Friday, June 30, 2017


Getting out of Rome and into Tuscany was good for Dani and me. It felt much less crowded and more relaxed (and it was cooler! Thank goodness). We made plans of things we had to see/get done . . . and seeing Michelangelo's David actually wasn't one of them--the gallery was sold out for the days we were in Florence, so we decided to skip the stress and the lines and just enjoy the rest of Florence--which we did thoroughly. 

[On the way to Florence--the selfie wouldn't be complete without a photo bomber, so I'm glad the man behind us obliged.]

[Overlooking Florence]

[Didn't see the real David, but we did see the replica in the main square.]

There were lots of things I expected about Florence--I expected to enjoy seeing the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery and the River Arno, which I did. But there were also many unexpected things that happened, like: 

--Being blown away by the beauty of the Duomo . . .

[I spy with my little eye . . .]

[It is absolutely incredible. This lovely sight greeted us as we walked from the train station to our hotel. It is massive.]


[You can't see it super well in the pictures, but the Duomo has a lot of pinks and greens.]

[The facade.]

[I think our photo bomber friend followed us.]



[I loved these doors.]

[And the baptistery doors, too. I mean, I guess they're pretty neat.]

the Ponte Vecchio . . . 

[I kept singing "O, Mio Babbino Caro" to myself, since it mentions both the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno.]

. . . and the artwork in the Uffizi Gallery (particularly The Birth of Venus). 

[The Italians and their domes]



[The Birth of Venus]

--Finding a monster in a triptych at the Uffizi Gallery. 

[Look closely at the right triptych]

[Do you see him?]

[There is a monster right beside these Florentine chicks as part of this "Adoration of the Shepherds" scene. And everyone's just like, "Oh, nbd. it's fine. I'm just here and chill and cool and there's a monster praying alongside me." It was so bizarre and awesome.]

--Accidentally climbing a mountain and being led to the most stunning views of the Florence skyline. 

[A hike so nice we did it twice.]

--During that same climb, finding an ancient church dating back to 1018, as well as a massive Italian cemetery. 

--Eating peach gelato and having my life changed (no pictures, unfortunately, because my mind was blown at that time). 

--Enjoying the twists and turns and hidden charms of the city. 

--Spontaneously buying tickets to La Traviata, but then having the opera being rained out . . . so instead we got some nice, quiet time by the Ponte Vecchio at night. 

I can only think of cheesy things to say to end this post, but I think that out of all the things that I didn't expect in Florence, the peach gelato was the best surprise. Yep. There you go. Life changer right there. That and the monster in the triptych. I'll remember him for a loooonnnng time. 

Just kidding. But not entirely kidding. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Roman Holiday

Day 2 in Rome was a bit more exhausting than Day 1 (which we thought would be impossible, especially given the amount of walking we did the first day). But when you deal with queues and dead phones and heat and crowds and all sorts of people, exhaustion piles on. (But again, gelato saves the world. As do nice people who tell you how to fix your phone.)

On our second day in Rome, Dani and I decided to go to the Vatican. Which meant dealing with crowds. Ohhhhh, did we deal with crowds. I was a bit overwhelmed with the crush of humanity. And the lines. Man. I've decided that Italy is basically like the Disneyland of Europe.

But, we made it to the Vatican. And got to see those beautiful sights and paintings by Michelangelo.


[And maps! So many maps. The Map Room was cool.]

[Can you see the exhaustion in my face? It was so hot in the Vatican Museum.]

[More beauty, more splendor.]

[School of Athens, Raphael]

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was stunning. 

After the Vatican Museum, Dani and I went over to St. Peter's Basilica. 

[A nice Ukrainian girl took this picture for us. She spoke Russian. There have been so many Russian speakers in Italy.]

I know what you're asking now. "Megan, where are those iconic pictures of La Pieta and the inside of St. Peter's?" Well, funny that you should ask. That was the point of the trip where my phone unexpectedly went black. It wasn't out of batteries (it was charged to 93% or so when I had checked it while in line for the Basilica), but it was just black. Dead. And my phone was the one getting us around Rome because Dani's isn't getting any WiFi or data. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. *START PANICKING NOW* 

And there was a bit of panic (Dani and I both went into panic mode at different times on this day and we both talked each other down, so again, we're doing pretty well), but Dani heard some Americans and asked them if they could look up an Apple Store, and the Americans told us what was wrong with my phone. It had overheated, and so I had to press the power button and the home button simultaneously. So I did and it came back to life! *End panic mode and be grateful for those who are willing to help damsels in distress.*

Unfortunately, this episode also meant that I didn't get to fully appreciate St. Peter's the way I might have. But. I did see La Pieta and it was beautiful, and St. Peter's Tomb was also impressive--it's incredibly impressive, even if you are panicking about smartphones. 

[After my phone was alive. This pretty much sums up my inside state during that episode now known as the "St. Peter's Phone Catastrophe of 2017."]

So, of course, after a lot of stress, what do you do in Italy? You get gelato. And then pizza. 

[Proof again that gelato saves the day.]

[Pizza by the cut.]

[Yayyyy for food.]

After lunch, we decided to go down to La Trastevere, which is a lovely neighborhood in Rome which looks like something out of Roman Holiday. But, of course, we had to have another stressful moment before that, which took the form of a creepy man harassing Dani and then me scaring him away by yelling at him. It worked. I scared everyone in the general vicinity and Dani and I made it safely away. Hooray for Ukraine instincts kicking in. 

But after that experience (which wired up both Dani and I--and I went on a very long feminist rant to Dani, and she was kind enough to listen to it), we had a very relaxing walk along the river and to La Trastevere. Which really does look like something from Roman Holiday

[The Tiber]

[After I successfully scared away a creeper. Glad things worked out the way they did and that we were kept safe.]

[La Trastevere. It really is this charming.]

[Inside a cool church.]

Going to La Trastevere was a perfect way to wrap up the day and made us be happy to be in Rome again. Getting good Italian food didn't hurt either. 

[So much good pasta here.]

[My hair always seems to be up when we eat here. Eating is serious business.]

So, yes, our second day in Rome was a bit crazy, but nothing was disastrous, and all-in-all, it was an enjoyable and certainly a memorable day. 

[Can you see the relief and exhaustion in my face after a long day in Rome? Yep. Was definitely happy to be back in the hotel after our day out.]

As one of my friends recently said, traveling in Italy is not for the faint of heart. But all the same, I am glad I can be here and experience the culture, the people, the landscapes, the history, and the food of this area of the world. 

The rest of the bumps and mishaps and travel just make for more interesting stories. :)