I loved Italy. I have been wanting to go for a very long time, and my husband and I finally made it happen. I flew in from Brussels, Belgium to Rome, Italy the day before my husband arrive and instantly felt at home. There was just something about returning to my ancestral roots that gave me the feeling, “I belong here.”
Our hotel was within 5 minutes walking to St. Peter’s Cathedral and one block from the metro station, which we never actually used, except for catching the number 64 bus which took us just about everywhere we wanted to go in Rome. We also did quite a bit of walking, but I was fine with that because most of Rome is flat.
While enjoying a wonderful Italian dinner in what was to become our favorite restaurant on our first night there, we found ourselves talking about all the great dishes she cooked. It was pouring rain sitting outside under an awning by the time we got served, which came on so suddenly. But the weather was still warm and we wanted to stay outside. So we just moved our table in slightly to be under the awning more.
After eating we decided to wait out the rain by moving inside to enjoy a very leisurely Tiramisu with very strong coffee. OMG! The combination of the two was soooo good.
Being our first time in Italy, we did all the usual touristy things. And we always tried to purchase tickets in advance so we could skip the line and enjoy the guided tours we booked, especially the one for St. Peter’s Cathedral, which included the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. It was awe-inspiring. Click the link below to view our photos of Rome.
Florence and Tuscany Favorites
Slideshow of some of my favorite art, food, and places we visited photos of Florence, Italy.
I love this photo view of the David by Michelangelo for the emotion it captures.
Further down in the slideshow is a photo of peach gelato. The day this was taken, happened to be me and my husband’s 48th first date anniversary.
While in Florence we also discovered our favorite pizza, “Napoli” pizza topped with marinara sauce, cheese, anchovies and capers.
And I couldn’t help but notice the awesome smell coming from the Italian Leather Shops.
Favorite people we met who generously invited us for a fabulous dinner in their Tuscany home Gabriela, Leone, and their daughter Caterina. They prepared a marvelous feast followed by Caterina making our favorite dessert. They were so welcoming and treated us like family. I thought it was so special of their family to have each prepared a dish that they served.
Gabriela is a fantastic cook. She teaches cooking classes in their home. Her husband also loves to cook but Leone‘s specialty is restoring old paintings.
He gave us a tour of his studio today and we were so impressed to see how many restoration projects he is commissioned to do. These paintings are ones that hang in famous galleries and museums. He is so knowledgeable on how to restore very old paintings done on wood and ones done on canvas. It was so interesting to talk to such a master of his craft and be shown the materials he uses to restore these old paintings.
Their daughter Caterina has studied to become a tour guide and we enjoyed getting lots of travel tips from her. We have so many stories and fond memories from meeting and spending time with them.
Oh, and one more thing…they also run an Airbnb and that’s how our son Daniel’s family first met them. HIs family stayed in the section of their house that they use for an Airbnb when they were in Italy a couple
of years ago. It’s such a charming Villa. I remember the pictures he had sent back from his visit their.
Here’s just a couple of the ones we took when we first arrived. We are standing in their front yard with the view of the hills of Tuscany in the background. And that tree on the right…an amazing fig tree in full bloom.
In Milano, Italia we visited Maria (pictured left) who is Mike’s cousin (on his mom’s side), Maria’s older sister Tina, Tina’s husband Fosco, and Lara who is a distant niece of Fosco. (pictured right) Baby is one of Maria’s cousins, who drove us back and forth to the train station.
When Mike’s parent’s visited Milan, they took a photo in front of the Duomo that we wanted to try to replicate. As you can see in the slideshow, ours doesn’t look quite as gracefully refined as there’s does.
Staying with cousin Maria made our trip to Milano extra special. We met her almost 40 years ago when she visited America. Two of our sons, Andrew and Daniel have been to Italy with their family to visit her and other family in Italy over the years and now it was our turn. Maria is the daughter of Mike’s mom’s brother Vito. Both her parents lived to be, I believe 103 (mother) and 105 (father) years old.
Walking into the house is like walking into a museum. And the great thing about not just seeing the fine China and silverware in her cabinets was actually using them everyday as if to say these are not for show, these are meant to be used, otherwise why have them. So many of the fine attributes that I admired about Mike’s mom, I saw in Maria and I feel as though her and I really bonded during our stay.
In Milano and the surrounding neighborhoods Maria took us into, we saw a mixture of old and new architecture, but more then the sights, it was spending time with family that made our stay there so special.
In Cinque Terra we stayed in a really cute little apartment in the village of Monterosso de Mar. We found that taking the train into each village worked the best for us with one trip by ferry to to get a sea view of the 5 villages.
We enjoyed the first 3 villages the most, with the second one, Venazza, being our favorite. The other two villages were way too hilly for us to fully explore.
There are a couple of other villages just past Cinque Terre which you can take the train or the ferry to and I actually thought they were much more picturesque from a sea view with the sailboats and a castle I passed in Portovenre. The town of La Spezie, where I got off to return by train, has so many trendy shops very close to the big the port there.
cinque terra video