Today, we left beautiful Switzerland and traveled to Italy (which was [basically] our last country we traveled to [we did go to the Vatican which is technically a separate country]). Our first destination was Venice, but we stopped near Como for lunch. We grabbed a quick lunch at McDonald’s (I had so much McDonald’s french fries on the trip) so we could walk around the lake to see the beautiful views.
We got to our hostel, A&O that was right outside of Venice. We took the bus to the 118 small islands. We got familiar with the bus system as that is how we were going to make it back to the hostel and then walked to a square with lots of food and drink options. It was a beautiful day (finally great weather) and we got dinner! I wasn’t super optimistic going into trying to find something to eat, but focused on, “I’ll just get a drink,” I so happened to stop with a small group that had gluten free pizza! It was HUGE and DELICIOUS! I ate the entire thing and it was WONDERFUL! I also got a delicious glass of the house sparking white. I was so shocked that my entire dinner (pizza, wine, and table fee) was 16 euros, plus you don’t have to tip in Europe. I think I was shocked because we had just come from Switzerland, which is outrageously expensive, but boy! I would go back to that place in Venice just for the food!
Gluten free pizza
I do have to say I believe that Venice is BEAUTIFUL! I love the canals, the scenery, but I did not expect for so many touristy stores. There are not a lot of individuals that actually live on the island, more and more people keep leaving, and part of that is due to tourism. Obviously I was a tourist on the entire trip, but it was just shocking the amount of stores. I wouldn’t say I went on the trip to shop at big end stores on the islands of Venice, and I only bought from small, more local, stores. Just shocking. We had a guided walking tour of Venice right away in the morning (from a VERY attractive Italian). We had taken a boat to a different part of Venice, and it was a rainy morning! We walked through St. Mark’s Basilica, learned about Venice’s history of being on stilts on the water, and ended our guided tour at a glass blowing place (which was fascinating and crazy to see).
Murano glass blowing
After the guided tour and the glass blowing we had a gondola ride and had some GREAT sparking wine (I took a photo of it when it was in the trash can so I knew what it looked like. I have not found anything on it online, so Venice may have been the only place I’ll every have it). The views from the gondola were phenomenal. So breathtaking, even on a rainy/cloudy day. The rain did stop while we were on the gondola, but there was no way I was not going to ride a gondola when I was in Venice! I had my rain jacket with me and and wore it when I wasn’t taking photos! 😉
After the gondola ride we had some free time. I did some shopping, went inside a small church and lit some candles for all my grandparents, walked to many shops throughout, and walked to the Rialto Bridge.
A candle for each of my grandparents, they are all watching me from above now
We walked a bit more, but then booked tickets for a FREE scenic view of Venice on the roof of a luxary shopping center, Fondaco dei Tedeschi. If I thought the views from the gondola were breathtaking, the rooftop views were even better. Well worth the wait (we originally just went there not realizing we needed tickets), and it was a great photo opportunity.
Musile di Piave
After we met back up with the group and got back to our hostel to get ready for a homemade dinner and wine tasting at a winery, right outside of Venice. Which meant vineyard photos AND A WHOLE LOT OF WINE! The winery we went to was Vignaluna. The wine was FABULOUS! They let us tour where they make the wine, and described how they hand peel the grapes. They were able to make me more than enough gluten and dairy free food, and we tasted 5 different wines (all of which I ordered and got sent back home – for me, and a few for my family). The wines we tried were Moscato, Prosecco, Sauvignon, Malbech, and a Rosé (Raboso Rosato). I honestly loved them all! I had to at least get one of each, but I did gift the Sauvignon and Malbech. I had a meat platter (when everyone had pizza – but it was fine), and what looked like a pesto risotto dish (it was fabulous). They also gave me fruit coated in juices that were fabulous! We also got a song from Papa! This one certainly a highlight of the trip!
Homemade dinner and wine tasting
EUROPE IN MAY
EUROPE: Orvieto, Rome & Vatican