Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From Switzerland to Venice

On the way down to Italy we made a couple notable final stops in Switzerland, the first being Chateau de Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva. I really wasn't overly excited about it (I'm kind of ho hum about both castles and churches to tell you the truth) but they ended up having a temporary exhibition that made the visit particularly interesting. Entitled "Witch Hunting in the Pays de Vaud, from the 15th and 17th Centuries," the exhibit highlighted texts and artifacts from the witch hunts in the region. During this time, a healing woman couldn't catch a break - often getting a witch accusation if things with a treatment went right OR wrong. Either way she might be in cahoots with the devil and 2,000 death sentences came out of this canton alone. Interestingly, Switzerland (accounting for current boarders) holds the record for "witch" executions per capita- a tragic 3,500 deaths out of 5,000 accused.

The second stop was the Nestle/Cailler chocolate factory. It wasn't quite Wonka but the tour might have been equally schmaltzy (with maybe 80% fewer Oompa Loopas? Hard to say...) and it did conclude with an "all you can eat" tasting room. Sadly for my brother, his souvenir bars were 'lost' in Venice when I realized it would cost $18 to mail them to him (and as Jacob pointed out, they are probably sold at Trader Joes where he works).

After this we made our way to Venice where we left our car and hopped on a ferry toward our hotel. Apparently the resident population of Venice has dropped in half in the last thirty years and tourists outnumber the residents. It's a little rough around the edges with a fair amount of litter and dog poop which made it a little more funky than grand despite the row of high-end retailers. We went out to the island of Murano, famous for glass work and did the obligatory tour of St. Mark's Cathedral before hopping on the vaporetto back to the car.

We're now spending a week at an agriturismo in Tuscany with day trips planned to Siena, Florence and Assisi. It's a little hot here and I'm now up to about 30 mosquito bites but the house and region are beautiful, albeit very dry. We're enjoying having so much space and I think our planned day trips will end up being great. After the hecticness of Venice it is great to be able to have a 'home base' to relax and drink wine and talk with my dad and Martha. After Tuscany we're off for three days in Rome.

**All the pictures in this post are from Venice

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