Dear readers, hope you and your kids are enjoying the summer break. As an educator I love this break and we always try to take a vacation. Last summer we went to Pittsburgh and New York City. Summer 2020 we were home due to the COVID pandemic. 2019 summer we went to India & three countries in Europe. Read this post about our first trip to Europe where we visited Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic: https://dawnandhope.com/our-1st-europe-trip/ . Today’s post is part one of our Italy trip to Rome, Vatican City, Florence and Pisa this summer. In the next travel post, I will cover our visit to Venice, Cinque Terre, Milan and Lake Como in Italy.
To continue our list of summer vacations, in 2018 we went to Cancun, Mexico. In 2017 we took a road trip to Minneapolis and Chicago, and also traveled to parts of Iowa and Indiana. 2016 was a trip to India. 2015 was local Texas travel to San Antonio, 2014 was New England vacation in which we visited Boston and parts of Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire, 2013 summer was India and Canada trip, 2012 was New York and Washington D.C. visit, 2011 was local Texas cities, 2010 was India trip, local travel in 2009 as we had just bought a house in summer, and Disney Land and Las Vegas in 2008.
The December winter vacations for us included San Francisco and Yosemite National Park in 2021, none in 2020 due to the pandemic, Walt Disney World in 2019, none in 2018 as my husband was traveling out of country, Wyoming and Utah in 2017, Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee and parts of Arkansas and Atlanta, Georgia in 2016, Calgary Canada in 2015, San Antonio Texas in 2014, Santa Fe New Mexico and Grand Canyons, Arizona in 2013, local Texas cities in 2012, Walt Disney World in 2011, and Corpus Christie and South Padre Island in 2010 when family was visiting us. Phew, this took me down my memory lane and it felt so good to be able to remember all of them so fondly. So as you can see we consider ourselves travel enthusiasts and always take any opportunity to travel. Read on about our Italy trip part one in this post where we traveled to 4 cities in total just a few weeks ago.
Our summer vacation started on June 23rd when we flew to Calgary, Canada from Houston. Italy vacation started on June 28th when we reached Rome after flying from Calgary for 9 hours. Due to the time difference and our one halt in Amsterdam we started from Canada on Monday evening and reached Rome on Tuesday afternoon. Rome is the capital of Italy and is famous for its architecture, food and culture. Our rental cab driver was waiting to welcome us at the airport and drove us to our apartment which was perfect. It had 2 rooms, a master bedroom with a king sized bed and living room with a sofa bed, dining room, a bathroom, a hallway space with windows in each room for great lighting and brightness, and a fully functional kitchen. We rested after refreshing ourselves and then went out to eat at night. It was very lively in the Rome streets and we spent an hour at the Trevi Fountain after eating Italian dinner and then gelato! Tevi Fountain is a stunning masterpiece. It is 26 meters in height and 49 meters in width making it one of the largest fountains in Rome. The statue decorations are beautiful. It is said that if you want to go back to Rome, you should throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain! So it was a great start to our Italy vacation where we wished our older one Happy Birthday at midnight at the Trevi Fountain and ate gelato for the first time and would end up eating it almost every single day during our vacation:)
The next day we started with a lovely breakfast and then spent few hours exploring the Colosseum as we had already bought the tickets for the Colosseum tour before hand. It was not too crowded and reading the history and viewing the architecture was a great experience. The Colosseum is one of the greatest and most famous attractions in Rome. Colosseum is one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is the largest Roman amphitheater in the world and despite suffering multiple natural disasters including fires and earthquakes, it is still standing tall today. For more information, please read their official information site. We also visited the Spanish steps, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Pantheon. We had a great filling lunch, explored and walked a lot and ended with eating dinner at an Indian restaurant to celebrate our older one’s birthday. It was a perfect second day of our trip!
Today Vatican was on our list of places to visit. We had bought these tickets also beforehand and reached the Vatican city by cab around 10 am which was our entry time. Vatican City is the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state. The Vatican is the smallest state in Europe and the smallest country in the world! According to their official website, the Vatican, museum of museums, not only houses the extensive collection of art and archeology but also contains most extraordinary and artistically significant rooms. The masterpieces, paintings and sculptures on the walls and ceiling are stunning, detailed, intricate and exquisite. Sistine Chapel is a real treat- a spectacular building most well-known in the world, and its interior decoration is renowned worldwide. You can read here for the most famous art pieces in the Vatican City, to explore more. We had lunch at the cafe and then took a train from Rome to Florence in the evening.
The stay at Florence was again an apartment, comfortable and cozy although a little bit smaller than the previous one. But there were no complaints as kids got their own separate beds and there were lots of food options nearby just like in Rome. The places we visited included Piazzale Michelango, Piazza del Duomo, Duomo cathedral Santa Maria, Ponte Vecchio, piazza della signoria, giotto’s bell tower and Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. We traveled across Florence by foot and by train crossing River Arno. We used Trenitalia trains for most of our trips and enjoyed the experience. The sunset at Piazzale Michelango is stunning and hence is a favorite spot for most tourists. You can see the incredible view over the Florence skylike with the iconic dome of Duomo towering above all other rooftops.
On day 5, which was July 2 we took a bus tour with a company to visit the leaning tower of Pisa, Sienna and San Gimignano. The highlight of the bus day tour was the wine tasting. In the 12 hours day tour which started at 8 am we traveled in a comfortable luxury bus and the day trip was convenient. We stopped at Sienna for some shopping and snacks, then wine tasting followed by leaning tower of Pisa visit. It is one of the most remarkable architectural structures from medieval Europe. The Pisa tower is one of the four buildings that make up the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy, called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli, which means Field of Miracles. To learn more, visit their official webpage here. We also found an Indian snack bar in Pisa and had our evening tea and samosa there:)
To wrap up the 1st leg of Italy trip was enjoyable and fun. There are beautiful architecture and history to learn and explore. Rome would be one of my favorite places to visit again due to the rich culture, liveliness, amazing food and historic sites there. Florence is the birth place of the Renaissance and is world famous for art galleries, history and gorgeous architecture. We walked on foot in both Rome and Florence to visit the sight seeing places as most of them are easily accessible and nearby each other. To transit in between cities, train was very convenient. In my next travel post I will continue our trip to the lovely Cinque Terre, Milan, Venice and Lake Como in Italy.
Dear readers, we would love to hear from you. Have you visited Italy or other places in Europe? Share your most recent travel destination or something you are looking forward to visit next.