Tuesday, April 19, 2011

mamma mia, get me back to italia!

A little summary of 2 amazing weeks in Italy.

PISA: We began and ended our trip in Pisa because that is where our 30 euro flight landed and left from. We saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa...and well...it is a big tower that is leaning. So interesting. We also took the 'pretending to hold the tower up' picture along with all of the other tourists. It was more interesting watching all the people standing around holding their hands out in a funny stance getting their picture taken then the tower itself.

LUCCA: Before taking off for Rome we spent the afternoon in this small town outside of Pisa. It might one of my favorite places in the world. (of course i've been thinking that about a lot of places recently...) There weren't any tourist and it was small and surrounded by an ancient wall, like most european cities. If you can imagine a typical small Italian town, this was it. And then we had to run through the city after losing track of time to catch our train to Pisa so we could catch our train to Rome. It was kinda crazy and we got some interesting looks.

ROME: So, I wasn't the biggest fan of Rome. Of course the colosseum was amazing! Although I can't even begin to wrap my mind around all the history that it contains. The Trevi Fountain was super cool and we threw coins in it! The Pantheon was really cool too. It has a big hole in the ceiling. Crazy. And the Spanish steps...well, they were steps. If you take all of these amazing sights and then add fifty elementary school field trips, 200 traveling families from all over the world, and 500 college students on spring break at each place, plus really annoying men trying to sell you stupid stuff every 7 seconds, Rome kinda loses its magic. But it was really great seeing all of these amazing sights and eating really really good Italian food while we were there!

THE HOLY SEE (the Vatican): Even though it's kinda in Rome, it is technically it's own country, so I will give it it's own little paragraph. But I heard from some other travelers that we met that the Pope comes out on Wednesdays and Saturdays to give a little speech thing. So we were at St. Peter's Basilica around 10:30 am on Wednesday and sure enough the little old man in his white robe was rollin in his Benz through the crowd of people. Then he said something profound in Latin and Italian followed by translations in 8 different languages. It was very cool. He talked for quite a while and then blessed us. They also recognized some groups that were at the Vatican visiting and one was from Grand Rapids! How exciting! We cheered for them :) St. Peter's Basilica was absolutely beautiful! And so big! We also saw the tomb of St. Peter and toured the tombs of all the popes. Then we took a cheap tour of the Vatican Museum. We were just going to walk around and check everything out ourselves but learned so much more from our tour guide! We saw Nero's bathtub and the Sistine Chapel! It was beautiful! And I may or may not have taken a very illegal picture while inside...

VENICE: I looooooved Venice! I mean, how could you not like a city without cars and motorcycles surrounded by water with singing men in funny hats rowing gondolas down canals?! All we did was walk around and get lost and it was the greatest thing ever! We also took a gondola ride through the city. Our driver man was interesting...we were pretty sure that he was bragging in Italian to all the other boats that we passed that he got to drive two young girls around while all the other boats contained either groups of Asian tourists, families, old people, or couples. After he would say something in Italian the other drivers would just look at us and smile, or one time one of the drivers flexed for us...is was quite the experience. The city is just beautiful and we saw so many masquerade stores and a sight where one of the Indiana Jones movies was filmed! The buildings were all so beautiful too, most having balconies with flowers and laundry drying outside of the windows. Also, we had to take a water taxi to one of our hostels! So cool.

VERONA: "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" Yes, we did see Romeo's house and the balcony of Juliet. But Verona also had its own arena, very similar the the Colosseum. But the greatest part was that we stayed in a cute little B&B which was a very nice break from a hostel.

FLORENCE: I really wish that I appreciated art more because then I would have liked Florence a lot more. We saw a beautiful church and the David statue! We also stumbled upon a cute little park where we sat and people watched for a while. There was a soccer field next to us, or football, as it is called here, and we watched some kids playing a pickup game after they got out of school. We also ate the BEST gelato in the entire world here.

TAVARNELLE VAL DI PESA: If you are planning on going to Italy, the cities are great and beautiful but to truly experience Tuscany you have to go to the country. After two nights in Florence we took a bus ride out of the city through hills and vineyards to this little town and it was one of the highlights of this trip! Everywhere we looked was just breathtaking and didn't even look real! We spent most of our time walking along the country roads. We also went into town for dinner and lunch and it was so nice eating at authentic and non-touristy restaurants. After walking around in a little medieval village for a while we snuck into someone's backyard and just laid in the grass soaking up the beautiful tuscan sun. It was unreal and so beautiful!

Final thoughts on Italy - I love it!
My new dream is to move to the Tuscan countryside.
Everyone drives motorcycles or scooters.
'Ciao bella' is the most common Italian flirting phrase.
Everybody is so relaxed and never in a rush or stressed out.
The train rides through mountains and across the country were all stunning.
Olive Garden is a bad representation of Italian eating.
They really do say 'mamma mia' all the time! Even middle aged business men. It's fantastic.
Go! Go! Go!

Until next time, arrivederci!

1 comment:

  1. since living in Europe, I hate eating at the Olive Garden...or any other fake Italian restaurant! The only thing I've found that even compares to authentic Italian food is a restaurant in South FL called Renato's. Unfortunately it also costs an arm & a leg to eat there...but it's SO worth it!!