A Very Merry Venice Christmas

The Venice term ends a couple of weeks before Christmas, by which time Venice is already looking festive. As the nights get longer, misty Venice looks beautiful with its Christmas lights and festive shop windows. Here are some of my favourite shots of Venice, taken just before the end of term.

Christmas trees go on sale a week before Warwick students head home. Locals pick a tree up just off Rio Tera de la Madalena in Cannaregio.

The Chorus Pass gains you entry into lots of Venice’s beautiful churches. Save a few to visit in December, as each church has its own Nativity scene. This Nativity scene was part of collection found just off Calle Scuola and free to see.

Christmas lights make the Rialto Bridge look festive.

Panettone pop up everywhere in the last couple of weeks of term! A delicious Italian, Christmas treat, a slice of Panettone goes perfectly with a cup of tea. The Billa Panettone is only a couple of euros and very tasty, it should be the staple to any Venice student’s diet at the end of term!

Head to Saint Mark’s Square to enjoy the lights reflected on the Campanile.

The last picture isn’t of Venice, but Treviso. Only ten minutes away on the train, Treviso makes for a lovely day out before Christmas. Find the amazing deli in the town centre for incredible spices, herbs and of course Panettone.

Have a very Merry Christmas, whether in Venice or the rest of the world!

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Sicilian Sunshine

Travel Week is a very welcome break, half way through the Venice term. Most students head off to Florence for a few days, maybe stopping off in Pisa or Bologna too. However, really you can go where ever you fancy.

With great train links, inexpensive flights and not to mention impressive ferry routes, the world is your oyster in Venice, well Europe at least. I went to Sicily with two friends, a trip that we all loved (except the bumpy flight). Ryanair‘s cheap flights and out of season hotel prices (we stayed in the lovely Hotel Ambasciatori) make an inexpensive trip to this amazing island.

Here are a few photos of our much loved adventure to Sicily! I hope it inspires you to head to Sicily for a little bit of sunshine, beautiful architecture and delicious food for yourselves.

Palermo is a beautiful, vibrant and bustling city. The city’s noisy traffic and imposing, vast buildings is in stark contrast to Venice. The Sicilian people are very friendly, happy to stop and help if you are lost, and willing to talk slowly, for confused English students.

Palermo is a great place to base yourself in Sicily. In our short break, we didn’t make it Mount Etna, but did explore a little closer to the city. Take the bus to Mondello, to dip your toe in the water and walk along the beach (with a few odd looks from the locals).
A visit to the Roman remains of Solunto is definitely worth an attempt. Take the train to Santa Flavia; the remains are a twenty minute walk from the train station. It is not particularly clear which direction to go in, we were lucky enough to meet a kind lady, who gave us directions and even offered a lift if we wanted one. The to the remains is beautiful, past orchards of oranges and lemons and huge cacti.
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At the top of the hill there is a spectacular view across the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. Notice how I have failed to talk about the actual Roman remains? Greeted with the words, “chiuso per un fuoco”, we didn’t actually get to see them! A fire in 2009 had made the sight dangerous to tourists, so we were restricted to a small museum, and thankfully the spectacular view. I would still recommend Solunto, but if you are really keen on the remains, check it is definitely open first.
So, if you fancy going a little further afield during in your Travel Week, I would definitely recommend Palermo! Sicily provides a very different side to Italy, one I am very glad I got to see.

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Pioggia, ombrelli e stivali di gomma

I don’t think there is a better city to be caught in a downpour or even a light drizzle for that matter. It can be pretty frustrating rushing to a lecture dodging tourists’ umbrellas for fear of losing an eye or two. However, Venice in the mist and rain is beautifully romantic. The whole city glistens. Between October and December Venice experiences some its wettest days. Wellies become a wardrobe staple, giving protection from the high waters and a little satisfaction as you can splash in the water, unrestricted by the elevated boards.

The rain was worth braving to visit the Santa Maria della Salute on 21 November. A temporary bridge is constructed every year, allowing church goers to cross the Grand Canal.

Wet Venetians make there way to the Santa Maria della Salute on 21 November to celebrate Festa della Salute.

We all agreed it was madness to sit in a gondola in the rain, but I guess if you’ve only got a day and you’re happy to get a little wet to experience this unique experience, then fair enough! Look closely and you can see that the raincoat clad gondelier is Giorgia Boscola, the first female of her profession.

Wading through the aqua alta; getting a little wet is very much part of Venetian life. Planks allow much of the high water to be avoided. However, wellies or stivali di gomma are always a wise fashion choice!

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Lions of Venice

The symbol of Saint Mark, the lion, can be spotted all over Venice. Here are a few of my favourite lions!

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