Transcript: Italy Associate Editor Reid Bramblett answered your questions on traveling to Italy Budget Travel Tuesday, Aug 24, 2004, 12:00 AM Budget Travel LLC, 2016
 

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Transcript: Italy

Associate Editor Reid Bramblett answered your questions on traveling to Italy

Reid answered your questions about Apulia and the rest of Italy on Tuesday, August 24, at noon EST.

Associate Editor Reid Bramblett learned Italian on the playground of a Roman parochial school when he was 12, explored Italy with his parents for two years in a hippie-orange VW campervan, and spent a year studying there during a break from the anthropology department at Cornell. He has explored every province of every region (except Sardegna, a fact which continues to haunt him), mostly in the course of writing seven Italy guidebooks--from Frommer's Florence Tuscany & Umbria to Eyewitness Top 10: Milan & the Lakes--plus a whole passel of Italy articles for Budget Travel and elsewhere. He just returned from Tuscany on Thursday, so his Italy intel should be as fresh as good mozzarella.


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Reid Bramblett: Buongiorno e benvenuti! As a travel writer, everybody always asks me where my favorite place in the world is, and though I hem and haw and try to explain how every place is unique and different, and therefore "favorite place" depends on what kind of trip I'm in the mood for, or what time of year it is, deep down inside me something is always screaming "It's Italy, you fool! It's always been Italy." I love the place to death, and spent many years there, and I'm excited to spend the next hour sharing some of my favorite bits with you.

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Boston, MA: What are some options for good day trips from Venice? Is Florence too far by train?

Reid Bramblett: Lord, yes. Florence is 3-4 hours away from Venice. That means, to do it in a daytrip, you're spending 6-8 hours just riding a train--that's' the whole day! My advice is to take a daytrip not away from Venice itself, but away from the tourist crush of Venice. Discover the calm, beautiful, magical side of this over-packed with, the one that earned it the nickname "La Serenissima" (The Most Serene).
Venice's maze of narrow streets frustrate the navigational skills of the best of us---enetians assure me that even they get lost repeatedly if they venture out of their own little neighborhood. To help tourists on a tight schedule, quick routes between the key spots---an Marco, Accamedia, Rialto, Ferrovia (train station)---ave been established and the walls at every intersection along them are peppered with little yellow signs that point sightseers in the right direction.
To escape the crush of Venice-in-a-daytrippers, just turn right when the sign points left and within a minute you'll find yourself in a Venice where kids kick a soccer ball around a deserted campo (square), older women shelling peas sit in their doorways and conduct conversations with their neighbors across the way, locals duck into a bacaro (wine bar) to "prendere un'ombra," which translates as "take a little shade" but means "drink a glass of wine," and munch in chicchetti ($1 hors d'ouevres).
After you dutifully tour the great cathedral of San Marco the tourist way, making your way up onto the roof to admire the ancient bronze chariot horses, come back to it on a Sunday evening for mass at 6:45. Mass? Yep. While the priest at the altar drones in singsong Latin, incense swirling around him from a saying censor, you can sit in silence for an hour getting a crick in your neck-th-- 40,000 square feet of glittering mosaics that were inlaid over every single inch of the cathedral's interior from the twelfth to seventeenth centuries, which appear smoke-stained and shadowy by day, are illuminated to their full glittering glory only during this evening mass.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, take a day to take a boat ride out to the outlying islands in the Venetian lagoon. All it'll cost you is a handful of regular vaporetto tickets (the vaporetto is the ferry, Venice's equivalent to a public bus system). Leave early in the morning so you can spend an hours or two on each of three main islands. Start in Murano, sort of a Venice in miniature, and the place where the famous craft industry of "Venetian" glassware was actually born (lots of glass factories and shops to tour, in between strolling the broad canals and visiting the pretty little churches). Next up: tiny Burano, where the fishing houses are each painted a different super-saturated color and ladies still hand-tatt lace the old fashioned way. finally, nearby lies nearly-abandoned Torcello, in the swampy gloom of which Hemingway was once fond of tromping around its millennium-old cathedral that glows inside with golden mosaics. If you time things just right, you'll be chugging back to Venice in the late evening, with the dying sun lighting the waters of the lagoon on fire and a sunset silhouette of La Serenissima filling the panorama before you.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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