How to Visit the Vatican Like a Pro

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“When life gets you down, remember to look up.” 

The Vatican in Rome, Italy is without a doubt one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It is absolutely one of the top five things to do when in Rome.

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It is easy to get distracted by all of the beauty that surrounds you whilst touring the Vatican….here’s a little photography tip for your Vatican trip. Look up!!! The ceilings in St. Peter’s Basilica are phenomenal and the light coming in makes your photographs much more clear and will also make the colors pop.

Get to the Vatican as soon as it opens, (7am when we were there in April) and there will be zero lines, as you can see below. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed touring the Vatican and its tower, but babies might be difficult to take, as you must be silent whilst inside.

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Top tips for Vatican visiting are the following:

  1. Arrive to Vatican City as soon as it opens, so you have the place to yourself.
  2. Bring plenty of cash with you, as they do not accept cards for the main entrance or the dome.
  3. Book tickets for the Vatican Musuem at the pop up cashier just outside the cathedral doors. This opened after we walked around inside and were heading back out. This cashier only accepts cash, as well! You will have to select a time that you want to enter the museum. Another option is to pre-book a guided tour.
  4. Head to the dome after the basilica. Check out the tiny gift shop on the roof. They sell very nice charms for under a euro which are perfect tiny presents to take back home.
  5.  Finish off with the Vatican Museum. Another option is to purchase a guided tour to the Vatican Museum. I highly recommend this, but you must book in advance to avoid getting ripped off.  Plan to spend several hours on this part.

Expect to spend 4-6 hours for all of the activities above.

Cheers,

H.

*As always, the pics are all mine, so be sure to share if you like them, just remember to link back to this blog.

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An A-maze-ing View of Via Krupp

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Visit Capri Island in Italy and reward yourself with the stunning views from Gardens of Augustus. This a-maze-ing sight is the Via Krupp, a paved footpath connecting Charterhouse of San Giacomo and the Gardens of Augustus with Marina Piccola. German steel millionaire, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, had this path built so he could travel between his luxury hotel, Grand Hotel Quisisana, and Marina Piccola where his marine biology research boat was docked. Supposedly, Mr. Krupp also used the path to get to sex orgies with young Italian men and this little secret got him a one way ticket back to Germany when the scandal emerged. The story of his public outing is tragic and worth a read if you have the time.

Sorry, but Via Krupp has been closed for quite some time due to falling rocks and other natural dangers. But, who needs to walk it when you can get this aerial view. Instead, head up the funicular when you land at Capri and then take the lovely 10 minute stroll up to Gardens of Augustus. Once inside the Gardens make your way to the top and veer to the right to see Via Krupp.

Cheers,

H.

As always, photo is all mine…please share if you like it, but link back to my blog.

Three Things You Must Do on Capri Island

Capri Island in Italy may be small but there is a whole lot to do; if you only have a day on Capri then make sure you see/do these three things.  First things first, be sure to take the first ferry out in the morning to make the best use of time and book a return time around 430 or 5pm, if possible. Without further adieu, here are the top 3 things to do on Capri Island, Italy.

1)Gotta Get to a Grotto Begin your day with a boat trip to one of the breathtaking grottos (underwater caves). Things you need to know: Boat trips last anywhere from 1-2 hours and travel around the island with entrance to a grotto an extra price. The famous Blue Grotto is just one of several on the island (coral, green, & white are the others), so you may opt to travel to a less popular one. Boat trip times vary according to the tide, so if you try to go later in the day, the tour may not be running (this is what I did and missed seeing the Blue Grotto) Capri 2016

2)Coast on to a Coastal Walk Capri Island boasts one of the most beautiful and rugged coastlines which make for a lovely walking experience and the chance to capture incredible photos. A nice walk is the Giro dell’ Arco Naturale….enjoy the giant rocks jutting out from the water and a natural limestone arch unique to the area. Read more about natural walks you can take on Capri.

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3) Grab a Seat on the Funicular to Get to the Gardens of Augustus  Buy tickets for the funicular in Capri and ride up the hillside in style. What you need to know: Funicular leaves about every 15 minutes but check the site for details. Tickets are inexpensive around 1.80 euros for a single ride per person. You will walk approximately 10 minutes past the shops to get to the Gardens of Augustus. Tickets for Gardens of Augustus are also inexpensive at under 10 euros per person. Enjoy a sky high view of the Faraglioni Rocks and an aerial view of the Via Krupp (pictured below left). Plan to visit early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

 

Insider tip….book your boat tour first then plan your hike and visit to Gardens of Augustus for the latter portion of the day. There are some delicious restaurants at the Piazzetta just as you depart the funicular, so plan on lunch just prior to viewing the Gardens of Augustus.

Don’t forget to grab an authentic pair of handmade, Italian leather sandals at the likes of  Amedeo Canfora or L’Arte del Sandolo Caprese.

As always photos are my own, so if you love it share it, but don’t forget to link back to my blog. Photos available for purchase here.

Cheers,

Heather

Venice: 5 Tips To Know Before You Go

 

Venice Sky View 2

Venice, Italy is an amazingly beautiful city to visit, but it can also be tricky to navigate your way around. Most travellers have only a day or two to spend in Venice and a list of things to see and do….take these tips and maximize your vacation.

  1. Plan Decide what you want to see whilst in Venice before you leave. Put your Venice Sky Viewdestinations into Google maps and get a feel for what attractions are close to others you have on your list, so you can plan a route. In addition, download this water taxi route, so you know what water transport you will need, if any. This brings us to number two….Venice Sideways Maria Salute from steps
  2. Transport Paying for water taxis, aka Vaporetto, is about 7 euros or 8 USD for one trip (prices subject to change); a trip is considered using the water taxi to go in the same direction for 75 minutes from the time ticket is validated. There are options to purchase tickets for 1, 2, or 3 days and this means 24, 48, or 72 hours from the time you buy the ticket. We had a planned route and bought the 1 day ticket in the late afternoon and used it that evening and all during the following day. Check out ticket prices for water and land transport here ACTV.  Remember some lines only travel in one direction, so figure that out prior to planning your route. My suggestion is to take a Vaporetto ride all the way around the island one time near sunset for gorgeous views of the city. Venice Sideways water
  3. Validate Do NOT forget to validate your tickets after purchase at the white stands prior to entering the floating dock or you will be fined several hundred euros in fines.
  4. Eat Find reputable, authentic Venetian restaurants prior to arriving and plan your lunches and dinners accordingly. There are tons of overpriced, yucky tourist traps to be had. Simple rules to follow are these: walk three blocks in the opposite direction of any major attraction to find decent restaurants, avoid those with pictures on the menu, and know that a margherita pizza should cost between 7-8 euros as a base for if the restaurant is a ripoff. Here are some nice choices in Venice if you are wondering, Prosciutto e Parmigiano, Vini Da Arturowp-1457990579498.jpg
  5. Book Get in on getting a guide for your vacation! It does cost a little extra, but it is SO worth it. Check out this glass blowing tour instead of going to Murano, make masks at Ca’Macana for an authentic Carnivale souvenir, or get a guide for a tour of the city at Venice Free Walking Tours (don’t forget to tip at the end).  Lastly, make sure to book your Doge’s Palace tickets (this is the official site) & print them, so you can avoid a long line/queue when you visit.

***BONUS*** Gondola rides are pretty expensive, but worth it, if you want a private ride in Venice. Reid’s Italy has a fantastic guide for booking a Gondola while in Venice. Also, DO NOT accept a free ride to Murano as it is likely a scam where you will feel extreme pressure to buy expensive items upon arrival. Refusal to do so, may result in not having a return trip. :0

Here are some fantastic travel guides for Venice.

http://www.visit-venice-italy.com/address-tourist-board-venice-italy.htm

Venice Water Transport: Vaporetto, Traghetto, and the Water Taxi.

http://www.reidsitaly.com/destinations/veneto/venice/planning/venice_getting_around.html

** All photos are my own, so if you love it, share it, but please link to this blog. Available for purchase at http://www.flanagan-photography.com

 

Bon Voyage!

Heather

Easter in Italy

Travelling to Italy around Easter time is a real treat! I was so impressed with the storefront displays of candy, bunnies, and most of all, giant chocolate eggs. Easter is a big deal here in Dublin, so I was quite surprised that Italy had upped the ante in the Easter department. The sweets pictured in today’s post are all taken just steps from Il Duomo in Florence. We certainly saw our fair share of excellent eggs in Venice, Rome, and Sorrento too, but the Easter sweets in Florence were quite simply to die for.

The eggs were tiny to enormous and were either colorfully decorated or beautifully wrapped. I’m not sure if I would spend upwards of 60 euros for an Easter egg, but they were awfully tempting. Check out these eggies, beautifully wrapped in chiffon and adorned with pearls and cameos, courtesy of Venchi. Only 82 euros (left) and 148 euros (right) for the lucky lady in your life!

Fancy Eggs

Venchi was a yummy little store with a real chocolate wall behind the service counter, scrumptious gelato, and of course, these lovely eggs. This gourmet Italian chocolatier can be found in NYC, as well for those of you drooling in the Empire State. Whatever you do, don’t go to Italy and forget to venture into Venchi…it’s a chocolate lover’s paradise.

Venchi DoorVenchi Choc Wall

I have SO much to post about the nine days I spent in Eataly….stay tuned and Happy Easter.

H.