Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Break in Italy!

This week was Spring Break for OU in Arezzo and while a lot of people went to different countries I got to show my mom and sister why I love Italy so much! I think it's safe to say that we conquered the entire country of Italy, well from Rome up to Milan. The exciting adventure started for me on Saturday, but for my mom and sister it started when their plane left DFW on Friday night.

I met up with them at our apartment in Rome on Saturday night just before dinner time. I know it was a relief for all of us to see each other ;) After we got settled we went down the street for dinner, Hope and I had a pasta with pesto sauce. Sooo good. We were staying about a block away from the Vatican so after dinner we walked to St. Peter's Square! It was really cool to see this at night. They were exhausted so we turned in early this night.

Sunday was the day we conquered all of the monuments. By this time I am a pro at Rome so I knew exactly where to take them and how to get there. But of course there was the equivalent to the NYC marathon going on in Rome! Our luck, right? It did not stop us though, we first started out at the colosseum where this time we went inside! We also had passes to go inside of the Roman Forum so we spent about an hour looking around in there. If I were to go back I would definitely want to go with a tour so I knew what I was looking at, but we knew the history was there and that worked for us.  So back to this marathon...I think we were stuck inside of it. Every time we tried to get around it, we would run into it again! Like being trapped inside of a circle.  We ended up having to back-track a lot and eventually we ran into a point that wasn't barricaded, but we still had to cross where runners were, which was exciting. So we made our way to the Pantheon and stopped for lunch along the way, by this time it was about 2 p.m. In honor of St. Patty's Day we each had a beer for lunch! But not Guinness :/
After dinner we walked up to the Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, then took the metro back to our apartment where we hung out for the rest of the night!

Monday was our first day of traveling somewhere new! We started the morning waiting in line to see the Sistine Chapel, but gave up 2 hours later in the never ending rain :( The morning wasn't completely wasted though! The line to get into St. Peters was running very fast so we ended up going in there instead! One of the prettiest churches I've been into yet with another art history freak-out by seeing Michelangelo's Pieta. We were on a time-crunch so we had to shorten our visit inside of the church. The next couple of hours was pretty hectic, from getting back to our apartment, gathering our suitcases, walking fast to the metro, taking the metro to catch our train, and then FINALLY getting on the train that would take us to Bologna! We arrived in Bologna two hours later where we caught a taxi to our hotel we would stay at for the night. After getting settled we were starving! So we headed to the bus stop to catch a bus into the city center, but the problem was we had no idea which stop we needed to get off at. We ended up getting of in front of the train station and eating at a cheap pizza place and had a crepe for dessert! Probably one of the best decisions instead of spending more money at a sit-down place. Then we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Of Monsters And Men concert! So we took what we thought was the right bus back, but of course it wasn't! We ended up getting on the wrong bus that was going in the opposite direction of our hotel, but the driver helped us find the right one. So an hour later and we were back at the hotel with only 15 minutes to get ready for the concert. The hotel shuttle took us to the venue which was only about 5 minutes away. The guy warming up for the headliner was not bad either! But Of Monsters And Men were fantastic! I would see them again in a heartbeat. After the concert we had the challenge of getting a taxi...I had a number that the hotel gave me, but they kept putting me on hold! I tried another company but they didn't speak any english, downside of not knowing Italian. We finally got ahold of a taxi and soon we were back at the hotel around 12:30 a.m.!

Tuesday was our experience of driving in Italy! We rented a car from the Bologna airport and we were off to Tuscany! First stop was Arezzo so I could show off my town to Hope and Mom. This was the first small tuscan town they saw so I think they liked it! We ate lunch at Antica Fonte, the restaurant we had our welcome dinner at. Mom and I had the Papa Pomodoro. It was so amazing,  I might have to have it again there very soon :) After lunch we went to Bar Stefano's and had a cappuccino and pastry. Then gelato at one of the many gelato places in town! We wanted to make it to Greve before it got dark so around 4:30 we were back in the car on the way. The drive took about an hour, most of it winding around tuscan hills. Following our directions we made it before sunset! Our apartment was so adorable, but freezing!! So we cranked up the heat hoping it would warm up before we went to bed. After some grocery shopping, eating dinner, and meeting a family from Maryland we were back at the apartment drinking wine and playing the game Farkle. Probably my favorite night of the trip.

Wednesday was the day we lost our car. It started out by sleeping in! By 10 a.m. we were off to explore the cute little tuscany towns around Greve.  By 2 p.m. we made our way down to Sienna which is apparently a lot bigger then I thought it was! We parked our car alongside the city walls of Sienna and walked into an entrance into town to do some exploring. The city is a lot like Arezzo, but their Piazza Grande is probably twice the size of Arezzo's! Mom and Hope found a cute shop where they bought stuff for family and friends to take back home. Afterwards we were tired of walking in the rain so we decided to head back to the car. Well we thought we were going in the direction of the car...but after the stores and streets stopped looking familiar we knew we were lost! We had to ask for directions from three different people before deciding to call a taxi to take us around the city walls until we found our car! Eventually we found it after walking in the rain for an hour and a taxi ride later. When we got back to Greve we went grocery shopping so we could make dinner at our apartment, man did I miss my mom's cooking. It was sososoo good! That night we stayed in, drank more wine, had more fun :)

Thursday was the first day of Spring! And it actually felt like Spring! This day we made a trip up to Florence, where I had to put 10 euros worth of coins in the meter that only gave us 3 hours! So we had a lot to cover in a short time. We started at the Ponte Vecchio bridge where Hope almost sold half of her soul for a ring.  But she escaped from the lady without a dime spent ;) We hit all of the piazzas that we could then Hope and I climbed the 414 steps up the tower of the Duomo! The view was totally worth the climb, so pretty! Then we had to get back down the 414 steps, by this time we were starving! We found lunch and then Hope and I were off to feed the meter more coins. The rest of the day we shopped around some stores and then headed back to Greve.  We got back before sunset so we got to enjoy tuscany in the sun! At an appropriate dinner time for Italians we went back into town to eat dinner and then back at our apartment for the last night there.

Friday was the day we couldn't return our rental car. We woke up bright and early to head to the Florence airport to return our car so we could take a train up to Milan, but after about an hour of searching for the rental car place we gave up and decided to just drive to Milan instead. It was an overall very frustrating day, but we made it to our hotel just outside of Milan by 1:30! About an hour later we were in the city center of Milan. This is by far my favorite big city in Italy, probably the abundance of nice clothes is why. We ate our "last supper" together at the fanciest restaurant I've ever been to. I ordered a "salad" and got a huge chunk of buffalo cheese surrounded by cut up tomatoes. But it was so delicious!  After dinner we took the hour long bus ride back to our hotel and turned in early.

Saturday was the day I said goodbye to my mom and sister :( Again I really hate goodbyes, but this wasn't that bad since it was at 5:30 a.m. and I was half coherent.  They had to leave early to catch a 9 a.m. flight back and return the rental car at the airport, whereas I went back to bed until 9 a.m. Haha
I had some traveling also, a bus ride, and three trains later I was back in Arezzo by the afternoon.

Here are a couple of pictures of the week! But check my facebook for the rest of them!


Sisters in Italy! 

No biggie, just seeing a Michelangelo sculpture 

Cute town of Greve

Spring time fruit

Tuscany in the sun

Florence from up high 

Milan knows fashion 

Loved traveling with you two! 

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