I think that title says "Italy with My Mom!" but Duolingo (the app I've been using to learn Italian) says that I'm only 11% fluent so who knows! We haven’t had much trouble with the language, however because we quickly learned the most necessary phrases:Please - “Per favore”
Thank you - “Grazie”
Two Cappuccinos - “Due Cappuccino”
Pasta with tomatoes - “Pasta al pomodoro”
Caprese Salad - “Insalata caprese”
Cake - Torta
Tiramisu - “Tiramisu*”
*The difficulty with this last one is not in the translation, but in my attempt to control the size of my eyeballs and the extent to which they pop out when I ask for this.
You can tell from this list of translations where our priorities lie, but we have also managed to fit in (and after all this pasta still fit into) a few amazing sites as well!
We started our trip in Rome and stayed for three days. Our hotel was in the northeastern part of Rome near Termini Station and on day one we walked down to the southeast side of Rome. On the way we saw the Victor Emmanuel Monument and a few other things that we buzzed right past to get here:
The Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano!
The inside was beautiful and we walked around in awed silence marveling at the gigantic statues, the ceilings, the floor tiles, the paintings and the mosaics. We were just getting ready to leave when they really knocked our socks off… from the back of the church echoed this eerily beautiful organ music. It started low and slow and then picked up the volume while my mom and I just stood there not even trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. We just shuffled forward slowly until we reached the rope that stopped us from getting any closer.
Out in front of the Basilica is this really beautiful piece of architecture and artwork. Below is the very first picture I took in Italy!
After exploring the southeast a bit more we headed west to the ancient city and walked all through the Palatine, which we expected to be incredibly beautiful and moving as well having just come from hearing the organ music. As we climbed the final stairs and looked over the railing, however, we saw this:
See that? Right in the middle of a beautiful and ancient place are three foot high letters spelling out, "L O S E R". Douglas Adams himself couldn't have written it any better. Who knew Rome could be so juvenile? So I immediately whispered under my breath to my mom, “I know you are, but what am I?” and she laughed. Rome is surprising, artistic, and has a juvenile sense of humor. I think I was meant to live here. My favorite parts of the Palatine were the arches that remain in place. One can only imagine what the whole place looked like when it was still intact.
We saw the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum, but were so wiped out by then that we just wandered around outside and then headed back to the hotel. Turns out we walked about nine miles that day! So we rewarded ourselves with gelato, then a big dinner of pasta al pomodoro, pizza margherita, cappuccinos, and tiramisu!
Our second day was spent mastering the underground and bus system to get ourselves to Saint Peter’s and the Vatican Museums. It was very hot that day and no one tells you this, but the Vatican Museums are like a river with a strong (and stinky) current of people. Once you wade in you can’t stop and you can’t turn. You just go with the flow and try not to step on anyone. We really enjoyed seeing the tapestries and the Raphael rooms (although I was shuffled right past one of my favorite paintings without even seeing it - The School of Athens) but what really stuck was the Sistine Chapel. I figured with all the hype it would feel a little underwhelming, but it wasn’t! The first things I noticed were the tapestries on the wall… wait… those aren’t tapestries… they’re paintings of tapestries! Talk about great use of light and shadow! It actually took me a full minute to figure out that they were painted and not fabric. Again, no one talks about the walls, only the ceiling, which, by the way, lives up to all of the hype. All said and done we walked just shy of nine miles that day so we rewarded ourselves with a pizza lunch, a shower at the hotel, and then headed off for the Trevi Fountain!
As we approached the area with the Trevi Fountain we noticed that all of the streets were roped off and heavily guarded by police who were all holding giant automatic weapons, which is not something you ever see in America and we therefore panicked slightly. Terrorists??? NO! Fendi! A famous designer had taken over the entire area surrounding the Trevi Fountain to put on a fashion show with a certain Kardashian affiliated sister among the models. So we didn’t get to see the fountain or even get close to it, but we DID get to see a PETA representative dressed in full nun gear with a giant paper mache head protesting the event (there was fur involved.)
After Rome we went to Siena for a night where we stayed in an apartment with an incredible view of the Duomo:
That evening we walked to the Piazza del Campo, bought bread, cheese, tomatoes, wine, and limoncello and went home to relax! We spent the whole evening sipping, eating, chatting, and staring out the window while an incredible party went on just down the street. Karaoke, crowds, YMCA, dancing, screaming, drinking, you name it. It was straight out of a movie. The next day we visited the Duomo in the morning and then headed out for Tuscany!
Not bad, eh?
Here there was a pool, an incredibly charming little town (Castellina in Chianti) and enough wine to keep us happy and rejuvenate us for our day trip to San Gimignano. It even inspired me to take out my charcoal pencil and paper and create this little view from the deck:
San Gimignano is a tiny, very old town FULL of artists! I bought two paintings for a friend, a new woven bag, and Mom bought a silk eco dyed scarf! We came, we saw, they conquered our wallets :) and we got some great pictures of incredible architecture.
Our apartment in Florence is literally in a tower on the Ponte Vecchio. Couldn’t ask for a better place or a better view.
Tomorrow we tackle the Ufizzi, more pasta, more pizza, possibly more gnocchi, definitely more cappuccinos, and maybe some more chapels! We plan on just getting lost in the city and enjoying everything around us.
I’ll be posting a ton more pictures to Facebook and we’ll blog again in a bit so you can join us as we explore the art and food world in Italy!