No matter what age you are, you’ll always be your parents’ baby and they will be
overprotective with you. My parents like to travel (I guess I took that from them) and they have crossed our country in many ways, but I also heard them wanting to see more from Europe, their trip to Moscow over 30 years ago and to Turkey 25 years ago hardly counting anymore. And so many times, I have asked them to do that. But the answer was: not this year, we have other priorities (aka. we need to save money):
“You’ll go to college.” OK, college finished but then
“You’ll have to find a job, maybe it’s not that easy.”, job checked
“You’ll get married, we need $$ for the wedding.” girl got married and then
“This and that and the car is old and the roof is broken and … we’re already getting too old and tired for travelling”. The list of reasons will never end unless you end it.
So I put and end to it early November 2015 when I called my mom and told her that
they needed to ask for work leave at the beginning of December because they were coming with us on a trip to northern Italy and everything was arranged. It is that simple, you don’t take a NO for an answer and you should have done this many years earlier! Why did you wait all this time?
We had four full days in Italy and we visited Milan, Verona, Padova and Venice.
We stayed two nights in Milan and two in Venice and we stopped on the way between them to visit Verona and Padova.
If you plan to rent a car to move between the cities, read well the terms&conditions and don’t forget your credit card if it’s specified you need it, because they don’t accept any other way of payment. We forgot it of course so we had to take the trains. But in Italy the trains are often, they come in time and the tickets are not expensive. If you stop on your way for a few hours to visit other places, the train stations have locker rooms where you can leave your luggage and enjoy your visit.
In Milan, to see the famous painting The Last Supper of Da Vinci inside Santa Maria delle Grazie church, you need to make a booking even few weeks in advance.
In Venice, it was sad to see how the grandiose Basilica St. Marco was slowly sinking because of it’s own weight. There was water into the main hall, the floor was deformed and a strong smell of mold was hitting you right from the entrance.
For Padova, make use of the online audio guides from padovanet.it to better plan your visits.
Why take your parents to Italy for their first travel?
Northern Italy has become one of my favorite places to go for city breaks and it is also a great location to take your old’ folks, for many reasons. It’s close to Romania and you take them to see many famous cities, so close to one another, that they have a lot heard about: Milan and the Dome, Verona the town of Romeo and Juliet, and the beautiful Venice, a city without roads in the Adriatic lagoon.
But these are not big cities and you can walk the historic centers at a slow pace. Italian is a language similar to Romanian and it will not be too hard for them to understand some words and the signs and they will not feel too confused. And add to this the fact that a trip to Italy is not super expensive either.
We started the morning with a visit to the impressive Gothic Cathedral adorned with around 3500 statues. We did not have the time to count them, some other did that before us but we tend to believe them. The square was already crowded with tourists marveling and taking pictures just like us, and a big stage was set up in the square in front of the Duomo for the approaching Christmas holiday. We went inside the cathedral and also got to the underground ruins discovered just one year earlier and then climbed to the roof to check the city from above. Once our trembling feet got to the ground again and rested, we walked to the Scala Opera House, passing through one of the first shopping malls in the world, the beautiful Galeria Vittorio Emanuelle II. Next stop was the Sforza Castle and the park behind it. We then headed to the church Santa Maria delle Grazzie where Da Vinci was commissioned 6 hundreds years ago to paint The Last Supper. On the way back to the city center we stopped at Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a truly remarkable site with remains from the roman city walls.
It was a full day but we had good weather and enjoyed every step of the tour. The next day we got to the modern quarter of Milan, with the glass skyscraper buildings. We then failed to pick up our pre-booked car because we forgot the credit card, but luckily the train station was near. So we took the train to Venice, but we stopped in Verona first, for a half a day visit.
After leaving our backpacks to the Verona Porta Nuvoa train station, we crossed by the Porta Nuova gate and continued the route on the main boulevard, also called Porta Nuova. We stopped to eat delicious italian artisanal ice cream because one hasn’t fully experienced Italy without an ice cream, and then entered inside the old city like the royals, through the stone gate “The Bra City Gate”. The wide Bra Square opens up in front and you see the Arena di Verona, a roman amphitheater that stood the test of time, built in the 1st century AD and still used today for opera shows.
The streets of the old town get narrower and the buildings get shorter, and only pedestrians are allowed to rummage and explore every corner and every square. All of a sudden it got very crowded and it was obvious we were approaching the house and balcony of Juliet. In one of the most beautiful squares of Verona, Piazza dei Seignori, we saw the statue of Dante Alighieri, the most important italian poet, who lived here for many years while on exile from his hometown, Florence. The five Gothic Scaligher tombs are also a must see and were built in memory of the powerful Scaligheri family who ruled Verona and offered protection to Aligheri. One of the most beautiful squares is Piazza delle Erbe with the Lamberti tower where you can climb and have a top view of the city.
Next on our list was the Church of San Zeno and the Borsari gate, other strong, beautiful, two millennia old structure. We walked along the Adige river and got to see the Ponte Pietra from the distance, when the sun was starting to set and then went to the train station to put an end to another great day.
For the second part of our trip to the picturesques Venice and Padua, come back next week for a new blog post!