Italy

The 5 cities: Cinque Terre

This was one of the places we were most excited to see and it didn’t let us down. The five beautiful villages perched on the hillside were beyond picturesque and around every corner we had to pull out our cameras to snap another pic. The buildings are painted vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange and are precariously positioned on a terraced landscape of vineyards and olive farming. One of the main things to do in cinque terre is to hike between the villages. We hiked between the villages of Cornelia, Vernazza and Monterosso, stopping in Vernazza for a couple slices of the best forcaccia either of us have ever tasted. The next day we traveled from Riomaggio (where we were staying) to Vernazza just for another piece of this delicious breakfast forcaccia. (forcaccia bread with a cheese spread or ricotta and marscapone. Topped with an egg and a piece of speck kinda like bacon.) Yum. Some of our favorite food yet. Thes rest of our time in Cinque Terre was spent laying on rocks in the sun, admiring the view and reading. Cinque Terre is a must see for anyone traveling through Italy.

Amalfi Coast

   After spending the last week in the bustling cities of Florence and Rome, a weekend retreat to Sorrento and Positano on the Almalfi Coast was just what we needed. We spent two nights in the town of Sorrento where we ate gelato and watched the sunset from the roof of our hostel. We stayed at the Seven Hostel in Sorrento and it has been our favorite hostel so far. It was really nice with a rooftop bar and an amazing view of the ocean. We met some really cool girls here who worked at Whistler together (one from Australia, one from Canada, and one from England) we went into town for the night and we had a blast. Next we took a sketchy bus ride up the steep coast to the little picturesque town of Positano. From here we took more terrifying buses through the cliffs to the towns of Amalfi and Sorrento while taking in the beautiful scenery. Our favorite day of our weekend on the Amalfi coast was a day we spent on a secluded hidden beach. Check out our pictures for a look at this awesome spot. The Amalfi Coast has definitely been one of the best stops so far.

Lake Como

        I promised myself that the next time I came to Europe I would make it to Lake Como. I’ve always heard about this hidden gem off in the Italian Alps, and now after visiting Lake Como; I know it is just that.   When we were finally on the train ride over to Lake Como I had butterflies, I was so excited. Not only would we get to swim all the time, but we splurged a little and reserved a really cute bed and breakfast. A welcome break from the dorm rooms in our hostels. We took the ferry from the train station to the little lakeside town called Bellagio.  Bellagio was adorable and the water looked clean, cold and inviting.  We were in Bellagio for the Fourth of July, and as much as we both missed being at Lake Tahoe for the 4th we were happy to be by a beautiful lake. We felt right at home. Our two days at Bellagio were spent stand up paddle-boarding.  We met the nicest Italian man who rented us the boards both days. We rented paddle boards from him the first day which was great, then we go to dinner and he was our waiter. His name was Mich and he was really awesome. He told us if we ever came back to Como we’d have a place to stay and we could take out his boards anytime. We really wanted to see as much of the Lake as possible so we spent the next two nights at an apartment on a different side of the lake. The apartment was up on the hillside and had an amazing view. We cooked food, pasta of course, and relaxed for the next two days, looking at the mountains above, and the lake below.  Lake Como was unbelievably spectacular, a must see off the beaten path in anyone’s trip to Italy.

Florence

Florence or Firenze really blew me away. Once the heart of the Italian renaissance Florence is full of beautiful art, sculptures and architecture. It was fun to imagine Florence as it was leaving the hard times of the Plague and entering the renaissance with the Medici family, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Michelangelo and countless other timeless names all in one city. The spark that started the renaissance took place here for a reason. The enormous Duomo (or Dome) was one of the most remarkable structures I have ever seen in my life. The outside of the cathedral is red, green and white marble. On the front of the cathedral the elaborate decorations are a mix of statues and carvings that fill every inch. You could stare at this building for hours. Florence has no shortage of museums that we visited. The Academia Museum is home to the famous David statue by Michelangelo which did not fail to impress. The Uffizi Gallery is another large museum that we visited. This museum has a large collection of famous paintings and sculptures by some of the best Italian renaissance artists including Da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Raphael. Our favorite pieces were “Allegory of Spring” and “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli and “Medusa” (painted on a shield) by Caravaggio. Beside taking in all the amazing art, we also took in some more delightful food. Italian food is simply the best. We have become gelato critics and have decided so far that our favorite flavors have been macadamia nut and limoncello. We are excited to go to Rome and see what it has in store for us. -A.C

Rome

        What to say about Rome…  One of the most interesting cities in the world Rome was the capital of the ancient Roman Empire and an important location for artists during the Renaissance.  Rome is really the eternal city.  We visited the Roman Forum and walked down the same streets as Julius Caesar and went to the Colosseum.  Although Rome is now a modern city, the streets are still cobblestone and there are ancient fountains, monuments, and statues around every corner.  Just walking through Rome is an experience.  Inside Rome is the smallest country in the world, Vatican City.  We did a guided tour of the Vatican and saw the stunning Sistine Chapel and went inside the biggest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica.  One of our favorite memories during our stay in Rome was going to the Papal Audience.  We got to see the Pope!  Over 100,000 people gathered in St. Peters Square to get a glimpse of Pope Francesco.  Before beginning his speech he cruised through the crowd, waving and kissing babies.  We got within a few feet of him when he came by our section. This was a moment neither of us will ever forget.  Rome was great but defiantly a busy city, we are looking forward to some lazy time on the beaches on the Amalfi Coast. And now, to the beach!!!


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