It was on our collective wish list to visit Italy for more than a decade and we were so excited to be able to finally visit. If you remember my rant (Venting, no Italy visa for us) back in 2006 when I tried and failed to obtain visa for Italy and then ended up visiting London instead.
I am a planner, I plan everything in great detail but my plans are still very fluid and we tend to take things as they come which makes it especially enjoyable for everyone and is actually a must if you want to travel with kids. All my planning and incessant search for locations on google maps and google earth could not have prepare me what Italy truly holds. I imagined it to be busy and crowded with tourist like me but in truth it was warm and cozy and welcoming despite travelers like me and those hawkers on the road that nag you to buy silly things.
If I were to share just one picture from our Italy trip, I think this one would carry the essence of the whole trip.
We visited Rome, Florence and Tuscany in about a week’s time and it was sufficient time to hit all the touristy spots and get a feel for the place. I think on next trip we can focus more on just soaking in the city and culture and not worry about crossing off the top 10 places to visit checklist. We loved the entire trip and there are a lot of favorites but Florence stole our hearts. My girls and we adults loved (Firenze) Florence for our separate reasons but reasons don’t count, the fact is that we’ll be returning to Firenze and the Tuscan region.
In Roma we stayed on via cavour within walking distance of the railway station which made it convenient to tour the city; we visited Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the colosseum, the ancient remains at roman forum, Tervi Fountain, Spanish steps and of course the Vatican.
In Firenze, our hotel was situated on the street that connects Piazza Santa Maria Novella and the main attraction in Firenze, Duomo, the iconic red dome cathedral. Here we visited of course the Duomo and the Bell tower, Uffizi gallery, the Academia museum, Basilica of San Lorenzo, Piazza della signoria, the oldest bridge on Arno River Ponte Vecchio, Piazza de pitti, piazza della repubblica, a local farmers market and shops at porcellino.
We took a tour into the Tuscan region and just the drive to the area among vineyards, orchards, piazzas was breathtaking but the small villages we visited hold close the true essence of Italy. We traveled to Siena, San Gimigiano and Pisa on this trip and returned with a hole is our heart because a part of us left us to be one with the rolling hills, crushed grapes, fresh olives and the Tuscan sun.
Besides sightseeing, there were numerous gelatos licked, evening strolls in the side streets, food devoured in local eateries and restaurants, running and giggling and wine drinking… and all those stuff that memories are made of. I’ll share our itinerary in more detail with travel details, lodging and food recommendations but just wanted to give an over view of the extent of all we saw in case Italy is on your bucket list as well.