Warning!!! This is definitely not a 'Just One Thing' post. It's more like 50 things!…. so feel free to breeze on by or keep reading for a little glimpse into our Italian adventure last week… :)
The drive from Geneva to Rome is 9+ hours; so our first evening we planned a night in the Tuscan village of Lucca; about 2/3 of the way. We intended to spend the afternoon there; riding bikes around the wall of the city and exploring the shops. However, as is sometimes the case with road-tripping; we ran into a few unexpected snags…. a back-up at the Mont Blanc tunnel; rain; getting lost trying to find a planned lunch-spot in Genova… and then finding it only to discover it closed (ugh!); grabbing lunch at a rest stop and then getting stuck in a tunnel for an hour + due to a car accident. Needless to say, we were thankful to arrive at a charming villa in the late afternoon; where we dropped our bags and headed straight over for a glimpse of Lucca before nightfall….
this path is actually on the top of the wall surrounding Lucca; love the gentlemen at the left playing a late afternoon game of chess
Villa del Papa
we'll take ours filled with that delicious Italian cream…..!
and a pool with a lovely surrounding hedge…. yes, please!
The next morning; we headed out for Rome…. our main destination for our trip. Many folks have inquired why we hadn't seen Rome yet given we've been in Europe for 2+ years now and we have developed a serious love for so many other cities in Italy. Truth be told; my guy had already been there a few years back and I, well, couldn't muster up the energy to tackle such a big city with toddler in tow … knowing the necessity of long days and tours in order to learn about and experience the sites properly. And, I'm glad we waited.
Rome is a crazy, bustling, amazing treasure trove of wonder….. one that takes stamina, focus, and an appreciation for the incredible insight into history few other cities can provide. We tackled it in small pieces…. a Vatican tour one day; the Colosseum and Roman Forum the next…. ensuring space for just experiencing the city's many piazzas, parks and neighborhoods at least a few hours each day… The girls were real troopers as we walked everywhere…. (a new experience for Marlowe who is used to being pushed in her stroller). If I had to describe Rome in one word; it would be fascinating….
looking up at the apostle Paul's burial site
The entire family's favorite memory of the trip…. renting this to tour around the Borghese gardens.
Quintessential Italian door hardware
Looking up in the Vatican Museums
Yep, that balcony is where it all happens
Mailing postcards from Vatican City
How they built these - mind-boggling (The Roman Forum)
Even more mind-boggling
Ashtyn joked about getting a selfie with the Pope all week; and by surprise; we actually managed to see him as we were headed out of town… truly exciting!
Following three days in Rome; Chris returned to Geneva for work; and the girls and I headed back North to Florence. One of the main highlights of the week for me was stopping for lunch on the way in the hilltop town of Orvieto. While my head loves to wrap itself around the history and culture of the bigger Italian cities like Rome or Milan; my heart longs for the little hilltop villages full of warmth and charm. My girls seems happiest here as well…..
One of the largest basilicas I have ever seen…. right in the middle of the tiny town of Orvieto
The girls are standing at the front entrance….
You know I loved this…. black and white marble stripes surrounding the basilica above
And, lastly, Florence….. Florence was a feast for the senses….. with the abundance of art, of course; as well as amazing food, music, shops and a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere. A couple of folks had told me that 3 days in Florence was too many; however, I left feeling I needed at least one or two more… enough time to explore the leather markets and surrounding villas or wander down the cobblestone streets in search of the next delicious pasta dish. :)
We saw some amazing masterpieces in the museums for sure; but the street art left an equally big impression on us...
This ranked very high on the top of my "favorite things" list… roaming thru the Boboli Gardens
Looking up in the Uffizi
The masterpiece - David
Looking up in the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
Our trip to Italy was what I'd hoped it would be; full of history, art, new discoveries and inspiration... and lots of gelato…with a few hiccups thrown in because they make for better stories, right? I certainly recommend any of these wonderful cities if you get the chance to live 'la dolce vita' for a few days sometime.
Back to short and sweet posts tomorrow!