Italia, The Motherland

It was an easy decision to go to Italy for our honeymoon. We decided on Europe early on and I couldn’t imagine exploring any other country first. I feel so fortunate to now associate it with the start to a loving milestone in my life. Marriage. We left for our flight to Rome the day after we got married. Off we went. A bit too hung over I might add. My husband blames my cousins and their never ending shots of Sambuca. ‘Twas a celebration after all! We had a blast. As we should have, it’s a huge step for any person to take. Choosing to be with someone for the rest of your lives. A pair. Do the damn thang together. It’s colossal. We got married when I was 26. My husband was 31. We dated for 6 years prior to pulling the trigger. We both felt it was an intense step in an relationship and wanted to make sure. We lived together for a few years before he proposed. Maybe it’s because we both come from divorced parents (mine got back together!?) I’m sure it’s correlated. Also new generation. Generation- I’m gonna make damn sure I wanna be with him (or her) before we get married. You know…

Anyway, Italy!!! We (I) couldn’t imagine a more romantic place. Biased by my partial Italian heritage of course. But even objectively, Italy is known as a pretty romantic place. We flew from Pittsburgh to New York to Rome then journeyed to the Amalfi Coast and Florence before we ended our trip in back in Rome. The plane ride was long but bearable. We watched movies and I listened to a lot of music. My husband and I travel well together. I am a dreamy, stare out the window, get lost type and he is the very opposite. He is The Navigator. It’s a fantastic match. I advise you find you one of these structure-minded people if you intend to travel around foreign countries. They are very helpful. Unless you’re a control freak then you will indeed butt heads lol. I tell him what I want to do and he plots the day in an organized non-ADD fashion. It’s lovely, really.

We started our trip officially on the Amalfi Coast. Which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. So idyllic. Warm. Colorful. Vibrant yet relaxing. We stayed in Sorrento in a villa on a large hill with a surreal view of the water, the town, and Mount Vesuvius. I remember how pretty the hydrangeas were surrounding the property. They were a saturated blend of blue and purple. The way the colors bled into each other made them look like watercolor. They reminded me of my mom, she loves hydrangeas. Now they remind me of Italia too. The hosts of our B&B made a wonderful breakfast spread every morning, with those hydrangeas posed in the middle of the long table in the sun room. Italian breakfast is my favorite. What I think of as Italian breakfast anyway. The pastries, cheese, tomatoes, jams, fresh fruit, COFFEE. We started every morning on the patio overlooking the water and the beautiful countryside and Mount Vesuvius (pictured below). Lemon trees lined the walk way to the front of the villa. We were able to pick fresh lemons daily and make our own limoncello, a regional specialty. Lemon is one of my favorite scents. It’s energizing. Well I pretend it’s energizing. My husband and I spent most of our time walking the city streets of Sorrento eating, drinking, eating, shopping, drinking, then eating again. Popping in and out of stores and buildings, you know tourist ish, really taking it in. We also went to visit the ancient city of Pompei. If you’re into history it is a pretty cool spot to spend the day, try to transcend time. It amazing to stand in the ruins and preservation of an ancient civilization.

My one most favorite adventure of all time with my husband was our scooter ride along the Amalfi Coast. It was romantic and thrilling and outstandingly beautiful. I remember the adrenaline of hanging off the scooter, trying to get good pics. Alllll the good pics. Lol. People drive crazy in Sorrento and Southern Italy in general I hear. Scooters fly around you on the street. Of course my husband took it upon himself to act like a local. We stopped along the roadside towns. Positano, Ravello…so extremely picturesque. We’d walk the hills down to the beach. The beach in Positano consisted of stone pebbles instead of sand. The stones were so hot (due to us being there at the end of June) it was difficult to walk without shoes. It’s not as easy to walk into the water or along the shoreline as imagined, but that’s part of what makes the memory stick out. We were so out of our element in the small Italian town, but we were together. We were in love. It was magical.

Our next stop was Florence. We traveled everywhere by rail when in Italy. You do have to keep an eye on your bags. They can’t always be right next to you due to lack of space, so you place them in the front of the train car. Keep your eye on em’ though…

Firenze. The city of art and marble. Much more touristy, no less beautiful, but cleaner. Like you could eat off the streets. Much different than Sorrento or Southern Italy which is a bit grungier. NO LESS BEAUTIFUL but if you’re a snob you’d probably like Florence better than Sorrento. You can feel the money in Florence. The age of the city, the air of the Renaissance, strolling the streets of the old and new markets places, the smell of LEATHER, the glow. It was all exciting. I got my mom this cool leather wallet in Florence. I wanted it for myself but she spoils the shit out of my grown ass STILL, so she got it. There was a tent set up with all kinds of leather goods. The smell was intoxicating. You have to shop when you’re in Florence. Even if it’s just drooling while window shopping. The buildings and architecture of the city definitely stick out. The statues everywhere are so whimsical. And morbid. Can they be both those things? History was so present everywhere. Oxymoron, I know, but you could feel it. We went to the museums: The Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell’Accademia. We saw the statue of David. They told us not to take pictures so of course the hubs did. I remember this huge room in Uffizi where they had all reject sculpture heads. Like babies and older people. It was the coolest kind of creepy.

We ended our trip in Rome. It was during the World Cup and Roma was still in the tournament. The energy was contagious. My husband even bought a Roma futbol shirt. Lol. He’s cute like that. He gets excited about things. It’s part of what’s so appealing about him. He’s very fun loving and almost always tries to experience the best of the moment. But yea, the city was buzzing and so were we and we wore ourselves out. There is so much to see and we couldn’t shake the need to see all of it. Seeing all the sights is hard to whole-heartedly do in a few days. We did the Roman Forum and The Coliseum, Vatican City which was amazing for me since I was brought up Catholic. I bought rosaries for the fam and we got to see the Pope! Would have been MEGA cool if it was Pope Francis because I LOVE him, but Pope Benedict the whatever was still special. We stopped at the Trevi Fountain, and then ventured through the neighborhood Trastevere. It’s a super funky, boho vibe, so of course it spoke to my heart, lol. Then there’s the nightlife in Rome. Not that we experienced much of it, due to our evening exhaustion. But we tried. I mean this was pre-kid.

There’s so much food in Rome!! And HISTORY. And thinking back maybe we should have started in Rome and ended on the Amalfi Coast. The coast was way more chill and relaxing. We traveled right after our wedding which was in the summer, so it was consistently hot weather-wise. Walking the city all day was kinda brutal in the heat but I mean when you’re in Rome… you’re seeing it all. We never really got the hang of our Roma pass, which is the bus pass for the city. Though we definitely could have tried harder. We stayed in a prime location. Thanks to my forever researching partner in crime 🙂 The hubs loves sweets and legit ate gelato like at least twice a day. I loved exploring the old churches or just sitting around the piazzas. Our most memorable meal in Rome was when we sat outside at a restaurant on a main piazza during dusk, people watching, drinking white wine. It was just such a snapshot memory for me. We ate cheese and bread that filled us up before our main meal… of course drank wine. Plotted out more adventures we’d take as a couple. The beginning of quite a story for us.

Tips for traveling to and around a foreign country:

1. Don’t be an asshole. There are enough assholes in the world. Don’t be one of them.

2. Be open-minded. You are choosing to go out of your element. Embrace it.

3. Phrase books

4. Be aware of your surrounding. Notice landmarks, exits, etc.

5. Don’t be afraid to find a lil hub or place you can frequent. Going there more than once for breakfast or coffee will give you a lil sense of security, knowing what to expect.

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