As I celebrate this Thanksgiving abroad many miles away from my loved ones in the States, I reflect on all I am thankful for in my life. I am very blessed to be on this trip of a lifetime traveling all throughout Europe, and incredibly grateful for my family who made it all possible and helped me be where I am today. While I don’t get to spend the holiday indulging in turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, I will be making up for it with plenty of pasta, pizza and vino! Italy has always been on my bucket list, and over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I will be traveling to two cities in Italy- my first stop being Venice!
Departing out of Gatwick Airport in London, I was so excited to take on Italy to eat, explore and adventure my way through this beautiful country. I had a very picturesque image in my head of what Venice would be like, and I have to admit, it completely surpassed and shattered all expectations. The second I got off the plane I wanted to start eating as many carbs possible (fun fact, carbs and calories do not exist in Italy). Fast forward a couple hours and I would find myself in a very authentic Italian restaurant with a glass of Merlot in hand as I indulged in the BEST carbonara of my entire life. The noodles were so fresh and with each bite I could taste a little bit of heaven.
Venice is stunning and very much so a city comprised of many small islands with canals intertwining through the earthy colored stucco buildings. Crossing from the mainland to the island, you grasp a better understanding of how Venice is essentially floating on the Adriatic Sea. In the main area of the city, the Grand Canal in lined with restaurants, shops, and gorgeous Renaissance and Gothic palaces. Motor vehicles are prohibited on this pedestrian island and other than walking, the main form of transportation is by water taxi or gondola. Bridges cross over the canals connecting the cobblestone streets for travelers in the city. In every direction you are surrounded by immaculate sights and truly held prisoner to the city as you are left gawking in its beauty. I literally had to pinch myself to remember this was real life and not just a dream out of a fairytale.
You have probably had a Magnum chocolate ice bar in your lifetime, but not many can say they had a custom made and hand decorated Magnum bar in Venice, Italy. The Magnum store is right off of the Grand Canal and I was immediately I enticed in by the potent smell of rich chocolate wafting onto the street. Inside the store there is an assembly line where you choose which flavor of ice cream you would like in the center of your bar, then you select which flavor of chocolate you would like it dipped in- milk, white or dark. You go on to choose which toppings and type of chocolate you would like drizzled over the top. My Magnum ice cream bar was to die for, and the answer is yes, I did have a chocolate ice cream bar for breakfast, but after all, it is Thanksgiving, right?
You cannot go to Venice without riding on a gondola throughout the canals. It is the only way to fully experience the city, and it’s also the only place in the world with a water infrastructure like this. I forgot how much I missed inhaling the salty ocean scent and the feel of the cool sea breeze on my skin. It is a myth that the city of Venice is sinking and will one day no longer exist. In actuality, the water level is continuing to rise and creeping up on the buildings each year. The gondola boat driver paddled through the canals and would yell, “Oyyyy,” when turning the sharp corners as a form of communication with the other boat drivers. I enjoyed every second of my 30-minute gondola ride and gained an entirely new perspective of the city from the waterways.
As a foodie, I consider food and eating to be just as much part of traveling as the adventure aspect. After having the best pasta of my life the night before, I set out to seek authentic Italian pizza. I found little pizza shop nuzzled into a side street and the ordered the prosciutto. This flat crust pizza was incredible and I am currently enjoying it for the second time as I eat my leftovers while typing this blog.
I fell head over heels in love with Venice, and it was extremely difficult to leave this city straight out of a fairytale. I will continue to eat my way through Italy when I arrive in Florence later tonight, continuing the second part of my Italy adventure.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Eat lots of pumpkin pie for me and enjoy time with those you love and cherish the most.