Italy - Rome, Milan, Venice, Cinque Terre, Ascoli Piceno
I hadn’t been to Europe since 2007 when I went to Spain, other than an eighteen-hour layover in London and I couldn’t have been more excited. My friend and I rented a small apartment in Rome a couple of blocks from the Vatican. It was lovely, small, but lovely.
We had a Moka Pot in the room and I wasn’t sure how to use it, I had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out and had some delicious espresso! We explored Rome for two days and went to Piazza Novana, the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Bascilica, Saint Peter’s Square, Sistine Chapel, Mouth of Truth and dared to put our hand in, threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and took a bus tour. It was a whirlwind and I loved every moment.
Our next adventure was Venice, we took the train, got lost a lot and found our boat and breakfast. That’s correct, boat and breakfast. A lovely cabin on a yacht, when in Venice, you stay on the water. Venice was picturesque everywhere you went, it was breathtaking. All the bridges and water, every nook and cranny, everything was old, and it was fabulous. It was fun getting around Venice on the water taxis, you were either on the water or walking over a bridge. Most people I spoke to say the gondola rides were overrated and expensive, somehow my friend and I found one that wasn’t expensive, and it is one of my favorite memories. It was peaceful, gorgeous, had an amazing vantage and was simply unforgettable, a gondola ride is a must. We meandered Piazza San Marco, walked over the Rialto Bridge and purchased some jewelry made of Murano glass.
Then we were off to Milan. We went into a salon to get our hair blown out, after much discussion and gestures, my friend made them realize what we were wanting. We saw the Duomo, it was beyond gorgeous, it took over six centuries to complete and I can see why. They had to build an entirely new canal system just to get the materials into Milan to build it. Breathtaking. We went into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and did as legend states to grind the bulls’ balls with the heal of your shoe for good luck. We wondered through the Quadrilatero D’oro, fashion district, and did some window shopping as that was all we could afford. All in all, Milan was okay, but not my favorite.
Our next stop was the Cinque Terre, our home base was the little village of Riomaggiore. Another friend of mine had been in this town many years ago and met a man. After our apartment was rented we realized it was above the bar of the man that she met, so she gave me a picture and letter for him. I walked up to the bar and asked the bartender if he was Alberto and he was. I handed him the letter and looking at me puzzled he opened it. He got the cutest smile on his face and was delighted. He sat with us and had a drink, it was a success. We took a train to Monterosso and meandered through the town then walked to Vernazza which was three kilometers away. It was steep and rocky, in parts I was afraid of slipping but it was breathtaking. Vernazza was a cute little town, colorful buildings, little shops, and the marina where we had great dinner and watched the sun set. The next day we would be off to see our friend in Ascoli Piceno.
It was great to see our friend that had been living in Italy for a couple of years after meeting a man there and marrying him. They picked us up from the train station and took us back to the most beautiful apartment. The ceilings were so high and were all painted, it was like being in a museum. It was grand, and it was beautiful. We went to Piazza del Popolo and had an amazing dinner at Anisetta Meletti, a beautiful restaurant. We took a walk after dinner and saw the amphitheater, found a fountain in another piazza that if you drink out of you will return to Italy one day, of course we had to have a drink. We had gelato and walked down to the river. It was a lovely evening. Our friends husband owned a Pilates studio and our friend became and instructor, so we had a class the next morning. It was great, I had never done an actual Pilates class before and I enjoyed it very much. We went to San Benedetto, walked around some shops and had lunch, then stopped at a beach so we could dip our feet in the Acadia Sea. It was close to Halloween, we went to another friend’s apartment in a castle which was the ideal place for pumpkin carving. Our time was coming to an end and we would travel back to Rome to get our flight home.