Published: November 16th 2006November 13th 2006
My parents arrived on Saturday the 28th, and I took a train Saturday morning to meet them at the airport. Unfortunately, I arrived a little later than I had hoped (I thought it would be like a movie if I was there waiting for them when they came out of their gate), and apparently my father wanted to leave without me and just have me meet them at their hotel (sorry dad, I just had to include that...I know, I know, tough love), but my mommy stuck up for me and I eventually made it. The first few moments were so exciting. It was so strange to see them after not seeing anyone from home since July, and I don’t think any of us could actually believe that we were all in Italy together. I think it took almost the whole trip for it so set in. We went to our hotel to check in, then we spent the rest of the day exploring and getting a little oriented in Rome (for their age, I was really impressed by how energetic they were after their flight). We ate a wonderful first dinner at a restaurant where we could sit outside
on the street and watch the people walking by (the Italians get very dressed up to walk around at night, and we saw so many parents with young babies, everybody decked out in such fancy attire). Luckily for us, it was daylight savings, which helped their jet lag, and I went to bed the earliest I have since I’ve been in Italy. Our hotel was in a really great location not far from the Pantheon, so we were able to walk everywhere pretty easily (and it was helpful that we could eat dinner and drink wine and not have to worry about going too far to get home....). The next few days, we were pretty spectacular tourists, and we covered a lot of Rome, including, thanks to my dad (otherwise known on the trip as “Map Man” due to his faithful armament with a large map of Rome), some less traveled, perhaps slightly shadier sections of Rome, including one particularly special walk by a lovely prison. We visited the Vatican City, climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral and spending a lot of time in the rest of the cathedral, visited the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain,
the Borghese Gallery, and the Roman Forum; we had an interesting tour of the Colosseum, which also included a separate tour of the Palatine Hill (in order to find the second tour guide, the first one just old us to look for a woman with an eye patch, which seemed kind of mean, but she really was pretty easy to pick out...). I unfortunately have some bad memories of the Palatine Hill because, whilst balancing my beloved camera on a rock to take a timed picture of the three of us, it toppled off and now the screen is rather unfortunately cracked. But, I suppose that if I had to break my camera anywhere, there probably isn’t a better place than on the Palatine in Domitian’s Palace overlooking the Circus Maximus.... We climbed the Spanish Steps, and also spent time visiting some of the multitudinous churches in Rome, including St. Peter in Chains and Santa Maria Maggiore. I grew to love the little audio guides one could rent to walk through the tourist sights, pressing numbers at different places and receiving excellent narration (I really wish that I had one of these for real life so I could just carry
it with me and have a friendly-sounding, intelligent British woman tell me what to do and where to go).
And, most importantly when visiting Italy, we consumed. Pizza, gelato (I made an unfortunate mistake while translating the ice cream flavors for my mother, thinking that pompelmo was just another, different word for watermelon, and she ended up with a cone of quite bitterly unpleasant red grapefruit gelato), panini, pastries, coffee, pasta, wine, wine, wine, wine; we definitely took all of our meals seriously and enjoyed some excellent Italian cuisine. I think the three of us all decided that we need to be a little more Italian and add more wine consumption into our daily ingestion routine. It really made the vacation so much more relaxing (unfortunately, though, it made it pretty apparent to my parents that I’ve been drinking in these past few months due to the exponential growth in my alcohol tolerance...). There was one quite notable dinner where we had a quite large two course dinner, and in the process the three of us finished off three bottles of white wine (and mom, if I remember correctly, there was also some quite excellent accordion music...). And Mom and
I really never tired of bothering my dad with the question that to us seemed hilarious- ‘Why would they just confuse everyone by having a Pantheon and a Parthenon? Ok, ok, we’ve seen the Pantheon so many times now, but when are we going to get to the Parthenon?’ I’m surprised at how well my dad put up with us.
On Thursday we took a train from Rome to Venice, where we arrived in the middle of the afternoon. Now, it is possible to take a boat from the train station to other parts of Venice, but, a certain person who birthed me decided it would be pleasant and fun to walk across Venice with our luggage to our hotel instead of taking the available water taxi. What we didn’t know before we started is that the streets of Venice are linked by a serious of bridges, and said bridges have a quite numerous quantity of stairs which one must escalate in order to cross, something not normally difficult, but actually quite trying when carrying two weeks worth of baggage. Needless to say, we were somewhat tired upon reaching our hotel, but it was still actually a great walk
because Venice really just is that beautiful. Our favorite activity in Venice was just wandering around; the streets were so active and esthetically pleasing, and there was so much to look at (including some great window shopping, and I also include food in window shopping-mom and I spent much time peering into the windows of the stores, salivating over all of the delicious treats). In Venice, you could be walking down a crowded, touristy street, full of people, stores, street vendors trying to thrust bags, watches and stupid toys (mom, toys that are only fun to play with after certain dinners) and just find yourself in the most tranquil, seemingly secluded spot, with colorful buildings of red and yellow decorated with brilliant boxes of flowers reflecting on the water, and hardly any noise, except for the occasion boat or water taxi (and, thanks to the heroic abilities of Map Man, we never got too lost..and really, how lost can you really get on an island?). Our hotel was very close to St. Mark’s Square, and we visited the museum, St. Mark’s Cathedral, and the Doge’s Palace. While we were in the Doge’s Palace, there was a political demonstration against globalism,
and we saw a rather rough-looking group of young individuals storm into the palace, and then there was a lot of raucous, with police and journalists. They ended up not letting more people into the palace after we had gotten in, so we had these huge senate rooms to ourselves, and the event was in all of the Italian papers the next day. The one morning, when we walked out into St. Mark’s Square, it was covered in water and they had set up all of these risers for people to walk on when the ground is covered in water. We found out that this actually happens quite frequently, and they are now doing work to fix these periodic floodings.
On Sunday we took a train and headed back to Siena, for which I was very excited, as my parents well knew by then by the amount of time I had spent talking about Siena and comparing everything that we saw to Siena. I again made a mistake and underestimated the distance from the train station to my parents’ hotel, and said that it would definitely be a nice walk instead of taxi ride....and it was another exhausting walk
with all of the luggage (I was just so excited to show them everything, I wanted to walk the streets so I could point things out...). It was great to have them there for that week and have them see and meet everything and everyone that I have been telling them about these past three and half months. I gave them little tours, they met a lot of my friends, we ate at my favorite restaurants, I played the piano for them on the piano in their hotel where I go to practice, we had great cocktails together, and really just had a great time (and I enjoyed eating the delicious breakfast that their hotel served). Wednesday morning we got up early to go to the market, where the ladies did a nice little bit of shopping. Although I didn’t really get much homework done while they were here, there’s really nothing like getting slightly tipsy at dinner with your parents in Italy and then trying to go home and write an Art History paper. All in all, I had a woncderful two-week visit with my parents and it was very hard to see them go.
Friday we took the
bus together to Rome because they were leaving for home and I was flying out for the weekend to....Barcelona!! An entry about my crazy whirlwind weekend in Barcelona and my upcoming weekend in Florence and Pisa to be updated soon.....
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