After spending Thursday night and Friday by myself, I was so excited to go see my friend Maggie for part of the weekend!
Maggie is spending part of her summer as an au pair for a family that lives in a little town called Montegalda. I left Saturday morning and arrived at the little train station of Vicenzia. Maggie, all four of the kids and their dad had come to pick me up from the train station! It was such a sweet welcome and I was so happy I was going to spend some time with them. We all hopped into their van and drove about 15 minutes until we arrived at their home. It was absolutely stunning, I literally felt like I had stumbled upon a movie set!
Their home has been in their family through many generations, so obviously it was very old. However, it was still beautiful! After pulling through the gate I saw the huge patio out front, with chairs, a dining table and of course their four dogs sleeping in the shade. The ceilings were high on each floor and the rooms were very grand. The home truly was a classic, with the first floor consisting of a massive kitchen and then a series of different living rooms and sitting parlors. The next level had all of the family’s bedrooms on it and the last floor was where Maggie’s room was. The staircase was super wide, with well worn concrete steps leading all the way up to the top floor. All of the light fixtures were gorgeous and I loved looking at all of the maps and pictures hanging in their home, things that looked as if they had been passed down through the generations.
Also on their property was a farm of sorts where they raise different types of animals as well as growing many plants. Even though we were in a little tiny town I loved it, I thought it was beautiful and could just imagine all the fun a kid would have growing up there.
Maggie and I spent most of our afternoon laughing and catching up. Fun fact, Maggie and I had actually only met/hung out once before this, so it was crazy we were just casually hanging out in Italy. But I already knew we were going to be great friends! (s/o at Brandt for introducing us) I got a tour of the property and had fun getting to know the kids as they played in the pool and ran around outside.
That evening there was a festival in town where they were selling some of their food from the farm. I helped Maggie keep an eye on the kids while we walked around, watching some of the performances (kids from an art and music school). Ironically almost all of the songs they sang and played were, American so we had a good laugh listening to Miley’s ‘Party in the USA’ sang by Italians.
We also got to try tons of homemade food which was amazing! We had the classic salami and bread for dinner which was delicious, but the coolest part was that it was straight from their farm. They were also doing a bake sale to raise money for school, Maggie and I had the worst time deciding on which one to try. I went for a chocolate chip cake with some delicious spices in it. The whole evening was great, not only did I have a fantastic time with Maggie but it was such an amazing experience to spend so much time with a native family in their little community. Maggie and I stayed up pretty late talking which had its advantage because when Giulia (their mom) got back late from the festival we got to eat all of the leftover bake goods. Everything was AMAZING! My love for sweets has definitely multiplied here, but how can it not when I get to eat fresh baked goods in Italy?!? We finally went to bed after staying up talking and managing to set the alarm off at the house (oops).
The next morning I said bye to all of the kids and Giuila and we went to a station about 15 minutes away to grab our train to Venice. I am so thankful their family was so kind and welcomed me into their home! Staying with an Italian family has definitely been one of my favorite experiences the past couple weeks. We managed to get our train tickets and about 45 minutes later we crossed the water and were in Venice!
Of course I knew that Venice just had water canals instead of roads, but seeing it for the first time truly took me by surprise! The contrast of getting off a train and then walking out of the station to see a huge canal with gondolas, ferries and boats kind of shocked me. My first impression of the city was that it didn’t seem real! We didn’t have an agenda for the day, so we just picked a street and starting walking.
We quickly realized that the sidewalks of Venice make no sense. A wide sidewalk filled with people would all of a sudden turn into a tiny path, leading to apartments and a dead end. By walking down random streets we got completely lost, but everything we saw was beautiful, little side canals with bridges and street musicians. The grand canal amazing, watching so many boats navigate it was crazy. We made it to the famous Ponte dell’Accademia bridge which is a wooden bridge at the southern end of the canal. I didn’t know this before, but in Venice there are only four bridges that span the Grand Canal!
We ended up taking the ferry because Venice has by far the most confusing sidewalks I have seen in any city. Even with our map we kept getting completely off track or where we were walking would just turn into a canal. Trying to figure out the correct tickets was a struggle, but a sweet couple that knew a little English helped us out. The ferry was completely packed, at one point I was convinced the crowd was going to push Maggie and I overboard! However, we survived our brief but chaotic ride on the ferry and ended up right near St. Marks Square.
The square was stunning, my grandparents had told me when they visited it was a must-see and I’m so glad we went! It was a huge plaza with a palace, baptistery and other historical buildings lining the square. It was strange to see such a massive space after all of the winding alleys and canals we had been on. We didn’t have enough time to do any of the tours inside, but we admired the beauty and architecture of the buildings from the outside.
While we were doing this, Maggie started shrieking and I looked over to see that a pigeon had pooped on her…as soon as I realized no one was hurt I couldn’t stop laughing and of course I had to snap a picture.
However I got it together and grabbed some napkins and water in an attempt to help clean her up. Unfortunate event, but we concluded it could have been way worse (as in getting pooped on the head) and Maggie was able to laugh it off. Seriously so funny, definitely top three in the hilarious category of the trip.
After the pigeon incident we grabbed lunch at a really cool restaurant, enjoying being out of the sun and eating some good food! Since it had taken us so long to find our way to the square, after we ate we headed back in the general direction of the train station to give ourselves plenty of time. Naturally we got a little lost, but had the opportunity to enjoy every canal or square we stumbled upon. I couldn’t believe how clean the water was in the city, thinking it would be somewhat dirty since it was literally their roads. After walking around for a couple hours, exploring some street vendors and shops we made it back to the station.
Sadly Maggie and I parted ways when I had to switch lines to catch a train back to Florence. Venice was a super cool place to visit, and I’m so so glad I got to explore it with Maggie and spend so much time with her! We had the best time laughing and talking about everything, while strolling through Venice. The whole city was absolutely amazing and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to experience it. Another successful weekend spent in Italia!