Europe 2022: Italy

Hello everyone!

If you haven’t checked them out already, you can find parts 1, 2, and 3 of my adventures this summer by clicking on the numbers. This final part is the culmination of my trip to Europe, having last been there three years ago. Having not been out of the country mostly due to the pandemic, I can confirm that finally being able to visit Italy is a dream come true in so many ways.

Warning: This post might be longer than usual and very picture-heavy. This is not an itinerary but if you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to share them with you!

After the wonderful time spent in France, the gang (my girlfriend, her sister, her sister’s boyfriend, and I) took the plane to Rome. For once in my life, that short flight was completed without a single hassle. Upon arriving there, we immediately took a train straight to Florence where we originally planned on staying for a couple of nights. Having only minimal knowledge of the city thanks to Assassin’s Creed, my time in Florence turned out quite fantastic. The most outstanding landmark was the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore located in the Piazza del Duomo. This cathedral looked like a castle straight out of a fantasy world, with baby dragons circling around it (they were actually pigeons). The second most notable stop there was the Uffizi Gallery with formidable pieces, including art by the great Botticelli. Seeing these for yourself was quite mesmerizing. Otherwise, the different places we explored and passed by were quite wonderful, from the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River to the Fountain of Neptune. We even had fun watching scammers, maybe a little too much, work their magic on innocent passersby, trying to get people to pay for their bracelets, belts, and whatever other contraptions they wanted to sell.

Once Florence was completed, we picked up a car that we could drop off in Rome and began our road trip down south, passing by Lucca, Pisa, and Siena, while always taking the scenic routes, allowing us to absorb the beautiful nature across the country. Of everything seen in these little cities, all beautiful and peaceful in their own ways, it was finally seeing the iconic Leaning Tower that really created a memory that I’ll keep with me forever. On top of that, we had reserved a night at the Podere la Ciabatta which offered a stunning view and a peaceful star-filled night. It’s also being able to see a herd of sheep with their harmonious little bells being led by a shepherd as the sun was setting that really soothed our adventurous spirits in ways that we didn’t expect. Before going to bed, we also capped the night by eating a traditional and sizzling bistecca alla fiorentina (see picture below). It might as well be the best steak I ever had in my life so far.

Afterward, we got back into our car and headed towards San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. Coincidentally, there was a medieval event happening in Monteriggioni, a walled town with watchtowers. This was a fun detour, although it was so hot that day. We still don’t understand how some people were disguised as fully-geared knights and whatnot. Once done, we headed to Rome where we dropped off our car and headed to my girlfriend’s and her sister’s dad’s place (which he lent us for the duration of the trip while he was in Lanciano; thank you!!!!). Our first day was quite wonderful, discovering the center of Rome with the Spanish Steps and la Villa Borghese. I haven’t mentioned it yet but it really applies to every day in Italy: we ate so many amazing dishes, from panini to pizza to pasta, I could barely ever say that I had a bad experience. Everything was awesome!

We then spent one day heading to Lanciano, at the Eastern end of Italy, where I finally got to meet my girlfriend’s father and other members of the extended family. While I might be trying to learn Italian and can understand a good chunk of it, my time there has confirmed that, depending on the dialect you have and the speed at which you speak, life ain’t easy for this little Canadian. I still had a great time during this detour and look forward to coming back as I continue to improve my language skills. Once back in Rome, we got back to exploring more of the iconic places around the city, from the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain. In fact, both of these landmarks were truly, absolutely, mind-boggling. Not only in terms of size but also in terms of details.

On one of our last days, we also went to visit Vatican City. I’m still shocked by the idea that there can even be a city-state within a city. Goes to show how much power the institution has had throughout history, huh? With that being said, the most memorable moment remains the Sistene Chapel where we got to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece. Yes, it really is a masterpiece. You’ll have neck pain trying to gaze at his work but it’ll be worth it. We finished off that experience by going to a nearby rooftop bar where we had a beautiful view of the Vatican too.

There were also so many impressive churches around Rome. Once you step foot into these places, you’re instantly stunned and visually overwhelmed by everything around you. The ceilings are always high, there’s gold everywhere, and there’s an insane amount of detail too. But, man, Italy was such a beautiful and fun adventure. I’m beyond delighted to have finally discovered a portion of it and I already look forward to discovering more of the Northern and Southern ends of it in the years to come.

I also really need to make a special mention of their gelato. What they say about it is true. Trust me. It is godly. I’ve never had ice cream done so magnificently in my life. If you take something fruity, you’ll actually taste the fruit. There’s nothing artificial there. You’d conclude that you’re eating something healthy, I tell you. And the food there. Yes, I’ve already said how good their three P’s are but even their fried stuff with potato and mozzarella is mouth-watering. Honestly, I would just eat every minute of every day if I were living there.

And then it was time for me to go back home (girlfriend had to stay a couple of more days to stay with her parents and all). The flight back was the longest I’ve ever had to do so far and everything went down smoothly until the final 10 minutes of my flight. Holy moly. If you thought you knew what turbulence was like, think again. I was convinced we were going to die, that we’d have to jump off mid-flight with parachutes or something, that it was the end of the world (my world, at least). I didn’t even know what my final thoughts should be. I knew then that I had some thinking to do if things turned out ok. Anyway, I never felt more relieved to touch the ground in the end and survive this whole ordeal (of course, I still had to suffer through the luggage-hunting bit, which took a good hour before anyone of us could find our luggage).

And then I got my home. And to make it all feel even more like home, I went 200% Canadian and ate at our most Canadian destination, and then hit the bed. I know, it doesn’t compete with anything I ate so far throughout my vacation but it’s our comfort food. What can I say? 🙂


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54 thoughts on “Europe 2022: Italy

  1. Having only minimal knowledge of the city thanks to Assassin’s Creed, my time in Florence turned out quite fantastic.
    Well who knew a videogame could do more than rot the brain? 😀

    The pictures of the food looked fantastic. Made me want to go eat a pizza in fact.

    The few times I’ve flown I’ve never had to deal with turbulence, and I am very thankful for that…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. I cannot even handle photos of overflowing ice cream (1f). Whoever thought this would be a good idea? It just runs down your hands, making them sticky. I feel very strongly about that – I HATE it. What I end up doing a lot of the time is ask for it in a cup and then a cone on the side.

    2. What is the meat (?) in the pita? (2j)

    3. I laughed at your mention of delicious food. That’s how I feel, too, when I go abroad. Things just taste so good (I really like the Mediterranean cuisine).

    4. The ending made me chuckle even more, because every now and again I grab a burger and/or fries from McDonalds when I land. It’s not something I enjoy a lot, but it just makes sense around air travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it’s why I ended up, more often than not, takings cups instead of cones throughout my trip. I took a cone the first time and realized that it’s no fun to lick away when the temperature outside worked against you, and then once more at the end but that’s because they made their cone themselves and filled the bottom with chocolate.

      It’s called biroldo and it’s a blood sausage. We read in a guide that it was a specialty in Lucca and thought we try it once. I only understood what it actually was after we ordered it and looked it up hahaha

      I adore Mediterranean cuisine too and would go crazy for it.

      Right? It just seemed fitting, easy, and simple. It also reminded me that you can still adore some dishes even if it ain’t fine cuisine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought it looked like a blood sausage but wanted to make sure. Did you like it? I think it’s tasty but too many people get grossed out when they learn what it is. Glad you got to try it without knowing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, great trip! Wife loves Italy, so we’ve been going there a lot, but I’ve never actually seen to Rome, or Florence… we Venice this year, finally, but it’s been mostly south so far, I strongly recommend Sicily.
    Italians have great food, don’t they? Love your photos. Not only of the food, I need to make my wife revisit Florence, with me this time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely plan to visit Sicily and Venice in the future! There are so many places within Italy that are worth exploring, it’s crazy! I hope you get the chance to visit Florence and Rome in the near future. As Europeans, y’all probably have it easier to visit these countries too hahah I envy you! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad to learn that your European tour concluded with a proverbial “bang”: your joy in discovering places (and foods – let’s not forget the foods ;-D ) comes across quite clearly, although I was more than certain that it would go this way… 😉

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  5. I’m glad you enjoyed Italy so much, Lashaan! I will now keep viewing pigeons as baby dragons, it makes them seem much nicer 😂 I’ve also “heard” that the taxi driver on the way to the airport was a bit drunk..? 😆 you’re definitely not very lucky when it comes to flights! I’m sure you’ll love all the other parts of Italy and their food and architecture, and I hope you’ll get there soon 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They only look like dragons from far… Once close, they’re the devil reincarnated. You and your sis probably know best hahaha And yes!! I had forgotten about that little bit. I must have repressed that wayyyyy back into my memory!!! But I hear you guys are starting to get as unlucky as me with flights now. I never asked for competition! 😉 I look forward to our next adventures, all 4 of us together! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, sure, Europe is easy, I won’t deny that, and I try to make use of it and often as possible 🙂 America though, that’s a big trip, and I definitely want to see more of your continent. My friend’s sister’s escape from a Grizzly bear in Canada sure sounds fun when she recollects it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, sounds like you had an amazing time in Italy. Your photos made me want to go to Italy (not to mention eating ice cream). Despite being based in Europe, I haven’t actually spent much time in Italy and have never been in Rome or Florence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Florance is one of my favorite cities! I went there twice and had a private guided tour too! And Rome is…history at every street corner!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Old Rome is a fascinating city, with a mix of old buildings in very good shape, ruins of famous landmarks, and a handful of buildings with modern interiors. Also the best place to start with a trip to Italy since pretty much everyone speaks Italian, and all the menus are bi-lingual. We wouldn’t have done too well in the smaller towns if we didn’t stay in Rome for a couple of days first.

    Yup, gelato was a highlight for my trip to Italy as well. Beyond that, I ate a lot of pizza. What I like about Italian pizza is it’s more of a comfort food, and every restaurant makes it completely different.

    I don’t remember the name of the town, but for a few nights, we stayed at a bed and breakfast on a coastal town, on top of a hill. The drive up that hill is pretty intense, with steep slopes, and one point where you drive between buildings close enough that no wide car can fit through. It’s a good thing we swapped rental vehicles at the start of the trip, considering our first vehicle had brake problems.

    Also, remember the scene in Superman 3 where Superman sets the leaning tower of Pisa upright? I bought a Superman shirt within sight of that tower, just for the sake of it. Still have that T-shirt 10 years later. Still in fairly good condition.

    We spent most of an afternoon in Venice, and for me, that was enough. I did specifically hunt out the outside of the church from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which looks completely different on the inside … not just because it was being used as an art gallery at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! There’s so much diversity on an architectural level throughout the city. We mostly stuck to Italian throughout trip but they did well in English. A lot of expressions are easy to learn and use once you spend a couple of days and that’s awesome!

      So true. I love how they do their pizza though and even more how they do their gelato. It’s soooo godly. I miss it so much.

      Oh man, to get to our one-night hotel in Tuscany we had to go through a similar hellish slope!

      HAhahah I thought of Superman III on my way to Pisa too and wondered if there would be any local shops selling merchandise about that but I think I’m a couple of years too late for that now hahah That shirt of yours is one souvenir that you should keep close to you forever!

      I want to visit Venice in the near future. I’ll have to hunt down that church too when I get around to it!

      Like

  10. I absolutely loved reading this and viewing all the great photos. As with the rest of Europe, I love the architecture and I’d love to try the food. And I did notice all those great frozen treats sprinkled throughout the photos. 🙂 Regarding the turbulence, it really does imbue a sense of awe and respect at how well planes are built that they can withstand that and keep flying, and with such a great long-term track record. Thanks much for sharing all these incredible moments, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m telling you, you’d have adored your time there, both for the architecture and the food! It’s such a wonderful combo. Sooooo true about airplane pilots. Every time I do take a plane, I start to reflect on how this giant thing even flies so well and how pilots handle a whole 6+ hour trip, sometimes seeing almost nothing but clouds or darkness! Thanks for reading, Todd. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry for the bad experience on your way home, that sounds properly nightmarish! But I am glad you had such an amazing time in Italy! The pictures you posted are so beautiful and the places you mentioned are all worth a visit (or two, or three). Tusacany has some of the most beautiful landscape, the green of the hills there is unique, at least to me. And Rome is a constant surprise, even if you loose yourself in its streets you will find something beautiful to see!

    Liked by 1 person

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