs behind

Capri house with purple bougainvillea

Capri cycad

You can see spectacular cliffs in the view taken from the Marina Grande. The near cliff is the lower of the two big mountains on Capri , and the cliff in the background is on the mainland, less than 10 kms away.

Boats along Capri's Marina Grande

Capri-Hotel Garden
Hotel garden on Capri

This unique white house with those beautiful blue windows is perched above Marina Piccolo and has a spectacular view overlooking Capri's Faraglioni Rocks.

Capri-detailed map of the island


A map locating Capri
is above the Sorrento section (scroll up).



The last leg of our tour was from Rome to Venice on the Eurostar train.  Nice ride!

Venice is definitely the most unique city on earth.  We loved it.  We bought a pass that allowed us unlimated vaporetto rides. A vaporetto is like a city bus, but of course in Venice, the buses are boats.

One particular highlight was a late-night ride at the front of the boat, the entire length of the Grand Canal and around the outer edge of the main island cruising along on a warm night with a full moon.  Being at the front, with not many people on board, it was like a private boat.  Finishing the circle, we came back directly toward St. Mark's.

Venice's main canals

Venice - This view greeted us as we exited our hotel at sunset

Venice Vaporetto
In Venice, a vaporetto is the best way to get around economically. They run very frequently.

Venice - San Marco Doges Palace Hotel Danieli Panorama
Venice panorama from out on the canal including San Marco's campanile and the edge of Piazza San Marco,
the Doges Palace, and the Hotel Danieli (pinkish building and building to its left).

As you can see from the picture above, the Hotel Danieli where we stayed is just a few steps from the Doges Palace and Piazza San Marco  It has a great location on the widest part of the canals, a spectacular lobby and lobby bar, and an excellent restaurant.


Our room was in the 15th century building, a restored grand residence. We were slightly disappointed by the room, considering it is a 5-star hotel.  But the concierge staff was great and gave us a perfect recommendation for a restaurant we both really enjoyed.  The appetizer Grant ordered turned out to have over 100 clams (!!!) so of course I helped him out with it.

Venice - Hotel Danieli skylight

Venice - Hotel Danieli - lobby elevation

The hotel's shuttle boat we took to the Lido

Venice - Here's Grant in front of the Hotel Danieli buildings.
La Terrazza restaurant, at the top where the awnings are, has a wonderful view over the canal.
We had breakfast there (overpriced and not worth it), and dinner on the last night of our trip (overpriced but worth it).

The following day we had breakfast and dinner at the Hotel Daniels's rooftop restaurant overlooking the Grand Canal and all the gondolas near St. Marks.

We pre-booked a guided tour called "Secrets of the Doge's Palace" which was fun.  The Doge's Palace is a stunning building.  They really know how to do ceilings in Italy!  Gold everywhere.  On the tour we learned as much about Casanova as we learned about the doges.
Doge's Palace interior

Then we went next door to San Marco (St. Marks).  Since I saw it the first time 25 years ago it has always been my favorite church.  The unique facade is just the start of the good stuff.  The mosaic ceilings of the basilica are truly mystic.  We did all the side tours. A spectacular sight is the alter covering of gold studded with precious stones and amazingly tiny mosaics, the Pala d'Oro.  Stunning!  The small Treasury is packed with amazingly gorgeous, precious items.  I was hoping, though, that like my last trip, musicians and singers would be performing some Gabrieli for us to hear, but not this time.

On the last morning of our trip we had some time before heading to the airport so we took the free hotel shuttle to the Lido where there are two other Starwood Hotel properties.  We saw the Excelsior, but we ran out of time before we saw the Hotel des Bains where we were originally booked at the start of the trip before bad weather changed our plans.

With two visits to Venice now, I have still not experienced bad smells or mosquitoes you sometimes hear about from some visitors.  Venice is a joyful place; an experience I hope everyone can enjoy at some point in their life.

Gondolier and moored gondolas near San Marco

The Doges Palace has stunning architectural details

Venice - Leaning Steeple
Pisa is not the only Italian city with a leaning tower!
A lot of Venice's buildings are tilted or warped because Venice is built on a lagoon, so the foundation is not all that solid.

Venice - Bldg with gold lettering
Venice - This interesting building is on a small island between San Marco and Lido. The gold lettering covers the building and lines the surrounding wall.

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360 views of many of Venice's top sights

Links to more great pics of Venice and St. Mark's:

Collection #1

Collection #2

Venice info
(including a location map)

Best food:

Caprese salad (mozzarella di bufalo and grape tomatoes with olive oil)

The appetizer with 100 clams at Ristorante Masaniello in Venice

Sunset dinner of fresh fish at Taverna Azzurra on the beach of Marina Grande in Sorrento

The pasta dish Grant made at our apartment suite in Sorrento.... that apartment became "GRANTino's Restaurant".

Best drinks: Icy cold LIMONCELLA, which capped every night in Sorrento.

The grappa we bought on the Chianti tour.

The lemonade just outside the Pompei exit gate after a hot, dusty day exploring the excavations.

Best thing about the trip overall: Everything went well; even the wrong turns turned into positives because we saw places and experienced things we had not planned.