On May 31st, my parents finally arrived in Rome. We had four “home bases”. Here is the outcome of our unforgettable adventure in Italy.
7 days to meet, greet, and really get to know my favorite chaotic city.
Although I acted as a tour guide, this was my chance to show my parents why I want to stay in Rome and why it’s so incredible. I had to really pull their jetlagged feet around the city, but they survived and loved every minute of it.
Going to the Vatican museum was surprisingly the only waste of time. My parents agree with me: it’s like an art junkyard. The Pope said, “This looks fancy and expensive,” and plopped it in the collection.
I think the highlights were finally introducing my host family, and meeting my boyfriend’s family. So much translating for my brain to handle—it felt like a fried egg afterward—but it was worth it!
4 days to fall in love with fresh Italian food and wine.
Smell the leather. Let the sight of the Duomo sink in. Squish into the crowded narrow streets. Eat cinnamon gelato. Go to the fresh outdoor market and cook instead of going out to restaurants. Visit Roberto and get your wine bottles filled from vineyards a mile away. Ahh Firenze!
Fresh food at the outdoor market in Firenze. I think this is my favorite market in the whole world.
We made a new best friend. His name is Roberto, he’s about 70, and may be missing a few teeth… and he feeds us cheap wine off of very nearby Tuscan vineyards. He even let me fill up our bottles!
View of Firenze from the top of the Duomo. 365 steps, testing your claustrophobia, but so worth it.
The highlights were venturing to the outdoor market, cooking fresh Italian dinners every day and climbing to the top of the Duomo. It was worth the 360+ steps to the top!
#3, Toscana (Cortona)
While Rome and Firenze were fast paced, it was nice slowing down in Tuscany. We finally saw the “rolling green hills” everyone talks about—they do exist!
Cortona is a hilltop town that is in Tuscany, but is very close to the region of Umbria. It’s very steep and very high up. Our Tuscan (and Etruscan!) home overlooked the town and all of the farms below. The best part was it had a Tuscan kitchen to cook in and a balcony to eat on.
We stayed in Cortona and rented a car so we could take day trips to other Tuscan towns. We went to Assisi, Montepulciano, and Siena.
The first day, we explored Cortona. There were thunderstorms on and off that day, but I had the best pizza of my life with truffle and truffle oil. Fantastica!
Cortona is extremely steep and high up, so you get this amazing view of the farms below.
Via nazionale in Cortona. Each neighborhood has their own flag, just like Siena!
Assisi, la città di pace (the city of peace). It is indeed very peaceful. It is different than any other Italian town I’ve been to. The stone is white and pink, the houses are lined with beautiful flowers, and the streets are silent. We stopped for a delicious meal (still on the mission to eat our way through Italy), and headed down to the Basilica of Saint Francis. This is by far my favorite church in Italy. The colors and patterns are so vibrant, but it is not overdone. It’s simple. Assisi is lovely.
Four Franciscan brothers walking in front of Menerva’s tomb.
Basilica di Francesco, by far my favorite church in Italy and that is saying a lot!
Montepulciano was worth going for the wine, the ceramics, and the beautiful views of Tuscany below it. The fact that it was filmed in Twilight’s New Moon was an awesome added bonus, duhhh.
View from Montepulciano. Toscana. Ammazza, oh!
"DAD! STOP THE CAR!" …So I can get this amazing view of Montepulciano.
Siena was our “epic fail” day. We got lost driving into town, and spent at least an hour searching for where our best friend, Rick Steves, was telling us to park. When we finally get to our destination, we walk into town, and the streets are just flooded with tourists. It’s dirty, too. We weren’t expecting any of this. We went inside of the duomo, which was beautiful but it wasn’t the Basilica in Assisi! Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Siena sucked, so instead mom drinks wine and reads dad’s best friend, Rick Steves, to prepare for Cinque Terre!
#4, Levanto (Cinque Terre):
Finally, swimming in the Mediterranean!
We were greeted to Levanto with proseco, bread, cheese, and our long lost friend named Internet.
We explored, swam, and hiked all 5 towns. The second night, we had a Father’s Day dinner for Dad. It was one of the best dinners we have all had—ever. It was a four-course meal with unlimited wine, and to top it all off it was overlooking a view of 4 of the towns in Cinque Terre. MMMM!
View of Manarola.
Photo shoot at our unforgettable 4-course meal, before we have too much wine!
Alright, we were literally sweating in places I had no idea you could sweat…absolutely drenched. But this was the view we had for most of the hike. Incredible!
This was the last leg of the trip, so it was hard not to be in a melancholy mood. All great vacations come to an end, and it was also time to say goodbye to my parents again.
I think they are officially in love with Italy. Success.