What can I say? Italy is just a gorgeous place to be! The last few ports in Italy have been pure eye candy. From the gorgeous buildings to the fabulous fashions, Italy is truly a gem in the heart of Europe!
First of all the shopping is INSANE!! Usually I am a casual window shopper who makes very small purchases here and there for souveniers and little snacks. I have never been very impressed with clothes, hats, shoes, boots and tourist crap in most ports. Nor do I usually spend any money on food. Our ports of call in Italy changed all of that!
Our first Italian port was the city of Rome and although I didn’t spend very much money there, my eyes gorged themselves with the eye candy that is Roman architecture. Trevi Fountain was a treasure to behold! We made our way there after doing some window shopping and picture taking around the beautiful Spanish steps. Then we skipped off to the Piazza Navona for a nice long lunch. This spectacular piazza is lined with numerous cafes and artists peddling their works. We slipped into a café and drank Peroni, the local beer, and, of course, ate pizza and pasta! Our last stop on this trip was Saint Peter’s Basilica. Um, like, WOW! That place was HUGE! I didn’t venture inside though because I was too tickled pink with the gelato place that was blasting salsa music down the road! Girl next door, Lindsay and I popped in there for some REAL Italian ice cream. All I can say is: yummy, yummy, yummy! These places, and other key landmarks in Rome, are all spread out around the city so you have to do quite a bit of walking to get from one attraction to the next. But the beauty of it all is in walking from place to place. Everywhere you go there is a beautiful building, an interesting fountain, ancient ruins or a supremely designed square. And if the architecture isn’t enough there are cute cafes, gelato vendors, Italian fashion stores and, of course, shoes!
Now I managed to keep my budget intact throughout our little tour of Rome, but I broke the bank shopping in Bari!! Oy! You wanna talk about a port for shopping? Mama Maria! The clothes, shoes and accessories in Bari were so beautiful that I was literally gasping! The designs of the commonplace stuff were blowing me away! And the shops seemed to go on forever. In the worldwide corporate stores like Nike, Zara and H&M the selection of styles and shoes is intensely better than in the US. The real Italian shops and boutiques have insanely beautiful fashions. We stopped in an Italian boot and shoe store that nearly broke my heart. For one thing, there were so many beautiful shoes and boots that I wanted to buy them all (Hello Imelda!), but the killer was that the height of each shoe heel was at least five inches! (Hello Next Top Model!) To be perfectly honest, I did not go totally crazy shopping in Bari, but I did manage to pick up two beautifully crafted sweaters that I hope will last forever. Even if they don’t, the memory of shopping in Bari for them will.
The last, and greatest of all these ports is Venice. Ahhh, Venice! Venice encompassed the best of shopping, cultural interest, eating and city design out of all three ports. This was the only place where all of the touristy stuff that I never buy became completely irresistible. The major tourist items were the masks for ****the carnival celebration. **** These masks are so divinely colorful and diverse in style and creation that I could have spent a month’s salary on them alone! The local mode of transportation is by boat, which in itself is too crazy to believe until you see it. Like the subways in New York or the bus stations in any major city there is a little map on each boat showing each stop the boat makes and what it’s route is. There aren’t any cars! There aren’t ANY cars! I could really get into this city!
Like in Rome, most of the beauty of Venice is in walking through it. The architecture and city design is stunning with all of the mini bridges and streets that wrap around themselves like ribbons of stone. Getting lost is not only easy, but preferred. While wandering the streets I stopped at several gelato vendors to have a taste from the fantastic assortment of flavors. My favorites included Snickers, peanut butter chocolate and caramel: Again, yummy, yummy, yummy! Local shopping included shoe shops, clothing stores, jewelery stores, pastry shops, souvenier shops and free standing vendors with just about anything you could ever need or want. Wine bars and cool cafes abound at every turn although we found a gem of a local pizza shop that was selling slices for very cheap. Lucky for us we stayed in Venice overnight and also had a chance to experience a little night life! We went to a little “Jazz” bar called Bacaro. Now I put jazz in quotes because this place is not a live jazz bar but a really cool place where they play jazz as background music. I was a little let down by this fact until the delicious smorgasbord of bruscetta, fries and beers arrived. How on earth do they get the food to taste so good? The unique décor included bras hanging from the ceiling in rows. They are hung in a beautiful array, arranged by color and size and there is a tradition kept there: If you leave your bra to be hung on the ceiling, you can get a free T-shirt. If I wasn’t wearing one of my favorite bras that night I would have had a free T-shirt! Oh what a night!
Signing Off! Marsha