Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Honeymoon in Italia



Italy, since I was a little kid, has always topped my bucket list of places to travel. My paternal grandmother Annunciata was Italian, so this sliver of connection is the only concrete heritage I have outside of being an good ol' American mutt. Annunciata is my middle name and I've used it as my online handle for nearly every website ever, despite it being continually hard to pronounce. I also happen to look just like her, which made the idea of visiting a place where the people look just like me and my grandmother highly romanticized my entire life.


I had always hoped that Dad would come with me. About three years ago, I started talking about it in passing with him and soon begged him to go. He told me he couldn't go, that his knees would give out (in hind sight something that is entirely possible given how much we ended up walking), so instead he gifted me with some money to go on the trip. To do something that he would never do. 

Nearly as soon as Joe and I started dating, I told him I wanted to go to Italy with him. I'd already had many opportunities to travel, but he had become a father many years ago and never really was able to. Well, one thing led to another, and the trip was put off. You know, marriage, a baby, a house... little things like that. But the trip never left my mind. 

So, eventually, all things aligned and we started planning it. A ten-day trip through Venice, Florence, Pisa, my grandmother's village Pievepelago in the mountains, Rome, and Naples. A belated honeymoon in Italia. How perfect. How beautiful.

To say Italy was everything I expected... Well, it would be impossible. It couldn't possibly have been what I'd imagined in my head since I was a small child. While we were midway through the trip, Joe asked me if I had heard of the "Paris effect" (he's full of factoids like this). I said I hadn't, and he explained that it's a phenomenon wherein after Japanese tourists visit Paris, they become disillusioned with the city because it wasn't what they expected to see after romanticizing about it for so long. This "Paris effect" hit me pretty hard in Florence after being pestered for the twentieth time by panhandlers to buy a laser light flyer that they kept shooting over people's heads admiring the Duomo.

But, really, though it wasn't what I expected, it was still pretty great. Here's a highlight reel.

Amsterdam:
  • Chill, unassuming, cool. Awesome feel.
  • Friendliest people I've ever met. Everyone offered help, even without asking.
  • Bicycles, bicycles, everywhere!
  • If we didn't have kids, we'd want to live here.

Venice:
  • Breathtaking to see, very original to look at because of the canals. Just like the pictures you've always seen. 
  • Very, very touristy and crowded. We had difficulty getting a feel for what "Venice" culture would be like without tourism.
  • The gondoliers wear striped shirts and straw hats.
  • Panhandlers in St. Mark's force birdseed or roses into your hand, then demand you pay them.

Florence:
  • Easily walkable, everything of note within 15 minutes or less.
  • Most crowded city we visited. Long lines for everything, even with an advance purchase ticket.
  • David was as amazing as everyone says. The Duomo makes my eyes hurt after staring at it with it's pink and mint intricacies.



Pievepelago:
  • Grandmother's village
  • This place will live on in my memory forever, like Rose thinking about the Titanic. Idyllic and pristine, it was without a doubt the highlight of my trip.



Pisa:
  • Hot, crowded, we left within 30 minutes of arriving.




Rome:
  • Splendid. Ancient meets Renaissance meets 21st century. 
  • Truly a city everyone should see at least once.
  • Vatican Museum, St. Peter's, Colosseum, Trevi Fountains... worth it.
  • Pretty much the best part of our trip. Very fun city, great food, awesome variety, plenty to choose from.
  • Hotter than Florida in the summer.



Naples:
  • They. Have. Deep. Fried. Pizza.
  • DEEP FRIED PIZZA!





What the trip did become, though, was this: (1) an unforgettable adventure with my best friend, (2) a lifelong dream fulfilled (Dad did come with me, and I put his ashes in the stream in Grandmother's village) and (3) a renewal of gratitude for my comfortable, homebody life in Florida.




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