Italy, Travels
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Highlights of the week: bike ride and….VENICE!

It has been nothing short of an eventful week so far; time flew by both in class and out.  Two days in Siena followed by two more in Venice, woo! So with only two days in Siena, I had a mission to explore the surrounding Tuscan hills with a bike I could rent from a place just around the corner.  For only five euros you could rent a Bianchi racing bike for half a day, I was just too excited!  So Tuesday after siesta (not mine) I headed to the shop to pick up a bike and head out for a day of cross training.  Although I love my own bike at home, nothing could even compare.  The bike weighed virtually nothing and the gears had a range that I never could have imaged which luckily made the continuously hilly terrain a little more do-able.  After having been out for two hours with only a couple water breaks I came back completely drained.  But goodness was it ever worth it! I had some of the best views of my trip so far and hadn’t ever had a bike ride quite like it.  Although the shop is closed next week, I will definitely be heading out at least once more to explore even more of Tuscany.

Some views of the Tuscan HillsAfter a tiring rideVenice was now coming our way!  So Wednesday was a particularly early start in order to get there in good timing.  Although I had been warned about the smells, I rarely noticed anything as vile as I had been warned.  The salty smell in the air just added to the fact that it’s on the water and connected to the sea.  On a run Thursday morning, I even passed a little stand where fish and other aquatic creatures were being sold that had apparently been caught that very morning.

 

Wednesday however we still did lots of touring including a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim museum which houses the majority of her collection of contemporary art she had collected.  The collection included works by Picasso, Mondrian, Braque, as well as many others included in the lineup.  The works were gorgeous, but what struck me most was the home.  The location for the museum was in her own personal home, although she has passed now, I have been told stories of her letting people in and giving tours to visitors.  The home is situated on the Grand Canal overlooking other gorgeous palaces and homes owned by other elites that can afford to live in such a wealthy part of town.  Everything about it was striking; the art, the architecture, and of course the views.

Views looking out from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum

 

After a lovely tour of the museum we were getting hungry, but unfortunately restaurants didn’t open for over an hour, so this called for some gelato!  My pink grapefruit, green apple, and kitkat flavours were all soo yummy.  Both fruit flavours were perfectly tart while in the kitkat flavour you could still taste the wafer cookie.  After a long walk along the water, dinner was calling our name and we found a quaint little restaurant with few tourists that served classic Italian food; our craving.  The spaghetti Bolognese was simple but a perfect al dente with chunks of lean meats and a hint of tomato sauce; definitely a homemade meal by a true Italian cook and with a glass of local Prosecco, I had an amazing time with a group of amazing people (that includes you Joe! :P).

 

A quick trip to San Marco was also in order and although the sun had set, the square was relatively empty and impressed us all.  Luckily I had the chance to visit it again in the morning on my run where only a handful of people were in the square and allowed for even better pictures.

Views along the Canal

Views along the Canal

 

Being our last day in Venice, we still had lots to do.  After a walking tour of the city where we looked like totally tourists, we visited another contemporary art museum.  The highlight of the day however was definitely our visit to a Biennale exhibit by New Zealand architects showing their current project in China.  The future fashion headquarters will create a hub for the company to house their models, guests, offices, runway shows, and everything else they could ask for.  The design was definitely out there, but the essence to their project is what struck a chord with me.  Every part in the design of complex is meant to mimic an element of nature and was used as a source of inspiration.  If you were to deconstruct elements, you can tell exactly where they could have come from; trees, birds, rock formations, and water all influenced the design on multiple levels.  On top of this, what was very important to the architect was to reuse and recycle materials in the project.  Things like Venetian tiles, bricks and other decorative elements were found and will be incorporated into the complex.  As explained to us, it would be a much better way to deal with the waste but it also would help the building age in a more graceful manner.

 

Before heading out, I needed a snack.  I found this place that sold crema caffe, which is essentially a coffee flavoured milkshake and naturally I was intrigued.  So I got myself one of those to cool down and freshen up.  I could go into detail but if you imagine a hardy and creamy milkshake with a hint of coffee flavour, you’ve hit the nail right on the head.  Talk about yum!

Mmmmm....

Mmmmm….

 

As I now slowly drift to sleep and finish my post, I’m finally on my way to the fashion capital of the world, Milano.  Ever since I read about it in Shopaholic years ago, I have wanted to visit the city and I’m finally going to have my chance.  Wish me luck! 🙂

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