Sunday, November 6, 2011

ITALY!



This past week we had the privilege to go to Italy! We traveled for one week along the west coast which was filled with plenty of amazing and terrifying adventures!

Milan!
We flew into Milan, and stayed one day in the bustling, high fashion city. We milled the streets admiring the incredible shopfronts and euro pop fashionistas :) The best stop of the day was the Duomo, a stunning site to behold with hundreds of spires reaching into the sky. Also, the place where St. Augustine was baptized, a point of great interest for Ross :)


The Duomo





Beautiful buildings



Shopping district


Beautiful storefronts






Covered shopping district next to the Duomo



Ross drooling over the Italian leather shoes all over 150 euros... the same brand of the ones he found in a thrift store in SD for $3!



MMMMMM! Our first gelato experience of the week!


Assisi!
And here is where the drama of the trip ensued... a story much better suited for an in person re-enactment, but unfortunately a written account will have to suffice. Our train journey from Milan to Assisi was about 5 hours and we were to be getting into the quiet town of Assisi about 12am. With our Interrail tickets in hand, we boarded the train. Upon finding our seats we realized that that we had accidentally reserved 1st class seats instead of 2nd class seats and would have to pay the difference in the cost of the tickets. Since we had spent so much already on travel, I asked Ross to find someone to see if there were any 2nd class seats available that we could switch to. Ross, being the wonderful husband that he is, leaves everything (including me) behind with our tickets in hand to inquire about the switch. He stepped off the train for literally 2 seconds, and right when he did the train doors closed behind him. As Ross realized this, he attempts to pry the doors open and is banging on the doors and screaming at the top of his lungs. I am hearing this from inside the train and then I feel the train start to move. As the train begins to leave the platform, Ross starts sprinting with the train banging on it for it to stop. At one point both of us are pounding on the glass looking at each other with complete and utter terror on our faces... truly a Hollywood moment. As the train pulls completely out of the station, leaving Ross on the platform without luggage or a passport, we are both in complete panic. I am freaking out to everyone in my car, where no one of course speaks English and everyone is staring at Ross having a complete meltdown in the terminal station. Cell phone communication was not functioning... To make a very long and traumatic story short, with the help of the train conductor on the train (who was contacted by a fellow passenger who came to my beckoning screams) and the customer service desk in the train station who Ross finally convinced to help, Ross was quickly put on a speedier train to meet up with me in Bologna, a town 2 1/2 hours away from Milan. When I pulled into Bologna and saw Ross standing on that platform, I was the happiest girl in the world. We honestly didn't care where the heck we were going as long as we were together! A terrifying way to start our holiday, but made the "togetherness" of the rest of it that much sweeter!!!!

So after a very long evening, we finally made it to Assisi, a charming ancient village with incredible history to match the magical feel of walking the streets. A highlight for sure was visiting the Basilica of Francis of Assisi, a famous pilgrimage site for Christians. Unfortunately, we only had a really short time here, but would love to come back for a longer stay.


Our Hotel: Hotel Hermitage


The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi



Inside the Basilica


St. Francis' tomb


Misty morning


Stone buildings



Main square in Assisi


Capri
Off on another train ride we went (repeatedly uttering to each other, "Don't you dare get off this train without me!!!") to Naples where we caught a ferry to the Island of Capri. And what a relaxing two days we had! We arrived while it was still dark, so it was a glorious surprise and delight when we woke up to the sound of crashing waves and the sunrise glistening over the Mediterranean Sea! The view from our balcony was spectacular! The entire first day, we simply laid by the beach and swam in the BLUE water, something that truly delights Ross' heart! The towns of Capri and Anicapri were charming with their winding roads and shops. Our hotel was the absolute best part of the island, being a short 2 minute walk to one of the 3 beaches on the island. It was exactly what we needed after the crazy train ride incident! Before we left, we took a chair lift ride up to the top of the highest peak to get a 360 degree view of the island. Breathtaking!


Capri shops


The view we woke up to from bed :)



View from our balcony

To the right of our hotel

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The sound of the ocean from our balcony



Hotel Weber Ambassador



View from our balcony


The AQUA water!


A dream to swim in!

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Our own free blue grotto


View of Capri bay from Anicapri


The blue, blue water never ceases to amaze


Ready for dinner



The main square at night



Limoncello!!!!!! Tart, sweet, kickin' yumminess!



Chair lift to the top!


Sorrento!
With only a speedy 20 minute ferry ride, we were soon in Sorrento, a precious seaside town. Arriving by water at sunset was the perfect way to catch a first glimpse of this lovely town. As you pull into the port, stunning buildings dominate the cliff. The center square has a bustling feel to it as people and mopeds whizz by. This and Capri is also where Limoncello is from, a new found *favorite* lemon liquor of mine! So yummy and tangy! Gelato was a staple of our diet during this week, but Sorrento had some of the best! So many flavors to choose from!!! We had a fantastic hotel tucked up into the hills over looking all of Sorrento. That night we had the yummiest gorgonzola gnocchi and fresh ravioli. MMMM!


View of Sorrento from our ferry



A hotel on the Sorrento cliffs



Sorrento cliffs


View of Sorrento coast




Sorrento's Main Square




Our hotel: Hotel Prestige




All the yummy gelato flavors! I swear we didn't gain any weight!




Complimentary Limoncello is served after the meal :)



Pompeii!
From Sorrento, we took a day trip to the incredible city of Pompeii where we hired Sasha, an AWESOME guide! He was hilarious and such an Italian fashionista! He made our trip to Pompeii so memorable and informative. I would highly recommend him as a tour guide for anyone who wants history to come alive! His accent, Georgio Armani murse, Euro pop glasses, detest for the huge Asian tour groups, and zest for history made the 2 1/2 hours fly by!



Our awesome guide Sasha!



Plaster cast of man covering his nose



Beautifully preserved 2,000 year old Roman bath fountain



Pizzeria kitchen



Pompeii Sunset



Amalfi Coast-Positano!
So off to our last stop of the trip traveled by a hairpin road that curves along the mountainside to your left and the sea to your right. Positano! By far our FAVORITE city of the trip! We LOVE Positano! If you are looking for a charming, romantic Italian coastal town with tons of character... this is it!!!!! Oh my word...amazing! It was the perfect way to end the trip and we wished we could have been there an entire week! With colorful hotels and homes clustering the hill which comes down straight into the sea, and the tiny windy streets dotted with adorable shops and venders, there is just nothing like it! Our hotel room had a spectacular view of the sea and colorful hill. We arrived early enough in the day that we were able to relax for hours on the beach with the most beautiful view we have ever seen. The only thing that could have made it any better was a Pina Colada, but don't worry Ross took care of that! To end off our trip, we had one of the best meals... tomato cream gnocchi, calzone, local wine, limoncello and tiramisu. Oh my goodness I'm going to miss the yummy food!


Amalfi Coast Drive


Glorious!



Positano!



Charming narrow streets



Mopeds everywhere!


Loafers of every color!



Colorful buildings



Cathedral right on the beach


Yes, he made the moment that much more perfect with a pina :)



Relaxing on the beach




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On the beach




View from our balcony



View from our balcony at night



Our last dinner



At our hotel right before our taxi ride home :(

The next morning we had a few hours to relax until the crazy travel day began... 1/2 hour taxi from Positano to Sorrento, 2 hour train to Naples, 1 hour train to Rome, 1 hour bus ride to the airport, 3 hour plane ride to Dublin, and lastly a mad dash through the airport to the Aircoach to make it just in the nick of time for the 40 minute bus ride home... After a long 12 hour travel day... we were back home safe with memories aplenty :) Oh Italy how we love you! Can't wait to go back!