After Tel Aviv, I met my family for a 10 day trip in Italy. Rome, Florence, and then Venice were our destinations. This is mostly for my personal journal, but maybe you will find it useful if you ever visit.
Rome is a weird city. It ruled the known world for nearly a millennium. During that time hundreds of generations of people have built structures in this city. It has so many layers it is staggering. Just dig down anywhere and you will hit ancient ruins.
There are so many ancient ruins that Rome has collectively shrugged it’s shoulders and stopped caring. There are 2000 year old columns propping up garbage cans and leaning on restaurant walls. This is a great example of having too much of something good.
We saw many of the highlights including the Colosseum and Vatican City.
Vatican City had some beautiful artwork, but I was surprised at what the experience was. It’s not a little village. (That’s what I thought it was!) Instead it was like artwork IKEA. You walked down a path of never-ending artwork with no offshoots until you hit the Sistine chapel. Also, the Sistine chapel was not what I expected either. It it just a big room with no windows. I was strangely unmoved.
The highlight for me was the Botanical gardens. They had many, many exhibits. One particularly nice one was the butterfly enclosure. Great gardens there, highly recommended.
Overall, I felt empty in Rome. The food all seemed exactly the same. It wasn’t the most amazing flavors either. I didn’t feel a specific culture or neighborhoods. Overall, I just felt meh. It was nice to visit places with the kids though.
Regarding the food, I was surprised. It was basically the same menu in every single restaurant. Just clones over and over. For some reason there were no chicken or veal parmigiana and a surprisingly small amount of pasta options. Not sure what was happening. Lots of Gelatto options, but none as good as Otello in Tel Aviv.
We took a bullet train north to the home of Leonardo and Michelangelo. Florence felt to be the more expensive, fancy version of Rome. Everything was clean and well manicured. It was really nice to walk around.
The meseums in Florence were spectacular. Great renaissance artists on display. They had several Da Vinci’s and other masters. One of my favorites was Venus by Botticelli. Many paintings were surprisingly weird and gory.
The highlight might have been Michaelangelo’s David. It is huge and beautiful. It’s glowing. The best part of that experience is how it’s framed. It’s perfectly lit from above and easy to move around.
Overall, it is a lovely city with great artwork. But I am not sure I would visit again.
We took the train again to Venice. Venice is a weird place. It is built on a couple of hundred tiny islands. The edges were squared off to make little canal roadways. There are no cars or bikes. I’ve never seen anything like it.
We watched a little documentary about Venice and it made us very sad. Apparently, tourists like us, especially ones who come from a cruise ship descend upon Venice, trash the place, spend very little money and then leave. Venice has a rich history, but clearly it’s days as the richest city in the region is well behind it.
The food was decent, but nothing I would get excited about. It was really cool to walk around, but it had the feeling of a historic village rather than a lived in city. The documentary called it Venice-Land like Disney-Land. It was a cool experience but it felt fake and hallow. Similar to Rome but much smaller.
Bonus City: Prague
Lastly, we went to Prague for a few days. I worked most of it, but the family looked around. I don’t have much to report, but they said it was more of a real city than the previous ones. In other words, more people lived there.
Since I was working I don’t have much to show, but I did notice some amazing sweets.
We had never traveled like this as a family before. It felt expensive and luxurious, but also a bit silly. I don’t feel that looking at artwork in person is 100x better than looking at it online. The food wasn’t spectacular, it was just OK. All in all, I enjoyed my time in Tel Aviv more.
Traveling is a weird thing. I think I enjoy being in a place for a longer time and getting a feel for the local rhythm and culture rather than quick trips and looking at tourist spots.
Feel free to ask questions. I didn’t want these posts to be enormous.