Italy, Italy, Italy. What a wonderful country, full of surprises at every turn. And the food! I think I put on about 5 kg in the week we were here. The best pizza and pasta of my life! Italy has it's downsides too though. Italian people's driving is pretty shocking, although not the worst I've seen. And when we got down to southern Italy it got pretty dodgy because it's all run by the Mafia. More on that another time though. But otherwise, they have a great culture of loud people that wave their arms around every time they say something. It definitely makes communicating with them easier if you don't know Italian.
So after departing the French Riviera we drove for most of the day until we arrived in a town called Verona which is famous for it's Roman town wall, an ampitheatre, a cool old church, an interesting town hall, and it is also home of Romeo and Juliette's balcony. There is also a statue of Juliette where apparently if you touch her boob you get good luck. So here is a pic of me doing so.
Below is a picture of the balcony, which you could go up and stand on. I happened to take a picture with some girl up there which I think was a fitting touch.
The bus stops every 2 or 3 hours at the servo for everyone to eat and use the facilities. The first servo we stopped at in Italy had a full on wood fire pizza oven, and was churning out some amazing pizza which I had to go back for seconds for. We then continued on to the mainland of Venice where we stayed at a camp site in comfortable little cabins. It is a Contiki camp site so there were 2 other groups, and we had a big party at the camp site's bar. They were selling these drinks called "Amnesia" consisting of 4 different liquors, which as you can imagine is designed to make you forget what you did that night. The next day we got up at about 9 and jumped straight onto a little ferry to take us to Venice. Venice is a truely unique city - nothing else even comes close to it. It's the only functioning city in the world with absolutely no motorised land transport.
It's a labyrinth of tiny streets, waterways, tourist shops, and of course the famous St Mark's Basilica pictured below.
There's also the Bridge of Sighs which is famous because prisoners used to sigh when they walked across it because they knew they probably wouldn't see daylight again when they were locked in the prison on the other side of the bridge. Unfortunately it was pretty much completely blocked off because it was under renovation. Sigh!
Some of you may have heard of Venetian glass. I certainly had so thought it important to go see one of the famous local glass blowers. Now I have seen glass blowing done before in South Africa and this was absolutely nothing like it. It was about 1000 times more impressive! The guy takes out a ball of glass from the furnace and was able to make a multicoloured glass horse in about 5 minutes using nothing more than tongs and pliers. Quite something.
Of course for lunch I had to stop for a delicious pizza. Belissimo!
Nearing the end of the day we hopped on a gondola and had the most relaxing boat ride ever! It was so peaceful and quiet (there being only the odd 5hp motor boat going past every once in a while). I also happened to buy a bottle of Italian sparkling wine before so I managed to finish the entire thing to myself before the ride ended. I was feeling quite contented indeed.
And that was my day in Venice done! I don't think I could ever live there, but it sure was fascinating. During the day I forced myself to get lost in the city because that's always when you really get to experience the city. I saw people in secluded alleyways doing their washing at the laundromat, and kids playing. There's only about 50,000 people that live in the city and with tourism being just about the only industry it was nice to see a touch of the local side of things instead of just bustling tourists taking pictures left right and centre.