Italy: Venezia

This weekend four of us girls took a trip to Venice and Verona and I totally fell in love with both cities.  They have a very different feel than Firenze and it was interesting to see another part of the country since we’ve spent all of our time in Tuscany so far (Venice and Verona are in the Veneto region of Italy).

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We used the water bus to get from the train station to the Rialto dock.

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During different times of the day parts of the city would begin to flood!

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Gondola ride?  We did that.  They gave us a deal (80 Euro), so split four ways it wasn’t too horribly expensive.  Our gondolier pointed out Marco Polo’s house and a few other sights, and it was pretty cool watching how skillfully he was able to maneuver the gondola around the canals.

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St. Mark’s Basilica — I didn’t have enough time to go in here or the Doge’s Palace because we only had one whole day in the city and the lines were insanely long (Since we have our Uffizi cards in Florence I’ve gotten used to getting in the major sights for free and with no wait, so it was actually a bit of a shock how long the lines were!  Clearly we’ve been spoiled!).

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I managed to find some steampunk masks!  I didn’t buy any of the large masks because they were so expensive (and because I wasn’t sure how I would get one home in my suitcase).  I did end up buying two miniature masks in the more traditional style, and one of the shopkeepers was kind enough to give us a bit of a lesson in what they meant.

The Casanova mask is designed in such a way as to create a sort of voice box and was used by men going into gambling establishments or other “nighttime” activities where they might not want to be recognized.  The Plague Doctor mask had a long nose stuffed with herbs to help keep the wearer safe from plague.

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Two of us went to Murano and Burano, the glass and lace production islands, and another girl and I went to Lido, where we rented a two person bike and rode around the island for a couple of hours.  It was a blast — I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.

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Italy: Arcetri, Giardino Bardini, & Fashion

On Saturday, a sweaty hot day of 86 degrees, I decided to take a walk to Arcetri, which is only about half an hour from our apartment. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in terms of museums but there were some lovely views of Firenze and some nice statuary.

The Villa di Poggio Imperiale: originally owned by Baroncelli, it was rebuilt by the Grand Duchess of Austria and used by the Medici and the Lorraine as a holiday retreat before it was eventually turned into a girls’ school.

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Many of the walls along my walk had interesting patterns and designs on them.

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Fort Belvedere.

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The Giardino Bardini, now not only my favorite garden, but with arguably better views of the city than Piazzale Michelangelo (not to mention fewer tourists and salesmen hanging around).

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After a short nap (yes, it was that hot) I went to the Ferragamo Museo and the Gucci Museo. I managed to sneak a few pictures in the Ferregamo Museo, but I didn’t dare in Gucci; their men in black clothing bodyguards were everywhere and I didn’t want to get in trouble! (And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did dress up to go to the fashion museums).

Ferregamo apparently perfected a comfortable heel by studying human anatomy.

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They have a wall of celebrity shoes, including ones worn by Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Angelina Jolie, etc.

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Drew Barrymore’s Cinderella shoe from Ever After. They also have displays for Australia, The Iron Lady and Evita.

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Pharaoh’s shoe from The Ten Commandments.

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At Ferragamo they also have the wooden models for celebrity feet. My favorite quote was, “I have divided the women who have come to me into three categories: the Cinderella, the Venus, and the Aristocrat. The Cinderella takes a shoe smaller than Size Six, the Venus takes Size Six, the Aristocrat a seven or larger.” I guess that means I’m an aristocrat…

Gucci was a bit more intense. They have several levels showcasing Gucci’s rise from a bellboy to designing luggage and eventually fashion. They showcase some installation art, which was interesting, though my favorite part of the entire museum was being able to see (quite up close) celebrity dresses from the Cannes Film Festival.

They have a gift shop and a store which sells Gucci product you can only get at the museum, and though I wanted to get a Gucci oven mitt for my mom, it was 50 Euro! (In my head the conversation was something like, “50 Euro, that’s crazy! But it’s a Gucci oven mitt! But it’s 50 Euro! But it’s Gucci!” In the end, my practical side won out and no oven mitt was purchased).

My favorite Gucci quote (which I agree with, assuming you have the money for the price in the first place!) was, “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”

Italy Part 4: Fashion

So of course I had to do a post on Italian fashion! Unfortunately, because I’m trying not to be a total tourist creeper, I haven’t been taking pictures of actual Italians, just the mannequins in the shops that show my favorite trends.

Leather. Leather. Leather. Leather belts, leather gloves, leather jackets, leather everything here. I really want one of the cowl necked leather jackets but unfortunately I don’t have an extra $200 laying around.

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Another thing I’ve seen a lot of (and actually had enough money to get) was a lace patterned jacket. I’ve seen quite a few of these and mine might be my favorite thing I’ve bought so far — I get compliments on it wherever I go.

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Orange is everywhere.

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Jackets of any style are really popular. Everyone wears jackets. Jean, tweed, leather, lace, silk etc.

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I like to call this the “professor look” and I see girls and guys wearing these everywhere.

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Love these belts.

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I think I mentioned in a previous post that everyone wears scarves. Everyone. All the time. I’ve spent more money on scarves than anything else so far I think. You can find them pretty cheap in the outdoor markets, especially if you know how to haggle.

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I love these dresses, probably because they remind me of Mad Men.

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This is actually a jewelry collection at the Uffizi. Not necessarily a trend, but I did think it was really cool that you could get jewelry to match what the people in the paintings were wearing (the little cards next to each item show the painting the jewelry corresponds to).

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As for our fashions, we have no dryer so we have let our laundry air out for a couple of days each time we wash it. Having a dryer is one thing I do miss about the states.

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And let’s not forget fashion row: there is one area of town in which you can find Valentino, Prada, Tiffany, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, Burberry, Ferragamo, Michelle Negri, La Perla, Twin Set, Armani, Emilio Pucci, etc. all sitting next to each other, reveling in their own gorgeous, expensive, black suit body guard protected glory.

The one store you won’t find there is Chanel. They’re too good for everyone else so they have their own special location in Piazza della Signoria.

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Italy: Outdoor Markets

There are a ton of outdoor markets near all of the piazzas, and the San Lorenzo Market near the Duomo is one of the largest.  They’re great if you want a good bargain, though the quality might be a bit questionable at times and the salesmen are super pushy.  It is definitely the place to get some cheap scarves though (sometimes 5 for 25 €), but as you can see they have plenty of other stuff too.

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After the market we headed down some side streets and found a few vintage shops where we found Dior, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Chanel, Hermes, Ferregamo, and Cavalli…  needless to say, I didn’t have enough money for any of these amazing finds but they were fun to look at nonetheless.

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10 Weeks: What To Pack?

One of the more difficult aspects of this trip has been the question of what to take with me.  I want to pack as lightly as possible, for ease of travel on the plane as well as the ground, plus I want room to take souvenirs back with me.  Yet, I’m going to be gone for 10 weeks, so I’ll need enough clothes to see me through (and I don’t want to be unfashionable in Italy so I can’t just take anything).  I’ve been searching through a number of travel blogs trying to figure out what I’ll need to take.  What I took away from all that reading was:

  • Dress modestly — in particular, getting into the churches is difficult if you are wearing anything either too casual (shorts and flip flops) or revealing (shoulders and arms exposed, too short of a skirt).
  • Jeans, flip flops, and shorts are not nearly as ubiquitous as in the U.S.
  • Don’t bother trying to dress as well as the Italians — it simply can’t be done.
  • La bella figura “the beautiful figure” is the Italian philosophy for presentation of oneself.
  • Skirts, dresses, and slacks are preferable to jeans (in general, looking “feminine” seemed to be key).
  • Heels are more fashionable but not at all practical if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking.

So what did I pack?  I present to you now:

Evolution of a Suitcase

(1) Totally Empty.

(2) Layer 1: 2 towels, 1 swimsuit, 5 dresses, 3 skirts, 1 slip.

(3) Layer 2: well, actually, this layer had to be taken out and redone

(after discarding half of the clothes to save space) but it’s a pretty cute picture nonetheless.

(4) Layer 2: 1 pair gauchos, 1 pair jeans, 6 jackets/coverups, 1 hoodie, 11 camisoles/undershirts, 1 pair leggings, 2 scarves, 5 pairs socks, 1 set pajamas.

(5) Layer 3: 9 shirts, 2 belts, 1 pair sweatpants, 2 bras, 17 pairs underwear, 2 pairs pantyhose, 1 pair sandals, 1 pair flats, 1 pair undershorts (essential for skirt/dress wearing because they prevent thigh chafing).

(6) Layer 4: toiletries, 1 pair tennis shoes, 1 pair flat boots, 1 comfy but fashionable sweater.

(7) Did it all fit?  It did.  And it only weighed in at 36.2 lbs.!

(8) And here is my outfit for travel.  I decided against jeans (not nearly as comfortable as slacks). I’ll also be sporting my Jason Wu trench coat and my carry-on (I’ll be packing that tomorrow).

Ultimate Godiva Day Part 2: Seattle

On Sunday my girlfriends and I took a ferry from Lopez back to Anacortes and drove straight on to Lynwood. Alderwood is our favorite mall, housing several of our favorite stores that unfortunately have yet to come north. The two most important of these stores of course being Nordstrom’s and Godiva.

There was plenty of shopping done before lunch, too much, really, and it’s a good thing I’d just gotten my tax return or I’d be in some serious trouble. I did get some fabulous new shoes in the process though, so I consider it a win. Speaking of spending money — the pictures most likely make it look like we have more than we actually do, we were, in fact, only able to stay at the hotel because we found a good deal online and split it four ways. The service at the hotel was impeccable though, and worth every penny.

There are a few more pictures on this post than the last one because I simply could not stop taking them. The city is gorgeous at night and even though we didn’t eat anywhere particularly special (perhaps I should do a blog post on my birthday — I wasn’t blogging in December so I haven’t yet shared my thoughts on that amazing Seattle restaurant) I still got a few food shots in.

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