This is the only city where we experienced a mild chill at night - otherwise it was stifling hot. The presence of the Fiat headquarters is clearly visible here, with Pandas literally everywhere. Turin somehow feels and looks a bit different from the other cities we visited. It somehow looks a bit more French than the other cities.
Frankly, we skipped Milan. We just changed trains here and made some pictures in front of the monumental railway station.
Cremona was a pleasant surprise; much smaller than the other cities we visited, it also attracts much less (and less annoying as well) tourists. World capital of the violin makers, it is cozy and typically Italian, and a great place to spend a few days at.
Mantua bears the visible signs of the former capital of a small kingdom it once was. The city center is as full of gorgeous architecture as the other Lombardian cities. We anticipated the surrounding lakes to be quite beautiful, but we were slightly disappointed at that.
Walking from the railway station to our apartment, we feared we may had made a horrible mistake in selecting this city with its communist architecture in the area around the station. Fortunately, initial impressions can be deceptive. The old center of the city is quite big and has a very nice atmosphere, which at night reminded us of Trastevere with its many restaurants.
|06 Desenzano del Garda
Since we were near the Garda lake anyway, we thought we should stop by and see how it is. The lake is beautiful. Desenzano, however, has little to go for it. Overrun by middle-aged, nouveau riche, overly tanned tourists. Not our cup of tea. In addition, the only way to prevent succumbing from the intense heat, was to keep walking.
Verona is absolutely gorgeous - and we're clearly not the only ones to think so. Stunning medieval and renaissance architecture everywhere you look, provided you are tall enough to stand out above the millions of tourists. I was shoved aside by the bodyguards of an Arabian sheikh. Granted, it's the only way to move through the hordes at a reasonable pace in order to make it back to your Bentley in time.
Bologna is clearly a university city, and a large one at that. Here, many of the people actually speak English, which was refreshing after trying to make do with a handful of Italian words with some French, English and hand gestures thrown in. The atmosphere is very pleasant. We walked many miles from our apartment to the railway station and back. As a railway hub, it's a great place to discover the region from. Just make sure you are a bit closer to the railway station than we were...
Like Verona, Florence is overrun with tourists, but we found it has less to offer in terms of beautiful sights. Stray just one block from the main touristy places, and you'll find yourself in a rather boring Italian town. Nevertheless, many beautiful spots to spend the afternoon.
Tourist pressure climaxed towards the end of our trip. In Venice, we had to walk in pace with the other tourists. Strictly no overtaking due to physical impossibility. However, it is really beautiful. Piazza san Marco was so-so, but the many small alleys (which can be surprisingly quiet as long as you're not on the main tourist routes) are cozy in a unique, Venetian way.