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Gondola in a canal in Venice
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Northern Italy: From the peaks of the Dolomites to the canals of Venice

Last updated 10 November 2020

The path through Northern Italy took us to the South Tyrol and the impressive Dolomites, through beautiful Trentino countryside and the old city of Trent, past Verona where those famous lovers met, and all the way to strange, surreal Venice.

Milan was our first introduction to Europe. The fashion capital of Italy was vibrant and busy, with only the impressive Duomo to attract the tourist crowds. Just around the corner was the cathedral of shopping – the lovely Galleria, all arched ceilings with sparkling light filtering through, carefully dressed people sipping coffee and very expensive shops.

From there we headed to the small town of Mezzocorona, tucked into the mountains where the ancient basilisk lived, surrounded by wineries grown on the lands where the creature’s blood once fell. Trento was shrouded in mist when we visited, the small village above disappearing under the sky’s grey vale, Dos Trento sparkling in the afternoon sun. Verona was covered in a sea of bright umbrellas, the rain forcing couples to retreat into barely covered doorways.

By train, we crossed into Venezia, finally arriving in Venice – a chaotic blend of people, boats and water. Somehow, the city combined the stunning, the fantastic and the mundane. We stayed in an old mansion with ridiculously high ceilings, Persian rugs, huge Venetian glass chandeliers and wood panelling. It was like stepping into a movie set.

We quickly got lost in the crowds. The madness was exhilarating and overwhelming and when it rained everything was wet, and canal water was everywhere! Getting lost was exciting. We found churches, shops, alleys, canals… and then they disappeared again. During the day crowds picked up, and dispersed a little in the evenings. Everything was multilingual, bright and not quite real.

It rained a lot while we were there. Hours passed and the narrow streets ended suddenly at canals again and again, and the city felt closed in and claustrophobic. Walking in alleys at night didn’t feel safe (even though it was), and there was a sense of heightened anxiety as people wandered around, lost in the dark, maps in hand. We all cast huge shadows as we walked around in circles, and even small people could seem threatening from a distance.

But St Mark’s Square was a glimmer of light in the darkness. There was a jazz band playing, laughter and happy people gathering. The clouds cleared and Venice shone in all its magic, and it was amazing!

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