Ti Amo Italia
When my husband and I began dating, we talked about our love for traveling, and said that Italy was one of the top destinations on our list. Two and a half year later, we turned that dream into a reality and I couldn’t feel more appreciative to have experienced this beautiful country together. From spending days taking in the ancient history everywhere we looked, to spending nights eating the most delicious local foods, to tasting the delicious homemade wines, it was clear that this was a trip to remember.We arrived in Rome on a Saturday morning and were greeted by one of our best friends, Kevin, who flew in from Brussels to join us for the weekend. After checking into our hotel, we immediately set out to see Rome. First on the list: eating homemade gnocchi, drinking red wine, and finding pistachio gelato. We were in heaven after tasting the flavors of Italy. We then made a wish and tossed a coin (standing backwards, as the legend tells us to) into the Fontana Di Trevi before spending the day and night walking around Rome, taking in all of the exquisite statues, fountains, and architecture. We ended our first day there at The Colosseum – one of the most breathtakingly beautiful structures I have ever seen. It was built nearly 2,000 years ago and still stands. It’s truly astounding to wonder how these structures were built without today’s technology.The following day we toured the Pantheon -- once a Roman temple built to honor the highest gods, and is one of the best-preserved buildings of Ancient Rome. Today, it is a church. The Pantheon has one of the world’s most famous domes – with a hole in the center representing the connection between the gods and the people. We then walked across the city to tour The Roman Forum, endless ancient ruins that were part of the most important structures of Ancient Rome. After a packed two days of touring (and ending each night on the balcony of our hotel overlooking the city with a glass of vino), we sadly had to say goodbye to Kevin as he caught a flight back to Brussels. Gio and I went for dinner in town and stopped on the way at The Temple of Asclepius – a beautiful Roman Temple in the Villa Borghese gardens that is home to a statue of the Greek god of healing. You just always find some kind of beautiful statue or structure everywhere you turn in Rome!The next morning we took a high-speed train to Florence for a day trip. We visited the Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace), the Duomo, and a few art galleries before stopping at La Giostra for dinner. There may have been tears during this meal because the food and experience were so unbelievably good. They are famous for their pear and pecorino ravioli, and it is quite possibly the best meal I’ve had (and I don’t even eat dairy or gluten regularly, but in Italy, you can’t shy away from pasta and cheese)! We hopped back on the train (which went through the beautiful countryside and cities of Italy).The next morning: Vatican City. It’s just remarkable – the architecture, the design, the art and intricately detailed statues that line the city (it’s also its own country) are definitely worth seeing. We had a fantastic tour guide named Suzi Bono, who taught us everything and anything you need to know about the Vatican. As we sat inside the Sistine Chapel, she described in detail the beautiful artwork of Michelangelo. Suzi also brought us to the catacombs later that afternoon and took us to hidden spots throughout the city, like the ancient theater where Julius Caesar was murdered. This now sits under a restaurant! Who knew?!After four full days touring Rome, we were ready for a little relaxation so we headed south to Capri. But, because we are adventure junkies, we had to get in one more major sight so we stopped at Pompeii. Pompeii was a city buried in volcanic ash (from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius) that was excavated and now remains mostly intact. It’s literally like stepping into Ancient Rome. In fact, this is where researchers today get so much of their information from that time period. Old bakery shops, homes, temples, streets, spas, and even brothels line the streets. What really stood out to me were the piping systems they thought to create back then (sure, it may have been lead, but they were smart enough to physically create piping with zero technology). It’s as if time stood still here. I kept getting chills as I walked through the neighborhoods.Now, it was time for a little unwinding.Capri is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Many people take a ferry to Capri for day, but what they don’t realize is that many stores, restaurants and vendors shut down because they don’t want to deal with so many tourist groups. The city truly comes alive at night and it’s remarkable. We arrived in time for dinner. We ate at La Palette, a restaurant overlooking the island. The night cools off in Capri so we spent our first evening walking through the hills of the gorgeous island.In Capri, we took a boat around the island and then up the Amalfi Coast. We explored Positano, a beautiful coastal town built in the mountains, had lunch on the water at Conca Del Sogno, and visited the different grottos and caves. We spent the next day at La Fontelina – a stunning beach club nuzzled in-between rocks - where the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey are said to have seduced Odysseus’ sailors with their voices, hoping to kill them. We even made friends with a wonderful Portuguese couple, and later watched the sunset with them at Il Faro in Anacapri. The following day we also met a lovely woman, Robyn, and her aunt from New York who have been going to Capri for years and Robyn took us on a hike through ancient ruins to the Ponza Arco Naturale – an incredible natural arch rock structure still standing today.I could write 30 more paragraphs describing every single meal we had and site we saw, but I wrote this post to highlight moments of our trip to hopefully spark your interest in seeing a place so special and close to our hearts. From experiences like tasting the local Limoncello given to us by a Capri native, to taking a cable car up the mountain everyday to our hotel on the island, to our adventures in Rome where we saw some of the world’s most ancient history (like the actual skull of Saint Valentine), the memories we have from this trip are unforgettable. Experiencing them with my soul mate: priceless.There is still so much to see in different parts of Italy, but something tells me, we will be back. Fino alla prossimo volta, Italia.