May 26, 2011

Ventimiglia to Venice

Nice, May 2010 - We were in Nice on Trafalgar's Contrasts of Europe train tour through England, France and Italy. But the time had come for us to depart the French Riviera and resume our journey onward to Venice.

French Riviera Coastline

There was a long day of travel ahead of us. We began our journey by bus in Nice, climbing high into the hills, passing through Monaco and crossing the Italian border to arrive in Ventimiglia a short time later.

Ventimiglia, Italy

This was a town of sub-tropical palm trees with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Mountains near Ventimiglia

In Ventimiglia we boarded a train that would take us through Genoa, then inland and north to the city of Milan.

Fields of Red Poppies in Northern Italy

As we ventured away from the coast, the vegetation changed. Fields of vibrant red poppies sped past the moving train. And when we made a station stop, solitary blossoms could be seen growing in the gravel between the tracks.

Milano Centrale is a grand buildlng, one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe. It was also a rare station on our journey with a moving staircase.

And it was in Milan that we encountered travellers forced to find other routes out of Italy, as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano was again disrupting air traffic, this time causing the cancellation of flights out of Rome. We regularly tuned into CNN during our travels to monitor the situation, wondering if we would be able to depart from Rome when it was time for us to return home.

We boarded another bus outside the Milan station to continue the rest of the way through Lombardy and into the Veneto region. We drove past the vineyards that produced grapes for Soave and Valpolicello wines. And it is the prosecco grapes grown here that produce the sparkling or spumanti wines that are used to make the Bellini. This cocktail, a blend of prosecco and the juice of white peaches, was invented in 1948 at Harry's Bar at the Cipriani Hotel in Venice.

After a long day spent travelling we finally arrived at our hotel, the Plaza Venice Mestre. In the morning, we would have our first view of Venice. And I was hoping that while we were visiting this legendary city I would have an opportunity to enjoy a Bellini on Piazza San Marco.

Next:  Venice, La Serenissima

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