I’m ready to share with you the second and final installment of our trip to Italy (if you missed the first one with Venice, Cinque Terre and Pisa, you can see that here)! This time featuring Florence, Orvieto and Rome. Seeing these pictures is seriously taking me back, and making me miss the fresh caprese (one of our favorite things over there!) and adorable little side streets. They just don’t come like this in America!
We’ll start with Florence and work our way through! This sign below was too funny for me not to take a picture of it! But OF COURSE the person crossing the street would be holding wine bottles! We arrived in Florence in the late afternoon and decided to try and save a little money (since we lost some money with my stuff being stolen), by walking to our Air bnb. It was ok, but let me tell you – pulling your luggage along a really old cobblestone road is never easy. Add that to 85 degree weather and not knowing where you’re going and you’ll be ready for a nap by the time you get there! On the way, a mime, who was entertaining a group of people, thought it would be hilarious to pick up my luggage as I was hurrying by…not a fan of that, but at least I made some people laugh! After we checked into our Air bnb, we took a small nap and headed out to a rose garden we had heard about! It had AMAZING views of Florence and some fun sculptures to look at. If I lived here, I think I’d be at this garden often reading a book and business planning! Obviously had to take advantage of the sculptures! We continued up the path, to Michelangelo’s Piazza, where there were tons of people waiting to see the sunset! We wandered around there for a few before going up to a church that was a little less busy.
And by a little less busy, I mean a LOT less busy, and included gorgeous views of the city! Be sure to go to the Basilica San Miniato al Monte if you are ever in Florence. I promise it’s worth it to have a more intimate experience with Florence! With less people distracting you, you can really enjoy the views!
I found myself constantly shaking my head in awe at the views. It literally took my breath away, and I felt speechless. The most amazing sunset!!
We were staying really close to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge! We LOVED our apartment there. We actually felt like locals, and wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else there!
The next day, a little more rested, we set out early to see the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David. If you get out there by like 6 or 7, it’s pretty darn quiet and nice to not have to fight against all the other tourists! The colors of the Duomo are so extraordinary and absolutely beautiful! Can’t help a good black and white of it!Here he is! The David!! It opens at 8 and we got in line at about 7:30. I think we got in around 8:30, but not 100% sure. All I’d say is it’s worth going early. The line grew rapidly as we stood there and I was so glad we came when we did! Seeing David in person was remarkable. The detail is extraordinary and the colors of the marble changed as you moved around it. It’s crazy to think how long it took him to make and how delicate of a process it was! The Ponte Vecchio in all it’s glory! We didn’t bother to try and walk on it until the morning we were leaving, when there wouldn’t be so many crowds. It was crazy busy all other times of the day! Just a little note about going into the Duomo – as with any holy place in Italy, your knees and shoulders must be covered, so be ready for that. Also, it is free to get in, but you’ll have a lot of tourist guides standing outside trying to tell you to hire them so you can skip the line and get in faster. The line did look kind of long, but we still decided to forgo the tour and stand in line. I kid you not, 5 minutes and we were in! So unless you want the full history told to you, then I would recommend skipping the tour! Motorbikes everywhere! Some fun street art I found! As we were crossing the PonteVecchio, there were workers cutting off locks that people had been putting around this statue. While I like the idea of the locks and what they represent, it just goes to show you that they won’t ALWAYS be there. I’m guessing they do this every few months!
We decided to walk to the top of the Duomo Bell Tower (ie – Giotto’s Bell Tower)! It was quite the walk – 414 steps to be exact – and lots of them were through narrow stairways, but it was definitely worth it. It was fun to see Florence from such a different view! Orvieto
Next up, we took the train to Orvieto! This is a small sleepy Umbria town in between Florence and Rome! We only had a few waking hours there, but we made the best of it by just wandering the streets, enjoying the lookouts and having a cold beer, people watching! I wish we could have stayed at least a day longer here, but it was so worth the short time we had! I definitely recommend it!
After our time in Orvieto, we headed to Rome (via train – again!)! I was SUPER excited about this part of the trip!
As you can see, Trevi Fountain is under construction, as is most of Rome right now! Also the reason you won’t see the Spanish Steps in any pictures. It was covered with people and the church behind it was covered with scaffolding. Not worth the share! I don’t know exactly why, other than I thought there would be ruins EVERYWHERE I looked in Rome, but I was a tad disappointed with Rome. Don’t get me wrong – everything in Rome is so cool to see, but overall, I was like…wait. I thought there’d be even MORE ruins! To me, it was kind of like Chicago, but with some ruins in a few places. I think the reviews I had read made it sound like everywhere I turned there would be ruins…which was not the case.We were lucky enough to go to the Colosseum on the first Sunday of the month, which meant it was FREE! It was like that pretty much everywhere we went that day! It was also free to do the Roman forum and Palatine Hill! It was really nuts to see this and imagine what it would have been like to be in the stands. I truly can’t imagine enjoying watching people fight to the death, but I suppose it’s what was accepted at the time! I don’t know if you can see it, but at the bottom of the picture below is a seagull EATING a pigeon. We saw this 2 times in Venice and once here at the Colosseum. You can only see small, tiny remains at the bottom, but it’s crazy – why are birds attacking and eating other birds?! Is this just an Italian bird thing??
Off to the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill! There was just something so surreal and amazing about seeing this. This was a highlight of Rome for me! It’s all so close together! Oh you know, just walking down the brick road, with the Colosseum in front of me. No big deal! Next we took a train outside of the city. I had heard about this awesome old, fairly preserved ancient city called Ostia Antica. I also found these super easy to follow directions that got us there in about 30-45 mins by train! SURPRISE! Because it was the first Sunday of the month, this, too, was free! I love free!
It was so neat to actually walk in the “houses” and the bath areas, the workout areas of this place and to just totally imagine what it was like living there back in the day!
You were allowed to touch everything and walk in everything. It’s crazy that you were allowed to do such things, but also one of the most unique things we did! I think it took us about 3 hours to walk through the whole place, but we could have spent even longer. To be honest, I was STARVING and couldn’t control my hunger any longer! The next, and final day of our trip we went to the Vatican. What a HUGE place! There was gold seemingly everywhere, and it was quite beautiful.
We also went to see the Sistine Chapel, but pictures were not allowed, so I have none to show of that! The pictures definitely don’t do it justice. It was just massive and expansive. I think it would be such a treat to hear the Pope address the people here!
Well, that’s a wrap on our Italy trip! I hope you enjoyed it! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime and I know how lucky and blessed I am to be able to take a trip like this! -Abby