Italy 6/24/11 – 7/3/11

Both Amber and I were dying to go to Italy. We knew the trip couldn’t be done in a weekend since we wanted to hit Florence, Rome and Venice. We settled on a 10 day trip. Our first stop was Rome.

While driving to the hotel from the airport, we passed the coliseum, old ruins, small Italian shops and the word gelato. Who knew how much that would play a part of our trip? The roads are quite narrow in Rome. I thought New York City drivers were crazy but boy can these people fly in and out of traffic.

As we arrived and checked in, we went to our room and for some reason couldn’t get the lights on. This little box on the wall had a slot for our room key so I put the room key in and BAM lights came on. It appears some countries require you to put the key into the little slot. Maybe to make sure you don’t lose it?

Hotel Genova was a simple and clean hotel. Also it was in walking distance to the Termini where you could pick up the train or buses. That day we needed to take the train to the Vatican since we were doing tour. After grabbing a prosciutto and mozzarella Panini (so good) from a shop across the street from the Vatican, we headed in. Luckily I devoured it pretty quick as they have strict rules in the Vatican.
The Vatican is quite an amazing place. I’m not really into art and sculptures but it really is crazy to think that way back when someone took the time to create these figures and paintings that people are still looking at today. When we stepped into the Sistine Chapel holy moly what a sight! The detail was unbelievable. After our minds came back from being blown, we headed out and went to a nearby highly recommended Gelato place called Old Bridge Gelateria. Mmmm so tasty. They had a line out the door for good reasons.

Our next day was to Capri. We took a bus from Rome to Naples then hopped on a boat to Capri. When we approached the island I was shocked by the landscape of it. Houses stacked on the mountain like LEGO pieces. We were welcomed by a guide and hopped into a small van to head up the island.

These roads were narrower then Rome and people drove really really fast. At some turns they would have to let the oncoming traffic come first since only one car could fit through. Once we got to the middle area we were let loose to look around in the stores and enjoy the scenery. Amber and I went into some of the “high end” stores like Gucci, Chanel, Armani, and Louis Vuitton. It was quite amusing walking into those stores being instantly judged by the workers if we were even worth their time to ask if we were interested in purchasing anything.

After the tour gathered back together, we headed up to Anacapri for lunch and more sightseeing. Lunch was okay nothing special sadly. We then had the choice of looking around this town or taking the ski lift to the top of Capri. Without a doubt we would do the latter. The ski lift was a bit terrifying but so worth the view you had from the top. After a long day of getting to Capri and visiting the hot spots of the island, we headed back to Rome.

Thankfully there were many places around our hotel to eat so we went out and got Tortellini and pasta. The restaurant was close enough to the Coliseum so we decided to check it out at night. It was light up nicely and that’s when we knew…the Coliseum would be our background for our jumping picture. We tried to do it at night, but finally decided we would just do it during the day.
Amber and I just continued walking to the Roman Forum, which there is a secret passage behind it that we went to and it really shows the Forum in a secluded beautiful way. My friend Maggie Noonan sent me the directions to this location and it really was worth it. I highly recommend yougo here to see the Forum at night.

The next day I was going to become a GLADIATOR! Like Russell Crowe status minus the ridiculous payout but I really had no idea what I was in for. We went to “training camp” where I would learn how to battle. After dressing like a Gladiator trainee, I was ready for “battle”. The group learned how to attack and defend in battle. Then we were put to the test by fighting each other one by one. Although I didn’t win the title as best Gladiator I still enjoyed myself. And received my certification.

Then it was off to see some quick points of interest. St. Peter’s Square the Trevi Fountain the Spanish Steps and then of course some good ol Italian Pizza
After eating we checked out the Pantheon and headed back to the Coliseum for our jumping picture.

The next day we were off to Florence! When we arrived at the hotel, they told us that they didn’t have room for us and were so sorry. I don’t know if my last name Lorenzini had any effect on the turnout but they sent us to another hotel (Plaza Hotel Lucchesi) which was well…this was our view from our hotel room.

Florence was such a delightful city. The people were wonderful and happiness was contagious in the streets. Later that night, there was a mini show going on with a mime and a massive crowd. He was pulling people from the crowd and humiliating them in a funny way. All the contestants enjoyed themselves and little did Amber and I know…we were about to be the next victims!

The mime called Amber and I up and paired me up with some random girl. I had to imitate how he walked with the random woman in front of the crowd as Amber watched me do these ridiculous walks (wobbling, skipping, etc.) with this random girl. At one point my back was turned to Amber and he grabbed her and ran off. I turned around and she was gone. I made a sad face and everyone was like aw. Then the mime came back into the circle and pretended to zip up his pants as if he did something with Amber. It was quite an interesting sketch but nonetheless, we had fun with it. Amber was not harmed so all is good.

The next day we went on a tour to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. Amber and I saw many churches, beautiful views of meadows, took a wine tour and of course took another jumping picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The little tram that took us to the Leaning Tower was neat.

That night when we got back to Florence we went to a local restaurant that was recommended by our tour guide. Who knew that would be the best steak I EVER HAD. After feeling many good sensations in my mouth, we headed back to our hotel while stopping in the stores. I needed a new pair of shoes so I figured why not look at some Italian shoes. We found a store that sold tons of pairs so I looked for a black pair as I liked my black pair I was wearing. After briefly looking around I found a pair I loved but it was kaki colored. I decided to buy them since even though they weren’t the color I wanted, but they still looked nice.

Amber and I didn’t have anything planned for the next day so after looking on our main travel site we ended up booking a horse ride through a winery.
This was a really special tour. Not because we saw so much in terms of churches, and points of interest but because it was just a laidback tour in the middle of the most beautiful winery fields in Tuscany.

Our last place to visit was Venice.
The methods of transportation were either by foot or by boat. It was refreshing to not have cars around since we didn’t really need to be aware of what side of the street we were on or worry about anything hitting us other than more tourists. Again we tried to check into our hotel but they didn’t have space for us so they brought us to another hotel. This hotel was on the canal but nothing special. A small room that sufficed for the trip.

Gondolas! After seeing them on postcards and in movies I finally got to see them in person. We knew at one point of our trip we would HAVE to take a ride. We saw Venice’s points of interest pretty quickly doing the Viator tour “Skip the Line: Venice in One Day”. Louis Vuitton bags, Chanel bags, and all those I’m-so-rich brands were sold on the street as knockoffs. Amber took a lot of time looking at the Louis Vuitton bags inspecting them to see how close to the real thing she could find. At one point she thought she found the bag that was perfect so she asked me for the money to pay for it. As I’m taking it out about to hand it over to the man, she says “NOPE I don’t want it”. I was like “huh? You just told me you wanted it?” the guy was confused. Amber said that there was a spot that made it look fake so she dropped it and moved on. I said next time you want something I am not taking out the money unless it’s final. Fun times shopping with her!

Amber was really interested in finding fettuccine alfredo since this was Italy! Not surprisingly, fettuccine alfredo is an American thing and really no one serves it. BUT hope was not lost! We found one place in Venice that served it! I thought it would be funny to have the lady and the tramp picture done with the fettuccine alfredo so we asked our waiter to take it.

Our Gondola ride was enjoyable. We went through Venice and listened to our guide sing. The highlight of Venice was hanging out with my old colleague’s (Alister) friend who has a bar / restaurant in Venice. He served us dinner, drinks and we headed over to his friends bar to have some more drinks. It was really enjoyable hanging out with the locals.

Amber and I both enjoyed Venice but we both agree that Florence was our favorite. Close enough to wine country, small streets filled with Italian singers, salesmen, gelato, and great people.

To sum up Italy
-Food was amazing. Try the pizza it’s different than American style pizza. Also follow it up with gelato.
-The history behind the places we visited in Italy was overwhelming but still interesting…for the most part.

Places Visited:
Capri, Tuscany, Rome, Florence, Venice, Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa.

Spent most time drinking:
Wes- Jack & Coke, Coke, Lipton Peach Ice Tea.
Amber – Sprite, Lipton Peach Ice Tea.