I said it and I meant it.
“Italy is just so… Italy”
Probably not my most scholarly choice of words in describing the country, but when we got off the plane in Rome, it was the first thing that came to mind. I felt like an extra in a romantic Italian film.
I had no expectations for the country, and yet it was exactly as I expected; the small white tables lining the streets where, at anytime of day, sophisticated-looking Europeans and tourists were enjoying good wine and better company, plazas around the city hosting paintings magnificent enough to be on show in any museum, the best tasting pizza and pasta dishes on every corner, Italian conversations which appear an argument, but aren’t, and involve way too much hand movements and best of all, no matter where you are, you can hear an accordion playing “That’s Amore!”
From that moment on, I was in love with Italy.
Chris and I usually stay away from tourist routes, but having traveled around Italy five years ago he insisted we spend time in the main cities. He knew I’d love it (and he wasn’t wrong).
We gave ourselves ten days of city hopping before starting another help exchange and settled on four of the most famed locations; Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice.
First stop, “when in Rome”!
The largest of the cities but also the most historically rich. We spent two days in Rome (which wasn’t enough) and relied mostly on sneaker sight seeing (running around the city).
It was fascinating to see ancient ruins scattered throughout the city that added character and brilliance around each turn.
And it’s hard not to reflect on how far we’ve come as a species when standing beneath the famous Coliseum.
But the city reminds us that we still have a long way to go…
And I hope we can all appreciate this forbidden photo that got Chris and I kicked out of the Sistine Chapel.
So worth it.
Next stop, Florence.
Florence is one of those likable cities. It’s small enough to master on a map, but big enough to stroll around all day. The architecture is aesthetically pleasing and so are the statues (here’s looking at you David).
Chris and I spent most of our time sipping boxed wine along the canal and enjoying the best gluten free Italian food we’ve ever eaten.
And this is Chris trying to be like Lilja…
There’s also a breathtaking view of the city from the Plaza de Michelangelo.
I wish we could have stayed (forever), but we had to keep moving.
Cinque Terre was next on the itinerary. It’s a truly magnificent collection of five towns along the western coastline of the country with stunning views and sunsets that rival any we’ve seen on the trip.
The crowds of tourists are overwhelming but you can’t blame them for being drawn to such a beautiful region.
We’d have been happy just soaking in the sights, but we were lucky enough to meet great people as well. Such strong bonds are created between complete strangers while in the midst of travel; it’s one of my favorite elements.
Unfortunately, I can’t claim that we became friends with this guy… but it’s our biggest regret.
And last but not least, Venice.
By the time we reached Venice, we were burnt out. We only spent one day in the city, which ended up being enough. The city is small, but there’s nothing like it anywhere else.
Instead of cars and roads, there are boats and canals. It’s a maze of waterways, which creates a quaint and charming affect.
Like all Italian cities, Venice is full of history.
It was brought to my attention by a friend that Italy’s history is in the architecture, on the streets, and among it’s people, while the history of the United States is in it’s museums. It’s ruminative walking through a city whose homes are older than the United States Constitution.
From the history to the margarita pizza, I loved everything about Italy.