Rome: The City of Love

Ciao Everyone,

While we are all thinking of our significant others, family, and friends this LOVING season, I thought it would be particularly relevant to share my Rome experience with you all. After all, Rome is the city of love.

While I did not find love in Rome (I have a great one at home), I did fall IN LOVE with Rome. I fell in love with its different cultures, sights, and people. It amazed me how I could be standing by something as old as the Colosseum that dates back to the A.D 80, and the next minute being swept up by pop art and the hustle and bustle of shoppers a few blocks away.

My journey began on the Spanish Steps in front of the Trinita dei Monti church where I posed for a typical picture. I loved how many people took time to sit on these steps and enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

Next I drank from Bernini’s Fountain. I don’t remember if I was disgusted that I had drank from a public fountain, or if I got water in my nose. It was probably a combination of the both, but it was well worth the apparent “good Luck” I would get from drinking out of it.

I of course stopped by the immaculate Trevi Fountain. So much detail was put into this Fountain, and it’s view in person is breathtaking. However, as a tourist we may not touch the water or the guards will blow their whistle at you. You are however allowed to throw a coin into the water over your shoulder in order to make a wish. I’ll let you know when my wish comes true…

I’m not sure if I fell in love with Rome for the right reasons because I may have enjoyed a shopping night with my girls a little too much. I was very pleased with the shops in Rome, and even more pleased with the outfit I bought. One might think that taking a night to shop in Rome is simply a waste of time, but I thought it was the perfect way to see where the locals go, and to bring myself home a souvenir of course.

The streets of Rome were fascinating as we were shopping around. Every new alley and corner was full of interesting wall art, pop art, and graffiti. I love the modern twist on such a traditional town.

Just when I thought the walls in Rome were interesting, we came across steet performers and street painters. They were both entertaining and funny, and something that locals and tourists gather around to see.

As the day became longer, the sky got darker, and before I know it the moon is shining and my friends and I are many many miles from our hotel. As we attempted to make our way to the train, we came to a quick stop when we realized we were approaching a marathon. We were all very confused as to why there was a marathon going right though Rome at 9:00 at night, but who were we to judge. We did however have to take a detour that we made ourselves by looking at the map. We walked miles trying to get around the marathon and the hundreds of runners. We started to give up and call a taxi to take us back to our hotel (no matter how much it would cost) in order to spare the embarrassment of admitting that we were lost. And then we laid eyes on the most beautiful sight we had ever seen.

The Colosseum! There it was, right in front of us. It was beautiful at night, and we marveled at it knowing that we would be back the next day. The building looked so intricate and fascinating at night, and I’m so glad that we became “lost.” Looking at he map and realizing that we were at the Colosseum meant that we were REALLY far from our hotel, but totally worth this unexpected breathtaking view.

The next day (after only a few hours of sleep after being lost in Rome), I finally conquered The Colosseum. I marveled at how massive and ancient it was. The history of the building was fascinating to me. I won’t bore you with the details, but I just feel so lucky to have gotten to stand where history was made.

This building has been standing for THOUSANDS of years, and it is still beautiful as ever.

To end the tour of the Colosseum, I was blessed with the honor of getting to see some of the Ancient Ruins of Rome. I got to see some of the seven aqueducts of Rome, and explore the history of the Roman Empire.

As I’m writing this blog tonight, I’m remembering how much I fell IN love with the city OF love. The fountains, the people, the culture, the food, the art, the history, and of course the memories, are forever things that I will cherish. If I can recommend anything to anyone in my life, it would be to go to Rome: The City of Love, and you too will find love like I did.

Ciao for now,

Holly

Advertisements

Oh Orvieto, You’re Forever on My Mind

Ciao Everyone! I must say I have certainly missed blogging the last couple of months, but my lesson plans and student teaching just has not allowed for it.

Isn’t it crazy to believe that 5 months ago today I was finishing my final packing to go to Italy. I would give ANYTHING to be packing for Italy again rather than studying for senior finals. For the past week I have been daydreaming of Orvieto.

Oh Orvieto, your are so quaint, so preserved, and most definitely underrated. This marvelous small town is located high above a valley on a hill made of volcanic rock. The mystery awaited me as I got off of the tour bus. I actually thought We had not arrived in Orvieto yet, but our tour director said “Andiamo.” Little did I know that we had to take a cable car to the top of a hill in order to get to the town, and that no cars or vehicles exist or are used in the quiet and peaceful town.

When I got to the top of the hill, I was amazed to find that I was in the middle of the town. Even more fascinating was the BEAUTIFUL cathedral that awaited me at the top. The picture does not do it justice. The cathedral is hand painted, crafted, and beautifully preserved.

After marveling at the cathedral, we decided to go into local shops. I have to say, the hospitality was so earnest and sincere. I talked to many small shop owners who lived in Orvieto. One was a man who owned a small lavender farm on the hill. He has a beautiful lavender shop where everything is homemade. I was not only impressed by his shop, but also by his kind personality.

The lavender accents added so much charm to this little town. While browsing through local shops we of course had to try a hole in the wall restaurante. An elderly lady was happy to feed us as soon as she opened her doors. Although she didn’t speak English, I must say she was oh so polite and had great hospitality. She cooked us a lovely lunch herself. I myself had a delicious spinach basil ravioli. I could taste just how fresh her spices and sauce was.

I would have loved to spend more than a couple of hours in Orvieto. I wanted to see more cobblestone flooring, breathtaking views from the top of the hill, and the oh so breathtaking cathedral. This town was just what I needed to unwind before going into the hustle and bustle of Rome. As I’m sitting her studying for finals I just want to smell more lavender, eat Italian home cooked ravioli, and get away from my busy schedule. Oh Orvieto, You’re Forever in My Mind.

CIAO FOR NOW,

Holly

No Pizza in Pisa

Ciao Everyone,


While in Florence I was given the opportunity to go to Pisa, but of course not without a delay! After a long, HOT, day of touring Florence, my tour group was supposed to take a train to Pisa. Little did we know that the train conductors went on STRIKE. It was near impossible to get out of Florence with no trains running. Luckily we were able to snag a bus after our tour director worked his magic. The bus unfortunately was a couple hours late, leaving us with only an hour and a half in Pisa!

The first thing you have to do when you get to Pisa is to of course take a classic picture of the Leaning Tower. The tower has beautiful Romanesque architecture, and has over 250 stairs! 


I learned that Pisa has much more to offer than just the Leaning Tower! There is a beautiful cathedral located in Piazza Dei Miracoli. Next to the Cathedral is the Baptistry, where Baptisms were performed as far back as the 1300’s.

Pisa has so many remarkable landmarks and beautiful architecture. I unfortunately had time cut short, but wish I could have explored more of the Piazza Dei Miracoli. I guess I’ll have to save the Pizza in Pisa for next time.

Ciao for now,

Holly

Fabulous Florence 

Ciao Everyone!

I apologize because I have been slacking on my blog lately due to poor wifi in Hostels, and the lack of internet connection in the cities. I am HOME safe and sound, but that will not derail me from sharing the rest of #myjourneythroughitaly with you all.

My next stop was Florence, which is of course the home of famous artwork, old bridges, good wine, and beautiful architecture.

I began my Florence experience at a family owned Tuscan winery called La Tancia.

The propery was peaceful and quiet, and the vineyards were BEAUTIFUL. While at this winery, I got to sample 6 different kinds of Tuscan wine. My favorite red wine by far was the Chianti Riserva. I decided to buy two bottles (the maximum amount of wine you can bring home in a suitcase) to share with my family.

I was really happy that we were able to tour the winery at the end, and see where they store, bottle, and distribute the wine.  

After the winery, we went straight into the city of Florence. I immediately fell in love with the architecture of the buildings and bridges. 

Pictured below is the stunning Santa Maria del Fiore, or otherwise known as The Duomo. 

Attached to it is the tower that contains over 500 stairs that lead to the highest point in Florence. No building is allowed to be built to surpass the height of the Duomo in Florence.

Florence is also home to Michelangelo’s world famous Statue of David. Thousands of people line up to see this piece of artwork everyday. 


David is a symbolic icon of Florence, and is pictured everywhere. Street artists love to create wall art using the face of David. I loved to look at the different ways David could be portrayed. This was by far my favorite wall painting, because it shows David underwater in goggles. It is super unique. 


Florence is also home to very old and stunning bridges. 

The famous Ponte Vecchio bride has been around since the 1300’s, and is another iconic symbol of Florence. 


The Ponte a Santa Trinita bridge spans all the way back to the 1200’s, and has been rebuild after the 1300’s due to flooding. 

The last thing to do before leaving this city  is to touch the snout of Porcellino of Florence. This attraction is found in the Mercato Nuovo market. Rumor has it that if you touch the snout of this boar, you will one day return to Florence. 

It looks like I will be returning to Florence one day. 

Ciao for Now,

Holly

The Fisherman Villages 

My next stop after Milan was Cinque Terre! It means “Five Villages” in Italian. These villages are known for their fishing, and beautiful views. All five villages are considered to be a National Park. 

The first Village I traveled to was Riomaggiore! It is full of colorful buildings  and houses right on the cliffs of the sea. In Riomaggiore I got to walk the Trail of Love. This trail is unfortunately very short now due to the mudslides that have been occurring in the Village.


The next Village we stopped at was Vernazza. We stopped here for lunch, and to see the famous castle that overlooks the sea and Village. The castle gave an amazing view and perfect photo opportunities. 


For lunch I enjoyed fresh shrimp, crawfish, and calamari. It was of course delicious. Our view from the restaurant overlooked the sea, and we had an amazing view.


The last Village we stopped at was Monterosso! Our last stop was here so that we could enjoy the beautiful coast, and relax on the beach. 


We enjoyed the clear blue water with the mountains in the background, and of course a gelato or two on the beach. 


I wish we would have gotten an extra day in Cinque Terra, because there is so much to see. However, it was one of my favorite stops we have made in Italy. 

Ciao for Now,

Holly

Ciao Milan 

Ciao Everyone!

A couple of days ago I went to Milan, The fashion headquarters of Italy! Although I didn’t buy any clothes, I did get to see some pretty amazing things. I got to see the famous Duomo in Milan. 

The city was very busy, and the people walking around were high fashion. After having a good night of walking around and having a very delicious dinner, we went back to the hotel to prepare for Lake Como.

Upon Entering Lake Como, we took a cable car to the top of the mountain to get an overlook of the mountains and lake! It was a hike up to the very top, but of course worth it. We got to see some very nice residential areas away from the tourists, and to tour around. 

It was very foggy and humid, making the lake look beautiful and somewhat mysterious. 

We then took a cable car to the bottom of the mountain, and boarded a boat. The boat took us down lake Como. Once we were on the boat, I had breathtaking views of the villages that wrapped along the lake. We got to stop in Bellagio for lunch, a viewing of the local garden center, and see the local shops. 

The garden center was amazing. It was called Villa Carlotta, Museo E Giardino Botanico. It has fresh lemon trees, renaissance houses, and of course, beautiful gardens. 


After visiting Bellagio, we took a boat back, and enjoyed fee time that evening in Milan for dinner.

We had pizza at Da Regina 1985, and it was the BEST pizza in Milan. We got their specialty house pizza. 

My blog is a few days behind due to wifi difficulties, but more to come later.

Ciao for Now,

Holly

Romeo, Romeo,

Today we went to the beautiful city of Verona!

The architecture is perfecto, and absolutely fascinates me. 

After arriving in Verona, I had free time to roam the streets. There are many shops in the alley ways, and street vendors selling food. 

After looking at the shops, I took a look at one of the oldest operating arena’s in Italy. Although not as old as the Colosseum, there are still events in the arena. 

Verona is most well knows for Juliets balcony from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Letters to Juliet (a movie) was also filmed here. 

The wall next to Juliets balcony is covered in Love notes, broken relationships on bandaids, and signatures.

Probably the weirdest part of the whole trip has been touching Juliets boob for good luck in my relationship.

Afterwards, we walked up 22 flights of stairs in a clock tower to see the breathtaking views of Verona. (Don’t let this picture fool you, I was very out of breath). 

The architecture of the buildings in this region are stunning, and totally worth the climb. 

After climbing over 259 stairs, what better way to treat yourself than with strawberry lemon gelato? 


Afterwards I just pretended to be Lizzie McGuire until the bus came to take is to Milan. 

Ciao for Now,

Holly

Do as the Venizians Do!

Yesterday was absolutely amazing! The canals, the bridges, the people, all beautiful. We got a tour from a local Venezian, and she told us all about her sinking city. It sinks 5 inches every 100 years, and although that doesn’t seem like a lot, Venice has been around since the 9th century after Christ.

St. Marks square is so beautiful, and the Cathedral is one of a kind. The Venezians stole (saved in their opinion) the bones of Saint Mark from Egypt to bring business to their city. 

Free time in Venice was very fun! There were hundreds of shops and vendors in between alleyways and corners. The Rialto bridge is the most popular in Venice, and I got to cross it.


My favorite part of the day was the Gondola ride. In the boat next to me we were serenaded by a traditional Italian singer and accordion combo! It was a very surreal moment. 

Later that evening we got to go wine tasting, and to enjoy a family owned ristorante. In Italy, they believe in getting the full wine experience, so you get 5 full glasses of wine. My favorite was the Rosa, and the Pasta was of course delicious. The family owned winery sang opera to us at dinner, We enjoyed good food, good company, and of course good wine. 


Ciao for now, and on my way to Verona,

Holly

Starting off in Venezia

Ciao,

I have landed in Italy, and it is BEAUTIFUL! Our bus driver dropped us off in a random location and pointed and said “hotel…. bye.” Luckily after opening a map we were able to find the hotel! I am staying in a little town outside of Venice called Mestre. It is definitely a tourist area,  but still so amazing. There are hundreds of cute shops, and street vendors selling fruit, clothes, and Gelato. The first thing I did was order a massive cheese pizza and a glass of wine! Both were of course delicious. Today a small group of us decided to venture out to Venezia. We had to ask directions and read an Italian map, while also hoping someone could speak English. We managed to get to where we wanted, and it was beautiful! I can’t wait to get more internet access to share more photos.

Ciao for now,

Holly Italy 2.jpg

SaveSave