Buongiorno a tutti! So, growing up Italian (well only half 😉 ), it has always been a life-long dream to visit the motherland. Since I was practically raised by my Nonna, the Italian culture and way of life has always been something that has resonated deeply with me, and something I have always cherished. I also believe that when my dad (an Irish/British gent) married my mom (a hot-headed Italian), the Italian culture just kind of took over. Although, she does give my dad’s side of the family some recognition by making corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day hahah.
ANYWAYS – I finally was able to make this dream a reality with my sister. We went on a Contiki tour (a travel agency catering to 18-35 year olds), which took us ALL over Italy, starting at Rome. Since I have over 4,000 images from this trip and notebooks of memories, I decided to break down the blog posts in sections, by cities.
Let’s talk about getting there first. I don’t know about you, but I always have the biggest anxiety before overseas trips. Irrational, I know. From all of my experience travelling overseas (okay 3 times), the planes have been equipped with WiFi, televisions, charger ports, the whole nine yards. Well, let me tell you, stepping onto that plane was like stepping into a time warp that transported me to 1492. I minds as well have just sailed with Columbus. The phone (shockingly equipped with one), still had a cord attached to it…I didn’t even know they made those anymore! And so, a panic attack ensued.
Luckily we made it safe and sound, we had our meals (best part of the flight to be honest), and landed in Rome bright and early. With all the stress from the flight, thanks to me, my sister and I were completely worn out. Once we got through customs, we went outside and were greeted by a line of taxis. We got into a “taxi”and were on our way to our hotel where we would meet with our Contiki group later that evening.
The cab ride was great, the guy was super friendly, giving us recommendations, I was even speaking with him in Italian! Then…we got to our hotel and he wanted 200 euros…normally a 50 euro trip. He became a little angry and us being scared and in an area we knew NOTHING about (it didn’t help it was so early and no one was around), we had no choice but to give him the euros. I should note it was all of our euros we had initially exchanged to get us by the first few days of our trips. So we were robbed in Rome within the first twenty minutes of being there. At least now as I type this I can laugh, not cry.
I immediately started looking at flights home while my sister sobbed in the bathroom. Our parents were able to calm us down and things actually started looking up. We went to a little restaurant La Gattabuia, where we had a few aperitivo. Seriously the food in Italy had the power to turn our entire mood around. We ate until we were in a food coma and went straight to bed since we were off to Pompeii in the morning!
Pompeii was so historic and the Italians did an incredible job of preserving this history, but am even better job telling of the history. On a side note, I learned that Mt. Vesuvius erupted on my birthday, to which my dad said “explains a lot”. I learned so much about the culture there at the time, let’s just say it wasn’t too PG-13. They even had a prostitute row, I guess it was the OG Red Light District. The beds were made of stone, because they wanted everyone to do their business and then leave immediately and not get comfortable so the next person can come in. There’s also a really interesting background to puttanesca sauce. Puttanesca comes from the Italian word “puttana”, which basically means whore. Legend has it that at these brothels, the puttanas would make this “quick and easy” sauce and serve it to customers who were waiting their turn. All in all, Pompeii is an absolute tourist trap, I would just recommend going on a walking tour and leaving.
Stay tuned for Sorrento – one of my most favorite places in the world!