So part of the reason I haven't been online much the past few weeks is I took an utterly lovely trip to Italy. El Husbando speaks Italian, so we didn't book any tours but just got a room in Florence, took a day trip to Pisa while we were there (including a visit to the towns of Sienna and San Gimignano), then had a room in Venice for the rest of the trip.
Since we didn't do an official tour, I don't have a lot of information on the stuff we saw, so here's a pic-spam post showing you some of the highlights. It might be more fun this way!
This is the Arno river on the night we arrived in Florence
In Italy, the insides of churches are like classical art galleries.
The front of El Duomo, the cathedral in Florence
More of El Duomo in Florence
Pretty building in Florence
Rooftops in Florence
A pretty building in Florence
I believe this is a courtyard that is part of the Uffizi Gallery; it's certainly right beside to the building where the gallery is housed, but I'm unsure whether they're officially part of the same complex.
Across the Arno river, the city gets a bit more rural (and less touristy; it's nice!)
Another scene while we were across the Arno river (there is city there too, but green spaces like this one also.)
A parade in Florence. These fellows were tossing their flags high in the air as they walked.
The start of our day trip to Pisa: This is in the main square of the town of Sienna, which was rich enough at one point that they tried to rival Rome. Then the black plague came along and left everybody either dead or broke--usually dead.
This is the fountain in the main square of Sienna.
This is the bell tower for Sienna's cathedral, which we were going to see. (Note the swallows and the moon!)
This is the front of Sienna's cathedral
The bell-tower of Sienna's cathedral
The inside of Sienna's cathedral
A painted roof inside the library in Sienna's cathedral
A view of wine country as we're driving toward San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a medieval city that is preserved but still has people living in it. Very quaint and cute place!
The cathedral at Pisa with the leaning tower in the background. And here, you see why El Husbando froths about my tendency to take crooked shots. Yes, the tower is supposed to be leaning--but the cathedral is not!
The leaning tower of Pisa--leaning slightly more than usual due to my incompetence with a camera.
The inside of Pisa's cathedral
The inside of Pisa's cathedral
A door at Pisa, possibly on the cathedral
Okay, we're back in Florence! El Duomo is the main cathedral in Florence, and we walked right up to the top of the dome. That's a bit less than 600 steps, and most of them are in these tiny, claustrophobic spiral staircases or along steps where you have to crouch because the dome is curving right over your shoulder. It was cool! Well--sweaty and a lot of work, to be accurate--but you know what I mean!
This image is of the paintings on the inside of the dome, which you get to see right up close when you do the walk-up to the top of the dome. The daylight you see at the top is the level where we ended up.
View of El Duomo's bell-tower from the top of the cathedral's dome
View of Santa Croce from the top of El Duomo
Here's what half the stairwells looked like when you climbed to the top of El Duomo in Florence
Now we're in Venice! It was the height of tourist season, so some of the canals looked like conveyor belts of gondolas at certain times of the day. No, we did not take a gondola ride--it works out to being about $150 (100 Euro) for a 40 minute ride. We knew we would enjoy it, but that much...?
San Marco in Venice; there seemed to be a lot of work being done (cleaning? restoration?), so unfortunately quite a few of the landmarks in this piazza had plastic sheeting up over them.
A detail on the cathedral of San Marco in Venice
The Doge's palazzo (Duke's palace) in Venice
A view from inside the Doge's palazzo (where you're not actually supposed to take photos--shh!)
The gold-and-glass mosaic tiles of the ceiling inside San Marco's cathedral--where, um, you're also not supposed to take photos.
The ceiling in one of the museums that rings San Marco piazza, where...look, as far as criminal behaviour in foreign countries is concerned, taking photos when you're not supposed to ain't that bad, okay?
View along the grand canal in Venice (where you are allowed to take photos!)
View across the grand canal in Venice
The inside of one of the cathedrals in Venice. They have SO. MANY. CHURCHES.
Inside a completely different church in Venice
A Venetian mask in a store window. You can also see some glass beads; Venice is famous for its blown glass.
This is a public sculpture on nearby Murano Island, which is famous for being where all of Venice's famous blown glass comes from.
The view coming back to Venice from Murano Island on the vaporetto (ferry.)
And finally--I don't usually post photos of myself on the internet--but here's me eating a meringue cookie that's nearly as big as my head!