Normally, it would be quiet unusual to add a cemetery in your itinerary, but in Paris it is not. Alongside the Catacombs, there is also the Père Lachaise Cemetery which holds a number graves for famous people (from Jim Morrison to Chopin) as well as memorials, the most affecting one being for the Holocaust victims.
From Naples, I flew to Dubrovnik but with an all day stop at Venice. I made a point of exploring the side of Venice that I have not been to on the previous trip the week before and spent much of the time around the Dorsoduro area instead.
Mostra di Architettura di Venezia
There was also the Mostra di Architettura di Venezia (Venice Biennale of Architecture) and while my time was limited, I was able to go to the Portugal and Montenegro exhibitions.
Homeland, News from Portugal intends to report news about the current architectural, social and economic life of Portugal , reflecting and informing about the wide range of aspects of modernization that has hit the country in the last hundred years.
In particular, Homeland aims to address the issues raised by Rem Koolhaas ( Fundamentals Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 ) through a critical and determined reflection on living, an area of excellence for experimentation with modernity that has always represented a fundamental element urban and rural environments, as well as a socio-cultural reflection of its inhabitants. (Source)
I was most affected by the installation of the Montenegro exhibition, but it was very hard to capture on camera. I almost wanted to purchase a book – despite not having any ties to Montenegro or the artists – it was that good!
From the official website: The Montenegro exhibition aims at the multidisciplinary integration of the results deriving from contemporary ecological research and collaborative practices in urban design and spatial planning. The curator Sonja Radović Jelovac proposes to widen the framework of the research of the Montenegrin project, referring to the need to apply the principle of resilience to the local context, as well as the need to adopt shared values. The project of Montenegro at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition consists of three related parts: the book, the exhibition and the networking, each of which, from its point of view, addresses the universal theme Emerging Resilience, varying in size, materiality, duration and propagation method. Together they constitute the vital support for an open debate on the subject within the pavilion and beyond. A new topic is associated with the main theme: Wo / Man under the Umbrella .
“Why do not umbrellas dissolve in the sun – or at least they do not grow in the rain?” Cedric Price
Trying to decide when and where from to go to Mt Vesuvius can be a bit tricky. If you decide to go by train, it can take a while. And there are tours that tend to combine Mt Vesuvius with Pompeii for example.
I don’t recommend doing these tours, and instead you can go to Mt Vesuvius on your own by catching a bus from Pompeii. In this instance, I decided to go at 3pm which meant that the sun was not at its highest and it gave me a chance to rest after spending almost half an Italian summer’s day in Pompeii.
Once you arrive, you are taken near the base. You then buy a ticket at the entrance or the bus driver offers it (they do not markup the price). And from there, you proceed to walk.
Most people were appropriately dressed but I even saw some people wear wedges or bowler shoes. Not recommended! You can take your time going up the mountain. There are a few ‘stations’ offering things from souvenirs to water and even alcoholic drinks.
Once you reach the rim of the volcano you have the option to walk around it, then come back and walk down the mountain.
You can read posts about Pompeii below:
After almost a week in Montecatini, we went to Sorrento which is a town overlooking the Bay of Naples in Southern Italy. To get here, I took the train to Naples and then arranged a hotel pick up to Sorrento. Otherwise, it takes about an hour by train which is quiet long and uncomfortable (which, I’ve had experience in going to nearby areas!).
You can stay near the town which makes going to and from very easy. I also stayed at a hotel situated right uphill which required taking a hotel bus to and from the town centre.
Sorrento is a town that can suit many interests – if you are into shopping, there are many places there, for those that want to go to the beaches and island hop they can do so. For me, I went to Pompeii and Vesuvius (to be covered in another entry) instead.
I was not overly fond of Sorrento, but it was also nice spot to be in.
I only took a brief day trip to Capri as I then had to go to Naples that night. Unfortunately, either it was too brief or it wasn’t my style, but I was not overly fond of Capri also! There may be other islands that I could possibly like but not in this case.
Somehow, I thought Capri would be a bit like Monaco.
I navigated Pisa without maps, which was actually a good idea as the signs to go to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (or Torre pendente di Pisa) was clear and you also had an opportunity to wander around the piazzas of the older part of the city. There are some people that do a tour, but when you ask if they have ever wandered through the other parts of the city it turns out they haven’t.
You will also see a series of street art with a common theme by an artist called Blub. He has a lot of works also in Florence but can also be found in Pisa. See below!
Il Gelato Di Toto is a gelato shop that I recommend because of the flavors!
From Montecatini, take a train to La Spezial. And then a regional train to one of the several villages known to be a part of Cinque Terre. This is a picturesque set of villages set along the Italian coast.
I was there on a Sunday so it was quiet empty. I highly recommend a gelato place that also serves Sicilian ice treats!
Vernazza, Cinque Terre
I only went to one town, Vernazza, and it was packed. There was a recommendation to go to one of the towns, but I went to the wrong one. Oh well, it was an interesting experience anyway!
I was only in Florence for the day, but you can definitely spend more than a day!
I went to the touristic and historical sites (primarily, the Duomo area), and walked along the Gold Bridge or ‘Ponte Vecchio’ with a history from the medieval times. There were a number of museums and galleries which I did not attend but you can satisfy your historical, cultural and artistic curiosities here.
It is easy to wander around the city and think of times of yore with the artefacts from the yesteryears.
Montecatini is situated in Tuscany. You can take a train from Lake Como to Montecatini but with a stopover in Milan.
Montecatini is a very small village with much of the action happening at the central plaza. You can take a walk somewhere out of the periphery for other shops and restaurants.
I did not have a chance to, but you can take a number of day tours and trips to the wine region. Take care to book since a tour that I wanted to take was sold out.
From Montecatini, you can also take a day trip to Pisa, Firenze/Florence and Cinque Terre.
One of the towns to go to is Lucca which is only a short train ride away from Montecatini. I was there on a very short trip on a Sunday so the shops were closed but otherwise it would have been an interesting city to be in for the day.
From Milan, we went to Lake Como. We stayed at an old fashioned hotel overlooking the lake (and later moved to an apartment somewhere near the Duomo).
We had some amazing seafood, including a shrimp tartare pasta.
Activities worth doing around Lake Como is to go all around the towns and villages and to also go to the furnicular at the top!
We took the train from Milan to Venice, which was quiet uneventful. Except! We sat on the wrong seats throughout the whole trip, the people didn’t mind though.
The last time I was in Venice was in 2013 and it was for the Biennale. Venice in July was .. I have to say, far too hot and crowded. I ended up going for a walk from around 6am as it was cooler and less crowded then.
I was back in Venice again in August, but will do this in another post.
We also had some nice meals around Venice, in particular at the Hotel Grand Carlton which overlooked the Grand Canal.
Milan is a very beautiful and chic city. Went to the Duomo and the luxury shopping street. Had a LOT of gelato. Went for a run and walk early in the morning to appreciate the city scapes.