In between planning a wedding which is already stressful enough, we were tasked with planning our first international trip to Italy. We booked the trip way in advance and had to leave the next morning after the wedding.
Sleepy but excited, my new husband and I wore our matching t-shirts to board the plane. (It matched the movie theme of our wedding. I’m a commitment to the clap kind of girl. So get into it.) Midday, we landed in Detroit. I was ready for a coney and to go to the Foreign Exchange booth. I also recommend using your credit card, Travelex card, and be sure you let your bank be aware of your travel dates. It was odd to have foreign money. I felt like a baller for a hot second.
I was anxious but excited for my first international flight. We flew Delta. After doing some research I knew I would be receiving a few meals and I could have free alcohol. I was surprised by the options available on the menu. It wasn’t basic food. On the menu was Thai Chicken Salad, Herb Roasted Chicken Piccata or Burrata Agnolotti in Classic Pomodoro with Tuscan Tomato and Nut-free Pesto. I mean come on. They were out of the Thai Chicken Salad so I opt for the Herb Roasted Chicken.
I couldn’t sleep. David, my husband, was knocked out. I watched movies until the movies finally watched me. Finally, we landed in Paris. This was not our final destination, but it was so cool to get my passport stamped from Paris.
That airport was stressful! We were told we were late getting here. Sorry! I just got off the plane. But we made it to the gate. I had to get something from Paris. I didn’t know if I would ever come back. (But I am!)
Finally, we made it to Firenze (Florence). We had to wait an hour to secure our rental cars. Don’t worry, they drive on the same side of the road as we do in America. But they drive fast! Learn from my mistake, if you plan to rent a car, bring your own GPS! But honestly, don’t even rent a car. The trains are much easier to help you navigate the city. After we passed the tolls, which was a struggle within itself, we finally made it to the hotel. It was a castle.
We greeted the front desk person and pulled out our passports as identification. Overwhelmed by the ride in and the confusing GPS, it was nice to be warmly greeted. We headed to our room. The bed covered with rose petals, which I kept.
We enjoyed room service and a couples massage. After all the dancing from the wedding it was a relief to have this massage.
Rome was the first stop. We took the train from Florence to Rome. We had our passes for the hop on hop off tour. This offered a ride and a guided tour around the highlights of the ancient city. I had to go to the Vatican. We had a private group tour of the Sistine Chapel. Sorry, no photos were allowed. You’ll have to take my word for its beauty or just see it yourself.
Gelato and pizza were a must-have on the trip. And in actuality, we ate pretty inexpensively on most days.
Pisa was our next stop. We planned to drive down there and have a walking tour. But we got caught up in traffic. The hour trip turned to 90 minutes and we missed the tour. The GPS lead us to underground parking. We were instructed to leave the keys in the ignition. I politely grabbed all my stuff out of there thinking well if they steal the car at least I can get back into the hotel. I put my faith in good people and hoped for the best.
We walked towards the main attraction, the Leaning Tower. I was met by hundreds of people trying to get that perfect photo holding up the tower. What do you think of mine? (Oh before I forget, everything worked out with the car.)
Back at the hotel, we sipped Italian wine and met some amazing travelers. People from America and people from Canada, Dublin, and Amsterdam. The wine was flowing and I was enjoying every sip. I purchased a bottle and have yet to drink it.
We spent a day in Florence to admire the artwork of great artist before I was ever thought of. David loved the art. I was excited about the three-course lunch with wine pairing for about £40 per person. I noticed in those restaurants, waiters are in no rush. In Italy, the waiters don’t need you to tip. So we didn’t.
We purchased leather in a store near the wine restaurant. Florence is known for its leather. Afterward we hopped back in the hop-on-hop-off to visit more sites. Back at the hotel that night we had a long cooking class where I learned to make gnocchi.
Venice. One word, breathtaking. The water gave me peace just when I needed it. It was calming to sit right by the water. The highlight was a gondola ride with my husband down the Grand Canal. The waves and currents were a bit rocky as the Gondolier pedaled us through the waters. I’ll never forget the sun kissing our faces as we held hands. This is what a honeymoon is all about. This was my favorite day.
The final day, a Sunday was sent hanging out around the town of Figline. We didn’t make reservations but were still able to have a table at a luxury restaurant. I wanted the steak but I didn’t get it. The waiter didn’t understand me I guess. But I loved the wine, the pasta, and the company.
Things I learned
The world is a beautiful place. Americans can learn a thing or two about kindness. Not only did I feel no racism but I felt quite welcomed. I felt they just embraced me. Though I was worried about pickpockets, I felt safe. The country felt so peaceful and perhaps it was because I was so full of love in my heart or maybe it was just the truth. I would return to the country again.
Where is your dream destination? Share in the comments below.