Sunday, June 5, 2011
We just got back from a wonderful, wonderful trip to Italy. We decided to enjoy some of our tax refund and travel to a country where we've never been but both had been dying to visit. Could not have picked a more lovely place to go!
We flew into Rome and rented the cutest little red fiat cabriolet. First stop: Tuscany. We successfully maneuvered our way out of Rome by the grace of God and headed north. It was incredibly refreshing to see the clean, lush, green rolling hills of Italy after living in a beige, sandy, trash-filled environment. We stayed at the cutest b&b in tuscany - Poggio Piglia. We had no idea how to pronounce it but we loved it immediately.
We arrived in the afternoon and headed down to the small town of Chiusi to grab lunch. Not much is open around 3 in the afternoon but we found a small diner and I had the most delicious vegetable sandwich...pickled zucchini, tomato and mozzarella on crusty italian bread. Brian had a prosciutto (of course) panini. Was a delicious start to our trip. We then just hung out at the pool by the b&b before then heading to dinner at La Grotta. Was one of the best meals all week!! I had spinach pomodoro pasta and brian had ravioli with basil sauce. Shockingly, Brian ordered tomato soup as an app and even though it came out a bit "chunkier" than he would have preferred, HE ACTUALLY ATE IT! I was so proud of him! Not to mention, it was incredible. We then had a mascarpone and coffee ice cream dessert. Don't worry, I won't go into this much detail on all of our meals, but this really was a banner first day for us!!
The next 2 days were spent in small little tuscan towns of Montalcino, Montepulciano and Siene. Siene was a little crowded for us, we preferred the quaint, quieter Montalcino and Montepulciano. We just walked around, Brian snapped tons of beautiful pictures, we went to wine tastings and just enjoyed ourselves.
Reluctantly, we left Tuscany and headed to Rome. We may never complain about Jordanian drivers after seeing Italian ones, especially Vespa riders. They have a death wish!! We checked into our hotel and see off immediately for the Colosseum. What an amazing piece of history!
We were lazy tourists and didn't get tickets to go inside but we were really wowed by this monument and the things that actually happened inside.
After the Colosseum we headed for Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Trevi Fountain was probably my favorite thing we saw in Rome, minus the hordes of people that were there. It was just so vibrant and the water just seemed so refreshing, as it was very hot. We tossed coins into Trevi Fountain to ensure our return to Rome! The Spanish Steps were less interesting to us, but there was a cool fountain in front of them too and it's one of those things you just have to see when in Rome!
The rest of the evening, we just wandered around Rome looking for dinner. There are so many little cafes that it's almost overwhelming to figure out where you want to eat! Half the fun though was just walking through the gorgeous cobblestone streets enjoying the seriously gorgeous architecture in Rome. I have developed a new appreciation for beautiful architecture/ surroundings after living in a country where there is really nothing other than boxy buildings! Really took that for granted!
Well-- we found dinner and looks like I found some delicious Italian wine!
The next day we got up early and headed to the Vatican. I was pretty excited for this. Throughout our trip, I was so comforted by the sounds of church bells. This is very different from the call to prayer here, which is a man in a loudspeaker at every mosque calling Muslims to prayer in Arabic 5 times a day. It was also comforting to see priests and nuns! Reminded me of my uncle! :) Anyway, back to the Vatican. Again, we were crappy tourists and didn't get tickets until the day before, which meant we could only get museum tickets. I won't complain though, because the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel were AMAZING. They say the Vatican Museum is one of the best in the world and the Sistine Chapel was just one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Just sitting in the chapel staring at the ceiling and walls and thinking of the men (namely, Michelangelo) that were in that very room painting history was awe-inspiring. Also awe-inspiring because as a Catholic, it doesn't get any more holy than this place!
So Brian and I both must have been ditzy blonds in another life because we had somehow managed to talk ourselves into the wrong departure date. Turns out, we had another full day in Rome but had squeezed everything we wanted into those first 2 days!! What to do? We ended up just walking around more and spending more time at the Pantheon, another incredible monument. There was actually an American choir performing at the Pantheon and we were lucky enough to catch that show and sit down for a bit. Some pictures of our "real" last day in Rome.
And finally...an homage to the BEST meal of the week-- pasta with some olive oil, cracked black pepper and delicious pecorino romano cheese. Could have eaten 5 lbs of this, and actually I think I did.
Loved, loved, loved Italy! If you haven't gone yet - book your ticket now, and then go on a diet. We can't wait to go back and Calabria (where my family is from) is sure to be on our short list. Arrivederci!