April 7-19, 2011 - Italy
For Christmas I surprised my dad with a business class ticket to Italy. (I fly so much I used my airline points). He was beyond excited, and in April my mom, dad and I took off for our trip! We were doing a tour with Tauck, but we also had an extra day before the tour started and a couple days at the end.
Pompeii – Amalfi Coast
When we arrived in Rome, we checked into the Hotel Majestic. We walked around the town for a bit just to help with the jet lag, grabbed some dinner and then turned in for the night. The next day we had a day tour booked and they picked us up around 6am. We went to Pompeii and took a guided tour of the site for a couple hours. It is a pretty fascinating place, with so much to see and learn about. One thing I thought was interesting was that in the ground you saw these marble chips. They acted as “night lights” when the moon reflected off of them. After Pompeii we grabbed some lunch and then proceeded on to Positano. The views from the winding coastal roads were just incredible. We stopped in Positano for a bit then went on to Amalfi before finally turning around to head back to Rome. We got home after 10:30pm, so that was definitely a long, but fun first day in Italy.
Rome – Vatican City
The next morning my mom and I took a Taxi to the Jewish museum in the Jewish Ghetto. We walked around that area for a while, seeing some ruins, the river, and a couple Piazzos. We walked back to our hotel in the afternoon then rested until our welcome dinner started with the tour.
On our first day of the tour we headed to the Colosseum. Next we drove over to the Spanish Steps and had lunch at Ristorante Ciampini. After lunch we went on a walking tour, stopping at Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and then the Piazza Navona. Dinner was on our own tonight and my parents and I found a place near the hotel for some pizza and chianti – can’t beat that in Italy.
The next day we were off to the Vatican. We walked through the Candelabra, Tapestry and Map rooms. The funniest thing about that feet picture in the Map room was that my dad said the minute I laid down on the floor a security guard starting coming towards me. Thankfully I took my picture quick and was up before he made it there! After that we went into the Sistine Chapel. I could have stared at that ceiling for hours – it was so amazing. As many pictures as you’ve seen, it just doesn’t do it justice. Next we went to the Bascilica of St. Peter and finally out to the main Piazza. That night my parents and I made reservations at Osteria Allegro Pachino for dinner, very close to the Trevi Fountain. We had a great dinner and went to look at the fountain at night afterwards.
Orvieto – Assisi – Sienna
This morning we packed our bags and got on the bus to head to Orvieto. We toured the Cathedral (Duomo), had lunch in town, and then I walked up the 240 steps of the Clock Tower to enjoy some breathtaking views of the town and countryside! We slowly made our way through the cobblestone streets to the plaza where there was another lookout area that was just as amazing. After Orvieto we went on to Perugia where we checked into the Hotel Brufani. That night we had dinner at La Taverna and then called it a night.
The next morning we drove to Assisi and took a tour of the Basilica of St. Francis, and then drove to the town of Torgiano to have lunch at Tre Vaselle winery. We got back to Orvieto in the afternoon, and after our wine lunch I took a nap! It was raining outside, but we ventured out that night to check out some of the chocolate shops (Perugia is known for their hazelnut chocolate), then we found a pizza shop called Merlin’s to eat dinner.
Florence – Pisa - Chianti
This morning we packed and headed towards Florence. On the way we stopped in Sienna, where we walked around the town, went to St. Catherine’s church, walked through the Piazza del Campo and went in the amazing Cathedral (The Duomo). This cathedral had the most phenomenal black and white striped marble – just beautiful.
After lunch we continued on to Florence, arriving in the late afternoon. We went straight to the Gallerie dell’ Academia to see Michelangelo’s David statue, then checked into the Hotel Bernini. We had a really great Art history presentation at the hotel (sounds boring, but it was actually interesting) and then finished the evening with a group dinner in the hotel.
On our last day of the Tauck tour we started with a walking tour of Florence, followed by a tour of the Uffizi Gallery. Before lunch we went to a shop for an olive oil and wine tasting that was really fun. Then we grabbed lunch at Finesterrae Mediterranean in the Santa Croce plaza. After lunch I went with a few ladies from the tour to the Cathedral of Santa Maria, where we stood in line for almost an hour to climb the 423 steps to the top of the Cupola. It was definitely worth the wait – as the views from the Cupola were amazing! In the afternoon my mom and I did some shopping and then walked over the Ponte Vecchio bridge (from the 1300s), and we finally ended the day with our farewell dinner at Restaurant Frescobaldi.
Our last two nights in Florence, my parents and I stayed at the Westin Excelsior. Today we were taking a tour to Pisa. We met our tour guide at the Hotel Baglione and after lunch departed for Pisa. We toured the Baptistery, Leaning Tower and the Cathedral in the afternoon. The feet picture at the leaning tower was definitely a highlight! I normally have a rule that I am the one taking the picture of my feet, but in this case it was a joint effort! I was sitting on a pole, leaning back while my dad was supporting me and my mom was taking the picture. It took us numerous tries but we finally got the perfect shot! After our tour we made it back to Florence around 7pm. We had dinner at a small family restaurant, Profeta, very close to the hotel, that ended up being our favorite meal of the entire trip. After an amazing dinner they brought us complimentary limoncello, which just capped off a great day!
On our last day in Florence my parents and I did different activities. They took a cooking class in town, and I went on a bike tour of Chianti through the company Active Tours. Our first stop was Pappiano Castle from 1199. We toured the wine bottling and labeling area, the wine cellars and the olive oil drying and pressing room. Then we went up the watchtower for some more amazing views of the countryside. After the tour we got on our bikes and started our ride through Chianti. We stopped for lunch at Ristorante Il Ponte, and then continued on our ride.
I got back to Florence around 5pm, met back up with my parents and we went out for our final dinner in Italy at Cirghiali Bianco. It wasn’t our favorite, but we also think by this point we might have just been tired of Italian food and ready to go home. We grabbed one last gelato and called our trip complete. What an incredible vacation and memories made with my parents!
Check out some more photos from my trip here -
Pompeii, Amalfi Coast Photos
Rome, Vatican City Photos
Orvieto, Assisi, Sienna Photos
Florence, Pisa, Chianti Photos