Italy, Vatican · 5 Days · 8 Moments · June 2017

Ciao di Italia

1 July 2017

Today is bittersweet. I always hate leaving Italy. It really does feel like home when I'm here. I also had to say arrivederci to Drew. He is going back home and I'm continuing on my adventures in Asia. I may have cried like a little baby when he boarded his plane. To ease the pain, I am now sitting in the British Airways Lounge enjoying free food and drinks! ( PapΓ  Dean is a high flyer and extremely generous. Thank you Papa Dean!) My next stop will be Istanbul airport for a 7 hour layover πŸ˜•then onward to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!

30 June 2017

Friday I had to wash my clothes so we walked around the Spanish Steps and Via del Corso (where all the designer shops are... Gucci, Prada, Versacci...) I really wanted to go in and just try on a dress but I was afraid I'd be treated like 'Pretty Woman', only I would not be able to go back in and say " Big mistake!" So we walked on to the laundromat and then walked in some more approachable shops while we waited on our clothes. We were going to go to Villa Borghese (my favorite art gallery/ museum) but again we didn't know you had to buy tickets in advance. I forget things have changed in the last 12 years and you have to do everything on the internet now. So we went to visit my cousin Marina at her work and she took us to a nice little church and the Pantheon. That evening we met up with Benedetta and my other cousin Daria and her friend Francesca. Last time I was here, I lived with Daria during school breaks so I was so happy I got to see her again.

29 June 2017

Thursday morning we had planned on going inside St. Peter's Basilica then be there when the Pope stands at the window and gives his blessing. However, we were surprised when we got there because the Pope was actually giving a full church service in the square in honor of St. Peter and St. Paul, the patron saints of Rome. Unfortunately we didn't get to go inside the church but it was a great experience to see the Pope in action. 😊 We didn't know you had to make reservation for the Vatican museum so unfortunately Drew did not get to see the Sistine Chapel. But, that just means we have to come back! We spent the rest of the day with my family eating home made Italian meals. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ My cousin Stefano took us to a view hidden gems in the city. ( I can't tell you because then all the crazy tourists will know. 😏) One place was the home of the some secretive group (I think the Ilimunati). But there is a key hole that you can look through and you see the top of St. Peter's Basilica.
After Venice, we went to Rome. We stayed in a nice AirBnB that was a 5 minute walk to St. Peter's Square. We knew we were close but didn't realize how close until we were just wandering around the neighborhood, turned a corner and there was the Basilica! The first day we went to the Coliseum and Roman Forum and just walked around everywhere. Rome is my favorite city because every where you turn, there is just so much history and beautiful architecture. The amount of detail carved into the stone or marble on all the buildings and churches is just amazing. That evening we met up with my cousins Federico and Benedetta. Federico showed us a 2 spots with a nice panorama view of Rome. One on Campidoglio and the other was in Gianicolo. We walked to the Trevi Fountain then had dinner in Trastevere ( another neighborhood ).

27 June 2017

Blooper (now becoming the norm): As our train is arriving, the monitors are showing numbers down the length of the train. Where we were standing was 1 (of course), so we hurry down the track, jump on carriage 9 and walk down to 11. It seems that some people are sitting in our seats, so I ask the train guy where is my seat. I expected him to say "oh, right here" because we had to be close. He says a lot more than expected and I don't understand. Another person explains in English that we are on the complete opposite end of the train. I was like, but the numbers on the screen said this was 11. She said yes but there were arrows. WTF does that even mean? All I could do was laugh and walk all the way back to where we had started. Managgia!
So last night we had trouble falling asleep (time change is setting in), and we slept in a little past the alarm to catch our train to Rome. We arrived to the train station with about 20 minutes to spare. Our ticket said Carrozza 11, which I thought meant track 11. We go down the stairs and follow the numbers: 1,3,5,7,9..end of path. Where's 11? We start walking back. I ask some Italian ladies. They say we are going that way follow us. So we follow them back the way we had come from. Then they too realize there is no 11. A little panic sets in. We go back up the stairs and finally find track 11. I'm watching the screen to confirm our train and I don't see Roma-Track 11. More panic sets in. Drew was smart enough to look at the train number on our ticket, and we realize it's at track 6. On we go. I'm still confused why it said Carrozza 11 if it was 6. Then I realize Carrozza is carriage/cart. Binari means track. Right that down if you plan on going to Italy. Story continues next note.

26 June 2017

Piazza Ferretto in Mestre, Venice
We finally made it to Italy! We spent a day in Venice just walking around all the little streets. We did go inside San Marco church which was very ornate with mosaics ( pictures weren't allowed). We are actually staying in Mestre which is just across from Venice on the mainland. After walking around Venice for 6 hours, we thought we'd go back and rest then return for a sunset gondola ride....but we didn't make it. We knew once we took showers, we'd be too tired to get back out. So we went to Piazza Ferretto in Mestre and sat outside to have dinner. There just so happened to be some free concert happening so we got to listen to music also.