Monday, October 24, 2011

Roman, Tuscan, and Venetian Holiday (with a stopover in Milan)



A few weeks ago, we took a much-anticipated vacation to Italy, and I haven’t been able to get back on track since returning. I’ve let my blogs go into complete abandonment, and that’s okay. Life is meant for living, and I never wanted to be one of those bloggers that tweets about. Every. Darn. Thing.

Anyway, this entry is more for me. I really like looking back on my entry about Paris that I did last year, and so I decided to do the same for Italy. So here goes…my trip log


The first day was a LOT of travel. We went from San Diego to New York to Milan, finally riding the train to Rome. I actually felt okay because I slept for a good deal of the flights as well as some on the train. I was rested, and ready to explore! We found our hotel pretty easily, which was conveniently located close to a Metro station. We settled in, then found food! After all of that travel and plane food, we were ready for a real dinner. But first, happy hour! Yes, happy hour. It exists in Rome. After some great house wine and bruschetta, we went to another place and had pasta Bolognese and pasta carbonara, along with salad caprese and the most delicious house wine that I’ve ever tasted (red, of course). Dessert was chocolate gelato!

Yep, we ate well on this trip. A little too well, as I’m working to lose 10 pounds before the holidays. Italy is certainly good for padding!

The next day was the Coliseum, Palantine, and Forum. A great tip is to see all of these on the same day, as one ticket gets you into each place. Positively breathtaking. More great food to be found on this day, such as pizza, Panini, and of course, lots of yummy cappuccinos throughout the day!


Day Three was Monday, and our day to head to the Vatican City. My advice: Go EARLY! The museum as well as St. Peter’s Cathedral are crowded very early, particularly on Mondays, as other museums are closed, and the Vatican is mostly closed on Sunday. Even if you are not particularly religious, these sites are worth seeing. St. Peter’s is the largest, most grand place that I have ever seen. It could take hours of exploration to simply see everything, let alone drink it all in.


The Vatican museum contains the Sistine Chapel, which is truly something to see, but the rest of the art within the museum is equally awe-inspiring. It is exhausting mentally, absorbing all of the beautiful Renaissance (and earlier) pieces. I really wish that we had broken up our Vatican visit a bit more.


The next day was Tuesday, and it was our last day in Rome. We used this day for all of our last “I Wannas” and visited the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. We ate lots more gelato (melon gelato is my new favorite!) and had grilled squid for dinner and linguine with clams! So good! This last day was a bit more relaxing, and we posed with the Centaurions outside of the Coliseum. I know it’s cheesy, but I thought it was funny. Much better than a living statue!


The next day, we were on the train to Florence (not a long ride – maybe 90 minutes). I will just say up front that I LOVED Florence. It’s like a mini-Paris. There is so much beautiful art, and wonderful food! Florence is also small enough that walking is no problem. The city is only 1.5 miles around, so nothing is very far. We went to the Uffizi museum, and saw the beautiful Botticelli room. I love Botticelli. It was my favorite exhibit in the Louvre, and I was not disappointed with the presentation in Florence. No pictures were allowed, but sometimes I like that better. It made me appreciate the time that I had to enjoy the paintings.

We ate sooo well in Florence. If you eat steak, be sure to eat steak in Florence. We had one of the best steaks at Il Latini (made famous by constant praise from Rachael Ray). Believe the hype. Another great place was Trattoria la Burrasca, where we had more steak (!) and veal!!!! I’d never had veal in my life, and it’s doubtful that I will ever eat it again, but it sure was good in Italy. Another great place was Vivoli Gelato, which was hands down the best gelato that we had on our trip (and that’s saying something, since it was all amazing!).

Other sites in Florence were the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo, a beautiful, ornate church that serves as the center of town. We did not get to go inside, but the outside was breathtaking. Also, seeing the statue of David by Michelangelo was a dream come true.

A wine and olive oil tasting made our time in Florence pretty much perfect. There is no dump bucket at an Italian wine tasting – it is not necessary. The wines were all so good, but they are sure generous with our pours. We shared a tasting, and still had a little too much for two in the afternoon. ;) We brought home a ton of wine and olive oil from Italy. In fact, that was probably the only souvenirs that we bought!

After two amazing days, we jumped back onto the train for our final destination, Venice. We loved Florence so much that we were tempted to skip Venice, but I’m really glad that we went. Venice is a beautiful town, and is best seen from the waters of the Grand Canal. In fact, the water bus ride to our hotel was one of the highlights of the trip! The winding streets were simply enchanting, and made it very easy to get lost! The walkways are almost hidden until you are in front of them. The streets are also very, very narrow.


Venice is really a shoppers’ haven. Other than touring St. Marks and doing a canal tour or gondola ride (very, very expensive), there is not much to do in Venice. So I’m glad that we only had one day there. I was glad to see it and buy a Carnival mask, but I don’t know that I would return unless it was for a business trip or for Carnival.

By the time we left Venice, we were exhausted!!! Those cobblestone streets can really wear on the feet, and I was missing Mr. Darwin. I would definitely return to Italy. Perhaps a tour of the Amalfi coast and a couple more days in Florence? Or a Paris/Florence trip? We will see.

The full pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gwenniepenny/sets/72157627895686174/
October 24, 2011 / by / 0 Comments

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