Buongiorno! The one Italian word I learned to the point where I was actually confident enough to use it with locals— well, that and Ciao! My family and I walked the rocky cobblestones and enjoyed the delicious cuisine of Italy for ten (very hot) days. Specifically, we toured the ancient city of Rome– a historical drama being uncovered one layer at a time– and sauntered the coastal region of Amalfi.
The trip started off with a 2.5 hour flight (plus a horrid topsy-turvy revenge of airport food *bleck*) and then a 9 hour, which was topped off by a 30 minute drive to the center of Rome and ultimately, our beautiful hotel. We were greeted by one of my favorite person, Luca (the sweet young bell man) and quickly dropped off our luggage before heading off to our first tour of Rome by golf cart. With some heavy eyelids, we puttered around the city and learned the brief history of major or unique sites. The next few days were filled with delicious food (I even found some health nut places, ya know, cause my whole family basically eats like rabbits), private tours of the Vatican City and Colosseum, as well as wandering through the side streets and markets of Rome. I won’t go in great detail about each tour, as that would ruin the surprise for future Italy-goers, but I will give a few highlights.
#1 The Vatican City was beautiful, ornate, and a masterpiece orchestrated with such pure and intense spiritual and artistic genius. The breadth of detail and reverence in the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica left me breathless. For those wanting to go: I suggest taking the condensed tour because the Vatican museum is so large and abundant in artifacts that several hours can easily be spent looking at little oil lamps and religious artifacts.
#2 There is no other way that ancient ruins and the Coliseum should be experienced than through the knowledgeable presence of a tour guide. The layers of centuries of historical drama, political victories and overthrows, architectural and civil advancement can not be fully comprehended by staring at the grey-stone ruins. Also, with a tour guide you can skip to the front of the lines! *woot woot*
#3 A food tour is a great way to taste authentic Italian food and wine, as well as escape the tourist hotspots and support some incredible local families. We went with a small group (and a great tour guide, Michele, pronounced “Miguel”) through the side streets of Trastevere and stopped at 6 local eateries, each featuring an Italian delicacy. Oh and did I mention local crafted wine and beer accompanied every stop! *pause* Now, as it was my 21st birthday week *cheesy smile*, I did indulge in the alcoholic tastings…that is until I felt nauseated at the second stop *resigned sigh* Alas, the normal size drink for a normal sized human is not the life for me…but that didn’t stop me from making the most of the tour and enjoying every delicious plate of food put in front of me!
To say the least, I fell in love with the spirit of Rome and hope to return one day.
On our way to the Amalfi Coast, we stopped by Pompeii and saw the remains of the great city/market central. The unforeseen swift removal of Pompeii and its people is incomprehensible…the gravity of its tragic ending has been faded in textbooks. Pompeii reminded me of the unpredictable world we live in, always vulnerable to the destructive hands of chaos. It is a humbling and make-you-think kind of place for sure!
For the final days of our vacation, we rested and enjoyed the sunny rays of the Amalfi Coast. The view was beautiful, the ocean placid and clear blue, and the pastries oh-so-good! We visited a few neighboring towns and took a ferry to Capri. However the towns are quite similar in both price and beauty, so we mainly stuck to our little edge of the coast.
I will admit, while the Amalfi Coast was more botanically beautiful than Rome, Rome kept me surprised with a new story to be heard or experience to be tried each day. Nonetheless, it was trip of a lifetime and I’m so thankful*big smile* Ciao bella!