April 19

Florence, Italy
Posted on April 19th, 2011 at 11:39 AM by admin
We departed our Hotel Albani at about 8 am and headed for Florence. In my last tour in Italy it was one of my favorite cities so I was excited to come back. The bus ride was about 3.5 hours with one stop, most of which I spent doing homework. When we arrived we were taken to exactly the same gold and leather store as my tour 10 years ago. It was a very interesting case of deja vu. I remember buying a leather belt for my father last time as well as leather pants (that I never wear). This time I thought maybe I would make a more classy investment. I found a leather motorcycle style jacket. It was fine tailored leather that was brush painted tan. I tried it on, despite my better judgment, and of course loved how it looked in me. I knew it would be expensive but I didn’t realize that it would, like dinner the night before, be completely unaffordable for me. But luckily for me Mom and Dad came to the rescue. We negotiated, like we do, it to be an early Christmas present (note: my birthday next month was already accounted for when I wanted an expensive lens for my digital camera last Christmas) and I happily left the store with a beautiful Italian leather jacket.

That night there was a dinner excursion offered but we chose once again to go to another one of our agents’ recommendations. Before doing so we headed over to Ponte Vecchio, a very old (possibly the oldest) bridge in Florence. It was quite a site to see because it had little buildings built all the way across the bridge. The shops had old wooden covers that could be propped open during business hours and then pulled down to shut at closing time. It was a bit touristy but worth the short visit. Our dinner venue was called Paoli and was definitely a better value than the night before. It was very modestly priced and had excellent food. But most interesting was the environment inside. This restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florence, used to be a church and the walls were painted and decorated as such. The waiters spoke English very well so I was relieved of most of my translation duties for the night.

Dad and I in front of the old-church restaurant

The next day we went back into Florence, as our hotel was a bit outside of the city center, and briefly visited the museum of fine art (which houses Michelangelo’s David) and then took a short walking tour by the beautiful marble dome called The Basilica of Saint Maria of the Flower (La Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) and through the Signora Plaza (Piazza Signora). The Signora Plaza was a unique site due to all the statues outside in one small area making it an open art museum of sorts. When our tour ended we had a quick bite to eat and I finally allowed myself to splurge on a cafe latte before heading back to our bus and hitting the road again. This time — the road to Venice.
The copy of the David in the open art gallery of Piazza Signora

La Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

April 18

Rome, Italy
Posted on April 18th, 2011 at 6:31 PM by admin
This entry marks the beginning of a two week trip through Italy compliments of my lovely parents Jim and Mary Ellen. After arriving in Rome at about 2pm I was transferred to the hotel where I met my parents and took a quick nap before the tour group’s first meeting. We introduced ourselves and headed off to a welcome dinner at Mino’s. Although I had already become acquainted with Italian dining in previous trips to Italy I remember being particularly impressed with the number of courses we were served at this place. I kept thinking we were done until I looked down at the pieces of silverware I had left. By the time I was served the main course I could only eat a few bites because I was so full. Little did I know this was going to become par for the course for my Italian dining experiences for most of the trip.

The next morning we toured Rome’s most important sites. It’s obviously impossible to see a lot in just one afternoon but we saw many of the ruins in the historical center including the Colloseum of course. After touring we went to a very nice restaurant near our hotel where I ended up doing a bit of translation to help some of the others (mainly my parents) order their food. We then opted out of our optional afternoon tour to take a “break” before eating at a place that our tour agent recommended. During the break I took a nap and did some homework since my professors clearly don’t think this two week holiday should REALLY be a holiday.

This was the scenery just before heading into the museum at the Vatican


Collosseum from the inside

That night I argued a bit with my parents about having to dress up for dinner as I had already dressed up the night before. Anyone who knows me knows I like to keep the dressing up to a minimum but this place certainly warranted the nice clothes. The restaurant, called Imaggi, was on the top flour of a building with a beautiful view of Rome and was very modernly decorated. My mother and I discovered rather late that the menu my father was given was the only one with prices and as I glanced over to look a them I quickly realized why. We didn’t order every course but the chef must of appreciated how much we DID order because he sent us several extras. I once again could not eat my main course after being filled with appetizers and tid bits, most of which I hadn’t ordered. The flavors were original and exquisite but I am pretty sure I will never eat quite like that again. I have been to Italy before and will likely come again but that dining experience was certainly once in a lifetime (Thanks Dad!)


That night I had a bit trouble sleeping on a less than wonderful mattress and certainly didn’t enjoy having to get up 6:45 am in order to eat, put my luggage outside the room and check out of the hotel, but I did what I had to do! The next morning we visited the Vatican. The Sisteenth chapel was as amazing as always and I really enjoyed some of the sculptures in the museum. And Florence here we come!

Statue from the musuem at the Vatican

Posted on April 16th, 2011 at 12:09 PM by admin



Here is the 2 week trip that I will be going on with my parents. We will start and end in Rome. It’s going to be a lot of traveling but i’m excited. Look out for a post from each city! Andiamo!