This was one for the books. Rome>Assisi>Venice>Florence>Cinque Terre>Amalfi Coast>Pompeii>Rome…in 10 days! My dad, mom, brother and I did this in full with cameos by my sister Ali, her boyfriend Dave, our neighbor Jack and some knuckleheads from my fraternity (Adam, Nick, Trace, and John). A motley crew to say the least and I don’t really know hot to begin to tell this tale.
My last post came right before I left for the airport. It was only a 10 minute taxi away but Ghana still tried to get the best of me. We got a flat tire. Luckily we were close enough that I just walked the rest of the way. The second I sat on the plane I already felt like I was in the first world.
Flights were fine (layover in Lisbon, Portugal) and before I knew it I was in Rome. The first thing I noticed was everything just nicer. Cars, buildings and roads all in pristine condition. The weather was also perfect 70s and sunny (this was the case for our whole trip!)
I met a crying Ali at the train station as well as Dave and Adam. Dave is studying abroad in Rome and Adam was visiting on his Spring Break. We went to our hotel and cruised by some sites like the Colosseum and the Forum. I was definitely stoked since I’m somewhat of a history buff and I took Latin once upon a time.
We killed the afternoon at an Irish pub and a restaurant next to a piazza (town squares that are all over Italy). It was nice to drink wine and good beer for a change and just relax until the rest of the family arrived.
That night we had the first of many incredible meals. The Italians do meals right. It’s delicious and the meals last for hours. Exactly what I was looking for after months of bland food that everyone scarfs down with no conversation.
That night I went out with Dave and Adam to another Irish pub to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It was great to be around Americans drinking and watching the tourney. I may have enjoyed myself a little too much but it was well worth it.
The next day was the Vatican which was very cool. Although I’m not religious it was awesome so see such significant historical landmarks and incredible works of art. It’s a shame we couldn’t take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel ( as well as many other Italian landmarks) but then I would have ended up with probably double the photos I have now.
The next day we toured the Colosseum and Forum before heading to Assisi. It’s amazing that the buildings are still so intact ofter thousands of years of weather and vandalism. Followed by the smooth train ride I could the Italians knew how to things right both past and present.
Assisi is a town I had never heard of until this trip. It’s famous for St. Francis being buried there but it’s also a called walled in city in the countryside between Rome and Florence. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever passing that way.
Venice was next and what a cool unique place! I’ve never seen anything like it. The canals were gorgeous and t wasn’t that crowded. It was definitely full of couples but still an enjoyable place to go with your parents and brother. We checked out St. Mark’s Square as well as the basilica. We also did a gondola ride (expensive but a must do).
After Venice was Florence to visit Ali. Florence is like a huge college town. Everywhere I looked were college kids studying abroad. Despite the hordes of tourists as well it wasn’t too crowded but I can imagine how bad it gets in the summer. We climbed to the top of the Duomo (the dome) in the center of town and had dinner with Jack who we just ran into on the street. The next day we hiked to Piazza Michelangelo and got a good look of the city before heading to the Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre is made of 5 towns on the northwest coast of Italy. They are located where the mountains meet the ocean. GORGEOUS! The towns got hit by terrible mudslides in October causing 36 million Euro in damages. They are still cleaning up but doing a terrific job! We hiked to one of the towns but the other trails are still closed. Our first night there we had literally the best meal I’ve ever had. We got a sea food soup that came out of this giant urn. It contained fresh lobster, shrimp, mussels, fish, and squid. AMAZING!
We jetted down the coast to Sorrento which begins the Amalfi Coast. It was somewhat similar to Cinque Terre except more popular. Mountains and cliffs meet ocean which make for intense driving. We also saw Pompeii which was very interesting. I never realized it was so big!
Now I’m back in Rome ready to go back to Ghana in a few hours. Luckily I got to have one last dinner with some other DU friends studying abroad. I’m definitely going to miss the family, friends, food, transportation,and hotels but there is work to be done! I have to hurry back home because we have a meeting to start building the latrines. Also in one week we have our All Volunteer Conference for everyone in Ghana (all 180 of us) which should be a good time. So while I’m sad to leave I’m going back to work that will keep me busy. Finally I have some good news…I’ll be coming home for Christmas and New Year’s! So start planning some epic adventures and I’ll see you before I know it!