A timeline of events captured on a trip to Italy in July of 2019. These images, recollections and stories highlight the cultures and customs from four different regions throughout Italy. All spanning a 10 day period with hundreds of miles travled, displayed in chronological order.
After landing from our 8 hour flight filled with crying babies, we had to search for our driver at the crowded pickup area. After waiting about 20 minutes, he showed up, a short Italian man that spoke decent English. He would be our driver for a few other days as well. He felt like a tour guide himself with all the information he was giving on our descent to Rome. History was flowing through the area way before we even got to the city borders with aqueducts and other strucutres.
Once we finally got all of our stuff in and settled, we decided to explore the surrounding streets for restaurants and entertainment. Basically outside of our door were Chinese and Italian restaurants with street performers and artist everywhere. There were also a multitude of stores, between tourist grabs and genuinely priced Italian goods.
At La Capricciosa I had my first legal drink! My mom, sister, and I all got the house white wine, while my dad got a glass of house red. While debating whether to stay there for food, my sister was approached by a man with a rose that spoke no English. He gave her the rose, she said thank you and wouldn't turn away, expecting money in return. Now learning that that is a normal thing to happen in Italy.
After lounging about and looking up a ton of reviews, we decided to find a new restaurant to dine at. Antica Osteria Croce was one that we stumbled upon on our way back, and it sounded great! I started off with a Piña Colada, practicing the little bit of Italian I knew along the way. We all shared Pizza Formaggio and Pizza Carbonara. The pizza was phenomenal, and was a great way to introduce our tastebuds to Italy.
We started our day off early with a walking tour. Our guide came to the entrance to our apartment and that is when the tour began. Our apartment was walking distance to the Spanish Steps, on a street called Via de Grecci, so it only made sense to start here. The area around the Spanish Steps were astounding, there were hundreds of tourist flooding in on the foot traffic only area. As our guide gave a history lesson through the chatter of surrounding people, I captured some pictures of people getting water from the fountains.
Every single building and structure found in Rome has some sort of tale behind it. The column for Blessed Virgin Mary gets draped in flowers certain times in the year, while the only Spanish Embassy in Italy stands across from it. A lot of things seen had been touched or crafted by Bernini which I had been learning all about in my online Art History course. There is a church/ basilica on every corner and our guide took us into a beautiful one called Basilica Di Sant'Andrea Delle Fratte that he knew looked like many others. So he suggested not stopping at every single one you see!
Here was another busy stop on our tour, the Trevi Fountain. The guide gave us a lesson about how the building once was free standing, and normal, but later was carved into to make a masterpiece. The water here is drinkable, but I wouldn't suggest trying it straight from the pool unless you want to get yelled and whistled at by the guards. There is a small section where fresh water flows on the right that you may drink from though! After pushing our way through the flock of people to get to the water, my mom and sister threw in their coins, the correct way of course. And for some reason, I just took pictures and didn't partake.
After a short walk from the Trevi, we arrived at the Pantheon. It was commisioned by Marcus Agrippa during Augustus reign as you can see inscribed at the entrance. It was formerly a temple, now church, and is home to the grave of Raphael. When we were visiting, they actually were in prayer, while the tourist flooded in around them. Our guide was very insightful and taught us about a lot of different contributors, and how Raphael just simply asked to be buried there, and he was the first artist to gain that honor.
We ended our tour at Piazza Navona, where our guide told us about the Stadium of Domitian that this was built upon. In the center of the plazza was the Fountain of the Four Rivers representing the Nile in Africa, Danube in Europe, Ganges in Asia, and the Rio de la Plata for the Americas. They are represented by showing characteristics such as animals and plants that are native to the area. We were pointed in the direction of the Market at Campo Dei Fiori and found a restaurant next door called La Carbonara.
This place looked very fancy and elegant but finding the entrance was confusing. We entered through what seemed to be the dining area and were seated there as the man also did not speak great English. We were served little tomato filled pastries as a starter along with little breadsticks. I decided since it was only around 1pm I would stick to water, none of my family followed suit. I ordered the Bucatini all' Amatriciana which was the sister dish to the Carbonara. My dad ordered the Carbonara, one of many times, and I compared them and it seemed as if I made the right choice. Mine was a tomato sauce based dish with onions, bacon bits, and pecorino cheese.
The guide suggested we made a stop for Venchi on our way back, which is an amazing gelato shop. We did pass quite a few on our strolls, so it seems to be a chain, but it was delicious nonetheless. I ordered the Gelato Tiramisu y Cremino which ended up being a great combination of coffee and creamy flavors. We also made a stop at the Basilica Dei SSambrogio E Carlo.
After a long day of walking, finished up with relaxing and discussing where to get dinner, we ended up at La Buvette. My drink was La Vie en Rose, which was a lot more dry than I had wished for it to be. A Paris sparkling wine with rose and gin sounded pretty sweet, but it sadly was not. My meal was the Fettuccelle with Black Truffle Cream, which for some reason I was also kind of dissapointed with. It was good the sauce just didn't scream truffle, and it was dulled down by the black pepper. I did try my moms Eggplant Lasagna and that was actually fantastic.
Today was more of a relaxed adventure. We wanted to explore Florence at a leisurely pace, so we started off a little later than normal. The trian ride had some great views of the countryside too. When we got there at around noon, we wondered around a bit until our scheduled tour at the Galleria Dell Accademia.
We picked the Galleria Dell Accademia because it seemed to have a lot of different unique pieces of art such as David. We were guided by an audio tour that was hard to follow, but we got to see a lot of different things! Like the Rape of the Sabine, David, and Gipsoteca Bartolini.
We arrived at the Duomo and walked the perimeter of it. It was massive in size, and there were some amazing artist around it. There was one in particular that I really liked but their piece was $70 and I could not get my self to buy it. At a cafe called Vino Duomo nearby, I ordered a Cafe Carreta, a coffee with Baileys, and the waitress said my Italian was perfect! It made my day!
On our way towards the Arno River, we made a pitstop at Piazza Santa Croce. Here, I got a nice little picture of myself as well as a print of Florence! We bargained them down a ton because we already had art so they dropped the price to only $25. We then made our way to the river to get some photos for Instagram. Initially I wanted to go to the gardens that were about another mile away, but decided to stay closer to central Florence to make sure we got our train. Making our way slowly to Ponte Vecchio to get some nice fashion shots.
We met our tour guide outside of our apartment and began the difficult task of finding a driver that could carry 5 people. So after around 30 minutes of waiting, we began our descent to the Vatican Museums. We were given an immense amount of history before we entered because it is very loud and crowded inside. She was very detailed and whenever we got to an important destination, she would point out key words she described. Saint Peter's Basilica was quite an experience as well. I had been writing different papers about it in one of my classes, so seeing it in person was incredible.
This was interesting, it was a complete tourist attraction, inviting anyone from any language. I started with a frozen coffee called Crema al Caffe. It was about 2 sips and $10, the food was also overpriced and not exactly worth it. I got the margherita pizza e capriciosa pizza. If you are ever in the area, I would recommend finding a more genuine place for Italian cuisine.
Walking around Piazza San Pietro was quite astounding. The views were incredible and the size of it was out of this world. On our walk back we stumbled upon Castel Sant' Angelo which we did not even realize was there. It was quite a site to see, and I found a very friendly bird friend nearby.
This was the most American meal I could find. We started with a cheese board which was one of the best we had had up until that point. Then my meal was the Gusto Burger, I don't know exactly what the sauce was on it but the meat itself was amazing. Especially paired with my Bacardi and Coke, everything here was great.
Today was finally the long awaited Colosseum tour. We met with our guide who was also going to take us through Palatine Hill. It was really something else to stand in the arena where so much gore had happened. The pictures here speak for themselves, the place is massive and the elaborate system it was built on is outstanding. The Romans were way ahead of their time when it came to different technologies, like with their makeshift elevator.
The views from the top of Palatine Hill spread further than expected. You could see so many different structures throughout. Although they are basically all ruins, they all had a tale to tell.
Immediately after the tour came to a close we took a break at a Pizzeria Imperiale. Here we got some frozen drinks, mine was the Frozen Blue Hawaiian, and it had some very fruitty flavors. We then got Fried Mozzarella and Bruschetta, before we even went to the place we were going to go for actual lunch. Our actual lunch was at Ristoro della Salute, directly across from the Colosseum. Here I got a Japanese Iced Tea, it was sweet and bitter at the same time, probably one of the best drinks I got on the entire trip. My meal was a little dissapointing, Spaghetti con Polpette. The restaurant was a tourist trap, but I had high hopes for one of the few places that served meatballs. The view was great, drinks too, food was not so much.
Today was more of a go with the flow kind of day. So we got off the Leccarno train and stepped into the busy city. After wondering around for a while and picking at different street foods, one being at Il Pomodorino where we tried small little fried pizzas. We then made our way to a bus tour station. We bought the tickets which was a struggle because the man did not speak English at all, but we made it through! There were two different options for the bus tour, and we ended up spending our day doing both of them, and ending on a nice ocean side view stop. We made a stop for drinks and a snack too, where I attempted to use new Italian words, it did not go over well.
This restaurant was astounding. I had found it online and it had decent food, but our waiter was funny and interactive as well as serving amazing food. We all shared food, ordering the Fritte Cicoli, which was a fried inside out pizza, and the Antonio & Antonio, their signature pizza. Paired with a Pridie Falanghina Bianca IGP with Sprite, it was an amazing dinner with ocean side views. On our way back to the train station we stopped and I got a Sfogliatelle, which I heard was a staple to Naples, and it was well worth it.
Today consisted of clothes shopping as well as some art shopping. I bought a new shirt made in Milan from a fancy pants Italian store. Then I went on to buy two paintings from street painters, one was spray paint of a nature scene and the other of the Spanish Steps, an original at that. It costs a pretty penny but it was worth it.
We started the day off with a long ride down to Pompeii, we had the same driver that we previously had, and he was a joy to have with us. Our guide that day was very weird, he would only direct things at my mom and would never really describe anything. He gave the general consensus of each thing and then would jump to the next thing to see. Although the ruins were cool to see, the guide kind of ruined it for us.
On our way down to the Amalfi Coast, we made a pitstop in Sorrento to grab lunch and see if there was any street merchants. While there was some around, nothing caught any of our eyes. The restaurant we went to was recommended by our driver and he did very well. It was called Ristorante Tasso, we started with the Fresh Homemade Ravioli and they were so good, but they only gave us 4 which was dissapointing. For our meal we shared La Margherita Pizza and Il Calzone Ripieno, also amazing. My sister and I got the Sorrento Spritz which seemed like a signature drink and it was very tasty. There really weren't many places that stood out from one another but this one was an experience. It had a fine dining look and was connected to the outdoors.
We then made it to the most elegant part of the trip. The views speak for themselves and there are so many views everywhere. Our drive through Amalfi was a struggle as we went on the one road through the area. There was also an accident so we got stuck for a little while. Italian drivers on a narrow road does not seem to work out very well. People on bikes swerving in and out lanes to pass by must have lead to it, the guy seemed okay.
This was one of the last tours we booked, but it also turned out way better than expected. My number one takeaway from it was that Tom Cruise got married there, nonetheless it was packed with history. It was mainly used as different wedding venues because it did have some insane views. Our guide took us through the armory and even a secret area where kings and rulers during the time would stay.
We knew we were getting a lunch after our castle tour, but this one exceeded our expectations. We got a tour of the winery and our guide was really nice and helpful. We even ordered some wine off of him at the end of it all. We were given Rosé, Red, and White wine. My favorite was personally the Rosé as it was a bit sweeter. We then got a cheese board which topped all the other ones we had gotten. The atmosphere set by this winery/restaurant was so nice and dreary, for context, it was built into a hill. The place was gloomy but also elegant. We then got a veggie pasta dish of some sort that I was not a fan of. Then to finish it all off we got a custard with chocolate powder which was phenomenal.
We started our last dinner of the trip with Pizza Bread & Rosemary. It was surprisingly really good too. Then I ordered my first Carbonara, and it was nothing to go crazy about. A previous meals where I tried my dad's ended up better.
Sadly, the trip was coming to a close. I experienced so many different things in a 10 day span and it was amazing. Although balancing 2 classes and all Italy had to offer, it was spectacular. My last meal in Italy ended up being Japanese, where I found a Ramen place at the airport. After a long 9 hour flight filled with crying babies, we touched ground in Boston, where my vacation officially ended... And I was headed to Chicago in a week!