96 Hours in Northern Italy: 4 Cities in 4 DaysCity Travel, Food & Wine, Italy, Lost Girls, Shopping & Style, Spiritual Travel, Studying Abroad, Tours & Attractions, Train, Walking — By Patty H on July 15, 2009 at 11:47 am
By Patty Hodapp
For art history buffs or shopping gurus who like to browse through designer stores, markets or spend your travels at museums and churches, Northern Italy is definitely the place to be. The major cities are connected by train, so you can see all four of them even if you’re stuck in a time crunch-here’s how.
Day 1: Siena
Piazza del Campo Located in the heart of Siena, you can find this huge square where the annual horse race (Il Palio) is held in the summertime. Several tasty gelaterias and cafes line the outside and you can catch some rays, browse the t-shirt stands or watch street performers. My friends saw Michael Caine relaxing here with his family a few weeks ago…it’s a favorite for Hollywood stars! If you go inside the main governmental building you can buy a ticket to the museum for less than five euros and see frescos dating all the way back to the 1300′s.
Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo Here you can see Duccio’s famous gold Maesta painting of the Madonna and Child surrounded by the heavenly court of saints and angels. If you continue through the museum you come to a narrow spiral turret (about 100 steps up) that you can climb to get a breathtaking view of Siena’s red rooftops and lush green countryside. Totally worth the huffing and puffing to the top.
San Domenico and the head of St. Catherine of Siena Whether you’re religious or not, definitely go into the church of San Domenico to view the head of Siena’s patron saint. You can actually see her real head in a glass box inside a chapel in the church, and tests have been done to prove its legitimacy. St. Catherine was a catholic holy woman whose letters are considered some of the greatest of early Tuscan literature.
Day Two: Florence
Galleria dell’Accademia You ABSOLUTELY cannot leave without seeing Michelangelo’s David. Call ahead or go online to spend an extra 4 euro to make appointments in advance for reserved tickets to avoid the long summer lines. Once you grab your ticket you essentially skip all the agitated tourists and walk right in to see this monumental, world-famous sculpture.
Day Three: Milan
Duomo di Milano This huge church is located conveniently next to a stretch of designer shops so if you have time, pop in for free and take a look around. It is HUGE. Its Italian gothic architecture is unmistakable, and from the outside, its white stone, tall pointed turrets and statues relay its monumental size mirrored inside.
Day Four: Venice
Glass blowing Go to the famous Venetian glass blowing museum near Piazza San Marco for a tour and glass blowing demonstration. It only takes a half hour and they have glass tradesmen on staff who are complete masters at forming and pounding the molten glass into beautiful vases, necklaces, chandeliers etc. Don’t buy anything at the gift shop though, its very overpriced. There are shops all over every island that sell Venetian glass for much less.
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