Roman Holiday (Italy Part 1)

Note: I’m dividing this post into two parts and posting the second half next week because one, it would be way too long, and two, I’ll do anything to keep Italy fresh on my mind as long as I can! Also, I have to give credit to my fam bam for letting me borrow some of these photos. 

It has been almost two weeks since I returned from one of the most amazing trips of my life. Italy is like crack, and I am going through some major withdrawals here, folks. That country is just...wow. What I write/show here isn't going to do that country justice because you have to experience it to understand my newfound love for it. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be there, and I haven't even seen the entire country. I'm almost hoping that Donald Trump wins the election because if he does, I'm saying peace out and buying a Tuscan villa. Hey, I said almost!

This was a trip that my family and I had planned for over a year. We had never taken a trip like this together…ever…so we knew it was going to be interesting. And oh, it was interesting all right! There were eight of us total—me, my husband, and daughter; my mom and dad; my brother; my sister and her husband. Together for almost two weeks, twenty-four hours a day. Different personalities and unpredictable moods. Imagine the McAllisters in Home Alone, Parts One and Two. That was us, and I say that with so much love.

We departed out of LAX on an early flight, and this was Audrey, my sister Sydney, and I at 4:00 in the morning. Early ONLY looks good when Italy is involved.

With a layover in Chicago, our flight time was a total of about thirteen hours, so of course I used much of my time for reading and writing. I had been warned about all of the thieves in Italy, so I was apprehensive about taking my laptop with me and took the iPad instead. And how I love international flights! International flights = FREE wine! And how I love the words FREE and WINE when used in the same sentence! Plus, our flight attendant was extra generous with the pours, but I knew I had to be careful because “one drink at thirty-thousand feet equals two” (thank you, Corinne Bennett).

We spent the first leg of our trip in Rome. In order to cut costs and save money, we rented a 4-bedroom apartment on VRBO.com. Our host Cristina was so warm and welcoming, and we loved her apartment! It was well-located and affordable, and I’d highly recommend this apartment if you’re traveling with a large group (click here for Cristina’s Rome Apartment). We arrived early Thursday morning in Rome and were super jet-lagged, so we all passed out the moment we got to the apartment. By late afternoon, we were all showered and ready to see our first glimpse of Rome at night! We visited the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, and then had dinner at the Piazza Navona. I absolutely LOVED all of the little outdoor restaurants. I wish we had more restaurants like that in the U.S. After dinner, we went to the Trevi Fountain and I made sure to throw a coin in. I guess that means I’ll be going back to Rome one day!

On Friday, we visited Vatican City. Guys…ever since I learned about the Renaissance, I had dreamed about visiting the Sistine Chapel and seeing Michaelangelo’s Creation. So you can imagine how LIVID I was when we were ushered in and out of the chapel by the docents. We were literally in there not even a minute before we had to leave. There were tons of people visiting that day, so they were probably just trying to get the crowds in and out. I was so disappointed because I didn’t even get to enjoy it.

On the other hand, my goofy brother always knows how to cheer me up. In true Zachary form, he had a field day with the statues, and did a few face swaps. I thought I’d share this one with you.

And my mom, sister, and I thought it would be fun to mail ourselves a postcard from the Vatican! However, the postcard arrived a couple of days after we returned from our trip, and was the nail in the coffin to my vacation hangover. 

My sister, Sydney, took this amazing shot of the spiral staircase at the Vatican. Isn't it so pretty?

Saturday was a looooong day. We took a three-hour bus ride down to Naples to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii. We weren’t too keen on the long bus ride, but Pompeii was a must-see (plus, I made sure to bring some reading material with me for the ride…I read RUSH by Emma Scott and I absolutely LOVED it!). It was cold and rainy that day, but luckily the sun peeked out just after noon and we were able to walk around without having to worry about the rain.

Pompeii was another place that I had always wanted to visit after learning about it in school. It’s massive, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t actually see the entire city. It may look like nothing but slabs of concrete now, but the story and the history behind it is so rich and real, especially when you see this…

We spent Sunday touring Ancient Rome and saw the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. Being inside the Coliseum was such a surreal experience. You read about it in school. Countless movies have been made about it. But there’s nothing that compares to actually being inside it.

The entire time we there, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, all I kept thinking about was “Audrey has no idea.” This little four-year-old got to experience the Coliseum before she even learned about it! I’d say she’s one lucky gal.

And that was Rome. Next week, I’ll be posting about the second leg of our trip to Tuscany and our TO-DIE-FOR villa..like Under the Tuscan Sun-type of villa. And I haven’t forgotten about the food. OMG the food. And wine. I’m obsessed.

Have I mentioned that I want a Fiat now?