Connecting the Doge's palace with adjacent prison is the Ponte dei Sospiri, commonly known as the "Bridge of Sighs." Lord Byron helped to popularize the belief that the bridge's name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to their execution.
In Venice, we stayed at Hotel Antica Locanda al Gambero. Let's just say it wasn't the easiest place to find (nothing in Venice is). But it was well worth the search.
There's a nice restaurant on the ground floor. The hotel office is on the next floor. We had a second floor room. Remember, they count the floors differently in Europe. Oh, and there's no elevator. The room was the nicest we had on that trip. The walls were covered in gorgeous fabric! The bathroom was awesome. I wish we could have stayed there longer.
There's a long story of how we made our reservations there that I'll share over a glass of fine Italian wine.
Their web site is here and TripAdvisor's review is here.
One day while we were just riding around on PEI, I wanted to get a good view of the Confederation Bridge so I found the road closest to the bridge and followed it down to the Northumberland Strait. This road was Noonan Shore Road.
What a discovery I made at the end of the road. There was this old fishing boat tied up but the tide had gone out and left it high and dry.
The blues and reds in the boat perfectly matched the red sands and the blue water and sky. Awesome!
Another destination nearby our Hotel Casci in Florence was the San Lorenzo market. If you can't find what you're looking for there, it doesn't exist. We bought leather goods there that weren't fashionable back in the States for almost 2 years.
As typical in Europe be sure to haggle with the sellers. You can always get a better price than is posted.
Just down the street from Hotel Casci is the Galleria dell'Accademia. In this museum is an entire wing full of Michelangelo's works including the iconic David.
Although there were signs all around the statue admonishing to not take photos, flashes were popping all around so I finally pulled my camera out and took a couple.
After we had seen everything in that wing, we walked through a small passageway into the rest of the museum. In that passageway was a door, like into a service closet. Except the wall around this mundane doorway was painted to look like an elaborate entrance way. I was amazed.
So I snatched out my camera and started taking pictures. Instantly a guard approached me and begin warning me to not take pictures or he would confiscate my camera! You'll see I got one anyway.
The wikipedia page is here and their web site is here.
After another "exciting" drive through Florence (we saw 3 wrecks on the way), we arrived at Hotel Casci. When I asked about what to do with the car, they said we had 2 choices: 1) drive across the Arno and park in public parking or 2) they would valet park it for me. I literally threw the keys at them.
Leaving Rome, we rented a car and headed out to Florence. As we drove out, we went through Porta Pinciana, a gate of the Aurelian Walls.
Driving in Rome was "exciting." As we approached Porta Pinciana we observed a near miss (millimeters, not inches) between a bus and a scooter. In the effort to avoid the bus, the scooter almost ran over an elderly lady walking on the side of the street. She never flinched!
The wikipedia article is here and an interesting web page is here.
One of my co-workers whose wife owns a travel agency suggested that we visit Piazza Navona while in Rome. I was glad I asked for his advice.
The piazza is small giving a very intimate feel. The Fountain of the Four Rivers stands in the center of it surrounded by street performers at night. Across one side is a strip of restaurants and, yes, they also serve gelato.
As we left, we took a taxi. Unlike the other traffic, our taxi driver was stopping at every red light. I asked him why, joking that he just wanted to make the meter run. He said that he wouldn't stop if I'd pay his fine. I laughed and said I would. He proceeded to run every red light all the way back to the hotel.
On our return, we came back by St. Peter in Chains. It was well worth it.
The legend is that the chains that bound Saint Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem are held here. The chains are kept under the main altar in the basilica. There's also a statue of Moses by Michelangelo.
The Vatican Museum is just around the corner from St. Peter's but it's a big corner. Often the waiting lines wind back to St. Peter's. Get there early!
Our primary destination was the Sistine Chapel. As you walk through the museum, there are signs pointing out the way to the Sistine Chapel. I believe that they run you all the way through the museum. There has to be a more direct way to get there. But it's worth the walk!
The wikipedia article is here and their web site is here.
We stayed in Welcome House at Via Nazionale, 230, just down the street from train station. There's even a McDonald's nearby! But we ate more gelato than Big Macs.
Their web site is here and their write-up on TripAdvisor is here. Many of the comments are in other languages. I think that gives you a feel that this is not a hotel that is routinely frequented by Americans. Remember that.
Although smaller, Caldicot Castle reminded me somewhat of Warwick Castle in that it was so well preserved and most recently used as a residence. The remnants of the surrounding moat are still apparent.
The castle sits in a 50 acre park so bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon.
The Normans built a structure here as early as 1086 and the current structure dates from 1221.
The wikipedia article is here. Their web site is here. There's another good web site here.
Ridgeland is just north of Jackson, Mississippi. Some highway engineer down there has gotten excited about traffic circles. While I love traffic circles (no 4-way stops), I'll bet they're confusing to the guys on the tractors.