As promised, my sister and I planned an international trip to Italy with our mom. Despite the frigid weather in Italy and that it heavily snowed (it hasn’t in 6 years!), it was my first time in Europe! I would like to start off by thanking everyone who gave me their recommendations, although we weren’t able to stop by each and every one. Maybe that’ll render another trip back sometime!
We took an evening flight out of JFK to Rome with Alitalia airlines. Once we landed in Rome, we transferred to Trenitalia to head on over to Florence. Our first Italian meal was quite interesting. Honestly, it was a bit of a struggle to order our food even with google translate and using some broken up English, but we managed and shared a filling meal at Osteria Il Gatto E La Volpe. We also realized that wine was just as cheap as water, because we spent 6 euros on hot water (my mom could not stop complaining about this). After dinner, we took a stroll around the neighborhood and stumbled upon our first beautiful piece of Italian architecture, that we later learned was the famous Il Duomo.
Since the Il Duomo was that close to us, we decided to start there first since I was told that the waiting lines for these tourist attractions wraps around after opening. And yes, that was true! We waited nearly an hour for the Basilica part of the Duomo. Before the church, we climbed a lengthy staircase up to the Bell Tower to see the Duomo surrounded by a glimpse of nearby Florence. I must say, the Duomo is one piece of artwork.
You’ll also soon see that Italy has a recurring theme of churches. As we were heading over to the Piazzale Michelangelo, we also passed by the Basilica di Santa Croce. About a half an hour walk over the bridge, we made it to a view of Florence. Too bad we weren’t able to stay until sunset, but we did manage to catch it while walking over the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery.
We started the next day with sandwiches at All’antico Vinaio, which were so good! This place gets very busy, but they only have a couple items on their menu or you can always create your own sandwich. Of course we couldn’t, since everything was in Italian. After roaming around, we stopped by Don Nino for some dessert and gelato.
On our transfer to Venice, it started snowing so much in Rome that all the trains were either delayed or cancelled. We waited close to 5 hours and luckily were able to get on the earliest train to Venice. Thank goodness, the Trenitalia trains are pretty comfortable! Right when we got off the train in Venice, we were all literally in awe. Every corner turned, you can see the beauty and history of this city.
We visited the St. Mark’s Square with the Basilica, Doges Palace, and Bridge of Sighs, all within walking distance. Honestly for the most part, a lot of Italy was accessible by foot, although, I would’ve loved to travel to the outskirts of each city.
For our meals, we had pasta to go at Dal Moro’s, pizza at Rossopomodoro, and also some of the best tiramisu I’ve had at I Tre Mercanti. It was so creamy and so hard not to get one of each flavor for on the road!
After many lefts and rights, we visited the Libreria Aqua Alta, which is an indoor and outdoor bookstore. We then walked across their famous Ponte di Rialto and were able to watch another sunset there! On our way, we were also able to catch the sun setting over the St. Marks Basilica too.
The only thing we weren’t able to do was take a gondola ride down the Grand Canal, but it started heavily snowing by the time we left Venice, so this will be added onto the list for my next trip to Italy! Our last stop was Rome. Since it was already nighttime when we arrived on the first day, I thought it was the perfect hour to visit the Trevi Fountain since it lit up at night. My sister and I made a wish too (hopefully it’ll come true)!
When in Rome, of course we had to visit the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps as well. The owner from Pano e Vino also recommended that we take a trip to the infamous Keyhole in Rome. As the name describes, it’s literally a keyhole to a door where you can see a view of the Vatican. The day we visited the Vatican was pouring rain and in addition to the long line, we were only able to admire it from the outside. I’m sure it is stunning as ever inside. After visiting so many churches, we didn’t think this last one was going to be any different, but the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore definitely has one of the most intricate, golden interior and decor.
One of my favorite meals in Rome was dinner at Mamma Angela’s, where my sister and I had pasta and stuffed mushrooms. I also thought the to go pastas in Italy were great, cheap eats. At Pastificio, they even served complementary wine while you dined! Nearby, there is also another famous tiramisu shop, Pompi. We didn’t try their tiramisu but instead, had some of the best coconut gelato. Hands down, favorite gelato of Italy!
Our trip to Italy was short and sweet. Until then, my next vacation awaits! Hopefully to somewhere much warmer and sunnier!