Tag Archives: Europe

The Venice Programme Video

Check out the link to the Venice Programme Video which manages to show how great the Venice term really is, without even a mention of Grom icecream, terse exchanges about change in Billa and bottles of 3 euro prosecco.


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January 3, 2013 · 11:43 pm

Romantic Venice

Paris, Rome, New York? Nah, surely the most romantic city has to be Venice. Away from the busy crowds and tourist traps, Venice is a quiet, mysterious city full of little nooks and crannies perfect for exploring with that special someone, unless you’re arguing over a map that is. Here are my top six romantic things to do in this beautiful city!

A Bird’s Eye View: The view from the Campanile in Saint Mark’s Square is stunning, and what could be more romantic than sharing that view with your loved one? Well, maybe a trip up the Campanile on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, as you have more chance of having it to yourselves!

Eastern Castello: I think Venice is most romantic away from the hoards of tourists and Gondoliers shouting ‘Gondole! Gondole!’ expectantly at every couple that walks by. You can quickly lose the crowds if you head to Eastern Castello along the Riva degli Shiavoni towards the Giardini Pubblici. You will undoubtedly have to battle with a few street sellers along the way, but the further you get away from Saint Mark’s the quieter it will be. This is a lovely place to walk!

A Moonlit Walk: I was going to try and avoid romantic clichés, but it really is very romantic having Saint Mark’s Square all to yourself, especially if you’ve been treated to a Grom ice cream on the way. After all the day-trippers have left and the Venetians are safely tucked up in bed, if you are lucky, you can have one of Venice’s most busy attractions all to yourselves.

Spritz: Venice is full of things to see and explore, but sometimes the best moments are spent just watching the world go by. So, despite it being a little cold in February, I would really recommend sharing a spritz in Campo San Margherita. It is particularly romantic as the sun sets! Sorry, back to the clichés.

The Lagoon Islands: ‘Gondole! Gondole!’ The romantic duty of every couple heading to Venice? Or, the extortionate rip-off of  tourists? I guess it is a matter of opinion! But as a lowly student, I was not prepared to hand over a months food budget for this experience, so I am not qualified to tell you. However, a trip on the vaporetto to Venice’s surrounding islands can be lots of fun and of course romantic. Head to Murano for the glass, Burano for the colourful houses, and even further, Torcello for the beautiful mosaics. For those who really want to seal the romance with a bit of commitment, try sitting on the ancient, stone chair found on Torcello, known as Attila’s Throne. Legend has it that those who do will be married within the year.

Dorsoduro: Fondamente Zattere al Ponte Longo is a lovely place to stroll, with beautiful views of the Giudecca and boats coming in and out of Venice.

Finally, my real tip for enjoying the romantic side of Venice is to explore and get lost. Abandon the map, there is only so far wrong you can go in this city before you hit water. There are so many little bits of Venice to explore and I think the most romantic thing is discovering them for yourself.


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Bologna: Christmas shopping and Bolognese

The last few weeks before the end of term are busy for the Venice students. However, if you manage to finish your final essay a little early (it is just about physically possible) and with the final free week, there is time to explore the Veneto and further. Bologna makes a perfect day trip, especially in the run up to Christmas, as it has beautiful festive lights and a Christmas market. Trains regularly depart to Bologna from Santa Lucia railway station and take between an hour and a half and two hours.

Famous for its Bolognese sauce, it is most definitely worth stopping for lunch. We headed to Ristorante Cesarina, a friendly restaurant that served delicious Bolognese and Lasagne. If you’re lucky, the waiter might even offer a sample of Balsamic glaze to try with bread (we must have looked like very hungry students). Don’t be tempted to buy it off the waiter though (we must have looked like very stupid students) as the price asked for, 15 euros, seemed a little steep when we saw the same bottle on sale in Billa for a few euros.

Head to the centre of the city for lots of shops, Christmas lights and a little Christmas market. The Christmas tree is Piazza Maggiore is beautiful!


Filed under Food and Drink, Travel

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.
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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Filed under Architecture