Category Archives: Italy

Our Wedding in Venice: A Photo Essay

wedding in Venice wedding day Jessica Norah Laurence Norah

A photo essay of our wedding in Venice. Two years ago today, Laurence and I got engaged at Point Reyes National Seashore in California next to a giant elephant seal. At that time, I was working full-time as a clinical psychologist and living in the San Francisco Bay area. A lot has changed since that time. I don’t share a lot of personal posts but I’ve been asked several times to share some photos of our wedding in Venice on the blog, and have always meant to do so but never got around to doing it. So I thought I would do it today on our engagement anniversary. It also gave me a good excuse to go back through our wedding photos. If you don’t enjoy wedding photos, this is your time to escape, otherwise, enjoy! As some of you know, Laurence and I actually had our legal wedding at Read the Rest…

Inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence: Touring the Medici’s Secret Passage

Inside the Vasari Corridor Florence Italy Medici

We recently had the pleasure of touring inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence Italy. The Vasari Corridor is an enclosed private passageway built in the 16th century by the Medici family to connect the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. This narrow elevated passageway allowed the Medici family and their privileged guests to travel freely and unnoticed and to have advantageous views of Florence and its populace. The Vasari Corridor snakes across many of Florence’s most important landmarks as it makes it way from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Pitti Palace, including the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Felicita church, and the Boboli Gardens. The Vasari Corridor remained closed to the public until the 1970’s when it was restored and opened for select special openings and for group tours provided by specialist tour companies. Today, you too can enjoy the privilege of going inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence and Read the Rest…

Exploring the Art at the Borghese Gallery in Rome

Apollo and Daphne Bernini Borghese Gallery Galleria Borghese Rome Italy

The Borghese Gallery is the perfect place for art lovers to admire art in a beautiful space without big crowds in Rome. While the Vatican Museums are filled with treasures and are a must visit site in the Eternal City, it is also one of the largest and most crowded museums on the planet! But luckily Rome is full of art, some contained inside museums, some tucked away in churches, and some weathering in its piazzas. The Galleria Borghese, or Borghese Gallery, features one of the world’s greatest private art collections assembled by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century in his Roman garden villa. The collection is particularly rich in ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art, with major works by Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, Correggio, Rubens, and Canova. A great thing about the Borghese Gallery is that it has a timed reservation system that keeps the crowds to a minimum; however, Read the Rest…

Discovering the Romantic Poets on our Grand Tour in Rome

Romantic Poets Grand Tour in Rome

During our modern-day Grand Tour in Rome this past October, we had the opportunity to learn more about the English Romantic poets and their history within the Eternal City on a tour with Context Travel. From the 16th century until the mid 19th century, many wealthy young English men would travel to Italy on a Grand Tour in order to finish off their education and gain a better understanding of art, culture, and history. However, many used it as an excuse to gamble, drink, party, and visit prostitutes. Three of the most famous English Romantic poets: George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats, would all visit Italy and the city of Rome would serve as a backdrop for significant personal events in the poets’ lives and as an inspiration for their poetry. The guided tour includes a visit to the last residence of John Keats, a wander through a Read the Rest…

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Train: A Luxury Train Journey from London to Venice

Belmond Venice Simplon Orient Express

This past October we had the pleasure of riding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train from London to Venice where we held our wedding ceremony. The original Orient Express train service ran from 1883 to 2009, and its name became associated with glamour, luxury, intrigue, and even murder! In its heyday, it was the most luxurious train in Europe and today this tradition lives on with Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE). The VSOE makes regular luxury train journeys across Europe, offering gourmet meals, private overnight cabins, and attentive staff within its wonderfully restored historical train carriages. The signature trip is the 36-hour luxury train journey from London to Venice which has to be one of the most elegant ways to arrive in Venice! We’ll share all you need to know to decide if this trip is a good fit for you, from the historical background of the Orient Express to how to book Read the Rest…

How to Visit the Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica Without the Crowds

saint marks basilica st. mark's basilica without the crowds

Visit the Doge’s Place and St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds? St. Marks’ Basilica and the Doge’s Palace are two of the most popular places to visit in Venice, and although they are must-see stops for travelers, they also tend to be very crowded. It can be hard to enjoy these historical sites as you are standing in lines, jostling elbows with fellow travelers, and trying to see around selfie sticks and flag-waving tour guides. Walks of Italy, an American-based walking tour company, has come up with an eloquent solution for this dilemma. They have designed a tour that allows late entry into the Doge’s Palace which is a time that the palace is typically quiet, and most importantly they have received permission to run exclusive after-hours tours inside St. Marks’ Basilica. So you get to experience St. Mark’s Basilica as very few people do, alone with only your tour Read the Rest…

Casanova’s Venice: Discovering 18th Century Venice with Context Travel

Rio dei Mendicanti Canaletto Ca' Rezzonico Context Travel

During our trip to Venice, we did a Context Travel walking tour themed around Casanova’s 18th century Venice. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was an Italian adventurer, author, and womanizer who was born and lived in Venice during the gilded and decadent eighteenth century. Perhaps best known for his daring and amorous exploits, Casanova’s autobiography is considered one of the best sources of European lifestyles and customs of the 18th century. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Venice had amassed significant power and wealth through trade although its power was rapidly fading by the 18th century as the republic was no longer a major center of international trade. In the 1700’s, or Settecento, Venice became known as a place for leisure and pleasure, with the 18th century being considered the most hedonistic period in Venetian history. This period is often symbolized by gilded palazzos along the Grand Canal, lavish fashions, elaborate parties, elegant cafes, mask-wearing Read the Rest…

Le Marche Italy: Discovering an Unexplored Region of Italy

Gradara Castle Le Marche Italy

In October, I spent three days in the Le Marche Region of Italy following the Travel Bloggers Destination Italy conference in Rimini. Admittedly, I had never heard of the Le Marche region before and was mispronouncing the name of the region (pronounced lay MAR-kay) until we started the trip. However, I was excited to explore this relatively unknown region of Italy. The Marche Region sits in the center of Italy with the Apennines to its west and the Adriatic Sea to its east, and is best known for its rolling hills, agricultural products, parks and nature reserves, and its seaside towns and beaches. It is also a great region to discover small hilltop villages and picturesque towns that have preserved their medieval and renaissance heritages. During our three-day whirlwind trip we visited the northern part of Le Marche region of Italy known as the “Hills Riviera” and focused on the major Read the Rest…