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Our 5th region to visit was our 4 day visit to Vicenza. This stop was the catalyst for the trip as we came to Italy to see our dear friends, Martina and Luis, get married! We stayed in a charming aguritismo right outside of Vicenza which gave us fairly quick access to Verona and Venice.

The first day was dedicated entirely to the wedding! Italian weddings are an all day affair – this one started at 11:30 and we left the reception at midnight! It was a perfect day and a beautiful celebration of such a wonderful couple.

Verona: For me, Verona was one of my favorite cities to visit. Maybe it was all of the Romeo and Juliet vibe that permeates the city, but there was a lot of romance in the air and a fairytale-like feeling along the streets.

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As cheesey as it was, we navigated our way through the crowd and waited in line to kiss on Juliet’s famed balcony.

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Then we saw some of the other cites: Pizza Delle Erbe, Torre dei Lamberti, Piazza dei Signori, Scaliger Tombs (cool), and the gorgeous Sant’Anastasia church.

The highlight of our day in Verona was watching Aida performed in the Arena di Verona, a Roman coliseum built in the first century. Every summer, the Arena hosts the Verona Opera Festival performing different Italian operas. It is such a cool experience because the sets for all of the operas are stored in the square outside of the Arena. Also you can watch the set go up inside the coliseum during the day.

But nothing compares to the magic of experiencing a gorgeous opera in this venue. Holy crap. I was a little nervous going into the opera because it is 4 hours long and didn’t start until after 9pm. It didn’t matter. Time flew and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Vicenza: Best known for the 23 buildings designed by fame architect, Palladio, Vicenza is a beautiful city that happened to be a ghost town on the day we visited. We made the game-time decision to switch our Vicenza and Venice trips not realizing that everything (and I mean everything) was closed on a Monday in Vicenza.

So after wandering a bit, we headed over to Bassano del Grappa. Their big claim to fame is a 15th century wooden bridge, “Ponte degli Alpini” and grappa. We toured the Museo della Grappa and Ryan sampled several different Poli grappas and got some great shots from the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge).

Venice: So Venice was interesting, I had this whole plan of doing a walking tour, exploring St. Mark’s square, the Basilica, and Doge’s Palace, seeing St. Mary of the Friars church, and crossing the Realto bridge. Well, we saw the church and the bridge and got to nothing else on the list.

The amount of people crammed in the tiny space that is St. Mark’s Square is ridiculous and the lines to get into the Basilica and Doge’s Palace even more so. It wasn’t worth it and we quickly moved out of the area to quieter streets of Venice.

Instead of getting shoved by other tourists, we spent a lovely day wondering in and out of glass shops and absorbing the rest of Venice (away from the madness). We also got to enjoy the prettiest gelato in Italy (who doesn’t want their gelato served in the shape of a flower with a macaroon on top?)!

I’d like to go back and see the things we missed. But I have no regrets not sticking to the schedule to cram everything in.

All in all, this leg of the trip was a blast! It was wonderful getting to see our friends and have the chance to make some new ones as well!

Ciao!

~Emily