Right from the start, my kids and I decided on Italy to jump start our holiday in Europe! To prepare for the vacation, we attended a Travel convention held in LA. Trafalgar was the clear choice.
Months before flying to Rome, we were busy thinking and planning for our trip. We discussed everything from what to pack, to how to pose at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and how we would choose which photos to post on Facebook!
Finally, the day arrived. I became emotional as I stepped of the plane; as a child, even though I didn’t know much about Italy, I just knew deep in my heart that I would one day visit. The vacation was our very first time overseas, so we fully intended to enjoy every moment of it!
During our ‘Introduction to Rome’ experience, we could only marvel at how steeped in history Italy is! The architecture was amazing. Experiencing the city at night was totally different from the daytime and our first dinner was a gastronomer’s delight!
I am Catholic so a visit to the Vatican was a must. It did not disappoint. On our Sistine Chapel visit, we were treated to such marvelous works of art. Our Local Guide said we were so lucky to be right near the Papal door as legend has it, whoever is in the vicinity once it opens will have a very lucky year. I already felt lucky to be in Italy, even without the opening door! Looking out at the Basilica Square was amazing. I kept pinching myself because I had only seen the Vatican in movies so to be there was so surreal! It was an exhausting but rewarding day with visits to the Colosseum, Fontana de Trevi, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. We ended the day with a delicious dinner in one of the bistros at the Piazza.
On day 4, we took the funicular to the Capri town. At the top, we took in the breathtaking views and the Mediterranean Sea and walked through town sipping refreshing lemonade and watermelon granitas.
On the fifth day, we drove to Pompeii, a place quite literally frozen in time! I cannot imagine the terror and helplessness that the residents must have felt when they the lava and ashes of Mt. Vesuvius engulfed them. I am from the Philippines where an active volcano (a volcano with an almost perfect cone) is right in our backyard and was also responsible for burying a town, so I was fascinated by Pompeii! In the afternoon, we went to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. I was emotional upon stepping into the Basilica. A moment of stillness came over me. The solemnity and holiness of the place was inspiring. The town itself is very quaint. A throwback to simple times!
How can one skip out on Venice, right? We took several modes of transportation to enjoy the Venetian experience! We first rode in the water taxi to get to the heart of Venice. We fed the pigeons at St. Mark’s Square and rode in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs. We took a ride in a boat and passed through the Rialto Bridge and had our first glimpse of the only modern bridge in Venice! To cap the day off, we rode through the sunset and saw Venice at dusk.
The following day, we visited the famous Murano and were treated to a demonstration of the art of glassblowing. Off we went to colorful Burano – truly a photographer’s delight! With our Nikon 200, we were able to capture the wonderful blend of colors. We were treated to another delightful seafood lunch.
Day eight was our chance to visit Juliet’s balcony in Verona, take a cruise in Lake Como and catch a glimpse of the Rich and Famous’ wonderful vacation homes. Ah… to live that life!
Another must-see was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Finally, we got to take a shot of the pose that will forever be immortalized…in the pages of Facebook!
We were almost at the last leg of our tour when we visited Florence. So many historical places to see, including the Santa Croce! To see where Galileo and Michelangelo, to name a few, were buried was something else altogether.
Alas, it was time to say Arrivederci to Roma on our tenth day. Our Farewell Dinner was lovely with our trip companions, who for a brief time became our family in Italia! The formal dinner and serenade from the opera singers was a magnificent finish to a simply wonderful vacation.
Arrivederci Italia for now! Next we’ll be saying Bonjour Paris, with Trafalgar of course!
Gina Lou Barrameda-Paysan, CA