Pompeii and Naples. Volcanos, Mafia and Pizza.

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It was a day like any other in 79 AD in Pompeii. People were at work, at school, meeting friends, watching gladiators fight, visiting the brothels or whatever they typical day was. Suddenly, that beautiful mountain Vesuvius that they admired so much started to behave strangely. Was that smoke? What’s lava? (The floor) Some people ran. Many people hid. The Roman town, population estimated between 11,000 and 11,500, was buried by the volcanic eruption. The denizens didn’t even know what a volcano was, let alone they were living 8 kilometres (5 miles) away from one. Era un día como cualquier en 79 d.C en Pompeya. La gente estaban trabajando, en el colegio, con amigos, viendo una lucha de gladiadores, vistiando los burdeles o cualquier cosa que hacen en su día típico. De repente, este montaña tan bonita Vesubio que admiraban tanto empezó  a comportarse raro. ¿Es humo? ¿Qué es lava? (El suelo). Algunas personas corrían. Muchas más escondían. La ciudad romana, con una población estimada de ser entre 11.000 y 11.500, estaba enterrado por la erupción volcánica. Los residentes ni sabían lo que eran un volcán, y menos que estaban viviendo a 8 kilómetros de uno. 

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Pompeii was a coastal city, but the volcano added three kilometres of land, according to the guide I had. There had been warnings, like an earthquake in 62 AD. However, they didn’t know what the warnings meant. The town was completely buried by ash and lava and forgotten about during centuries. The people who escaped didn’t want to say where they came from for fear the superstitious Romans wouldn’t allow them sanctuary if they knew they came from that cursed city. People forgot about it. Pompeya era una ciudad de la costa, pero el volcán agregó tres kilómetros más de tierra, según el guía que tenía. Había avisos antes, como el terremoto de 62 d.C. Sin embargo, no sabían que estaba diciendo los avisos como sabemos ahora. El pueblo estaba cubierto por completo por ceniza y lava y después olvidado durante siglos. Las personas que podían escapar no querían decir de donde vinieron porque pensaba que había una maldición y los romanos supersticiosos no iban a permitirles refugio si sabían que vinieron de este pueblo maldito. La gente se lo olvidaban por completo. 

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One day in 1599, while excavating to divert the Sarno River, Pompeii was discovered, preserved as it was in 79 AD, thanks to the petrification caused by the volcanic ash. Un día en 1599, mientras estaban excavando para desviar el Río Sarno, descubrieron Pompeya, preservado como era en el año 79 d.C., gracias a la petrificación causado por la ceniza volcánica. 

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Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that receives around 2.6 million visitors every year. Only 1/3 of the Roman town is open to visitors. Hoy en día es un Patrimonio de la Humanidad UNESCO que recibe unos 2,6 millones de visitantes cada año. Solo se puede visitar un tercero del pueblo romano. 

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As part of a day trip from Rome, I was able to visit the site one chilly  November morning. Our guide was very informative, and I was amazed as I walked through the town and learned a lot about the Roman history. Durante un viaje del día de Roma un día de noviembre fresquito, pude ver el sitio de Pompeya. Nuestro guía nos dijo bastante información, y me asombré mucho durante el paseo del pueblo romano y aprendí mucho sobre la historia de los romanos. 

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The most surprising thing I learned that they had a red-light district. Prostitution was big in Pompeii, thanks to its proximity to the sea (in those days). The arrows they followed were not yellow but extremely phallic in nature. Me dio un shock para aprender que había un barrio rojo en Pompeya. Había mucha prostitución en Pompeya dado a su proximidad al mar (en aquellos tiempos). Las flechas que siguieron no eran amarillos pero tenían forma fálico.

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Pompeii was also home of one of the oldest Colosseums. It was built pre-lions and tigers, so there aren’t any cages. The Romans were pretty savage. Pompeya también tiene uno de los Colosseos más antiguos. Fue construido antes de los leones y tigres luchaban y no había jualas. Los romanos eran salvajes.

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My favourite part, of course, was the Pompeii dog. Mi parte preferida, desde luego, era el perro de Pompeya. 

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The modern village Pompei has a population of 25,000 and is mainly touristic due to the archaeological site. El pueblo moderno de Pompeya tiene una población de 25.000 y es mayormente turístico dado al sitio arqueológico. 

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We were supposed to go to Positano after the morning in Pompeii. However, as it was November, the November rain had caused some flooding and mudslides, and the winding road to Positano was cut off. They took us to Naples instead. El plan era ir a Positano después de la mañana en Pompeya. Pero como era noviembre, la lluvia de noviembre provocó unas inundaciones y aludes de barro, y la carretera sinuosa a Positano era cortada. Entonces, nos llevó a Nápoles. 

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Naples (Napoli in Italian, whose original Greek name meant “New City) is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan. Around 975,260 people live in the city limits. Due to its proximity to Vesuvius, and as Vesuvius has been sleeping since 1944, the next eruption, which is predicted to be as strong as the 79 AD eruption, could be disastrous. Italy does have an evacuation plan, though. Nápoles (Napoli en italiano, cuyo nombre en el griego original significa “ciudad nueva”) es la tercera ciudad italiana después de Roma y Milán. Sobre 975,260 personas viven dentro de los límites de la ciudad. Dado a su proximidad a Vesubio, y como Vesubio ha estado durmiendo desde 1944, la próxima erupción, que predicen que será tan fuerte como la erupción de 79 d.C, podrá ser un desastre. Italia tiene un plan de evacuación, pero…

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Naples is famous for being the home of pizza. The margherita pizza is named for a Queen and the toppings make the colour of the Italian flag. The Napolitan guide kept reminding us of that during the tour of the town. Nápoles es famoso por su pizza también. La pizza margarita es nombrada por una reina, y la pizza tiene los colores de la bandera italiana. La guía napolitana nos explicó eso durante todo la visita guiada de la ciudad. 

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Naples used to be Spanish until the War of Spanish Succession. Later, it was returned to Spanish rule (with a lot of strife. I’m giving you the Cliffs notes version) until the Unification of Italy in 1861. Nápoles era española hasta las guerras Carlistas. Después, volvió a ser española (con muchos cambios. Este es el resumen breve) hasta la Unificación de Italia en 1861. 

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Naples is also famous for mafia, and though the mafia action takes place away from the touristic centre, I was a bit nervous during the little free time we had. The monumental centre was nice, as were the views of the island Capri and the bay. Nevertheless, Naples wasn’t my favourite Italian city. (That would be Verona!) Nápoles también es famoso por la mafia, y aunque la mafia suele hacer sus negocios fuera del centro turístico, estaba nervioso durante el poco tiempo libre que tuvimos. Los monumentos por el centro estaban chulos, y también las vistas de Capri y la bahía. Sin embargo, Nápoles no era mi ciudad italiana preferida. (Es Verona.)

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I’m not a fan of organised tours like this one, but 2 of the 3 guides were very informative (the Naples guide would have been good for children, as she treated us like children, or like a sheepdog herding sheep). I got the tour for my mom, but in the end, she wasn’t able to go due to her inability to walk well. I’m glad I went to Pompeii, and I’m glad I got to see Naples. No me gustan muchos las visitas guiadas organizadas como esta, pero 2 de los 3 guías sabían mucho (la guía de Nápoles estaría bien para dar guías a niños, como nos trató, o como un perro pastor arreando sus ovejas). La visita guiada era para mi madre, pero al final no pudo ir dado a no pudo caminar bien. Me alegro haber ido a Pompeya, y me alegro haber visto Nápoles. 

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However, as an introvert, I would have loved to have had time to explore a bit on my own. Or at least have done the tour that included a hike to the top of Vesuvius! Sin embargo, como un introvertido, me habría encantado un rato para explorar por mi solo ¡o al menos haber hecho el guía que incluye una ruta hasta la cima de Vesubio!

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Four days in Rome, for the third time.

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I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Italian capital of Rome, population 2,876,051, twice before, in 2008 and 2010. I’ve enjoyed the city, especially the Fontana di Trevi, but I’ve always preferred other Italian cities. Once again, this was the case on my third visit. He tenido la oportunidad de visitar la capital italiana de Roma, población 2.876.051, dos veces anteriormente, en 2008 y 2010. Disfruté de la ciudad, especialmente la Fontana di Trevi, pero siempre he preferido otras ciudades italianas. Otra vez, era el caso durante mi tercera visita. 

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My mom and I arrived on a grey Tuesday afternoon after being on a train under the Tuscan rainbow. After getting checked in the hotel, I went to pick up the tickets to see Pope Francisco for the Wednesday Papal Audience and returned to have a chance to rest. Mi madre y yo llegamos una tarde de martes nublosa después de estar en el tren abajo del arco-iris toscana. Después de hacer el check-in en el hotel, fui a recoger las entradas ver el Papa Francisco durante su Audiencia Papal que hace todos los miércoles. Volví al hotel pronto para descansar. 

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Wednesday morning, I woke up bright and early and tried to catch the metro. I didn’t realise that the part of the line I needed was closed for repairs for a few months, so I ended up having to get off at the next stop, take a bus and then take another metro line. I still got there in time to have good seats to see Pope Francisco and his weekly Papal Audience. Miércoles por la mañana, me desperté pronto para intentar coger el metro. No me di cuenta que la parte de la línea que necesitaba estaba cerrado para obras durante unos meses, y tenía que bajarme en la próxima parada, coger un autobús y coger otro línea de metro. Al final, llegué a tiempo para encontrar un buen sitio para ver el Papa Francisco y su audiencia papal semanal. 

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I’m not Catholic, but I have thought about converting in the past. I wasn’t a fan of the last Pope, who I saw during Midnight Mass at the Vatican in 2008. So I’m glad I got to see a Pope who at least seems to have a heart. It was kind of cool to hear him speak Spanish too. The cardinals of various countries gave a brief summary of his message, spoken in Italian and Latin, in various language, and the Pope gave his own summary in Spanish. No soy católico, pero en el pasado he pensado en convertirme. No me caía bien el Papa anterior, quien vi durante la Misa de Gallo en el Vaticano en 2008. Entonces, me alegro haber visto un Papa que parece tener un corazón. Estaba chulo verle hablar en español también. Los cardinales de varios países daban un resumen breve de las palabras del Papa en idiomas distintos. El Papa habló en italiano, latín y hizo un resumen propio en español. 

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Afterward, we changed to a better room at the hotel, and then had a surprisingly great and cheap Spanish-style menú del día near Termini. I then went to my favourite place in all of Rome, la Fontana di Trevi, and of course, had a gelato. Después, nos cambiamos a una mejor habitación en el hotel, y había un menú del día, estilo español, en un sitio por Termini que estaba bueno, bonito y barato. Después, fui a mi sitio preferido de Roma, la Fontana di Trevi, y desde luego, probé gelato. 

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The Trevi Fountain, famously featured in La Dolce Vita (I should do a Fellini project, but he isn’t Spanish!), was completed in 1762 and was designed by Nicola Salvi, who died before it was finished. He originally lost the contest to design it, but the winner was from Florence, and public outcry meant he could design it. The original fountain was at the junction of three roads and at the end of the Roman Acqua Vergine aqueduct. La Fontana di Trevi, famoso por la escena de La Dolce Vita (debería hacer un proyecto Fellini pero no es español) fue terminado de construir en 1762 y fue diseñado por Nicola Salvi, quien se murió antes de acabarla. Perdió el concurso para construirla, pero como el ganador era de Florencia, la gente se quejaban tanto que al final le dieron el proyecto a Salvi. El fuente original estaba en la cruce de tres carreteras y al final de la acueducto romano Acqua Vergine. 

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After the gelato, my next stop was the Piazza di Spagna. For some reason, I had never actually climbed the Spanish Steps. I rectified that situation. It was close to sunset, so I was rewarded with beautiful views from the top. Después del gelato, la próxima parada era la Plaza de España (Piazza di Spagna). Por algún motivo desconocido, nunca he subido las Escalares Españolas. Corregí este error. Era la hora de atardecer, y yo fui premiado con vistas preciosas desde arriba. 

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The Spanish Steps were built between 1723 and 1725 to connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy and the Trinità dei Monti Church. It was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi who won the competition to design it.  There are 135 steps. Las escalaras españoles fueron construidas entre 1723 y 1726 para uñir la Embajada Española Borbón y la Iglesia Trinità dei Monti. Los arquitectos Francesco de Sanctis y Alessandro Specchi, quien ganaron el concurso, eran los diseñadores. Hay 135 escaleras. 

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On Thursday, I returned to the Vatican to visit the famous Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. I had been to the Musei Vaticani in 2008, but my mom had to see the Sistine Chapel (which I highly recommend), so a return was in order. So glad I got tickets online for a much shorter wait to get intisde. El jueves, volví al Vaticano para visitar los famosos Muesos Vaticanos y la Capella Sistina. Ya había visitado los Musei Vaticani en 2008, pero mi madre tenía que ver la Capella Sistina (que recomiendo a todos), y por eso volví. Estaba contento haber comprado entradas por internet para esperar menos en cola. 

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(Not the Sistine Chapel/No es la Capella Sistina)

The Vatican Museums are a collection of artwork accumulated by various Popes over the years. It is most famous for its last sale, the Sistine Chapel with its beautiful ceiling painted by Michelangelo. The ceiling painting was commissioned by Pope Julius II and took four years to complete. However, some of us choose to believe the theory that Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner painted it in 5 seconds after an early 1990s episode of Animaniacs. Always a controversy. Los Museos Vaticanos son una colección de obras de arte acumulada por los Papas durante historia. Es más famoso por su última sale (sala, mira, no es tan diferente el italiano de español), la Capella Sistina con su techo impresionante pintando por Miguel Ángel/Michelangelo. La pintura del techo fue contratado por el Papa Julio II y tardó cuatro años para hacerlo. Sin embargo, algunos de nosotros creemos la teoria que Yakko, Wakko y Dot Warner lo pintó en 5 segundos después de ver un capítulo del mítico Animaniacs en los años 1990. 

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I explored the streets as my mom rested in the hotel until it started to rain. I enjoyed the time off to rest a bit as I had been going nonstop, which later would have consequences on the next stop. Exploré las calles mientras mi madre descansaba en el hotel hasta que empezó a llover. Disfruté poder relajarme un poco como no he parado…que iba a tener sus consecuencias pronto. 

On Friday (spoiler alert), I did a day trip to Pompeii and Naples, which I will write more about later so stay tuned. Viernes (aviso de spoiler), hice un viaje del día a Pompeya y Napoés. Voy a escribir más de ello después.

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Before our flight to Barcelona on Saturday, we headed to see the Colosseum. I had been inside before in my 2008 trip to Rome, and my mom couldn’t walk well enough to tour the largest ampitheatre in history that was built between 72 and 80 AD. El sábado, antes de nuestro vuelo a Barcelona, fuimos al Colosseo. Entré cuando estaba en Roma en 2008, y la pobre madre no pudo caminar bien para hacer el tour del anfiteatro más grande de historia que fue construido entre 72 y 80 d.C. 

We caught a taxi to the airport to head to the next destination, Barcelona…unfortunately I had no idea what was waiting for me there (and I don’t mean political instability!) Cogemos un taxi al aeropuerto para ir a nuestro próximo destino, Barcelona. Lamentablemente, no tenía ni idea que estaba esperándome allí (¡y no hablo de la inestabilidad política!)

A continuación…

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Getting Lost in Venezia (2017 Edition)

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It seems everyone has heard of Venice, the Italian city of 264, 579 people (55,000 in the historic centre), 118 islands, and 400 bridges over its 177 famous canals. We all dream of romantic gondola rides through the city or having a gelato on the banks of the Grand Canal. We see it in films and read about it in books. Parece que todo el mundo ha oído hablar de Venecia, la ciudad italiana de 264.579 personas (55.000 de ellas en el centro histórico), 118 islas, y 400 puentes sobre sus 177 canales famosos. Todos soñamos con viajes de gondolas románticos por la ciudad o tomar un gelato en las orillas del Grande Canal. Vemos la ciudad en las películas y leemos de ella en los libros. 

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Although the city is prone to flooding (I saw parts underwater), tourists still are drawn to the city like a moth to a flame. I was in Venice once before for an afternoon in 2008, when it was so cold I spent more time ducking in for a cappuccino for the heat than I did exploring the beautiful city. I’ve always wanted to return, and as it was my mom’s dream to take a gondola ride on the canal, I had my opportunity. Aunque la ciudad suele sufrir inundaciones (vi algunas partes inundadas), la ciudad sigue atrayendo turistas como un fuego atrae bichos. Estaba en Venecia una vez antes, solo por una tarde, en 2008. Hizo tanto frío este día que la mayoría de mi tiempo allí estaba tomando cappuccino en los bares y no explorando la ciudad preciosa. Siempre he querido volver, y como era el sueño de mi madre hacer un viaje en una gondola en los canales, tenía mi oportunidad. 

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The original plan was a night in Venice and a night in Florence, but due to my mom’s newfound problem walking, we decided to stay two nights in Venice once we had arrived. The train left a rainy Milano Centrale at 9:45, and around noon it was arriving to a very grey skied Venice. El plan original fue una noche en Venecia y una noche en Florencia, pero dado al hecho que mi madre tenía problemas de caminar de repente, decidimos hacer dos noces en Venecia cuando llegamos. El tren salió de un Milano Centrale lluvioso, y sobre mediodía estaba llegando en una Venecia muy nublada.

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The train station goes over a causeway that reminds me very much of the Cedar Point Causeway in Sandusky, Ohio (26 miles/41,8 km from my childhood home) over Lake Erie. As motor vehicles are not allowed in the historic centre, the train and bus station (at Piazzale Roma) are the final parking points before entering the city of canals. La estación pasa por un puente tipo pasarela (pero por el tren) que me acordaba del Cedar Point Causeway en Sandusky, Ohio, a 41,8 kilómetro de mi hogar de juventud sobre el Lago Erie. Como los vehículos operados por motor no están permitidos en el centro histórico, las estaciones de autobús (Piazzale Roma) y tren son los últimos puntos para aparcar antes de entrar la ciudad de canales. 

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We took a vaporetto to arrive to our hotel. A single/one-way on the water bus costs 7.50€ in 2017, and a day pass costs 20€. My mom was so excited to see her dream, and I watched the city pass by from the deck. Cogemos un vaporetto para llegar al hotel. Un viaje de solo ida en el autobús de agua cuesta 7,50€ en 2017, y un bono de día cuesta 20€. Mi madre estaba muy emocionada ver su sueño, y vi la ciudad pasar por la cubierta. 

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I usually don’t recommend hotels here, but I have to recommend our Venice hotel due to the incredible staff who was very helpful with my mom’s problems with walking. The Locanda Ca Messner is a fantastic place to stay  and is located near the Basilica and Peggy Guggenheim collection. No suelo recomendar los hoteles en el blog, pero he de recomendar nuestro hotel de Venezia dado a los empleados geniales quien eran muy amables y nos ayudaron mucho con los problemas que mi madre tenía. El Locanda Ca Messner Hotel es un hotel fantástico para alojarse y está situado a lado de la Basilica y la Colección de Peggy Guggenheim. 

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After lunch and check-in, it was raining pretty heavily and the wind destroyed my umbrella. I went out for a little exploring around 6 p.m. and to have a caffé ginseng, my new fave Italian coffee. I found a nice caffé, Caffé Brasilia, but didn’t spend much time out and about as the rain picked up again. Another reason we added a night to our Venice stay. Después de comer y hacer el check-in, estaba lloviendo fuerte y el viento destrozó mi paraguas. Pude salir para explorar un rato sobre las 6. Tomé un caffé ginseng, mi caffé italiano preferido ahora. Encontré un buen caffé, el Caffé Brasilia, pero volví pronto al hotel como estaba lloviendo otra vez. 

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Monday morning, I slept in a bit, had a great breakfast at the hotel and set off to explore the city as my mom continued to rest. I debated on going to the nearby Padua but decided to stay in Venice to explore the incredible winding streets and canals. Lunes, dormí tarde, desayuné muy bien en el hotel y salí para explorar la ciudad mientras mi madre descansaba. Pensaba en visitar el cercano Padua pero al final me quedé en Venecia para explorar sus calles y canales sinuosas impresionantes. 

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My route was pretty random, and I tried not to look at the map too much. Granted, everywhere there are signs for Rialto (one of the bridges on the Grand Canal), Piazza San Marco and the train station, but it may not be the most direct route. I was grateful for better weather as I meandered the alleys and bridges. Mi ruta era más o menos al azar, y intenté no ver el mapa o Google Maps mucho. Vale, hay señales para Rialto (uno de los puentes del Canal Grande), Piazza San Marco y la estación de trenes, pero no siempre era la ruta más directa. Estaba agradecido por el mejor tiempo mientras deambulé las calles y puentes. 

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In the evening, I arranged for a wheelchair for my mom so she could see the city too and get back to the train station for the next part of our journey…Rome. Por la tarde pedí una silla de ruedas para mi madre para que pudiera ver la ciudad también y volver a la estación de trenes para la próxima etapa de nuestra viaje…Roma. 

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It was not fun having to push said wheelchair in the pouring rain the next morning through the flooded streets, nor rush back to return the wheelchair, then to the hotel to get the luggage and rush back to the train station in an hour, all through flooded streets. However, it was an adventure I would never forget, and hey…it was all in Venice so I can’t complain too much. No me divertí nada empujar la silla de ruedas en el diluvio la mañana siguiente por las calles inundadas, no correr para devolver la silla de ruedas y volver al hotel para recoger el equipaje y ir corriendo a la estación de trenes en solo una hora, todo por las calles inundadas. Sin embargo, era una aventura que nunca me olvidaré, y bueno, todo pasó en Venecia y no me puedo quejar tanto. 

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Nevertheless, even a four-hour train ride didn’t dry me out. Sin embargo, no estaba seco al final del viaje de trende cuatro horas.

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A continuación…

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Milano y Lago di Como.

 

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Every time I’ve travelled to Italy, I’ve been left with wanting to see and do more and kicking myself for something I didn’t do, even though I had good reasons not to at the time. Cada vez que he viajado a Italia, siempre me he quedado con ganas de ver y hacer más y lamentando algo que no hice, aunque tenía mis razones de no hacerlo cuando estaba. 

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During my 2012 visit to Milan, I really wanted to visit the nearby Lago di Como but didn’t due to being tired and wanting to save 10 Euros (hah! I do love the Catalán culture / joke) I didn’t. I’ve always regretted it. Durante mi viaje a Milán en 2012, quería visitar el cercano Lago di Como pero no fui al final dado a estar cansado y querer ahorrar unos 10€ (¡Ja! Me encanta la cultura catalana / broma) No fui, y siempre lo he lamentado. 

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Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to make up for that mistake during my mom’s visit to Europe. As she wanted to see Italy, I arranged for our first stop to be Milan so she could see the Duomo and I could go to Como. Tenía suerte. Tenía la oportunidad arreglar mi error durante la visita de mi madre a Europa. Como ella quería ver Italia, la primera parada era Milán para que pudiera ver el duomo y yo pudiera ir a Como. 

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After her fall, she wasn’t quite up for sightseeing (and wouldn’t be until two weeks later), so we decided that she would rest and I would continue to do things as I could. Después de su caída, no estaba lista para ver los monumentos (y iba a tardar dos semanas para recuperarse por completo). Decidimos que ella iba a descansar y yo iba a hacer las cosas como pudiera. 

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Milan is the second-largest city in Italy with a population of 1,360,422 residents in the city proper. It’s known as the fashion capital in the world. It also has a beautiful cathedral, Il Duomo, the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. My first stop there on Friday night was to visit the beautiful cathedral once again. Even though it was my third visit, it never gets old admiring the incredible architecture. Milán es la segunda ciudad de Italia con una población de 1.360.422 habitantes en la ciudad. Es conocido como la capital mundial de la moda. También tiene una catedral preciosa, Il Duomo, la Catedral Gótica más grande del mundo. Mi primera parada en Milán el viernes era para ver la catedral una vez más. Aunque era mi tercera visita, no me canso de admirar la arquitectura increíble. 

On Saturday, I caught a train from Milano Cardona around 9 a.m. I was arriving in Como, population 84,394 around 10:00. I went for a long walk around the beautiful Lago di Como, finally crossing it off my bucket list. It was just as beautiful as I had imagined. The Huffington Post called it “the most beautiful lake in the world” in 2014, and with reason. The Alps are in the distance, and the villages are charming and quaint. El sábado, cogí un tren desde Milano Cardona sobre las 9 de la mañana. Estaba llegando en Como, población 84.349, sobre las 10. Di un paseo por el bonito Lago di Como, tachándolo de mi Bucket List. Era tan preciosa como imaginaba. El Huffington Post dijo que “era el lago más bonito del mundo” en 2014, y tiene razón. Las Alpes están en la distancia, y los pueblos son encantadores y pintorescos. 

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After exploring Como and its streets, shopping in their Saturday market and having a cappuccino, I decided to take a boat ride to Bellagio instead of taking the funicular to the top of the mountain in Como. It was an overcast day, so I figured the lake would be a better experience. I caught a fast boat from Como to Bellagio, which took about an hour. I don’t believe I stopped taking pictures once. Después de explorar Como y sus calles, mirando las cosas de su mercado de sábado y tomar un capuccino, decidí coger un barco a Bellagio en lugar de coger el funicular al cima del monte de Como. Era un día nublado, y por eso pensaba que el lago sería una mejor experencia. Cogí el barco rápido desde como a Bellagio, que tardó sobre una hora. Creo que no paraba de hacer fotos ni un segundo. 

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Bellagio is famous because American actor George Clooney has a villa there. I didn’t see him, but I did see a lot of beautiful buildings in the village of 3820 residents. Bellagio is most famous for its views of the lake. After a quick lunch, I headed on to Varenna to catch the train back to Milan, 60 kilometres (37 miles) away, so I could check in on my mother, who was resting just fine. Bellagio es conocido porque el actor estadounidense George Clooney tiene una villa allí. No le ví, pero vi muchos edificios bonitos en el pueblo de 3820 habitantes. Bellagio es más conocido por sus vistas del lago. Después de comer rápido, seguí a Varenna para coger el tren de vuelto a Milán a 60 kilómetros para poder ver como estaba mi madre, quien estaba descansando bien. 

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I could’ve spent a week in Como alone exploring and hiking. Such a beautiful world, so little time and money. Creo que podría pasar una semana entera en Como explorando el lago y haciendo senderismo. Un mundo tan bonito, tan poco tiempo y dinero. 

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Torino…il Setmeravelles

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Although my time in Turín was short, I was able to see most on the list. The rest can be for another visit, whenever that may be! Aunque no tenía mucho tiempo en Turín, podía ver la mayoría de las cosas en la lista. Lo demás se puede ver en otra visita…¡aunque no sé cuando será!

Mole Antonelliana

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The famous tower of Turin was originally built as a synagogue and completed in 1889. The city of Torino bought it before completion to use as a symbol of unity. It is 167.5 metres high (541 feet) and once was the highest work of masonry in Europe. The lift/elevator costs 7€.  “Mole” in Italiano means “building of monumental proportions”.  El torre famoso de Turín era construido como una sinagoga, terminado en 1889. La ciudad de Torino lo compró antes de terminar construcción para usar como un símbolo de unidad. Tiene 167,5 metros de altura y erase una vez la obra de albañilería más alta de Europa. El ascensor cuesta 7€. “Mole” en italiano significa “edificio de proporciones monumentales.” 

Museo Nazionale del Cinema

The National Museum of Cinema located at Mole Antonelliana (tickets 10€, combined entrance lift and museum are 14€) is a must-see for film fans. It shows the history of cinema and houses a lot of memorabilia, especially from Italian cinema, through the ages, including the cape Christopher Reeve wore as Superman. El Museo Nacional de Cine está ubicado al base de Mole Antonelliana. Las entradas cuestan 10€, y una entrada combinada de ascensor y museo cuesta 14€). Si eres aficionado del cine, hay que visitarlo. Muestra la historia del cine y tiene muchas cosas de la historia del cinema, especialmente el cine italiano. Tambien tiene la capa del Superman de Christopher Reeve. 

Piazza di Castello

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The square or plaza is located in the centre of the city and houses an old castle and two palaces, the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) and Palazzo Madama. At Christmas, the piazza houses a advent calendar and the city Christmas tree next to a big Christmas market. La plaza más conocida de Turín está situado en el centro de la ciudad. Hay un castillo antiguo y dos palacios, el Palazzo Reale (Palacio Real) y Palazzo Madama. En Navidades, la piazza también tiene un calendario del Adviento grande y el árbol de Navidad de la ciudad a lado de un mercado navideño. 

Holy Shroud

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The Shroud of Turin is believed to be the shroud Jesus was buried in, although the Catholic Church has never confirmed or denied this belief. The actual shroud is kept beneath the cathedral in a vault and is only shown at certain times.  La Sábana Santa es pensada por muchos ser la sábana del entierro de Jesús, aunque la Iglesia Católica nunca lo ha confirmado ni ha denegado. La Sábana real es guardado en una cripta abajo de la catedral y solo se puede ver en épocas ciertas. 

Superga

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Overlooking the city of Torino on a hill lies the Basilica de Superga.  It was built in the 18th century for Victor Amadeus II of Savoy on the hill of Superga, 672 metres (2204 feet) tall. The train from Sassi to Superga adds to the adventure. Mirando desde arriba a la ciudad de Torino en un monte es la Basilica de Superga. Fue construido en el Siglo XVIII por Víctor Amadeus II de Savoy en el monte de Superga (672 metros de altura). El “trenino” desde Sassi a Superga también es divertido. 

Il Po (ed il 3 più fiume)

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The River Po is the most famous of the four rivers that flow through Turin, and the River Po Park is one of the most famous parks in the city. The other rivers (Dora Riparia), Stura di Lanzo and Sangone are tributaries of Po.  El Río Po es el río más famoso de los cuatro ríos de Turín, y el Parque del Po es una de los parques más conocidos de la ciudad. Los otros ríos (Dora Riparia, Stura di Lanzo y Sangone) son tributarios del Po. 

Parco del Valentino

The Valentino Park is the most popular park in Turin. Opened in 1856, it’s the second largest park in Turin and is the home of the Castello del Valentino and a medieval village. El Parque Valentino es el parque más popular de Turín y fue abierto en 1856. Es la segunda parque en tamaño de la ciudad y se encuentra el Castello del Valentino y otro castillo y un pueblo medieval allí. 

A weekend (sorta) in Turin.

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My mom told me she was giving me 100€ to do a trip on my birthday. I had planned, before this announcement, to do a weekend in Barcelona and the Catalán Pyrenees. My mind was changed by this gift, and I looked at three cities with roughly the same RyanAir prices: Turin, Cologne and Hamburg. The return flight straight to Valencia from Turin made me go ahead and choose Turin. I wish I would have had more time. Mi madre me dijo que iba a darme 100€ para hacer un viaje el fin de semana de mi cumpleaños. Antes, había planificado un fin de semana en Barcelona y los Pirineos Catalanes. Este regalo me cambió la mente, y investigué tres ciudades que tenía más o menos el mismo precio de vuelos de Ryan Air: Turín, Colonia y Hamburgo. Había un vuelo de vuelto a Valencia desde Turin con un buen horario, y por eso elegí Turín. Ojalá tuviera más tiempo.

Turin, or Torino in Italiano, is a city of 892,649 residents (metropolitan area of 2.2 million) in northwest Italy close to the Alps. It was home of the 2006 Winter Olympics and was Italy’s first capital city in 1861. It’s home of the FIAT automobile headquarters and the famous Italian football (soccer for the Yanks) team Juventus.  Four rivers flow through the city, and it dates back to ancient times when it was attacked by Hannibal in 218 BC. (not Lector, of course). Turín, o Torino en italiano, es una ciudad de 892.659 habitantes (area metropolitana de 2,2 millones) en el noroeste de Italia cerca a los Alpes. Los Juegos Olímpicos del Invierno en 2006 tuvieron lugar allá y Turín era la primera capital de Italia en 1861. La sede de FIAT está allí, y el equipo famoso de fútbol, el Juventus, juega en Turín. Hay cuatros ríos en la ciudad, y su historia es grande e incluso incluye ataques de Aníbal en el año 218 a.C. (Desde luego, no era Hanibal Lector.) 

The Cattredale di San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist Cathedral) is home of the Shroud of Turin, which is believed by many to be the shroud Jesus was buried in. The Cathedral itself was built between 1491 and 1498, whereas the Chapel of the Holy Shroud was built 200 years later, between 1668 and 1694.

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Dentro de la Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista (la Catedral de San Juan Bautista) se encuentra la Sábana Santa, la sábana en cual el Jesús Cristo era enterrado. La Catedral fue construida entre los años 1491 y 1498,  y la Capilla de la Sábana Santa fue construido unos 200 años después, entre 1668 y 1694. 

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My trip began with a night in Barcelona. I often fly out of Barcelona because I love the city and take any advantage I can find to spend time there. I don’t think I’d be happy living there, but I am happy travelling there whenever possible. After a night out on the town to celebrate my upcoming birthday, I spent Saturday morning at the Santa Llucia Christmas market near the Cathedral and took a stroll along the beach, because December. El viaje empezó con una noche en Barcelona. Muchas veces vuelo desde el Prat para tener una excusa visitar la ciudad que me encanta tanto. Creo que no estaría feliz viviendo allá, pero estoy contento viajar allí cuando pueda. Después de una noche celebrando mi próximo cumpleaños, pasé la mañana de sábado en el mercado de Navidad de Santa Llucia a lado de la Catedral y fui por un paseo por la playa, porque diciembre…

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I caught Rodalies/Cercanías train to Terminal 2 at Prat and survived another Ryan Air flight. The bus from Torino’s airport (one of my least favourite airports now!) costs 6.50€ one-way as of December 2016 and takes about 40-50 minutes to Torino Porta Nuovo train station. I had no problems finding it and even had time for a quick dinner. Cogí el Rodalies/Cercanías hasta Terminal 2 en el Prat y sobreviví otro vuelo de Ryan Air. El autobus desde el aeropuerto de Torino Caselle tarda 6,50€ (en diciembre de 2016) y tarda unos 40-50 minutos para llegar a la estación de trenes Porto Nuovo. No tenía problemas encontrar el autobus y tenía tiempo de sobra para cenar. 

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I stayed at a nice AirBNB about a 20 minute bus-ride (40 minutes walking) from the city centre (Piazza Castello). Sunday morning, I awoke bright and early to take advantage of the day. My first stop was the Piazza Castello, a beautiful square in the heart of Turin with an old castle and a few palaces. There was another Christmas market there, and I enjoyed practicing my rusty Italian. Me alojé en un AirBNB a unos 20 minutos por autobus desde el centro (Piazza Castello), 40 minutos andando. El domingo por la mañana me desperté para aprovechar del día. La primera parada era la Piazza Castello, una plaza bonito en el pleno centro de Turín con un castillo y unas palacios. Había otro mercado navideño allí, y disfruté practicar il mio italiano cutre. 

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Next was a cappuccino and croissant on the busy shopping street, Vía Garibaldi, which the Torinese say is the longest shopping street in Europe. I went to the Cathedral to see the Shroud before finding the famous Museo Nazionale di Cinema and the Mole Antonelliana. I should’ve bought my tickets online, as there was a queue over an hour long to buy tickets. Since my time in Turin was short, I decided not to go and went for a nice stroll along the river instead. The Fiume Po had some nice sights of Torino. Después, tomé un cappuccino y cruasán en la calle famosa de compras, Vía Garibaldí, que según los de Turín, es la calle de compras más larga de Europa. Fui a la catedral para ver la Sábana Santa antes de encontrar el famoso Museo Nazionale di Cinema y la Mole Antonelliana. Había una cola larguísima (más de una hora). Os aviso, mejor comprar las entradas por internet. Como no tenía mucho tiempo en Turín, elegí dar un paseo por el río en lugar de ir al museo y subir el torre. La Ría Po tiene bonitas vistas de Torino. 

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I had an early for me (I’m mostly Spanish now!) lunch around 1:30 PM. It was some mediocre lasagna. It was near Mole Antonelliana and was named King’s. My fault for choosing a touristy place, but I have had better lasagna from Mercadona. Comí pronto, sobre las 13.30. Era lasagna mediocre cerca de Mole Antonelliana y el restaurante era King’s. La culpa era mía como elegí un restaurante en un sitio turístico, pero para ser sincero, he probado mejor lasagna de Mercadona. 

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I wanted to eat lunch early so I could make my way to Sassi to catch the Trenino a Superga, a basilica on the Superga mount overlooking Torino that has, on a clear day, great views of the city. It wasn’t so clear, but I saw some beautiful views of the Alps! Quería comer pronto para ir a Sassi para coger el Trenino a Superga, una basilica en el monte Superga a lado de Torino que, en días asoleados, tiene vistas bonitas de la ciudad. El día era algo nublado, pero vi vistas preciosas de los Alpes. 

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The train leaves Sassi every hour on the hour and returns from Superga on the half hour. It’s a blast to the past train, and the basilica, built between 1717 and 1731, is beautiful. There is also a crypt for members of the royal Savoy family. I was more interested in the views of the Alps. I can finally say I’ve seen the Alps. El tren sale de Sassi cada hora y vuelva de Superga en la media hora. El tren es un viaje por tiempo, y la basilica, construida durante 1717 y 1731, es hermosa. También hay una cripta de la Familia Real Savoy. Me interesaban más las vistas de los Alpes. Por fin puedo decir que he visto los Alpes. 

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After returning to Turin, I walked back along Via Garbaldi back to where I was staying, and I had a pizza dinner at Gustaso which was good at a decent price and not as touristy. Después de volver a Turín, caminé por Via Garbaldi hasta donde me alojé y cené una pizza en Gustaso. Buen precio y no era muy turístico. 

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Monday morning (my birthday!), I went for a last meander through the centre of Torino, taking Via Roma to the Porto Nuovo train station to catch the bus back to the airport. I was sad to leave after such a great trip. Lunes por la mañana, el día de mi cumple, fuí al centro para un último paseo por el centro de Torino, y después fui por Vía Roma hasta la estación de Porto Nuovo para coger el autobus al aeropuerto. Me entristecí despedirme de la ciudad después de un buen viaje. 

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As the year is coming to an end, and my planned hikes for the upcoming weekend might be ruined by rain (but when this posts, it will be the past weekend, whoaaaa), I am counting the long walk along the Barceloneta beach as hike number 37/40. Easy walking along the beach for as long as possible! The walk around Superga is hike #38. With the walking I did in Torino city, it would definitely count for the kilometres. Como este año va acabando, y las rutas que tenía planificado para este fin de semana va a estar estropeados por una “gota fría” (aunque cuando publiqué la entrada ya será el fin de semana pasada…wuuuuaaa), voy a contar la ruta por la playa de Barcelona como Ruta #37/40.  Era una ruta super fácil por la playa. Como hice una ruta pequeña por Superga, eso será Ruta #38. Como caminé mucho en la ciudad de Turín, cuenta por los kilometros hechos. 

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I didn’t have enough time in Turin, that’s for sure. I would’ve enjoyed the nearby Valle de Aosta even more. I made the best of a short trip and saw what I could. If/when I return, it will be to make it a home base to explore a great region of Italia. No tenía tiempo suficiente en Turín. Me habría encantando la cercana Valle de Aosta aún más. Hice lo pude durante un viaje corto y vi lo que pude. Cuando vuelva, será para hacer como un base para explorar una región bonita de Italia. 

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(Hikes 37-38/40. KM walked unsure.)

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Nature Photo Challenge Day 3. Cinque Terre.

I was challenged to post one nature photo everyday for a week by Living the Q Life. I nominate anyone who wants to do it. Living the Q Life me ha dado el reto para subir una foto de naturaleza todos los días durante una semana. A cualquier persona que quiere participar puede hacerlo. 

Day three is from my favourite place in Italia, Cinque Terre. Although I was surrounded by tourists everywhere, I was able to break away to find some peace and quiet. Día tres es de mi sitio preferido en Italia, Cinque Terre (Los 5 tierras). Aunque había más turistas que en Valencia durante Fallas, pude encontrar un poco de tranquilidad.

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Italia. Les Set Meravelles

I have been to Italia four times now (you can read about them here, here, here, here, here and here), and four trips have not done much to quench my thirst for exploring this country. I know I have a few more trips left in me to the bel paese, as I have to discover Sicilia and the south, Naples and Pompeii, Capri, Cerdeña (Sardinia in English) and its Catalan-speaking villages, Torino (Turin), Genoa, Bologna, Lago di Como, the country of San Marino…the list goes on and on.

However, in the four trips, I have managed to see quite a lot. It’s going to be hard, and I know as if I get to continue exploring these jewel of a country, these are apt to change.

So without any further ado…the Set Meravelles of Italia. I’m limiting myself to only two in Rome as if not, they might all be in Rome, which isn’t even my favourite Italian city! All of these are pretty touristy, I must admit. But they are all touristy for a reason! I’m just going to cheat and say the entire cities, as it’s hard to settle on just seven. And my beloved Fontana di Trevi is undergoing some reconstruction right now. I had to mention it as I am in love with that fountain, but it didn’t make the list this time.

Set Meravelles

Il Colosseo (Roma)

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The Colosseum of Rome is one of the most famous monuments in the world. It was the biggest Colosseum and could seat between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. It was named a New Wonder of the World in 2007 by the New Open World Corporation. Over the years, the damage has been done by earthquakes and stone robbers. It is well worth the 13€ I paid in 2008, and I’m sure it’s even more expensive now.

Vatican City (Roma)

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The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s (San Pietro) Basilica are just two of the things to see in the Vatican. I was lucky enough to attend the Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass in Spanish) in 2008 with the third best Pope in my life (there have been three Popes in my lifetime), which was an experience in itself. The Sistine Chapel is well worth the winding walk through the Vatican Museums, as it took my breath away. I did not take any pictures there.

Il Duomo (Milano)

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The Cathedral of Milan, dedicated to St. Mary of the Nativity, is a major architectural achievement. It’s the fifth largest church in the world and largest church in Italy and took over 600 years to finish (It was finally finished in 1965). While in Milano, also check out the painting of The Last Supper, but make sure you buy your tickets in advance. The tale of this famous painting is quite interesting, as the church it is in was heavily bombed during World War II, yet the wall it is on survived. Milano also has some famous fashion designers I hear…

Venezia

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Venice, the city of the canals, is located in 117 islands on the east coast of Italy. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The population is 260,000, but only 60,000 live in the area with the canals. Recent years have brought lots of flooding, and the city is said to be sinking. They are losing a lot of their art unfortunately. The day I went, I nearly froze to death. Fa freddo da cane, as the Italians say (It makes the cold of the dog, or it’s dog cold I guess.) I’d like to return to explore the romantic city again one day. But there are more pressing things to do at the moment.

Verona

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Oh, fair Verona, how beautiful you are, with your own colosseum, your Adige River, your House of Capulet, how you impressed me with everything you are. The city of 265,000 (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) is often ignored by tourists for more popular destinations, which is a blessing for me (fewer people!) and a curse (people are missing out!) It’s one of my favourite cities I’ve been to ever.

Firenze

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The famous Florence, which in While You Were Sleeping, protagonist Lucy dreamed of one day visiting, has so much to offer. Picturesque monuments, famous statues and incredible sunsets, and usually under the Tuscan sun. 379,000 habitants are lucky to call this beautiful city home. The historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cinque Terre

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Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. Some of the most spectacular coastline and mountains with these five unique villages mean another UNESCO World Heritage site. While you may no longer be able to have a tranquil Italian experience here, you can still find some peace and quiet on the lesser-known trails and no matter where you go in this National Park, you’re going to see beautiful sights. Bella Italia, grazie mille!

Italia IV part IV. Firenze and its spectacular sunset.

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Firenze

After Pisa, Cinque Terre and Lucca, it was time to hit the last city of my four-day tour of Tuscany/Cinque Terre and go back to one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to, Firenze (Florence). I had been in 2008, so I had already seen the statue of the David, Ponte Vecchio, il Duomo and all the other amazing things Florence has to offer. It left me wanting more, of course, which is why I based my trip out of Florence.

The Tuscan capital has 379,000 people but feels much bigger, maybe due to all the tourists. It was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and today boasts many important sculptures and paintings. For those of us who aren’t artistically minded, the city itself is beautiful and located in a valley with mountains and hills all around. The Arno River flows through the city centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was also home to the powerful and famous Medici family.

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Il Duomo

I went without much planned. I had wanted to go to Sienna and San Gimignano, but I was tired of the train changing and needed to rest a bit, so those towns will have to wait for another trip. I arrived to Florence around 17:00 (5 PM) and checked into my pension close to the train station. Arriving in the Santa Maria Novella train station is a chaotic adventure, with trains arriving and taking off to destinations all over the boot peninsula.

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Ponte Vecchio

I found my way back to the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signora, the Palazzo Pitti and all the amazing monuments I had seen in 2008. I admired the outside replica of the Davide statue (the real one is inside the Galleria della Academia) and the Fountain of Neptune for a bit before deciding to make my way to the Piazza de Michelangelo for the sunset.

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Il Davide, Piazza della Signora

I was not the only one who had this idea, but this time I was able to shrug off the tourists and enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. It ranks right up there with Mirador de San Nicolas in Granada and Cabo Sounion in Greece.

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Sunset over Florence from Piazza Michelangelo

I had an expensive risotto and wine for dinner before getting some rest. The bed was not comfortable, and it ended up affecting my back (it still hurts nearly a week later!). I slept though and woke up without any major plan. I went looking for Il Porcellino, the famous boar statue that tradition says if you rub its snout and drop a coin from its mouth, and the coin lands in the grates, you will have good luck and come back to Florence. It looks like my luck may finally be changing, and also that this was not my last visit to Florence.

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Il Porcellino

After strolling along the Arno a while and having a great cappuccino in a café named for one of my favourite writers, Hemingway, I found a place in my Spanish tour guide for Florence called Fiesole in the hills near Florence. I took off after a quick stop in the market near San Lorenzo.

To arrive at Fiesole, I had to take a bus from Piazza de San Marco (number 7), and about 20 minutes later, I was in this incredible village 8 kilometres outside the city centre. The return trip is when I learned that buying a bus ticket on board the bus will cost more. Be warned!

The village has spectacular views of the amazing city of Florence along with a Roman theatre (which I didn’t have time or money to visit unfortunately, too many risotti and Chianti!) I visited an old church and admired the beautiful vistas. It was a great break from the tourists. Although the village is pretty famous for its views, during my visit, it was quite peaceful. I finally found the peace and quiet I was looking for.

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Views from Fiesole

As I had to catch a 3:40 AM bus to the airport in Pisa, I didn’t really have a chance to explore the nightlife of Florence this time around. I would love to share this city with a boyfriend one day and tour all of Tuscany with a car. The return to Spain went without a hitch, although my penance for arriving early at the Pisa airport was met with hurry up and wait as the plane left from a gate beyond passport control. Fortunately we just had to wait and not go through customs as this is European Union and my passport and NIE had been seen by the Ryan Air clerk who stamped my ticket at check-in. Flying is such a pain, but travelling is always worth it.

I average a trip to Italia every 2.5 years, so it’ll probably be 2017 or so for my next trip. I am hoping for Naples, Pompeii, Capri and/or Sicilia. Turin and Genoa are also options. There is so much to see in this amazing country.

That said…I still believe the Iberian peninsula, with Spain (and Euskadi and Catalunya), Andorra and Portugal is the greatest peninsula in the world.

Italia does give Iberia some fierce competition though.

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Fiume Arno

Italia IV. Lucca and a fight over dogs.

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Duomo di Lucca

All good things come to an end, and on Monday morning, I had to say ciao ciao to Cinque Terre. I was sad to say goodbye to the villages and the area, but not sad to say goodbye to the somehow increasing number of tourists. Somehow there were more tourists in Cinque Terre then there had been in Pisa with its Leaning Tower.

I caught the 8:53 train to La Spezia to change trains to one to Viareggio to change to another train to Lucca. If I had more time, I would’ve spent it exploring these towns after another day of hiking Cinque Terre. However, I had to make the most out of my four days there, so it was on to Lucca.

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One of Lucca’s many churches

Today, Lucca has a population 87,000. The Piazza San Michele is located on the former site of the Roman forum, and the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro still has traces of the amphitheatre (and has a circular shape). In 56 BC Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus formed the First Triumvirate in Lucca. Lucca is the birthplace of Puccini. The place is filled with history.

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One of the many churches in Lucca

I left my luggage at the train station for 4€ so I could explore more easily. A bit expensive (considering the fact last month I did the same thing in Burgos for 1€), but Italians know how to make money off tourists, so I paid it without complaining. It was a well spent 4€ to maneuver through the city.

A quick cappuccino (had to get it in before 11:oo) before going under the wall to the city centre. Lucca is famous for its medieval walls and for having a ton of churches. As I always prefer God’s architecture to man’s, I didn’t really keep track of which church was which and only looked at the map to make sure I was seeing everything there was to see. Which was a lot.

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The medieval walls

After wandering the streets a while, I spent some time sitting on a bench resting and writing in my personal travel journal near the walls and a parking lot/car park (only residents can drive within the walls and everyone else must park outside). It was about 14ºC (57.2ºF), and someone had left their poor German Shepherd dog in the car in the shade. Some woman asked me (in Italian, of course), if it was mine, and I was like “No, non è il mio cane” (although I do live with a German Shepherd). She went off on the indignities of leaving a dog in a car (which I do agree with, of course). She finally got bored of waiting for the car’s owner to show up. A few minutes later, they did, and another woman appeared out of nowhere to yell at them. This lead to a screaming match in Italian. It was like my own little Fellini film right before my eyes. They then tried to bring me into it, and with my rusty Italian, I explained I had just been there five minutes and could not say how long the dog had been in the car. I just wanted to play with the dog. The moral of the story is…don’t leave dogs in cars!

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Piazza dell’Anfiteatro di Lucca

I had my token lunch of pizza (I only eat pizza in Italia nowadays, and only once during the trip! Silly diet and trying to eat healthy) found my way to the famous Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, which I really enjoyed. Spain has some amazing plazas, so it takes a lot to impress me now. Piazza dell’Anfiteatro succeeded. I really liked the bar that advertised a husband day-care centre and reminded people that every time you tip a bartender, a Justin Beiber fan catches a cold, so tip your bartender. (With the coperto, tips aren’t needed in Italia as they’re already getting paid just for you sitting down in most estabalishments).

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Wives and some gay husbands, a new service for you!

 

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Ojalá…I wish.

I had my gelato and walked along the wall a bit more, admiring the views of Tuscany. I wish I had had more time to explore. Alas, my reservation was in Firenze (Florence), so I knew I should be wrapping up my visit to Lucca. I had bought my souvenirs in the morning from a cart selling post cards and other Lucca Memorabila in the piazza near the Cathedral, so I was good to go. I said “ciao” to all the beautiful towers and churches and headed back toward the train station. There was a train around the half hour of every hour connecting Lucca to Florence. I settled down on the train to study some italiano and admire the beauty of the scenery around me…wondering what would await me in my second visit to Florence.

A continuación…

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Under the Tuscan sun…