Sunday, May 13, 2012

Back Home!

We made it back safe and sound Friday afternoon!

After running some errands (like going to the grocery store which we hadn't really done in over a month) and recovering a little bit, I'm finally able to get back to blogging and tell everyone about my trip.

I'll do one overall blog (this one) and then I'll be doing a day-by-day account. I was thinking to do one for each area, but there is just too much and too many pictures for each day. No pressure to read them all, but I mean really, who doesn't want to see more about Italy?!

Overall, it was absolutely amazing! Having only been to the British Isles in Europe, it had a completely different feel. We spent three days in Rome, three days in Tuscany and three days in Florence. Our favorite by far was Tuscany. We did go for the wine and food, so that makes sense. Dylan really loved driving around Tuscany in our Fiat. Both Florence (Firenze is what it is in Italian, that was one of our biggest complaints, why do we call everything by some made up name? Shouldn't we call it what the native people call it?) and Rome felt very different and we ended up liking Rome better. Partly because of the history there since it has the whole Ancient Rome thing which I am especially interested in. The other part was that in Rome, you walk anywhere and there are places to sit outside and eat and those weren't quite as common in Firenze. But this may have been a little weather related since it was kind of gloomy the couple days before we were in Firenze. Also, there were more fountains in Rome and I really like fountains.

Our only difficulty was getting from hotel to hotel. First in Rome it was my fault that I didn't get us a map on how to get to the hotel. I thought it was just off of a stop on the Metro, so we got off and no one had heard of the street really so we ended up taking a taxi and it was just off the train station, just another two stops down from where I thought. Then we planned to get a GPS for the car for Tuscany but they didn't have any and it turned out the hotel was in a tiny little town and no one could give us specific enough directions so we drove around for two hours and then went back to Firenze (where the car was picked up from) and called the hotel for directions. Finally, when we were dropping off the car in Firenze, it took an hour and a half of driving around Firenze to get to in front of the car place because all of the streets are one way and we couldn't go at all the way we left from the car place.

The food was amazing. I am a pasta fiend anyways but it was all delicious and fresh. My only complaint was breakfast, it was just too different from what I am used to. I had toast/bread with nutella and yogurt every morning. So a good breakfast, just not my favorite (we went to Village Inn on Friday night when we got back... Lol). They have warm milk, mostly meat and cheese, and it just wasn't to my taste. Most days for lunch we grabbed a panini or pizza for a couple Euro. It was absolutely delicious. I love tomatoes now since I had a caprese panini most days and I never ate sandwiches with tomatoes before. For dinner we typically tried to make them about 2 hours long. A bottle of wine, sometimes an appetizer, always a pasta or a pasta to share, then sometimes a second serving with the meat and almost always dessert. Oh and I think we did good about having at least two scoops of gelato every day. I think our favorite was the last day and I got amaretto and mint :)

Kind of along the lines of food... Dylan got me to like cappuccinos. For those of you who don't know me, I don't (didn't...) like coffee at all. No coffee ice cream, no tiramisu, nothing with coffee flavor. Well Dylan took me to Tazzo del Orro by the Pantheon and ordered a cappuccino. Granted I put a sizable amount of sugar in it, but after that day I wanted one every afternoon. This particular coffee shop had a lighter roast, as does most of Italy. So when we were at the store yesterday we grabbed a Caribou Coffee Daybreak bag of coffee beans.

How was it being in a foreign country where the native language isn't English? Pretty much no problem at all. By far the second language is English, and I think we only ran into a couple people that we interacted with that didn't speak any English. It is definitely the most common denominator for tourists and all signs were in Italian (or German when we flew through Germany) and then also in English. I think it made a little more of an arrogant American and I made no effort to pronounce things appropriately in Italian. It just doesn't go well for me anyways.

I think that covers the main bases... I'll obviously get into more detail over the next two weeks as I post about each day. Let me know if you have any questions along the way!

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