21st February 2017: 3 Italian cities in 3 days, is it possible? My recent trip with Kirker Holidays shows that it certainly is and seamless throughout.
After a short flight we arrived into the eternal city of Rome and were met by our driver and taken swiftly to the fabulous D'Inghilltera Hotel. This has got to be one of the best locations in Rome. Just yards from the Spanish Steps and adjacent to Via Condotti, Rome's 'Bond Street', a favourite of Hemmingway and Mark Twain and I can see why.
Rome is one of my favourite cities, very noisy, busy and where ancient meets modern. No visit is complete without visiting the Vatican City. We were fortunate to have a private guide. The Basilica of St Peter, the world’s largest church is the most amazing building I ever visited. Full of treasures including Michaelangelo' s Pieta, its beauty and reverence is breathtaking. Included is a visit to the Sistine Chapel with its magnificent ceiling painted in the 16th century by Michaelangelo.
Like all cities, the tourist attractions get extremely busy so I would advise visiting early or late. I visited the Trevi Fountain at midnight and it was still quite busy but magical and romantic at that time.
The next morning we board a train to Florence. It was a very comfortable journey of only two hours through the Tuscan countryside on the high speed Ivalo network.
Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city of Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Giotto and Dante. We stayed at the Relais Santa Croce, a beautiful former Palazzo once home to the Pope’s treasurer in the 1700's. My suite overlooked the Santa Croce Basilica and it was surreal knowing that Michaelangelo and Galileo are buried there.
The best way to explore Florence is on foot, maybe taking a private city tour. We took in most of the sights including the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and the Uffizi Gallery. This is one of the greatest museums of the world, housing great works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli and Michaelangelo. What a privilege to see such great works including Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus'! However, even in December this museum was extremely busy so timed visits I think are a must.
The next morning, another rail journey and an hour later we arrived in Venice. It's so hard getting your head around Venice. It's made up of 100 islands, with 200 canals and spanned by 400 bridges.
We stayed at the oldest hotel in Venice, the Luna Baglioni, 100 metres from the Grand Canal. Our private water taxi took us straight to the door where we were met by the butler! Everyone should have one!
The only way I can describe Venice is mystical and magical, shabby and beautiful and steeped in history. Smaller than I imagined with lots of cobbled and narrow streets and very easy to navigate.
St Mark's Square was larger and quieter than I expected but it was December. It is dominated by St Mark's Basilica and the clock tower. We had a private guide to take us around the Doges Palace, built in the 14th century and typically Venetian Gothic. Again like most Italian museums it houses rare sculptures, paintings and frescoes. The highlight for me was the Bridge of Sighs, linking the Doges Palace and the prison where prisoners would look out for their last time at the lagoon and freedom.
I savoured every moment of this trip and it certainly gave us a flavour of what each of these great cities has to offer. I cannot wait to return to explore even more.