Back from a magnificent spring break in Italy! Sorry it’s been longer than usual since my last blog, but I needed a few days to recuperate from the trip. For an entire week I spent my travels roaming the streets of Rome, Florence and Venice, all which were fantastic in their own ways. Each city was extremely different and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite, but we definitely had the best weather in Venice. Sunshine for three days straight! Since I’ve returned to London, the weather hasn’t been bad here either but still cold.
My adventure begins at the Gatwick airport where I waited six hours for my morning flight, which consisted of me trying to sleep and watching a movie on my laptop. I was relieved when my gate finally opened and slept the two hours on the plane. Once I arrived in Rome, I retrieved my luggage and met up with the eight other Hollins ladies who had taken a flight from Heathrow airport (for some reason I flew out of a different airport although we all flew the same airline and even arrived at the same time). It took a while for the others to retrieve their luggage and then we had to stand out in the rain for about fifteen minutes before we boarded the bus to the city. It seemed the London rain had followed us to Rome!
We eventually found our hotel. By that I mean we roamed the streets for what seemed like an hour before we finally found the place, only to discover the next day that it was just ten minutes from the train station! After getting settled in, we walked around a bit to visit some churches and looked at some ruins. The next day we woke up early to visit the Sistine Chapel only to discover it was closed because of the Easter Monday. So instead we toured St. Peter’s Basilica where we walked past the tombs of previous Popes. The next day we visited between ten and fifteen sites, but I can’t remember exactly because we were walking around for a good ten hours that day! Of course, one of the major sites we saw was the Colosseum which was well worth the trip! The pictures may speak for themselves, but it was an experience to breathe the air inside the arena and imagine all the battles and activities that took place in history. I also learned a lot from the displays, such as the fact that the average gladiator participated in a dozen fights before he was defeated; in other words, they had a very short lifespan once they came into the sport. This was the last place we visited, and I wish we could have had another day in Rome, but I’m determined to return someday! Oh, and how could I forget, I had gelato for the first time and it was delicious! I have to admit we had gelato everyday in Italy, sometimes twice or even three times! Basically we lived off that, pizza, pasta, and bread. A healthy diet of sugar and carbs, yum! But I don’t feel too guilty because we did visited a couple fruit markets and I had blood oranges for the first time in Florence.
We took the train to Florence on Tuesday, which took four hours but the tickets were cheap so we weren’t complaining. The first site we saw on our way to the hotel was the Duma and it was stunning! This ended up being a good meeting point when our group split ways and was only five minutes from where we stayed. Also close by was the leather market, so naturally we explored this area filled with stands selling shoes, clothing, scarves, leather purses and wallets and jewelry. The shopkeepers were extremely friendly and if you were tough, you could bargain down the price with some. The next day we saw the David, which was much bigger than I had imagined at 14 feet, and at night went to a high point that looked over the city.
After Florence, we spent a relaxing three days in Venice. We got really lost on the way to our B&B, but we eventually found it thanks to Alex! By the last day, we knew the area better and zig-zagged our way through the alleys with ease. The second evening we went on a gondola ride and were able to bargain down the price so that it was twenty euros cheaper per boat! The ride was beautiful and fun, despite the smelly water. While we were there, we also ate in a few restaurants along the canal and I had gnocchi for the first time. I’ve decided this is my new favorite pasta and am determined to make some when I come home (or convince my mom to cook it, ha!). There were various markets and little shops we walked through, but our favorite spot was the “beach”. There wasn’t any sand, but it was on the coast and we were able to dangle our feet over the edge of the pier which was wonderful! We all were a little sunburned and I was reminded of how soon summer will be here. Only one more month and I’ll be home!