We embarked on our celebratory post-bar trip at the beginning of August. After bumming around in Switzerland for two weeks, we made our way to Italy. Our first stop was Florence. If you've never been, it's truly worth a visit. Our initial impressions, however, weren't so gushing. Perhaps it was the city's stark contrast to Switzerland as we drove through a ridiculous maze of streets in trying to track down our bed & breakfast. Bern might just be the cleanest city on earth while, as we drove in circles through Florence, the place seemed overrun by graffiti with shops everywhere closed up. Luckily, the city's charms quickly grew on us though. Our hotel was just two blocks from the famed Il Duomo (one of the largest churches in the world), which allowed us to spend a lot of time wandering the narrow downtown streets. The archaic street layout that so frustrated us on our arrival is actually pretty endearing. They've tried to keep it from changing too much in order to maintain the city's ancient character. There's a mess of history there, a lot of it awe-inspiring. From the famed Medici palaces, to the picturesque Ponto Vecchio, to the perfection of Michaelangelo's David, to Machiavelli's tomb. We also found out the reason for all the closed up shops we noticed on our way in... despite August being Florence's busiest tourist month, half of the city heads out on vacation. Go figure.
Next we drove the Chianti road through Siena to Rome, a city that is everything it's cracked up to be. We relished our time there... outside of having our camera ripped off that is (those damn Gypsies). From the Vatican to the Roman Forum, few cities have such a sense of antiquity. I could honestly sit inside the Pantheon for hours. One of our favorite things was all the amazing artists that lined the streets and piazzas peddling their works. We came home with more than a few pictures to frame.
After four days of tromping through Rome's many museums, cathedrals, parks and ruins, we broke for Naples. Now I'm not sure what you've heard, but I think you should know that Naples is essentially the butthole of Italy. It's only worth going to because of how close it is to so many other choice spots. We spent our two short days there first taking a boat to Capri to hit the beach and then driving the Amalfi Coast. With no time for things like Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, or the Blue Grotta, though, we promised ourselves we'd return.
Last but not least, we returned to Switzerland by way of Milan. We only spent one night there, but as Melbo can attest, the shopping was fantastic. Melbo already wants to go back.
Some random highlights and lowlights:
- Word to the wise... most of Italy hasn't heard of toilet seats yet.
- The Italian police... whose idea were the hats?
- Just in case it seals the deal for you... rest assured that there are segway tours of Florence.
- One fine piece of ass...
- A great place to buy "David-inspired" paraphernalia for the kids.
- Even McDonald's got a Gelatoria.
- Hands down the greatest statue I have ever seen in my entire life. Buy your own replica here.
- Choice menu items... although I've got to tell you, the boiled ox tongue isn't all it's made out to be.
- Italians love kids. Almost everyone we passed seemed to coo at E and we were stopped more than a few times by passerbys who wanted their picture with him.
- And finally a spoiler alert. Erich's true identity... Emperor Palpatine