"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." -Unknown
If you haven't traveled abroad, you really should add it to your bucket list. Experiencing different places, people and cultures is such a fulfilling (and delicious) experience that everyone should be exposed to at least once in their life. I promise it's nothing you'll feel bad about- unless you go with terrible people, so make sure to leave their asses at home.
In September of 2018, I traveled around Italy via the wonderful Italia Rail train for 10 days and visited Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Modena and Venice. I ate WAAAAYYY too much pizza and gelato, but gained zero weight since I was a true European and walked everywhere - literally everywhere. I'm think one day I clocked in about 25,000 steps! No wonder the Italians are so slim!
What follows is the abbreviated version of my Italian city escapades.
Beginning an overseas vacation with some R&R is always a good idea and, in my case, was VERY beneficial since I was still suffering from jet lag and overall fatigue. Amalfi is a coastal town in southern Italy, so I began the trip laying out by and swimming in the Mediterranean. It was chilly and the rocky shoreline hurt the hell out of my feet, but it was all so refreshing and gorgeous. The Amalfi Coast is not very large and there are several cities in the area that you easily hit up (hire a driver because those coastal roads are narrow and treacherous!) and enjoy the view from the gorgeous Italian cliffs. You really don't need more than two days to experience the Amalfi Coast.
|Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Italy|
|Me - Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy|
|I gave a kitty some pistachio gelato - Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy|
Next stop was Rome - the City of Love. I decided to not be a typical tourist and go inside every single tourist attraction/trap, so I walked past and saw the Roman Forum, Roman Ruins, Colosseum and Pantheon, but did not pay to stand in a long line to merely take a peek inside. Instead, I decided to be a part of the city and I highly recommend traveling this way. I pretended to be a local Roman walking the streets, taking the subway and acting like I knew what I was doing and where I was going. I visited a cat cafe (I'll be blogging about it), climbed the Spanish Steps, argued with a pushy rose peddler, went on a Roman food tour in Testaccio and saw the Pope (for real). Rome is a vivacious city on its own without the tourist attractions, so try not to get sucked into it. As the great travel guru Rick Steves suggests, visit a city like Rome with the intention of going back, so don't overwhelm yourself with too many tourist stops and just be a part of the city and enjoy the moment.
P.S. Regardless of what travel blogs tell you, the Trevi Fountain is still packed with people at 10PM (see photo below).
|Me in front of the Colosseum - Rome, Italy|
|The Vatican (the Pope's sitting center in white) - Rome, Italy|
|Tourists at the Trevi Fountain - Rome, Italy|
|The Spanish Steps - Rome Italy|
After Rome, Florence was beckoning. Florence is Italy's Renaissance city and is full of the all of the charm, cobblestone streets and Italian flair that anyone would expect from a picturesque Italian villa. For Americans, Florence fulfills our vision of what Italy is supposed to look like. Of course, I checked out Michaelango's statue of David and so did a bunch of other people. I just have to point out that David is HUGE and other body parts are just as big and in your face. I mean, really, you can't help but notice IT. You know what I'm talking about. Florence is another great walking city with good shopping and delicious restaurants. I ate the best pizza in Florence - pear and gorgonzola! I also visited the best bar ever in Florence called Manifattura that served me the most delectable craft cocktails and serenaded me with wonderful 1920s music. I was in heaven.
|The Dome - Florence, Italy|
|Me and David - Accademia Galley - Florence, Italy|
|The Ponte Vecchio - Florence, Italy|
Modena is a small town just northwest of Bologna. It's the birthplace of Pavarotti, balsamic vinegar and some famous car companies. Ever heard of Ferrari or Lamborghini? I hadn't either (joking), but this is where they originated. My only purpose in Modena was to hit up the car museums and pretend to be a member of the Rich and Famous Club picking out my next Ferrari. BTW - a white convertible Ferrari Portofino was the winner. Nickles and dimes, people - nickles and dimes. The streets of Modena are also quite delightful, offer a pleasant evening stroll and dotted with cute shops and restaurants. Sadly, I didn't enjoy any liquid gold in Modena, but did bring a bottle home to enjoy.
And I continued to eat more pistachio gelato...
|My Future Car - Museo Ferrari - Modena, Italy|
The Italian adventure ended in Venice - the city that is slowing sinking into the ocean and had some of the worst flooding in over 20 years this year (after I left, thankfully). Everything you've ever heard about getting lost on the twisty and curvy streets of Venice is true. I got lost more than once and actually ended up in an apartment complex trying to find the hotel and had to ask a resident to let me out. I know, stupid American! LoL St. Mark's Square at night is absolutely magical where the square is filled with small orchestras playing you lovely classical music whilst you sip your overpriced glass of wine, but it's all a part of the experience! Like Rome, I didn't partake in the tourist attractions (aside from a gondola ride) and decided to be a part of the city. One afternoon, I went on a bar crawl and tasted the "dim sum" of the working man in Venice called Cicchetti, devoured more pistachio gelato and then just continued walking and wandering aimlessly following the signs to "Per S. Marco." Funny story - my last meal in Italy was in Venice and I enjoyed, of all things, Chinese food. Italian Chinese food is delicious!
|Me and the Canal - Venice, Italy|
|Gondolas on the Sea - Venice, Italy|
|View from the Rialto Bridge - Venice, Italy|
In summary, Italy is a wonderfully fun and beautiful country to visit. The pizza, pasta, gelato, art, cats, architecture, wine and Italian charm just draw you in and give you nice big bear hug that you never want to pull away from. Add Italy to your bucket list to experience its wonders for yourself.
It's almost 6 am, I haven't been to bed yet and decided to revisit your blog. I LOVED this post. My love/appreciation for Italy runs deep.ReplyDelete
Again, sorry for the delay in responding! I'm happy my words and photos can bring you back to your happy place in Italy. I think what the stars are aligning to is that we MUST return!Delete