The Euro train provides with a wonderful way to commute across most European cities. When Preethu and me where in Italy for a week long vaccation, we used the Euro train to travel between the Italian cities of Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice .
We left Rome by about 2PM and reached Pisa by about 4.30. With some trouble in finding the bus to Pisa and then finding our way to the monument, we took a while to reach. The Baptistery is the first building that gets the attention as we enter the complex, followed by the church and the leaning tower hiding behind it, literally peeping its head out.
To avoid the queue, tickets to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa) for 5Pm entry was already booked  in advance. Eventually, when we managed to reach, it was about 20 minutes late. We were worried that the entry tickets may not be valid, but, the person at the entrance allowed us to join the 6PM group after a little bit of pleading! We had to climb almost 300 steps to reach the top, to took a look around. The tower - meant to be a bell tower for the church - may have looked small in comparison with the church, as we enter, but it did feel pretty high once we were at the top!
We spent some more time in the complex, 'pushing the tower', visiting the church and in general strolling around, before heading back to the train station.
Our train to Florence was almost at 9, taking us to Campo di Marte station by 9.30. After some asking around, we realized that the hotel we were staying is near Santa Maria Novella station and took another train to reach there, finding it at a walkable distance from our hotel - Kursaal & Ausonia.
Next day, we were at the Florence Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), famous for its beautiful dome. But, the cathedral was quite majestic and the view from outside was very limiting. The view of the dome from Michelangelo square (Piazzale Michelangelo) is very famous, but we had limited time in Florence before catching our next train at 10.30 to Venice.
We reached Venezia Santa Lucia station by 12.30, finished our lunch at a place near the station and then walked around the streets of Venice looking for the hotel. Even after having done a fair bit of homework, we had some trouble locating the hotel. The streets of Venice, while charming and filled with life, where not so well marked and easy to identify. It was tough walking around with the heavy luggage in tow, especially with a few steps to climb and bridges to cross. But, we did get a good view of streets and narrow canals. We almost reached Rialto bridge before heading back and locating a narrow street which eventually lead us to Hotel Ca' Bragadin Carabba.
Later in the evening, we headed back towards Rialto bridge and hired a Gondola.
We were taken around narrow canals amidst beautiful buildings before hitting the Grand canal.
The Gondola person did tell us a few things about Venice and the landmark buildings in the Grand canal. It was tougher to convince him to take a few pictures of ours in the Gondola - needed some pleading. We exitted the Grand canal through another small canal and took one more round amidst the colorful buildings before reaching back where we started an hour before.
We headed back again to Rilato bridge for panoramic views of the Grand canal in both directions. With the bridge being crowded with people and many a Gondolas and boats passing through the canal, there was never a dull moment.
We sat under the Rialto bridge for a while - opposite to the boat stand, watching people sailing by on boats and Gondolas. Finaly, when the hunger struck, we just had to pick one of the many restaurants in the southern side of the Rialto bridge for an interesting supper, sitting by the side of Grand Canal.
By the time we headed back to the hotel, it was quite late in the night.
Next day, we were back to the Rialto bridge and took a Vaperatto (water boat) pass, before boarding one headed to Murano. Vaperatto is indeed the most convenient and cheapest means of transport across Venetian islands.
Murano is famous for glass making and we roamed around seeing demos at the glass factory and checking out glass ware.
Next stop was Piazza San Marco, which had a famous bell tower, St Mark's Campanile (Campanile di San Marco). We roamed around the Piazza San Marco for a while, tried out one of its famous ice cream shops and many a small stalls, until it was time for us to head back. This time, we chose to take a Vaperatto ride from Rialto to the Santa Lucia train station.
Our beautiful stay in Venice ended with some last minute drama, when we realized that our overnight train to Paris was booked from Venice Mestre station instead of Santa Lucia station! We took a train ticket from Santa Lucia to Mestre station, but missed that train by a whisker! With no more trains available to take us to Mestre on time, it was time for some panicking! But, after checking with a person, we realized that the train to Paris that we were supposed to board in Mestre, does start from Santa Lucia and was stationed right next to us! In a bit of a DDLJ action, we managed to board the train in the last minute!