Thursday, March 17, 2011

drum roll please...Rome and My "Top 10". finally.

We left Venice to set off on our long (6-8 hour) drive to Rome.

Once there, we settled in to our hotel and went on a walking tour.
We saw the PantheonSpanish Steps
and Trevi Fountain.
Looking back at the notes I had taken from that day all I wrote was "WOW".
It was much larger than I had expected.
I did the logical thing to do at a fountain and threw in a coin to make a wish.
I'd tell you what I wished for,
but then it won't come true.It began to get dark and Rome seemed so romantic at night.
Little restaurants with fire pits and live music lined a square with a fountain
Simply beautiful.

The next day...
"Here, you can touch history with your fingers."
We began with a very interesting "Imperial Tour" of the
Colloseumand the Roman Forum.After the tour, the girls and I ate at a restaurant across the street.
We dined on pasta with a fantastic view of the Colloseum from the window next to our table.

When we had finished our lunch; and thinking we had extra time to spare before the Vatican, we went off in search of an ATM.

We didn't have extra time to spare.

We ended up losing the group and the bus and having to take a taxi.

However, we made the mistake of telling the taxi driver to take us to the Vatican
instead of the Vatican Museum.
We had to walk 1 kilometer (that's over half a mile) to get to the Museum.
Luckily, along the way, we ran in to our tour guide.
She waited 30 minutes with us for our entrance ticket
and then
we ran
through the entire Vatican Museum
to meet the group in the Sistine Chapel.

It was quite the adventure.

We weren't allowed to take photographs in the Sistine Chapel, but it was gorgeous.
After, we headed to St. Peter's Basilica.
Sadly, I was not impressed.
I had expected that I would be moved
feel something
at the center of Roman Catholicism,
but I didn't.
I blame the fact that it is treated like a tourist attraction rather than a place of worship.
People were loud, moving around and snapping photographs with flash;
treating it like a museum rather than a holy place.
Our Farewell Dinner was at Ristorante Papa Rex,
an adorable, traditional Italian restaurant
like the kind you see in the movies.
There were white lights strung outdoors, decorative tablecloths, candles, an opera singer and accordion player.The girls and I enjoyed bruschetta, pasta and lots of wine!
We also took some silly pictures of us sharing pasta (think Lady and the Tramp style)
During dinner, I was pulled to the floor to dance to "Mambo Italiano" and had so much fun!

Afterward, we headed to a club where a crazy-haired promoter named Francesco
set us up with 2 hours of all-you-can-drink at the bar for 20 Euros
We took advantage of that by ordering two at a time
(vodka sprites and "sex on the beach" were my drinks of choice for the evening).
We met lots of people and had the most fun
dancing until passed 3 AM.

The next morning after saying good-bye to Dani
and breakfast with Marika
I headed to the airport to catch my flight to Athens.

I didn't want to leave.
I fell completely, madly head over heels in love with Italy.
It is a European treasure filled with beautiful people and a rich history.
Every place surprised me and excited me
and I literally ate my way through the entire country
with 3-course meals, pastas, desserts and wine daily.
And, I met wonderful people whose friendship and company made my entire experience
more enjoyable and filled my days with laughter.
I hope to visit them and Italy again some day.

Here are my "Top 10" from Italy (in no particular order):
1) Florence-everything!
2) Michelangelo's David
3) The Sistine Chapel
4) St. George's Greek Orthodox Church
5) Venice-the alleys, the gondola ride & Bellinis
6) Lake Garda in the fog
7) Cinque Terre in the rain
8) Wine tasting in Tuscany
9) Santa Maria del Fiore
10) The FOOD! The best bruschetta, pasta, pizza, seafood spaghetti, gelato & wine I have ever had

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