We arrived in Florence just after sunset – so for the locals, the night had just begun and everyone was headed out to meet their friends for dinner or desert, or to just walk and hang out. We took a page from their book and decided to do the same. We ate our first Italian meal – pasta, of course – and then wandered the streets of Florence. We accidentally ended up at the Duomo, the biggest church in the city, and it was magical. It was lit up to showcase its beautiful red, green and while marble, and it left us all stunned. Then we wandered down the streets back towards our hostel to rest up for the next day.
The rest was definitely needed, because the next day consisted of walking about 15 miles around the entire city. We wandered around and saw everything from the palace where the Medicis once lived, to the Duomo again and to Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that crosses the Arno River famous for its jewelry and art dealers.
After a few more days in Florence we headed to Rome. By this point, we were fully adjusted to the Italian lifestyle. Waking up late, having long lunches with lots of carbs and wine and eating gelato in between practically every meal had become our habits as well.
Once we drove into Rome, we were immediately overwhelmed by how old everything was. The places we saw – the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon – have existed for thousands of years, and millions of people had been there before us. It was very cool to be standing in places that were so historically significant, and that we have been learning about since elementary school; until we were actually there, we could only imagine what they would be like.
From Rome, we headed towards the western coast of Italy, into Sorrento. This was by far the most beautiful place we have stayed on this trip. It was only a four minute walk to the water where there were incredible restaurants run by the warmest, most hospitable owners I have ever experienced.
While we stayed in Sorrento, we visited Sant’Anna Institute, a school for international students, with one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen – especially for a classroom. Imagine sitting in Breslin and looking out the window and seeing the Caribbean, that’s what it felt like.
While we were in Sorrento we took a ferry to Capri, where even though I thought it was impossible, the views got even more beautiful. The water was the bluest I have ever seen. I still am not fully convinced that it wasn’t just a pool. We wandered to the top of the island, ate more gelato and just wandered around and appreciated the views.
After we left Capri, we had one more day in Sorrento and it was spent relaxing in the thermal spas, and eating the Italian “fast food” that consisted of incredible gyros for about two euros a piece.
We boarded the ferry that travelled overnight to Greece from Sorrento. I was sad to leave Italy for many reasons, the top being the food and the hospitality of every single person we met. I am excited to be in Greece though, and it has been just as stunning as you would imagine. Soon I will return back to Venice to round out the Italian leg of my journey … and eat more pizza while doing so.