Our first destination was Zurich, Switzerland! Why, you ask? Well because Anthony and I wanted to see more than 1 country (and Italy was for sure). We looked at France, Spain, and Switzerland, and Switzerland won out with the cheapest plane tickets! We flew into Zurich and spent much of our two days there recovering from jet lag. We didn't let it slow us down too much, though! Our first day was spent exploring downtown Zurich. We toured some cathedrals, wandered the streets of Old Town, and took a ferry around Lake Zurich. We spent a good portion of our second day hiking Zurich's mountain, Uetliberg. It was a beautiful hike with fantastic views of the city! The best part? Taking a cable car down the mountain!
Corniglia (Cinque Terre):
We could not have asked for a more picturesque location! Corniglia is one of the 5 towns making up the Cinque Terre region of Italy. These small towns are built in the cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea. Words cannot express how beautiful they are or how clear the water was. Try Googling Cinque Terre and look at the images. You'll begin to see what I mean. One cool, but exhausting thing about Corniglia is that the actual town is up on the cliff. Which means a good 400 steps from the train station. And a good 400 steps to get to the water. Beauty comes at a price, I suppose. We enjoyed a relaxing couple of days exploring the towns and swimming. Our last day there, we hiked part of the trail between our town and the next town. What I thought would be a simple, easy hike turned out to be much more intense. But the views made it worth it. And we met some fun people along the way.
Florence was beautiful! It's definitely a bigger town, but easily walkable. We were lucky enough to spend some time with Anne Messer who was finishing her month in Florence taking a literature class for college. It was so fun to meet up with someone we knew and who could show us around a little. We visited the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and Piazza Signoria. We also made sure to walk through the Uffizi, one of the biggest museums in Florence. One special thing about Florence is that we happened to be visiting during Music Week. This, of course, meant that orchestra music filled the air every evening from the main square. We LOVED it! And spent some of each evening listening and taking in the sites.
This was probably the most magical of the places we visited. Everything about Venice is beautiful. The canals, the bridges, the streets. It all looks just as you would picture old Italy. You just have to block out the thousands of tourists :) I had a love/hate relationship with the streets of Venice. No maps could help us, and we were lost most of our time there (they're just so winding!). This was fine most of the time and allowed us to explore the city. But when we're hauling luggage around trying to find out hotel, it's not so fun! We visited St. Mark's Basilica and the Realto Market (talk about fresh seafood!). Probably our favorite part of Venice was the most unexpected part.... we were there for the Redentore Festival which happens the 3rd Saturday of July. The fesitval celebrates the end of the Bubonic Plague (of course!). We joined the rest of the city on the grand canal to watch fireworks! It by far one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. We got to see how Venetians party, and the fireworks display was the best I've ever seen. Little One, you should put these on your list of firework shows to see in your lifetime.
By the time we got to Rome, we were pretty exhausted. Walking all day, every day, in the hot sun really takes it out of you. But we were still determined to see what we could see. We stayed the longest in Rome - 4 days. Our first day (which was really a half day by the time our train arrived), we spent exploring the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona (one of the most beautiful squares!). Day 2 was spent at the Vatican. We toured the Vatican Museum and stared at the Sistine Chapel. We explored St. Peter's Basilica as well (so huge!). Day 3 was our historical day... we went to the Colosseum, Palentine Hill, and the Forum. It was one of the time when I wished we had a guide to tell us more about the history. But being there was certainly still amazing. We ended Day 3 with an evening at the theater. Movie theater, that is! We found a movie theater showing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in English! This is a rare thing indeed (most movies are dubbed in Italy). We simply couldn't wait until we got home to see it, so we gladly watched it in Rome. It was fun to meet other Americans and Brits who came to see the movie. We enjoyed the movie, though left a little sad that it was over. Day 4 was a more relaxed day. Part of the day was spent exploring St. Angelo's Castle (so cool!). We then relaxed in the afternoon in the Borghese region of Rome. It's a big park area with a lagoon. We found a bench and read for a while. It was a much needed break before heading home!
If you've made it this far, you've gotten a brief summary of our trip. We had so much fun, and were so blessed to be able to do it. It was definitely an adventure for the 2 of us. We enjoyed the places we stayed and have already begun dreaming of our next Europe trip (maybe France and England....?). It's good to be home though, and we're ready to take on the fall!