Grand Canal is the main waterway of Venice in reverse-S course that divides the city into tow parts. With construction going on at Rialto Bridge, it is not surprise to say that the Grand Canal will be affected too. So we can only see views like photos below at both sides of the bridge.
The best way to see the island of Ortigia is just to wander. It’s difficult to get lost (it measures just 1km by 500 meters and has lots of little streets that all look the same), but packed with over 2,500 years of history. We often come here at night as its a great place to soak up some Italian nightlife, wander past the harbor showcasing the yachts and sailing boats of the elite and also drop by the famous fountain of youth (La Fonte Aretusa). Half a dozen Greek poets wrote the tale of the nymph Arethusa, who was bathing in the Alpheus River in Greece one day when the god of that river took a liking to her. She begged for deliverance from his advances, and Artemis in pity turned the nymph into a spring, allowing her to escape underground. She traveled under the sea to emerge here, in Siracusa. Alpheus, though, was hot on her heels, and came gushing out in the same spot, mingling his waters with hers for eternity. Apparently this, to the Greeks, was romantic. They used to say you could toss a goblet into a spring at Arcadia in Greece and it would pop up here.
The most active volcano in Europe and by far the biggest dominating attraction in Eastern Sicily, Mount Etna is a must visit. If you head to Etna Sud you have the option to walk around some of the older craters on foot or take a cable car ride to 2,900m, from there it is a 2-4 hour round trip to the summit craters, although there is no need to go that far to get a good feel for the majesty of the mountain. The other point of departure is Etna Nord (Piano Provenzana) from where you may walk or take 4X4 buses up to the observatory at 2,400m. You may walk to the summit craters from there. I would highly advise to not go venturing to the main craters of Etna without a qualified guide.
Torcello, the final leg on our Venetian Island tour is a quiet and sparsely populated island with plenty of green space. The island boast a long 15 minute walking path from the main dock which leads to the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta Isola di Torcello. This beautiful, primitive church was founded in 639 A.D. and subsequently rebuilt in the 11th century. Just beyond the church you'll find a beautiful and serene canal which is the perfect picnic hideaway.
The river Tiber is the oldest river and one of the lifelines of Ancient Rome. Tiber Island is one of the two island in the river Tiber. The island is home to a temple of Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine and healing, and a hospital. Thus this island is symbolic of health and healing. The island is linked to the mainland with two bridges. There are many legends regarding the formation of the island. Today it hosts a film festival and provides a great twist to any Rome tour.
Mt. Vesuvius is one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth and also one of the most famous.It is situated in the southern part of italy,the closest city being Naples or Napoli(italian).I had started my journey from Rome at around 11 am in a regional train. It was an impromptu plan ,so had to opt for a cheaper train which took a longer time.Other faster trains are available which take much less time to travel from Rome to Naples. If planned well in advance,Italo,a privately run train service, offers good and fast train service at bargain price.<br />The regional train took almost 3hrs and at around 1:45 pm I reached the Napoli Centrale.<br />For visiting the Mt Vesuvius ,one needs to avail another train service called the "Circumvesuviana" from Naples.It is a privately run train service which goes around the Mt Vesuvius,thus the name circumvesuviana.<br />The train stop is below the Napoli Central station and is called Napoli Garibaldi. Basically the station is in the same area as the Napoli Central, just a level or two below it.To reach the Garibaldi station look for directions towards Stazion Garibaldi.As you come out of the Napoli Central station leaving the platforms behind you,take the escalator to go down one level.Once down look for the "Circumvesuviana" train direction. One needs to walk for a small distance through the underground passage to reach the turnstiles.Tickets can be bought from a tobacco shop downstairs or at a ticket counter close to the turnstiles of the Garibaldi station. There is also an information desk there.<br />Now,for going to Mt Vesuvius,there are two stops that you can get down at - Ercolano Scavi and Pompeii Scavi .The trains were not very comfortable ones and the fare was cheap.Usually these trains are very crowded,so beware of pickpockets.<br />As I had less time in hand I decided to get down at Ercolano Scavi(4 euros return ticket) It is the nearest station from the mountain and also nearer to the Garibaldi station(20 minutes) compared to Pompeii.But the travel options are more from Pompeii for the mountain(which is around 40 minutes from Garibaldi).From the Ercolano stop there was one reliable vendor,Vesuvio express,to take people to the foothills of the mountain. The vendor offers cabs for both the ongoing and return journey for 10 euros.And 10 euros more for entering the hiking trail to the crater.The cabs usually leave every 40 minutes or earlier if there are enough passengers.<br />Once I came out of the Ercolano Scavi station,the shop of the vendor was on the left.Luckily for me,there was a family already there.So the cab started immediately.<br /><br />The journey to the the foothills took around 2o minutes through meandering narrow roads and green forests.Once at the parking at the foothills ,the driver told us to come back within 1 hour 15 minutes. I personally felt that the duration was less.So,discuss this at the Vesuvio express office in front of the driver asking for a longer time for the hike. <br />Do check out the temperature before starting the journey as sometimes the mountain top is colder compared to the town down.In that case plan your attire accordingly.But ,in my case I must say I felt like i was in a furnace as it was a bright sunny day in July.Carry a lot of drinking water as the hike is very steep and tiring. There are two shacks where you can buy water ,but for most part of the hike the terrain is very dry and desert like without any trees.The path to the top is very uneven and made of gravels. So,it is very essential to put on a good and comfortable pair of shoes.As i went in summer in the scorching heat ,I carried an umbrella to save myself from the sun's fury . If not an umbrella ,atleast carry a hat or a cap and apply a lot of sunscreen if you dont want a nice tan :).<br />The hike to the crater usually takes 30 minutes.For me it took much more time as I was already tired after the long journey from Rome. However ,once at the top the view is amazing.The whole Bay area and the islands,the azure sky and the torquoise sea makes up for the effort put into hiking up the rugged terrain.The crater in itself was an amazing one.There were two small shops selling souveniers.They even have a postal service so that you can immediately mail ur postcards to your beloved ones.Do buy one postcard atleast ,specially one with the whole crater from top.After spending sometime at the top ,it was time for me to start the return journey as the driver had already set the deadline.The downward walk took around 20 minutes but take care that you dont sprain your ankle in a hurry.The driver dropped us back to the Ercolano scavi statiom from where i took the train back to Naples.<br />This was my first visit to a volcano,and specially one with an Active status . It was a thrilling and very enjoyable experience which will remain etched in my memory.<br /><br />