To Italy and Back
You might be wondering why we haven't blogged for a while. Well, it was spring break for us. We just transferred to a new school this year, so this was the first time our spring break lasted two weeks instead of one. Our dad decided that he wanted to take advantage of this break to do something on his bucket list: He wanted to see Rome and Florence. As a former architect, he's been dying to see all the architectural wonders Italy has to offer. We all went to see he Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Pantheon, and of all things, he wanted to see Brunelleschi's Dome in Florence.
Inside the Colosseum
I almost didn't make the trip. I got into a fight with my parents the day before the trip, and it escalated to the point that they actually threatened to leave me in Los Angeles with my grandparents. I eventually managed to get my act together enough for them to be willing to take me with them. Close call.
We spent the first few days wandering around Rome and being tourists: armed with Rick Steves' Rome 2012, toting around a large camera, multiple maps, and backpacks and trying gelato everywhere we went. We took pictures of the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum, and admired the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the amazing collection at the Vatican museum. We also got to see the Vatican documents, many of which I actually learned about in my AP European History class this year (YES, so it IS worth something!).
Eating Gelati at Grom's in Florence
Setting aside the awesomeness of the monuments, though, Rome is basically one huge tourist trap. The food really wasn't that impressive and some of the streets smell like sewer. Still, it ain't got nothing on Florence: if Rome is a tourist trap, Florence is a tourist zoo. It's got some amazing sights to see, of course. The Duomo (Brunelleschi's dome), the Medici Palace, the Ufizzi, and the Ponte Vecchio were definitely impressive. I even got to see some of the paintings and sculptures in my history textbooks!
I think it'd be a better idea to visit Rome and Florence when it isn't tourist season though--and remember, it isn't even summer yet! My favorite part of the trip was visiting lesser-known towns. While in Florence, we took a bus up to the small town of Fiesole. It's nestled in the Tuscan hills, way above all of the tourist attractions and museums in Florence. We hiked up a hill overlooking Tuscany and ate at a very good restaurant with a nice view. That was the best meal I had the entire trip.
We also spent a couple of days in Manarola, Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a collection of 5 small towns about a two hour's train ride north of Florence. The towns are all very walkable and within a short distance of each other. Manarola is the second town, and, in my opinion, the best. It was so nice to be able to take a break from being tourists and relax by the sea. Because we had a kitchen in Cinque Terre, we got to eat some Shin Ramen that we hauled all the way from Los Angeles! It's still pasta, but not Italian pasta.
All in all, Italy was great and we had a lot of fun visiting the historical landmarks and eating gelato (oh boy, I gained like 5 lbs). Still, I'm very relieved to be back home. You'd think that internet should be freely available everywhere, but in Italy, it was very expensive to get wi-fi, and so we didn't use it much beyond checking our email. I was also warned to not text because texting and calling gets pricey there. We definitely didn't get to blog, or go on Facebook. Now that we're back, yay! We have internet! and cell phone! :D
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