DEAR FELLOW TRAVELERS:Our 1st Adventure was to visit 3 of my favorite cities outsidethe United States, Florence, Rome and Venice.
Well, I first visited this magical city of the Renaissance when I was 18, just a few years ago mind you, when my college girlfriend and I spent our junior year abroad traveling throughout Iceland, Europe, the Middle East and east Africa before settling in our college’s Italian Study Program in Florence. Florence was such an eye opener for us, the cradle of the rebirth of learning and the arts in Western Europe after the middle ages. Everyone, who was anyone lived here, Dante, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Botticelli, the Medici and Galileo.While we were in Florence we visited the heart and soul of this famousdestination. The 14th century Duomo and Baptistery, the David's byMichelangelo in the Academia and Donatello at the Bargelo, the largeand small Medici palaces, library and church tombs. We met noble andcontemporary Florentines who guided us through their great city. Theyintroduced us to special Tuscan cooking recipes (including our owndemonstration in their homes), classic wines of the region tastingsoverlooking the city and an itinerary of gardens, restaurants thatonly Florentine’s go to dine and markets many never see. Trust me;everything we did was first class.
For over 2000 years Rome has been on every educated human’sradar for its rich and exciting history, pageantry and legacy. The Forum, the Christian catacombs, St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with the Sistine Ceiling and Pieta by Michelangelo and moon rocks given to the Pope by President Nixon, the Coliseum, the Borghese Gardens, the Spanish Steps, and who can’t forget casting coins in the celestial Trevi Fountains. We tasted delicious southern Italian cuisine and wines that complimented delicious feast of foods. There was time to stroll this ancient city on our own to visit sites and hear sounds for the first time or again to reclaim the experience from past visits, movies, and books.
There is no other city like Venice because it is completely on water. There are no cars and the only means of transportation is by boat or gondola through its complex of narrow canals, bridges and many islands. Since the time of Marco Polo in the 13th century, Venice has been an international crossroads for east-west trade and commerce. In addition to it being a city of fantasy and intrigue, famous characters such as Casanova and more recently Peggy Guggenheim have lived there. Many operas and masquerade balls have been staged in Venice and notable writers and artists have produced their most beknown works there. There is a special quality about Venice that once you have experienced it, it never leaves you.