And Away We Go

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Now that we’ve met La Famiglia, i can talk about the actual tour. It was amazing, and with each stop we made I fell more and more in love with Italy.  Each place seemed more beautiful than the next.

We started with a walk tour of Rome. Since Robyn and I had already walked around a lot of Rome the day before, we had seen the highlights, but Daniel took us to places we wouldn’t have thought of, like the Spanish steps, showing us some beautiful scenery of Rome. 

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I wasn’t that in love with Rome, which felt slightly sacrilegious. For someone who loves history, Rome should have been my number one city. But it was so overwhelmingly big, so full of people and dirt and chaos. I love big chaotic cities, but Rome was too much, even for me. I was relieved to leave the next morning, and head to Siena.

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The bus ride into Siena was beautiful. As we came closer and closer, we started seeing beautiful citadels built into rolling hills, unlike anything I had seen before. I wished I could have taken pictures but photos from a moving bus just don’t come out well, unfortunately. Siena turned out to be one of these citadels, and it was even more beautiful from the inside. It was like a magical little town, full of twisting cobblestone roads, unexpected hills and side alleys that opened into beautiful little piazzas full of treasures. Every time we left the hotel there was something new and beautiful to be seen. I was enchanted the minute I set foot in Siena.

20150519_171315We only spent two nights there, but in some ways it felt like a full week. It was in Siena that my new little family really bonded, and somehow even became known at one of the local cafes.  Daniel showed us this cool little bar that had a second floor and a balcony – although I use that term loosely. It was basically a few planks and some rusty metal railings and I have no idea how it stayed together, but it held us up two nights in a row, and somehow none of us dropped any drinks over the side on the innocent bystanders below! The balcony view showed up the main piazza in Siena.

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Public Stoning in SienaOur first night out Daniel told us about the horse races that are held in the piaza, and after we had drunk our fill of wine and Aperol spritz’s, he insisted we walk the piazza, including a stop with the guys being locked up for public drunkeness.  Robyn probably wished they had actually been locked up.  She had turned in early and because we only had one key per room, as we entered the hotel, I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to get in to my room.  So the guys helpfully started loudly “whispering” Robyn’s name to wake her up.  Turned out she left the door unlocked for me, considerate lovely human being that she was.  I’m not sure she felt the same way about us at 2 am that morning.    

20150519_170039The next day we walked around the city, Elisa, Fraser, Robyn and I. We climbed the “stairway to heaven” in the duomo, the most beautiful church I have seen. The outside was spectacular, but it was the inside that really struck me. Blue ceiling with gold stars…normally I am not a fan of all the gilding, I prefer simple beauty, but this took my breath away. It was by far my favourite church of the whole trip. And the views from the different lookout spots during our trip to heaven were breathtaking.

That night we had a wine tasting which Theo skillfully avoided, but the rest of our little group enjoyed thoroughly. Our sommelier was an incredibly knowledgeable man who actually sounded like the Godfather. He kept us entranced, which wasn’t hard since I love wine. He quizzed us on what we could smell and taste in the wine (Kay really enjoyed the peppery wines). I found a new favourite wine – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

We were also introduced to truffle beer, which is Amazing!  The most exciting new discovery in Siena though, was the gnocchi restaurant Daniel took us to for dinner. He promised me the best gnocchi I have ever tasted, and he didn’t lie. Gnocchi is probably my favourite comfort food (potato and flour, what more can a girl ask for?) and these ones were huge, and stuffed with delicious fillings. It was such a great day, and only got better as we all headed back to our “regular” seats on the balcony and had a few drinks before heading to sleep.  I was so sad to leave Siena the next morning, but really I couldnt’ complain because we were heading to Florence.

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Florence is a beautiful breathtaking city as well. It wasn’t a favourite of mine because it was another huge tourist filled city, but it was without a doubt beautiful, and we saw the best o fit.  We had dinner in an amazing rib restaurant, where we annoyed all the other customers with how loud we were.  We found a craft beer bar in Italy, which was surprisingly good, and the only sad Irish pub I have ever been to in my life, with the worst sad music and an incredibly disenchanted bartender.  But it was an Irish pub in Italy, after all.  

We also visited the Leonardo da Vinci interactive museum was so awesome.  They re-created some of his inventions, with his sketches and notes about them in both Italian and English.  You could turn cranks and levers and make them work, and even try to rebuild some of his creations.  Robyn, Fraser and I geeked out in that museum for quite a while!  

20150522_191819The best of Florence, though, was the picnic we had on the steps of the piazza di Michelangelo, with a panoramic view of the rooftops of Florence. It took my breath away, and the combination of all the laughter we had, plus the still moments of staring over the city, hearing the bells of all the cathedrals echoing across the river and up the hill, made it one of my favourite moments in Italy. 

After many laughs and good times in Florence, we packed our bags again and headed on to the next, best, stop in our journey.  

Stay tuned…

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