One of the first international destinations I ever visited was Italy; it had been a life-long dream for most of my (at the time) 22 years. Looking back at this trip, I am amazed at how much we were able to see in a few short days–the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, the fascinating ruins of Rome, and the beautiful beaches in Capri.
We began our journey after an overnight bus ride from Germany in the quiet city of Pisa, where we sleepily checked out the Leaning Tower quickly prior to getting back on our tour bus for the roughly hour drive to Florence, where we spent the majority of the day. Some in our group opted to wait the several hours in line to see Michelangelo’s David; we decided to make the most of our day to tour Il Duomo di Firenze, enjoy a light lunch of dandelion pizza (incredible!), shop for leather goods, and walk around the beautiful Renaissance city.
From there, we were back on the bus to Rome. After a good night’s sleep, we were able to distance ourselves from the rest of the tour group to explore the ancient city on foot. I remember being amazed at how one could see the proof of very different eras in Rome–from ancient to modern–in one view. The Colosseum was just as incredible as I had read about, and we also spent quite a bit of time in the Vatican City. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel were awe-inspiring, and my sister and I were both very moved by Michelangelo’s Pietà and the famous ceiling canvas at each. We also enjoyed a refreshing glass of wine in the bustling Piazza Navona, after a visit to the Pantheon.
After a touristically wonderful day in Rome, our third day was a little more relaxing, as we headed to the beautiful Campania region to visit Naples, Sorrento, and Capri. I recall buying a beautiful cameo ring in the regional capitol of Napoli prior to viewing the remains of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance. We enjoyed “spaghetti” ice cream in Sorrento before hitting the glamorous isle of Capri, where we could not get over the chic people and the incredibly blue water. On our boat ride back to Naples, we were serenaded by local men, who sang Italian classics to us at the top of their lungs. Funiculì, Funiculà!
Our final day was in Venice, which was surprisingly my least favorite place we visited in Italy. The gondola ride through the famed canals was much less romantique than previously imagined, and
winged rats pigeons were everywhere in Saint Mark’s Square. The highlight here was the Murano glass factory, which is nearby, as well as noshing on even more gelato.
When we were in Rome–as tradition calls for–we tossed lira into the Fountain of Trevi to ascertain that we would return to the beautiful city. As I write these memories from an incredible journey through Michelangelo’s Italy, I can only hope the legend is true, and I will return to Rome (and Italy!) very soon.