what Wikipedia won't tell you about Italy
Ciao! Bella! Pizza! Vino!
Kyle and I experienced Rome, Florence and Venice for the first time in our lives last week, and I can truly say we loved each city as much as the next. Here is a rundown of what we got to see, do and eat while we were there!
Kyle and I landed in Rome at 8:30 AM, and took a taxi (Rome also has Uber) straight to our Airbnb where we met Marco, our 100% Italian, friendly host. We rented his apartment for the weekend, which was located only 400 meters from the Colloseum. Kyle and I quickly dropped our bags and started running around Rome like we just won the lottery. We get excited like that.
Our first guided tour (through Ciao Italy) was in the afternoon, and included the Colloseum, Roman Forum and Paletine Hill. If you visit Rome, these sites are a must-see. What amazed me so much was the grand size, yet intricate details in the construction of all three. Pictures truly don’t do them justice, but suffice it to say they are amazing.
The one place that doesn’t get mentioned as much as the three listed above is Mamertine Prison. This is a stone building (somewhat tucked away) overlooking the Roman Forum. What moved me the most about this prison, was the apostles Peter and Paul were held here at one time. The prison was described as a dark dungeon, yet Peter is said to have baptized inmates and guards using water from a small spring in the bottom of a cell. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude for what the apostles endured in order for us to freely worship Jesus today. What a sight.
We spent two more days in Rome and toured the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica. The architecture, fine details and colors of the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica were a highlight for us to see. We weren’t as jazzed about the Vatican Museum, but it was still inspiring nonetheless.
Kyle and I also attended our first European soccer game! AS Roma played Lazio in a rivalry match-up, and it ended up being a ton of fun. There were many sections filled to the brim with wild, loud and dedicated fans, which made the game even more exciting!
After the game, we stopped for dinner at a quintessential Italian restaurant that I can't remember the name of. My bad! This place had romantic written all over it, which naturally made my eyes and heart light up. We tried the caprese salad, the pasta carbonara and penne pasta with meat sauce.
Our last day in Rome was a free day, so we took the opportunity to walk around some of the sites we missed earlier in our trip. Part of the fun of traveling is getting lost in the city, and that’s exactly what we did. We ate lunch at a cozy restaurant called Cul de Sac, where we ordered a meat and cheese plate, lots of bread and olive oil, and a bottle of wine because wine not? :)
Our post-lunch exploring and people watching made us hungry again, so we ate dinner at a local pizza place called Li Roni. Eat here if you go to Rome! The pizza was our favorite.
Kyle and I arrived in Florence, where we were greeted by thunderstorms. Drat! We didn’t want the weather to stop us, so we decided to hop in a taxi (Florence does not have Uber) to try one of the highly recommended wine bars, The Fox and the Grape, or in Italian, Le Volpi e L'Uva. It was AWESOME. We had our favorite meal here, and since it was raining, we kept eating and drinking!
We ordered the meat and cheese plate and a crostone. The crostone was a slice of white bread with rich, melted asiago cheese, sausage, and truffle oil on top - all toasted together to form the most mouthwatering small plate we ate for our entire trip. I’m going to dream about that piece of bread for months.
Then, for dinner, we ate at the oldest restaurant in Florence, Buca Lapi. This restaurant was another great recommendation, with a menu that included Florentine steak, pastas and fresh vegetables. This was one of our favorite food days!
The highlight of our trip to Florence however, was our full day wine tour in Montalcino. This is where Brunello wine is made. We visited three different size wineries, as well as enjoyed a traditional Tuscan lunch at one of them. Our tour guide was a sommelier, which was super helpful in understanding the wine making process. Added bonus - the scenery is gorgeous.
We made it back to Florence in time for dinner, but since our lunch was so filling we ate gelato for dinner. Edoardo’s was our favorite spot, with rich, creamy flavors and homemade waffle cones.
Our last day in Florence was spent shopping (so much leather!) and seeing the sculpture of David. Again, pictures don’t do it justice, but the statue was incredible. We also had drinks at a rooftop bar called SE-STO – our favorite view of the city!
Our last two days in Italy were spent in Venice! There’s something incredibly charming about the small, narrow streets lined with uneven cobblestone, and the winding canals that made me fall in love with Venice.
We toured Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, and also paid the price for a private gondola ride. My heart melted ten times over in that boat. Our guide and ride was so fun, sort of cheesy, and 100% worth it!
Our last day in Venice was spent exploring the small islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is where hand-blown glass is made. I’m talking $50,000 chandeliers, $800 vases – really, really exquisite, unique pieces. We enjoyed our visit to Murano, but the gem of the trip was Burano.
The tall, skinny houses of Burano shine bright in the daylight and at night. Each house is painted a different bright, cheery color than the next. Walking the streets made me feel like I was in a theme park. Fishermen fill the houses of Burano, and when they are out late at night with a fog in front of them, the bright houses let them know which direction to go in to make it safely home. I think if I were to have an island of my own it would look like Burano.
The last day of our trip was my birthday! We took a long train ride to Rome for the first part of the day, and ended it with dinner at the birthplace of fettuccine alfredo. My parents were with us for part of the trip as well, which made this birthday extra sweet.
If you haven’t been to Italy, I really, really hope you get to go someday. It has a special place in my heart now, and I already want to go back.
Love y’all. See you next week!