Published: June 24th 2007June 24th 2007
I thought it was about time I finalized my travel blog. I have been back in the U.S. for almost two weeks.
My last days in Italy were so wonderful and amazing.
I checked out of my Tuscan hostel and said goodbye to my roommates. I checked into The Hotel Derby in Florence, with a beautiful view of the city, especially the Duomo. I relaxed a little on the rooftop and then went to further explore Florence. I walked over the Ponte Vecchio looking mostly at the scenery. I walked along the river to discover some new amazing sites but the further I got away from my hotel the more menacing the sky started to look. I decided I better turn around so I wouldn't get caught in a rain shower. I was about a block away from the Duomo (and 5 blocks from the hotel) when it started to rain. I decided I would duck into a department store for a couple minutes to wait it out. I ended up in the department store for close to 2 hours!!! It was raining buckets, there was thunder and lightening I could have sooner swam home at that point than walked.
So I browsed, tried on perfume, had a cappuccino for 4 Euro, browsed some more, read a catalog about Pinko (a designer brand with T-shirts for $30), wrote in my journal and just waited. When there was a break, still sprinkling a little bit, I walked to the Duomo. I met a friend there who took me for a beer and to see the view from Piazza Michelangelo. The view was breathtaking, you could see all of Florence. I was so glad to be there. Lisa was due in Florence in a few hours so I went to the hotel to wait. The hotel is hidden so Lisa had a bit of a hard time finding it and then the building lost it's electricity, so I went down to go find her. Luckily there was a man checking things out just as I saw her go into another hotel trying to find ours. He held the door and I went to get her. We chatted like people who hadn't seen each other in years (it had only been four days in reality). By the time the lights finally came back on we realized one enormous problem, the bathroom in the
hotel smelled as though it had been attacked by killer mold. So anytime we went in we had to hold our breath. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth while holding your breath? It is not an easy task my friends.
In the morning (after long deliberations about just how badly we had to pee, probably TMI but what are you gonna do) we had a free breakfast and scored extra for free lunch. We checked out of the smelly Hotel Derby and went on a search for a place to stay. It wasn't an easy task finding a cheap place to stay in Florence on a Friday night but we found a beautiful, spacious, cheap, good smelling hotel just up the street.
Once we secured a place to stay we went to San Lorenzo for some final shopping. We went over the Ponte Vecchio this time drooling over the jewels. We took the long hike up to the Piazza Michelangelo (I had to share the view). When we got there we saw tons of teenagers because MTV Italy was filming TRL. I tried to find out what bands were there but they weren't any I had heard of,
but 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto's band was there the day before (sorry Beth). We had our lunch on the stairs in the shade and listened to the music. We made our final hike up to St. Miniato where I had seen the beautiful view. The view was breathtaking, but the church itself was also amazing. Amazing mosiacs on the high arched ceiling. It was definitely worth the walk. We traced our way back to the new hotel. Our room was beautiful and spacious with a nice clean bathroom. We quickly made good use of this luxury making ourselves especially beautiful for our night on the town in Florence.
We started our night at a nice Entoche (bar with free appetizers) near the Duomo,of course, where we drank a Bellini and Kir respectively. Ate yummy mozzarella, eggplant, and other Italian delights. The bartender was hot (there are many, many hot men in Florence) so we stayed for a second drink both switching to wine. We decided we better find something else to fill our stomachs before more drinking and dancing so we found a nice pizza shop and ate outside in the warm Florence air. We both knew this
was our last night in Florence(for awhile at least) so we tried to soak up everything about it we possible could.
After a very long walk in my cute, but not great for long walks, red shoes and a very expensive gelatto we arrived at Central Park aka Studio 54. The reason I call it studio 54 is there are big bouncers standing outside deciding who gets to come inside and when. I always thought Studio 54 was this cool fun place, but after standing outside with my heels bleeding from walking a few miles, while my fate was being decided by this person with this enormous amount of perceived power I stand corrected. We finally get in (one of the chosen few). We head straight for the bathroom (again TMI) in part to bandage my heels and then right for the bar. We decided that during our one included drink we could complain about the wait, and the walk, and the crazy people, and the American music and then we would resume our good time. So we drank our cosmopolitins and did just that. We followed that up with another cosmo and dancing. After a break from the dance floor we were approached by hands down the most beautiful Italian (or really any) man I have ever seen in real life (sorry no picture but he looks like Josh Duhamell). So we spent the rest of the night with the beautiful Gabriel and Claudio having the best last night in Florence.
We woke up the next morning after not much sleep to say our final good byes to Florence. We of course went to the Duomo, which unfortunately was closed, so we sat out site appreciating it's beauty. As I sat there on the steps, almost holding on like I hold to my loved ones when I leave them, I thought about the peace and love I feel in Florence. It is a peace like nowhere else I have ever been. I feel like my best self there, my heart is complete in Florence. I promised to return as I said my silent fairwell to a city that has taught me more about myself in 5 days than I think I learned in a lifetime anywhere else.
We boarded the train to Venice, exhausted, perhaps a little hungover, very sad to leave but excited to see Venice. We tried to sleep on the train but were interupted by too many loud words of wisdom from a newly married teacher, Amber. We tried to tune her out by eating caprese sandwiches and chocolate pear cookies and reliving our night out, but we were unsuccessful.
The best way I can describe Venice is surreal. It felt to me like I was walking through Pirates of The Caribean in Disney World. It didn't seem real, there are no cars only canals and boats. It was very hard for me to imagine people actually living there. Getting up every morning, going to work, just going about their lives. We went into many shops, vowing to return on our way back. Never do this in Venice because you will never find the shop again. You like you buy it. That should the Venice's tag line. Another tag line is no matter how many times people tell you to go straight you can't, because there is no straight in Venice. All this said, it was so beautiful and quiet. I don't think I have ever described a city as quiet but when I think of Venice I hear nothing but Lisa and my laughter. The book I was reading while traveling (Eat, Pray, Love the best book I have read in years by the way) said that each city has a word that describes it. Venice's word is mysterious. I think if I was in Venice for a month she wouldn't fully reveal herself to me.
After a day of being lost in Venice (because you just can't go straight in Venice despite the directions you are given) we get to the train station to take an overnight train to Rome. The ticket machines tell us that you cannot buy tickets for this train and all of the information booths are closed. Exhausted (and a bit smelly) we sit down on the dirty train station floor to try and devise a plan. We see a trenitalia man walking by so we try to tell him our dillema in Italian, which does not work, then we try English, nope. Finally Lisa tries French (Thank God for Lisa's french)!!! He tells us we must buy tickets on the train. We are so relieved that we hurry to the track so we won't be left behind. We settle ourselves into an overnight car with a man from Naples who tries to talk to us about Bush and the war in Italian while continually fondling himself. We finally convince him we don't understand Italian and fall asleep. We are awakened by a couple who have reserved the seat Lisa is in so she moves next to me and the man from Naples who won't move his feet. Despite our best efforts at sleep, when we are stopped in Florence we move to our own little room (don't think I didn't try to take this as sign and sneak off the train to live in Florence as a waitress forever).
We arrive home in Rome for our last day at 6:30. We decide to sleep until noon and then say good bye to Rome. We travel to all of our favorite places, and buy the last minute mementos to remind us of our home, Rome. We have a delicious dinner and then listen to our favorite station Radio Simpatico before bed. I go with Lisa to the train station. We are very sad to leave each other as we have grown very close over the past month. That closeness where you can talk about the other important people in your life without having to explain who they are. I can't believe how fortunate I am to have made such a great friend who I could share all of my Italian experiences with.
I head back to Lisa's apartment for the rest of the morning until I meet my cousin Drew. Drew takes me back for the delicious pizza of my first day in Rome and then we go to Lake Gandolfo to relax. We take a paddle boat out to the middle of the lake. It is very beautiful and I again feel at home. Drew and Stefania take me out for a last Roman meal and gelatto (saving the best for last). I wake up before the sun rises to catch my flight back to the US. Stefania tells me she expects me back, and I promise her I will return, soon.
I have never felt so instantly comfortable in place as I did in Rome. I learned so much about myself and who I want to become by traveling to Italy. I am so fortunate that I was able to experience this at this time in my life. Having been home for just two weeks I am adjusting back to my "real" life a much happier and more fullfilled person. I would love to go back to Italy but I also realized all of the other places I would love to visit. I love traveling, I love the freedom of traveling. Thanks for reading about my travels. I know I can be long winded and my sentences are long. I hope that everyone enjoyed reading about my adventures. I love and miss you all.