I have a list of destinations that I want to travel to. First destination on my bucket list was Italy to explore my culture and get back to my roots. I went on a tour for a week (wish it was longer) and I spent 2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 2 nights in Rome. I wanted to share some of my favorite highlights from the trip. Since I have returned, I have received a lot of questions asking, "Which city was your favorite?" That is such a difficult question to answer because each city has a different vibe and atmosphere. Venice was romantic. Florence had great places to shop and pizza. Rome had great history. Well, all three cities had history but ... the Colosseum and the Pantheon had me mesmerized.
In Venice, we started off our trip exploring Saint Mark's square (or the Piazza San Marco). We went inside the Doge's Palace, walked through the Bridge of Sighs, and Saint Mark's Basilica. We went on a gondola through the Grand Canal with the gondoliers singing and playing music. The gondola ride was my favorite, it was the first experience we had together in Italy engaged. We also went on a tour to the Murano glass factory to see the art of hand-blown glass making. I was amazed at how the glass sculptures were created, heating and cooling the glass to sculpt, using different tools. They say it's a dying profession as the younger generation doesn't want to sit in front of a hot furnace in the summer and also it's a 15 year apprenticeship.
On our way to Florence, we stopped in Umbria to visit the city of Assisi, which was beautiful. The sun was shining and the sky was such a beautiful blue. As we walked through the city, each arch we went under was older than the next. We also went into the Basilica of Saint Francis which had beautiful frescoes.
Somewhere in between trips, we saw the leaning tower of Pisa, which isn't a big deal to Italians because there are leaning towers everywhere, especially in Venice. But like most tourists, I had to get a picture of me trying to hold the tower up.
When we arrived in Florence, obviously we went straight to the leather district to shop. Of course, I got the leather jacket of my dreams... which is reversible with a Burberry-pattern interior and they put my initials inside the pocket with gold leaf. Fancy shmancy! Aside from my jacket purchase, I got a lovely silk scarf. I was fascinated by the scarves in the window at this tiny boutique. They looked like art! Absolutely stunning, so I picked up one for my myself, my best friend, and got a fancy pocket square for my fiance.
Aside from the shopping .. we saw the Basilica of Saint Mary the Flower. One of the many basilicas that I saw on my trip. I have been to more churches and basilicas during my vacation, than probably my entire life (that's a stretch). The "duomo" at the Basilica of Saint Mary amazed me, I couldn't believe that it was created without scaffolding!
At night, we went on a tuscan dinner... tasted several different wines, had 4 courses, musical entertainment, and much singing and dancing. Our tour guide surprised us with a special cake for our engagement. It was such a special moment.
Here is a picture of my fiance and I leaving Florence, saying Goodbye to the city where we caught a beautiful sunrise.
Next is Rome, which was magical. It was amazing to walk through the city and find ancient architecture and of course, spot the Colosseum from our hotel. I was so fascinated. We walked through the alleys and purchased our first cannoli on our trip, which was as big as my head. The next day, we visited all the fountains and of course threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain -- for good luck that we will come back to visit again.
From ancient Rome, it was time to head back home. On the way to the airport, we had the sweetest taxi driver who told us about his dreams to come to America and visit New York City. We told him that it was our dream to come to Italy. We had a funny discussion about food. We insisted that the food was better in Italy, and he insisted that we were wrong and it's all about the chief behind the kitchen. Which I can agree to an extent but... it just tasted better! lol He was adorable, he said, "Why is it different? You buy pasta from box, I buy pasta from box. You have tomato, we have tomato." .. We clearly have different tomatoes.
After our conversation, he thanked us for talking to him so he can better his English. I felt so loved. Have you ever had a taxi driver thank you for a conversation? Nope, not in New York. After 8 hours of traveling, and one layover in Amsterdam. We finally arrived in the Big Apple! It was quite the contrast to come from ancient ruins to the modern skyscrapers.
Italy was such a memorable experience. Even though I was away from home, I felt "at home". The food, the people, the love; it reminded me of my Great Grandparents and family memories I had as a child. Everyone was very personable and our tour guides took very good care of us, always going the extra mile during our trip (High five toGate 1 Travel!). Gosh, I miss Italy so much. I can't wait to go back again to explore the rest of Italy. Maybe next time, I will visit Southern Italy to see the Sicily and the Amalfi coast.
I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below:
Where do you think I should go next?
What are some of your favorite travel destinations?
What places are on your bucket list?