Monday, July 11, 2011



This is a blog entry but there is someone I wish to dedicate this entry to:


To my dear friend Andrea who shares a sacred passion for Italy with her father


All I have to say is Yuck or Gross! Naples is disgusting, sorry to say it, but I do not want to return. Currently, they are having some severe problems, such as a huge trash strike in which no one wants to clean it up, so there is trash everywhere. In addition, the people I encountered there were not my favorite to say the least.

Sam and I had some time to kill before catching our train to Florence, so we decided to explore a little bit. We saw this castle there by the port. It was nice, but sad because of how run down it was. The outside was surrounded by trash and what was once a moat was now was a dirty dust bowl filled with debris. There were some nice frescoes housed inside, but most were unprotected from the air, and many people smoked around them, which obviously deteriorates their condition. I found this extremely sad. The most interesting thing there was this very old courtroom where trials were held when the castle was active.

We left the castle in search for some good Napoli Pizza. On our way there I was horrified by the sight of a giant Seagull in a grassy square chowing down on the carcass of a pigeon! As we proceeded around the square we saw a cute stray cat that was also enjoying the remains of a pigeon it had most likely killed.

With my appetite now suppressed from the sight of cannibalism and grotesque eating habits we decided to get some famous Napoli Pizza. At least the pizza was amazing, I had some form of sausage pizza, and Samantha had the famous Margarita pizza. We then returned to ship for a short nap before departing by train to Florence.

Last interesting thing in Naples was the Train Station. Not so much the actual station, but the people inside of it. Such as the man I saw walking with a great, big, beautiful white dog, and also a large white duck or goose in his hands (alive). I ran after him to take his picture, but of course like the rest of people I encountered in Napoli he snapped at me and informed not to attempt to take a photograph of him and his entourage.


Yeah, I know where is Venice right? Well it ended up being too much money for Sam and I to go to Venice, so we decided on a night in the small town of Greve in Chianti, Tuscany. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. We had a series of luck as we headed towards our destination. Considering how spontaneous this trip was we were very fortunate. The night before we arrived in Italy we happened to check out the last book on Italy which was one of the only ones to have a section on the wine country their, which is how we found out about Greve. We happened to get the last train to Florence from Naples, and then proceeded to get the last bus from Florence to Greve. All spur of the moment I might add, and quite a challenge too (when you have know idea where the bus station is). Our hotel we booked happened to be in the center square of the small non-touristy area of Greve. And the hotel was quaint with only 15 rooms or so, and a restaurant in the family owned hotel just a minute walk from our room. Our room happened to be one of the only three rooms with a terrace that opened out to a wonderful rooftop view of Greve. One of my favorite things was on the way to Greve I saw the most peculiar and coolest looking porcupine I have ever seen; it was huge! Unfortunately, Harry (the porcupine) was very camera shy and proceeded to run when he became aware of my camera.

We checked in around 9:00 PM and after our long travels we were starving. We went to the tiny little family owned restaurant situated on the terrace of the hotel (inn). The bread in Italy we soon found out is much different, rather than hot salty loaves of bread, one gets cold, bland, and hard bread (this was everywhere in Italy). Although, this little hotel also served these amazing hot fried dough things with their bland bread. We started off with a local bottle of Chianti Classico Reserva, which we would continue to try many different versions throughout our tour of Italy. For dinner Samantha had some of the best veal ever, and I had the most amazing fried rabbit. We could not resist the urge for another bottle of Chianti (although we could not afford another reserva) and settled with a standard classico. After dinner, we took the remainder of our bottle to the room and finished it on our terrace. Now, it was time for bed in our non-air-conditioned hotel, which normally would be a problem for me. But, in Greve things were different; by this time the temperature had dropped to a cool 60 something degrees Fahrenheit and I was able to leave our terrace doors opened just enough to keep our room cool all night.

Like something out of a storybook I awoke the next morning to birds chirping outside my room (just a little too loud and early for me), so I shut my terrace and went back to sleep for a little while. Fast forward a couple of hours and Samantha and I got up and got ready for our day in Greve. We checked out of the hotel and left our bags for the day with the hotel. Our hotel was situated in the center square, thus the tourist information center was located just a two minute walk from our hotel. We visited the center and asked what wineries we should see, and soon found out it would be a little bit of a trek to see some wineries, because it was Sunday, and we had not planned ahead of time. This was no problem though because Greve in Chianti had Enoteca’s, sort of a wine library, so that became our plan.

After the tourist office we went to a small café in the square and enjoyed some strong Italian coffee, and a delicious chocolate croissant. We browsed the shops and the square and picked up a few trinkets and souvenirs. I met one of the most adorable dogs, a large Great Dane, owned by an Italian speaking man. After asking if I could pet the dog, I leaned in apprehensively because of his size, and to my astonishment he was scared of me, no terrified! He scooted backwards as my hand reached down to pet him, and he looked at me like I was the giant. He warmed up to me pretty quick and posed lovely for a picture I took of him.

Now (11:30ish) it was time to get our wine on and visit the enoteca in Greve. A short ten-minute walk down the local streets and we were there ready to taste. This enoteca had over 150 wines from the Chianti region. The process to taste was very simple; one buys a card preloaded with Euros and then uses it to buy a sample of wine from circular tables that automatically dispense wine when your card is in the machine. The wines not only range in taste, but also in price, from around 20 cents up to the most expensive at 6.00 for a taste (which I of course had to try). The visit was extraordinary, and I tried probably over 15 wines, sticking mostly to the “Super Tuscans” those wines, which were more full bodied, and dry. The 6.00 wine was truly my favorite, but just by a smidgen, and it was not worth the 140 Euro price tag for a bottle. In addition to wine you could also sample cheese, snacks, and olive oil with your preloaded card. We started off saying we would buy just six bottles of wine to ship back to the United States, which would cost 70 Euros for shipping (not too bad). But, as the day continued in the Enoteca I quickly decided three bottles for me was just not enough of this lovely Tuscan wine. Thus, I talked Sam into 12 bottles, seven for me and five for her, and although the shipping would now be 120 Euros, we would receive a 16.5% discount from the total cost. After paying for all our wine, we headed back to our hotel to retrieve our bags and set off for the bus station to Florence.


A 45 minute bus ride to Florence and we arrived. We made our way to our hotel, The Grand Villa Medici and checked in. When we got to the reception desk I asked if they had any upgrades available to the terrace rooms. The woman told me those were penthouses and they did have some available, but first they would upgrade us to a deluxe suite for FREE, and if we were unhappy we could switch to a penthouse (yeah right, like I had that money) but I lead her on like money was not an object for us, although it very much was, and I should not have ever even check into that hotel because of the cost. Oh well, after being escorted to our suite (to make sure we were ok with that room) I realized why this hotel has been around for 50 years and been awarded five stars, leading hotel of the world membership, and many other awards. The room was beautiful and huge at that; 15 to 18 foot ceilings, humungous oversized bed, beautiful plush chairs, walls encased in fabric, antique wooden furniture, floor to ceiling curtains, and a table with a platter full of delicious sweets just calling my name. The bathroom another work of art in it of itself, was adorned with white marble everywhere and soft oversized linens. I informed the woman this room would be just fine with us, and it was obviously more than fine. I actually noticed on the back side of our front door the cost of the room during the high season, or what is called the rack rate, meaning the highest they charge for the room per night. My mouth dropped as I saw this price, whatever you are thinking I am going to say guess again! The highest price they charge for this room per night? 1050 Euros per night! Per night! This is roughly $1680.00 a night. I can assure we paid nowhere near this price; though the hotel was pricey it was nowhere near that price range.

Now settled in, we decided to call Michelle Thompson, one of my brother’s (Cameron) best friends with whom he graduated, and also a friend of mine. She is currently in Florence working as an intern for a gallery. When she got to our hotel I gave her a little tour of our room, the lobby, and the courtyard. Our hotel is one of the few in Florence to have a pool (ours was located in the courtyard), and was a spectacle. Walking out from the right of the lobby one finds themselves in the presence of a lush green courtyard with a small, but beautiful pool towards the back along the wall that surrounds the courtyard. Also, in the courtyard are tables where one can eat and enjoy the beauty.

Starving, I asked Michelle where was good to get a bite to eat. She informed me that if I could wait until six or so we could have Apertivo, something Italians do similar to cocktail hour. This is where one can go and have a drink for say 6-10 Euros and then feast on the lovely spread they put out for free, so essentially the one just pays for the drink. This was obviously fine with me after just spending a nice chunk of my Euros on Tuscan wine. We strolled down past the river and through the Ponte Vecchio, and arrived at the restaurant where we hoped to have Apertivo. Michelle walked inside the bar to inquire what time it started, because it can vary from place to place, and to her surprise the woman inside was less than friendly and led her to believe Apertivo would not start until 7:30 PM, rather late for Apertivo, which usually starts around six.

We decided to wait for Apertivo but find somewhere else to go because of the woman’s attitude at that establishment. We went across the square and plopped down at a small café for a bottle of wine to hold us over. In addition to the white wine we shared between the three of us, I also had a delicious appetizer, a large portion of mouth-watering prosciutto. We caught up on what was new in each other’s lives and headed off for the next adventure.

Walking back past the Ponte Vecchio we found O Bar, which had Apertivo starting in 20 minutes. To kill time we just wondered around and went into a supermarket where Michelle purchased a bottle of red wine for us to consume late at the Michelangelo Gardens.

I entered O Bar excited about my first try of Italian Apertivo. The waiter of course asked what we wanted to drink, and being a typical American, I replied what do you have that is strong? Also, I specified not fruity please! He suggested this drink with Aperol, Gin, and something else I do not remember. I said that would be perfect, and Sam and Michelle followed suit and ordered the same thing. Holy Moly was this drink strong, so strong when you breathed on it steam arose, although this could have been from the temperature, yet I would like to think otherwise. I loved it because of the taste, but it was too dry for Sam and Michelle, plus they thought it tasted like rubbing alcohol. Food at this Apertivo was more than good, the large spread included many different things including my favorites, a meat filled pastry and a Portobello mushroom with a crusty cracker alongside.

Now almost sunset we decided to hike up to Michelangelo Gardens and boy was it a hike! It was definitely worth it, because we got to watch the sunset fall over all of Florence while sipping the Chianti Classico purchased from the supermarket. An hour or so later, we headed back to Michelle’s apartment so she could grab a few things before we went out for a couple more drinks.

We ended up at this bar called The Old Stove situated very close to the Baptistery and The Great Duomo. We were supposed to drink lightly and just have a couple drinks, but somehow that did not quite happen. Three or Four drinks later and at least three shots later we decided 1:30 AM was early enough to call it a night. Oh I must mention something I almost forgot! While sipping our drink I noticed this English couple next to me probably in there 30’s or early 40’s. Considering the current conditions in Italy (a corrupt government largely controlled by a dishonorable President supposed to be governing a democracy, but actually forming signs of a dictatorship) I decided to strike up a conversation with them about this matter. Though they did not know much about Italy they decided to converse with me about their country, England. I loved what they had to say. Here is some of what they told me:

“Diana will always be England’s “Lady” Queen”

“Prince Charles is sort of a douche”

“The Queen does not like spaghetti, so she is a bitch”

They have private healthcare, but love the option of free healthcare England has

“George W. Bush Fu**** the United States over”

“The United States Healthcare sucks”

William and Kate our good for England

And perhaps my favorite comment, when I asked who their prime minister was now, they told me “Gordon Ramsay.” They were very intriguing and great fun to talk with.


We woke up a little later than intended and headed off to meet Michelle for lunch at Trattoria Mario, a little local eatery that comes highly recommended from Food and Wine, and only serves lunch. After a small wait we were ushered in to a place where one shares tables and gives off an Italian Carnegie Deli feel (in the sense of fast dining and sharing tables). The place was slammed so we ordered quickly, Michelle got the Caprese Salad and the Pasta with Marinara, Sam ordered the Tomato bread soup and pasta with meat sauce (goose), and to their dismay I ordered the rabbit in addition to the soup. The best rabbit I have ever had, it was truly amazing.

Michelle took us to the leather market after lunch. I bought an umbrella with the duomo pictured on it, and also bartered a very nice leather bag for myself. I talked them down 60 Euros from what they wanted for it.

Some amazing gelato awaited us, a variety of some 20 plus flavors were available. I settled with the traditional pistachio, which was of course incredible. I suggested we make a trip to Orsanmichele, a building from the 16th century commissioned by the Medici family. When we went to get tickets we found out we were very lucky for two reasons, one it was free, and two it was only open on Monday (that day was Monday). In addition, we got reservation tickets for The Uffizi Gallery, and Academia Gallery. Orsanmichele was everything I’d hoped it would be. A beautiful Madonna and Child Altarpiece in the ground floor, and outstanding sculptures masters of the Florentine Arts. Tired from the day we headed back to our hotel and planned on meeting up with Michelle for Apertivo that evening.

At the hotel we just relaxed with some cheese and a bottle of wine in the courtyard. A bottle of wine we purchased for cheap previously, considering we could not afford the wine at hotel.

Apertivo that night was not as good as the first, the spread was smaller and the food was cheaper. Although, it was filling enough. This night was going to be an interesting one, which at the time I was not aware of. You see, we had decided no shots tonight for sure and we would be home by 11:30, which later turned into 3:00 AM!

Here is how that happened:

The bartender at Apertivo quickly made friends with us, specifically Michelle, as the two continued to flirt, joke, and badger each other in a way. He gave us a free Scooby snack, some delicious shot he makes, and we had a couple of drinks. There were not many other people in the bar, and only one man was there the whole time we were (some old strange looking guy). We left this bar after a few drinks for another in pursuit of Dragoon Beer, a stronger beer with an excellent taste. That beer turned into a couple of beers and about three shots. Already midnight we decided to head back to the other bar to hang out and talk with the bartender again. Things are sort of fuzzy from this point on…I know the night involved many more Scooby snacks, a couple more beers, and the strangest story I have ever heard from the old guy that had been at the bar the whole time. I asked him for a cigarette in my stupor to which he replied, Can you do it? He handed me some rolling paper and tobacco. I proceeded to make a fool of myself and fail miserably. After laughing at me, he threw mine down and took back out his tobacco case. The coolest little contraption ever! He said you do it like this: he laid some tobacco at the pocket in the case, put a tiny filter at the end, laid the paper on top, closed the contraption, and VOI LA a little cigarette popped out! I was truly amazed, said thanks and went on my way. The story gets better though, much better. After a while I decided Sam had to see this and talk with this guy. I went back and asked if I could have another so he could show her. This time he was really out there though. Talking like Mercutio from modern Romeo and Juliet when he is giving ecstasy to Romeo (if you remember that scene). I cannot sum this conversation up as well as I would like too. But, here it is to the best of my ability: He held up something in the contraption and said things like, “this is from a thousand virgins, the foreskin of a…, and this tiny filter is the tampon of rat.” No lie, this stuff really happened to me of course! Apprehensive about smoking his cigarette after his couple of minute rant would be a grand statement, but in my stupor I did not really think twice about it. Luckily I had no adverse affects from the crazy man’s smoke! The other two really funny situations from that night also arose from my smoking. I had run out so had to be a moocher/beggar, which I hate and only do when I am drinking or desperate, and I am trying to quit, seriously Chantix awaits my arrival in the USA (not bullshit as Samantha says, you will all see!). The first story happened in the middle of this night when I stumbled upon some folks my age smoking (five or six of em). I asked politely may I have a cigarette, to which they replied NO, we do not have any, which was obviously untrue. I accepted the answer though, and began to walk away. One of said hey as I turned away and asked me what is your favorite color, not knowing why he would ask this, I answered, Red?.? And he said okay ok well we still do not have any cigarettes, so I walked away again. Then the same guy said wait wait what is your favorite animal, perplexed I answer a panda?!? Then he said okay that is good, you can have a cigarette now. I still do not understand what was the purpose of all that. The last story casts a negative light over me for sure, but I am sure you all will enjoy it. Way late in the night, in dire need of a cigarette, or so I thought, I went outside the bar and began to mooch, but no one was willing to share with me. This upset me very much and I just plopped my intoxicated self down on the curb and put my hands on my face in a very Oh NO manner. To my surprise, within a couple of minutes some man walked over to me, lit a cigarette, and handed it to me and said here you go. He must have been watching as I asked and asked people and felt bad. What is really funny though is that he lit it for me; he must have thought I was incapable at this point to light a cigarette.

The night capped around 3 AM and Sam and I made our way back to our hotel, slowly. Samantha has cracks in the heels of her feet and because of all the walking, on rough roads, and no supportive shoes, the cracks began to expand and bleed. We finally made it back though nearly 30 – 40 minutes later.


We awoke around 11 and were supposed to meet Michelle around 11:15 for lunch, but decided that would not happen. She was fine with this, but did text me back, “Btw, I hate you.” This was probably due to the fact of how much she drank the night before and how I was probably at fault for a large amount of it. Oh well, at least we all had a blast.

We woke back up a little later than intended and had to boogy to our reservation at the Uffizi Gallery. We were so dehydrated and exhausted from the night before that we got in the gallery, we rushed to the back of it to get some water and food in our bellies. After getting our fill and feeling a little better we made our way through the entire gallery. My absolute favorite would be almost impossible to decide, considering the gallery mainly houses Italian works of art from around the Renaissance, which are my favorite pieces. If I had to choose I would say my favorites were: Pontormo’s Madonna with the Long Neck, The Venus of Urbino, The works by Botticelli, The works by Leonardo Da Vinci, and probably my absolute favorite the Madonna and Child Altarpieces by Duccio, Cimabue, and Giotto. Those altarpieces nearly moved me to tears.

After the gallery we met Michelle for some much needed lunch in a square near the Duomo. This lunch was great because I had Ossobuco with delicious bone marrow. Then we got Sam a prescription cream for her cracked feet along with some gauze. After this I visited the largest Dolce and Gabanna store I have ever laid eyes on. What was the best about this store was some Italian woman who came in with an adorable toy poodle. This brown prim and proper pup was named “Charley Brown”, and boy he loved the camera. We went back to the hotel to relax before dinner. We watched the verdict be read on the Casey Anthony trial, which would have not been a shock to me because I always thought it would be not guilty, until the jurors only took ten hours to deliberate, which led me to believe a guilty verdict was inevitable. I will not use this blog to share my opinions on this case, but I will say I understand both sides. That is I understand why the jurors chose the verdict they did, but also why many people are upset about the verdict.

We met Michelle for dinner around 9:30 at a restaurant she recommended to us. It was a great dinner where I tried some five different types of pasta, and had a delicious steak prepared in an unusual blueberry sauce. Side note, in Europe if you like your steak even Medium Rare I would suggest you order it Medium, because we order medium to medium rare and received a steak that was blood red and cold in the center, although the blueberry sauce compensated for this small setback.

After dinner we had for sure decided we could not go out because of how much we had been drinking and because we had no money (Michelle already had to buy the wine at dinner, thanks again for that Michelle). But we decided to go to one bar for one drink because of the description by Michelle. The bar had a Beatles cover band that night, so we decided to go, and I am so glad we did. They were really great, and the drink was great too, which was also treated by Michelle.

Though we were only a 20-minute walk away, a wrong turn and Samantha’s foot detriment caused the walk home to be nearly an hour of painful walking for the both of us.


We had an 8:30 AM reservation this day for the Academia, but of course we slept through it. When we got out of the hotel we went to my favorite church so far, Santa Maria Novella, which houses some amazing works of art. My favorite, the perspective innovation painting Trinity by Massacio. It was absolutely breathtaking. In addition the fresco scenes detailing the life of Saint John the Baptist was striking.

For lunch we had to eat cheap, very cheap. We settled on a small café where we decided on non-Italian food. I had a spectacular cheeseburger with an egg on top, and Sam had enchiladas also delicious. We also had two varieties of Spritz, one with Aperol and the other with Campari (Aperol is better).

Next, the Duomo, where Sam was turned down due to the length of her shorts. I went in for a quick visit and though it was impressive, not the best I had seen. The dome by Brunelleschi is Piece de Resistance of this Cathedral.

Off to the Academia with our 8:30 AM reservation, keeping in mind it was now 3:15 PM. We were freaking out we would have to buy a new ticket (15 Euros each), or even worse wait in the general admission line where the wait was over an hour. I came up with the idea to just go in the reservation line and when asked about our tickets say that they printed the wrong time on our ticket. The man came by checking tickets in the line, and I told him of our dilemma with the wrong time printed. He did not say anything, but follow me. Nervous I was being taken to the ticket office or worse, the general admission line, I was happily surprised we got escorted right in to the Academia! Not only did we not have to wait one minute, we got to skip even the reservation line. I was thrilled and very proud of myself for coming up with such a great idea.

Inside we got to see what we came to the Academia for, The David by Michelangelo. It was the most amazing sculpture I have ever seen, and I snapped a picture before getting yelled at for doing so. The Florentines really admire this sculpture because for them it is more than a work of art; it is a symbol with numerous meanings. They monitor the David with technology that measures the pressure so that they can determine and cracks that may happen. After the David we viewed some other works of art and headed back to our hotel to get our bags and head to the train station for Rome.

Broke, we realized we were in a pickle to say the least. We had no money to get the train from Florence to Rome. My family was out as an option to fund our 45 Euro each train ride. Samantha could not get money from her Dad until much later in the day. Her grandfather was unavailable, and her Mother was also unable to help. After trying to figure what we could for over an hour, Samantha’s Dad informed us his girlfriend would pay for our train to Rome. A little later and we were on our way to Roma…

ROME (Day 1)

After an almost two hour train ride we arrived in Rome in the evening. Still broke we did not have the option of taking a cab to our hotel, which was a detriment considering I had my huge suitcase, my small suitcase, my new leather duffel from Florence, Sam’s purse, and a gift. A 40-minute walk to the hotel was not an option with that amount of luggage and Sam’s feet in the condition they were at. We felt lucky when we noticed a metro at the train station with a stop where we thought was near our hotel. We were misinformed, but I will get to that later. I put my last Euros in the metro machine to get our tickets, but it would not make change for my 20 Euros. So I went back up the numerous stairs I had just dragged my luggage down and left Sam down there with the luggage surrounded by these boys (Bambinis) begging for money. Getting someone to make change for a 20 has never been such a challenge. Three places later and I finally found a store that would make change; why the others would not, I do not know.

After an endless amount of stairs later with scarce escalators we boarded the metro en route to our stop. When we go out of the metro, now almost sunset, we decided to walk to our hotel, which we thought was close by. Definitely misinformed. The worst trek I have ever had in a city occurred after getting off the metro. The walk started off bad because the metro put us in a bad area filled with of course cobble stone streets. As we made our way down the graffiti adorned streets filled with sketchy people, for example a woman popping some guy’s pimples on the side of the street, we got more and more exhausted. Sweating profusely, tired, exhausted, and in physical pain we wondered if we would ever make it. After the sketchy neighborhood came a series of steep hills and windy roads, which finally led to one very steep cobble stone road at which our hotel sat at the top of. We walked ever so sluggishly into our fairytale hotel, Lord Byron Hotel, situated around trees and beautiful apartments of the locals. The room was obviously smaller than that of the Medici, but it was so elegant. The room had beautiful sleek white nightstands, a wonderful Television, a balcony with an electronically controlled shutter, and best of all free Wi-Fi and minibar, which in Europe seem impossible to come by. The best part of the room was definitely the bathroom, which was adorned from floor to ceiling with beautiful black and white tiles everywhere.

Thoroughly exhausted from the entire day (especially the trek), we decided to ask the concierge if there was somewhere small we good grab a bite nearby. He informed us of a local restaurant only five minutes walking, which could not have been more up our alley. Upon arriving there, we were very aware how residential the area in which we were was, because no one in the entire outside restaurant was a tourist. The nearly all-speaking Italian waiter was helpful. We order a 14 Euro bottle of Chianti Classico and two pastas, one with mushrooms and meat sauce, and the other a risotto with champagne and cheese. The best pasta we had in Italy, hands down. This dinner was amazing and inexpensive and capped by the best tiramisu we have ever had. The desert was homemade, succulent, and made me drool.

Exhausted we hit the bed hard!

ROME (Day 2)

Only staying two nights in Rome, and having to get Civitavecchia on the third day to catch the ship, we had to do basically all of Rome in one day. We got up early and enjoyed the free breakfast provided by the hotel that came along with our room. Delicious chocolate croissant to start my day off right.

First, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. The museums were sadly less than pleasurable for me, perhaps due to the immense crowd and shuffling nature throughout. Though, that is not what I went there for, I had come for the Sistine Chapel. After finally finishing the long museum that leads to the small chapel, we arrived. It was everything I had hoped for and more. Minus the guards who constantly SHHH you, when in actuality they are making the most noise. But, if I forget about them, the chapel becomes what it is meant to be. I could literally spend a week in just that room. Breathtaking is an understatement. How could someone who did not even desire to paint this do such an amazing job? How could Michelangelo paint something over 500 years ago that can evoke such emotion deep within my core? The answers to these question I do not think I will ever no the answers to. I am okay with that because of the way it did make me feel. Seeing the Last Judgment, one of the single largest frescoes ever, was what I would call one of the most significant times of my life. I cannot express the way it made feel, other than to say I have never felt the way I did when viewing that piece of art. In addition, a work by Perugino in the Chapel entitled Christ giving the keys to the kingdom was also beyond moving. My appreciation for art grows every day, and those works made my appreciation grow immensely.

We were going to see Saint Peters Basilica the same day, but because we came out near the metro, we figured we would return the next morning for that. Plans changed again when I realized I could not do the day in the attire I was currently wearing. I was sweating profusely and the crowds everywhere did not help. So back to the hotel we went where I changed into gym shorts. Upon leaving the hotel we noticed something going on outside. It was a photo shoot, and legit one at that. A striking model with blonde hair posed motionless for picture after picture. It was so interesting to see how little she can move, they do everything for her; take off clothes, put them on, hold an umbrella over her. It was like she was a porcelain doll that they positioned and dressed for photographs.

Second, we arrived at the Coliseum. I am not going to lie here, my first impression once inside was a letdown from what I had expected. There is a “but” here though. But, we signed up for a tour of the dungeons and the top of the Coliseum, which changed my opinion. I should note here that no more English tours were available, only Italian, but that did not stop us from signing up. The tour was amazing and the guide was so nice, always trying to tell Samantha and I some in English, and we could pick up on some Italian. Learning about the Coliseum and getting to see it from the bottom up made me appreciate it more than I thought possible. It is truly remarkable and its history is beyond fascinating.

Then we went to the Pantheon, an astonishing piece of architecture with a 30-foot oculus (hole) in the center of the top of the building. It is unfeasible for one to think how anyone could build such an amazing structure, let alone how long ago they completed the structure.

Following that we visited the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. I do not know much on the history of these two works, but I know I loved seeing them. The Trevi Fountain will take anyone’s breath away. After this we had some pizza at a small café, and then returned for the night to the hotel. We ended up going back to the local café for some of the best drinks I have ever tasted: Vodka and Aperol Martini, Moscow Mule, Blackberry Cocktail, Strawberry Martini, Vodka Melon Mojito Martini! They were spectacular.

ROME (Day 3)

Broke again. We awoke later than we wanted and decided to forgo Saint Peters until next time due to money, the long line that awaited, and for the sake of time. We checked out of our amazing hotel and gladly took a cab back to the train station. The train ride from Rome to Civitavecchia was something else! Tiny train where some had to stand. Keep in mind the baggage I told of earlier that I had with me and imagine my ordeal on this train. Sadly in the hustle and bustle of boarding this train a little detachable piece of my lens hood came off and disappeared. Although, it could have been worse for sure, and to replace this will only cost me $20. After a very annoying train ride we made it to Civitavecchia and boarded the ship. Now we are on route to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Farewell until then my friends



  1. Thank you for the dedication, Chan! I seriously burst into tears. That was the sweetest thing ever. Also, even though this post took me forever to read, I thoroughly enjoyed every word. I felt like I was right alongside you and Sam the whole time. I totally imagined your reactions and facial expressions to certain situations. lol. Sounds like you guys had an incredible experience. I'm so happy for you! Love you two! I hope you are enjoying Croatia! Can't wait to read all about it. xoxo

  2. I loved this post. Although, I cannot believe you skipped Saint Peters was my all time favorite place. I could spend all day there. But, since you missed you will have to go back and next time I think I should be with you! :) Greve sounded amazing and of course I loved reliving my time in Florence through your trip.