Venice

Sorry for the impromptu blogging hiatus recently. I needed to focus on work, and blah blah blah other boring excuses that you don’t care about.

Let’s ease into the week, shall we? Here are some nice, soothing, beautiful scenes from the last stop on our Italy trip–Venice! That’s right, I’m finally done posting about our Italy trip, only four months later. It’s been fun re-living it, but I think it’s time we all move on.

Venice (as you can see) was full of winding streets, canals, bridges, and old buildings. It was absolutely charming and confusing as hell. We totes got lost. (Let the record show that I am not endorsing the use of the word “totes.” The people I work with right now talk in abbrevs 24/7 and it’s rubbing off on me. Unfortch, I know.)

Pretty much all we did in Venice was walk around, eat and drink. It was lovely. And we experienced the ultimate Venetian cliche: a gondola ride! After they stamped the word “tourist” on our foreheads, we sat back and watched the pretty city floating by us. So relaxing. If my eyeballs weren’t so busy darting from one scenic view to another, I probably would have fallen asleep.

Our gondolier was so over this. (Kidding, he was actually quite accommodating.)

I guess masks are a thing in Venice? They were everywhere and freaked me out.

Four sangrias for the price of two!

So now that I’m done posting about that trip, stay tuned for a post about our most recent trip to New York… coming soon!

The rest of my Italy posts are here:

Florence

Yes, I am still posting photos from our Italy trip, which took place approximately 3 months ago.

Two more cities to go. Stay with me!

Next up: Florence!

Out of the cities we went to, I think Florence can be most easily compared to Rome. It’s a smaller city and doesn’t have all of the ruins, but it was really beautiful. If I had to rank them, I might say I liked Florence just a smidge better than Rome.

The first major landmark we came across when we arrived in Florence was the Duomo.

I think I saw the whole thing through the screen on my camera because I couldn’t put it down the entire time we were there. The Duomo is quite photogenic (wish I could say the same about myself). Every angle was prettier than the next.

The rest of Florence was just as impressive and probably my favorite city to just stroll around, taking in the views.

We went up to the Piazalle Michelangelo, where the views totally justified the amount of steps we had to climb to get there.

We stayed at the Residenza dell’Orafo, and they left us this little treat while we were out during the day.

Score! (Except the orange drink was actually kind of gross.)

The second day we were in Florence, we wandered around Boboli Gardens and took a tour of a Medici castle.

We also saw the David, which was more amazing than I was expecting. It’s huge! (No, I’m not referring to any specific part of him when I say that. The whole thing. Is huge.) But alas, David’s a bit camera shy. No photos allowed.

And finally, we obviously had to make time to sample the amazing food and wine Florence had to offer. We were in Tuscany, after all!

Ok, so now I only have one more city left to share in our whirlwind tour of Italy. Venice is last but not least! Stay tuned for that.

And here are the links to my other Italy posts if you need to catch up:

Positano

Finally!

My post on the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen is DONE. Get ready for some pretty, people.

Positano gets two thumbs up from this dork.

The first night we were there, we had a reservation at a family-owned restaurant called La Tagliata. It was way up in the cliffs, so the restaurant actually sent a van to pick us up at our hotel, along with some other people who had reservations. I have to say, it was a completely touristy experience, but the food (served family style) and the view were amazing. There was even entertainment and dancing at the end of the night!

We stayed at the beautiful Villa Rosa, and yes, every room had an awesome balcony and a delicious breakfast served every morning. I don’t know why we left.

Can we talk about the color of that water? There are no words. Except maybe BLUE. In all caps.

Positano is just a small fishing town, so we spent most of our time there relaxing on our balcony, exploring and eating. And the scenery was amazing everywhere. I think it’s officially my new “happy place.” (My old one was eating my way out of a giant vat of Kilwin’s chocolate peanut butter ice cream.)

Read more of my Italy posts here:

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Let’s visit some ancient cities buried in ash, shall we?

While we were staying in Sorrento, we took the (very crowded) train over to Pompeii and Herculaneum to check out the ruins of these ancient cities that were buried in ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but that was a crazy long time ago, and it’s amazing how much has been preserved. It was a very cool day.

Our first stop was Pompeii, the most well-known of the two cities we visited. Our guide, Carolina, was amazing and really knowledgeable. The trip definitely wouldn’t have been the same without her. (Thanks for the recommendation, Sara!) It was really cool to see the frescoes and foundations and walls of buildings that were still intact. There were even ruts in the streets from the chariots that rode through thousands of years ago!

You’re probably wondering what the deal is with the above photo. Look closer. Do you see the outline of something? I’ll be frank here–it’s a penis. And it’s pointing to the brothels. Subtle, no?

This is the outline of a real person who got buried in the ash. Insane.

After Pompeii, Carolina took the train with us to Herculaneum, another city that was buried by the same eruption. Herculaneum was a little different than Pompeii. It was a resort town on the ocean, so the houses there were more opulent and had some incredible frescoes that were still visible. This city was actually even better preserved than Pompeii. It made it easy to imagine what it must have looked like when the streets were filled with Romans relaxing on their vacations.

Visiting these ruins was the next best thing to going back in time, and a really amazing experience.

My next Italy post will involve a little less history and a lot more scenery. Get ready for Positano!

See my previous Italy posts here:

Sorrento

And now for the next installment of our Italian adventure: Sorrento!

On our third day in Italy, we took an early train from Rome to Naples and hired a driver to pick us up and take us to Sorrento. It was about a 45 minute drive with lots of scenery – definitely the way to go if you’re traveling with a group and can split the cost. I’ve heard the buses in this part of Italy are cheap but also crowded and vomit-inducing for those who get car sick easily.

We stayed at the Hotel Plaza, which was really nice and modern–it kind of had a South Beach-y Miami vibe.

After settling into our hotel, we headed out to find something delicious to eat for lunch.

Mission accomplished.

Awesome thing about Italy #2026 (there are a lot of awesome things about Italy): Many of the restaurants we went to brought out complimentary limoncello at the end of our meal. Salute!

After an amazing lunch, we rode our buzz over to a lemon tree grove and got free samples of–you guessed it–more limoncello! Loved this place.

By this time, we were feeling good. Prett-y, prett-y good. So we wandered around, somewhat aimlessly, and took in the sights that Sorrento had to offer.

Travel tip: Maps are generally more helpful when you’re not seeing double.

Later that night, we were enjoying a nice, relaxing dinner outside when we suddenly heard cheering and minor explosions nearby. Then we almost got blasted by a rogue firecracker as we were walking back to the hotel. Relaxing evening = over.

But it turns out that Naples had just won some big soccer game and everyone in Sorrento was pretty jazzed about it. Apparently when Italians are excited, they like to drive around, blast techo music, chant, fist pump and set off smoke bombs. It was quite a show.

It was pretty cool to see such an exuberant, spur of the moment celebration. Italians like to have a good time! And when it comes to soccer (excuse me, futbol), those guys are batshit crazy.

The next evening in Sorrento was a bit more subdued. We got back from touring Pompeii and Herculaneum (the subject of my next Italy post!) and had drinks on the rooftop of our hotel at sunset before heading out for a fantastic dinner.

(Sorry, Mom)

As a final thought–it’s just so completely unfair that my life can’t be like this everyday. I wish I was even more spoiled than I already am. Somebody slap me in the face.

More Italy posts you may have missed:

Rome, Day II

Well here we are, back in Rome again! This post covers our second day in the city. (Like how I used Roman numerals in the post title? It’s all about the details, folks. )

Of course we couldn’t go to Rome without visiting Vatican City. I’m not very religious (except about watching Mad Men), but I have heard of the Pope before. Mostly because I’m not an idiot. And there are seriously a lot of cool things and gorgeous architecture in that weird, tiny country.

Just as a disclaimer – we did see the Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo’s ceiling was huge and amazing. But there were no photos allowed. So I strongly suggest that if you have the means, get over to Rome to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.

Rosella, our tour guide from the day before, decided she hadn’t quite tired of us yet and graciously agreed to teach us a few things about the Vatican as we walked around and gawked at everything.

And there was a lot to gawk at.

As you can see, my mom (lower left hand corner above) really brought her A game when it came to gawking. Well done, Debbie.

I’m not a perv! He’s wearing a fig leaf.

So I may not have photos of the Sistine Chapel, but I do have photos of St. Peter’s Basilica. And that’s almost just as good.

After the Vatican, we moved onto the Pantheon. We were basically just going from one historical landmark/architectural wonder to another. That’s pretty much what you do when in Rome.

The Pantheon is the oldest building I’ve ever stepped foot in. It’s from ancient Rome. Even before all of that Jesus stuff. Crazy.

After the Pantheon, we wandered around Rome, checked out the Borghese Museum and walked down the Spanish Steps.

There were a lot of huge knockers in Rome. Yeah I just said that.

Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Emily (shout-out to SF!), we ate dinner at a restaurant called Cul de Sac off of the Piazza Navona. Best caprese salad I’ve ever had in my life!

After dinner, we strolled home by way of the Trevi Fountain. And I spectacularly failed at getting a good picture of it.

And that’s it!

The next stop on our trip is Sorrento. Hopefully I’ll have that post up within the next week or so.

You can see my recap of our first day in Rome here if you haven’t checked it out already.

Rome (if you want to)

I don’t know if you read this blog because (1) You’re entertained by my writing; (2) You enjoy looking at my photos; or (3) You’re that creepster boy who used to stalk me in 3rd grade now you’ve found me on the internet and you just read my blog instead of hanging out in the bushes in my front yard like you used to. (And by the way, that experience is why I had an extreme distaste for suburban shrubbery in my adolescence. And boys.)

All of that to say – this post includes a LOT of photos. So hopefully you picked option #2. And if you don’t visit this blog for the photos, feel free to thoughtlessly scroll through as you please. That’s why I added the parenthetical “if you want to” to the title. It had absolutely nothing to do with wanting to reference the B-52’s song from the 80’s. Nope, nothing to do with that.

So Rome!

It was fabulous. And maybe my favorite city we visited in Italy. I’m not going to try to describe everything pictured here, so if you have any questions about what’s in these photos or where we went, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

We had gorgeous weather the whole time we were in Rome and made sure to take advantage of the cheap beer and wine charming al fresco dining options.

Attraction #1 on our Rome itinerary was of course the Colosseum! Our tour guide Rosella was fantastic, and I really learned a lot about the history of the ruins. I also learned that getting zero hours of sleep the night before turns my short term memory to crap. So all I can tell you about the Colosseum is that it’s super cool looking. Find it on Wikipedia if you really want a history lesson.


Did I mention our parents were our travel buddies on this trip? Both sets!
Rosella also took us to see the Forum, Palatine Hill and some of the other ruins scattered about the area. I don’t know if you knew this, but Rome has a lot of ruins. And all of the buildings are so old and beautiful, which of course prompted me to be all, “Hey look at me, I’m a photographer!” and take an obscene amount of photos.

And  of course it wouldn’t be a trip to Italy if we didn’t gorge ourselves on gelato on the first day. And everyday thereafter.

And at the end of one of the longest days of my life (yes, this was all on our very first day!), some wine. Because I wanted to be just a bit more comatose than I already was.

So that was Day #1 of our fantastic Italian journey! Stay tuned for Day #2 featuring the rest of Rome, including the Vatican where I discovered a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church and embarked on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs and deserted cathedrals! All in my mind, of course. Angels & Demons, anyone?