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Our hostel in Sorrento

Our hostel in Sorrento

After 24 hours straight of travel we made it to Sorrento, which is located south of Naples. We arrived in the most beautiful hostel I have ever seen, just before we were supposed to meet Rachel and her friends for dinner, so it worked out well. We all met up and went in search of food. We stumbled across a small family restaurant and sat down for dinner. We had a nice light local white wine and I have my first Italian pizza. After dinner (which was amazing!) we went in search of gelato and wandered down to the water to admire the view, watch some fireworks, and take a moment to appreciate that we really were in Italy.

The group in Pompeii

The group in Pompeii

The following day we visited Pompeii in the morning which was really very impressive. I had no idea how large the city of Pompeii was. We spent quite a few hours in what remains of the city before venturing out into the town in search of lunch. Now I knew that it would be warm in Italy but I was not prepared to start summer. It was in the high 80s and we were all a sweaty mess. After lunch our group made a split and Rachel, Erik, and I made our way back to Sorrento while the other two girls went into the city of Naples (which based on their later reflections I wouldn’t recommend).

Some of the ruins of Pompeii

Some of the ruins of Pompeii

Back in Sorrento we explored the central part of the city, went in search of something to drink, and then made our way to the water. We spent the better part of the afternoon looking for a way down to the beach but unfortunately failed in that respect.

It was hot, too hot for me, and after a walk through a lemon grove made our way back to the hostel. Rachel and Erik went for a swim in the pool while I took a shower. We spent the rest if the afternoon drinking cocktails and sitting around the pool where we met up with another girl, Dani, who Rachel knew and who was joining the other two girls for a few days. A little after 7 Ariel and Julia returned from Naples and we all had dinner on the water. We found a great little seafood restaurant and ordered things like seafood pizza, seafood risotto, spaghetti and mussels, the list continues. It was a really nice dinner, we had a nice bottle of wine, and everyone enjoyed themselves. At the end of our meal the waiter brought us out each a shot of Limincella, a lemon alcohol that is very popular in the area and absolutely delicious!

After dinner the gelato search began, not that it was much of a search at all, as there is gelato on every corner, the Starbucks of Italy! All of these places have the same basic flavors and I decided to try something different so I went with Pear & Chocolate. While an odd combination it worked quite well and I was very happy with my choice. We walked around the town a little longer before calling it a night.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

The following morning we were up bright and early and on our way to Rome. We arrived in Rome after not too much trouble, checked into our hostel, and began to explore! After a bit of a wait in line we bought our tickets for the Forum and spent the better part of the afternoon in the Roman Forum and surrounding grounds. It was very pretty and afforded great views of the Colosseum, some terrific buildings, and splendid gardens. That night we had an interesting dinner, we went in search of a restaurant and were talked into a outside restaurant and wound up eating in what they called “paradise” which was a wobbly, crooked table on an incline, in the back of an alley with a fluorescent spot light on us. It was very odd but the food was really good and we got beer in a giant stein as the wines were out of our price range. After dinner we went to see the Trevino Fountain and the Spanish Steps as well as have a gelato, naturally. While both places were quite touristy and crowded, I really enjoyed the Trevino Fountain, as cliché as it might be to say there was something magical about the fountain at night that took you out of the city and transported you somewhere else all together. I couldn’t help the overwhelming feeling of calm that came over me while we were standing there. We of course all made a wish and threw in a coin, some touristy traditions just have to be done! The Spanish Steps were steps. While they were pretty, I believe that is one greatly overrated feature of Rome.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The following day was a public holiday in Italy. With most things closed our options were limited but we managed to still have a busy day. We woke up early and went to the Colosseum before the lines started to build. It is truly a magnificent space and a powerful one. All I could think the entire time we were inside was, how many people died here? It was very powerful and a bit chilling to think of life at the time the Colosseum was in use. There was a terrific information display on one of the upper levels that did a really good job of showing what life would have been like. After the Colosseum we went to the Vatican. It was very crowded and everyone seemed to be either a) in large groups with matching hats/bandanas/capes, b) families dragging around unhappy teenagers, c) nuns and priests, or d) overdressed couples and then there was us. We were a bit out of place, or at least I felt out of place so we didn’t stay long as we’re weren’t interested in paying or waiting on the long line to get in. After that we took a walk in search of a park that we never found, got some gelato, and then went back to the hostel for a while as it started to rain.

Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

That night we went out to a fancy dinner that my parents set up through a friend of a friend and we were well and truly spoiled. It was a lovely restaurant outside, luckily with a roof as it was still raining. When we sat down were we’re brought sparkling wine. We ordered calamari to start and they brought us a white pizza ( a common appetizer) as well. We were rather full before our dinner even arrived but we managed to struggle through another bottle of wine and our meals. I had a pasta, as did Rachel, but the shining star of the meal was the steak that Erik ordered which to all of our surprise was about twice the size of his head! They brought us a limoncello at the end of the meal that completed our food coma. It was a wonderful meal and a very nice treat for us to have a nice dinner, but even nicer was that we didn’t have to pay at all!

Florence from the river

Florence from the river

The following day we left for Florence which was my favorite city in Italy! We stayed at a very nice B&B just outside of the city center. The first afternoon we walked around and draw all of the sights, walked along the river, got gelato of course as it was a daily necessity, and explored before heading back early for a dinner of bread, wine, cheese, and sausage in the room. The following day we woke up early to wait in line to see The David which was very impressive. I have never been a huge fan of art museums but it was one of those things you just have to see. We had lunch at a market and then headed to the edge of the city to a park on a hill that offered panoramic views of the city. I got us a little bit lost in the park (one of my favorite pastimes) and we wound up taking a few mile walk around the park and a few old neighborhoods. I really enjoyed it but I think everyone was a bit annoyed with me by the end. We went back to rest our feet for a time and then went out for dinner for our last night in Italy.

Sights from our long walk

Sights from our long walk

We tried pizza in every city, and gelato every day and my vote for Italy’s best pizza (as it is quite different in each place) was in Sorrento, followed by Rome, and with Florence finishing last. As far as gelato goes, my favorite and I everyone else agreed was in Florence. I think we just stumbled across a particularly good shop but everyone had their favorite that day. Erik had Coffee and Dark Chocolate, Rachel had Azteca and Grapefruit, and I had Maya (chocolate chili pepper) and Cheesecake.