Unknown to my parents, they were in for a crash course of Italy. And boy did we do it. A different city every night, I really, really enjoyed my last family vacation to Peru and I was hoping this one would be just as awesome. (Also, I’m glad I’m at the age where both my parents and I can appreciate similar things) The first day was probably the most intense. I woke up at 6:45 to catch the 7:52 train to the airport to pick them up. [they pretty much left the whole trip in my hands, so I really didn’t want to disappoint] I got there five minutes before they walked out. Airport>>Termini>>take a metro to Barberini>>walk down Via Sistina to our hotel to meet Apoorva and Ishanee (who brought/lugged all my stuff from KG’s to the hotel—THANKS) and we gave Ishanee her new camera lens that my parents had brought because hers broke on the hike up to Vesuvius. After giving my parents all of 15 minutes of downtime, we set off on our day, which included:
Pass by the Trevi Fountain
Coffee at Tazo Del Orro
Croissants at Sant Eustachio
AIRC (my institute—they met Lynda and Albert)
Walk by the Imperial Fora
Lunch at L’Archetto (100 Pasta Sauces Place)
Piazza Del Popolo (including the vista at the top)
A walk through the Borghese Gardens
The Borghese Gallery
SRF Service (my church)
Dinner at da Baffetta (we saw Ashley and her fam here!)
A walk through Piazza Navona
Repacking/Return keys to KG
In the Colosseum
@ Piazza Navona
The next morning was Vatican City—the basilica, the Cupola, and the museum. My parents really enjoyed it and mom even got a rosary blessed by the pope. And I finally sent out my postcards. After going back to the hotel to grab our bags, I took my parents on their first Italian train adventure. Fortunately, and for me, it was nothing like my train adventures—it was all fast trains and first class! We got to Florence in time to check out the Boboli Gardens (it was my 1st time there and I warn all of you—it’s not worth it) and made it to the famous vista of Firenze: Piazzle Michelangelo. The view was spectacular—the timing was sunset. We stopped by Vivoli’s to get some scrumptious Gelato before turning in for the night.
Touching St. Peter's Foot
Next to the Baldaccino
In front of the Square
The School of Athens with Pops
In the Boboli Gardens with the Duomo in the background
In the Gardens
The Boar--this means they're coming back here
Florentine Sunset @ Piazzale Michelangelo
The next day: climbed the Duomo, went to Santa Croce, took mom shopping at the leather markets (she had a field day), went to the actual Duomo cathedral, strolled through the Uffizi, bought 2 Botticelli prints, grabbed lunch at the famous 2 panini place, then took a nice train ride to Assisi. I am going to retire here. The food in Assisi is unbelievable. We split ravioli with sage, stuffed gnocchi, and their version of Tiramisu is frozen. Our hotel was quaint and the staff was incredibly kind. They had snacks, cakes, and tea available whenever you wanted. And oh my—the streets are small and adorable. Everyone loves plants and flowers. We even met a religious architecture professor who teaches American study abroad programs in Italy. We held a 20 minute conversation with him and he talked about how much he loved the Buddhist and Hindu sites he’s been to in India. It was so unexpected and different.
My dad is like a little kid when it comes to Gelato. He must get it at least once everyday; he can never decide which flavors he wants and always gets at least 3 flavors. I was so happy to see him so enthusiastic about Gelato. We went to get gelato at the main piazza in the town: Piazza del Commune and this piazza had a very different feel than any other piazza that I had been to. There was not only that sense of liveliness (like Navona) but also a sense of community.On Top of the DuomoIn front of Marconi's Tomb (inventor of the radio)
The next day was spent sleeping in and visiting the various churches of the town at our own pace. We first stopped by the open air market to pick up some flowers for the churches we were visiting. Sr. Francis is very special in our household and to my father especially, this was a pilgrimage. We started at San Rufino (where St. Francis was baptized), then St. Chiara (St. Claire-St. Francis’ foremost female disciple), Chiesa Porta Nuova (Francis’ birthplace), and finally the church of St. Francis himself. All these churches had a different vibe than those in Rome—there was just something refreshing about them. I bought myself a wax seal here and took my parents on a real train adventure—3 trains to get to Naples. We made it to Naples, which BTW is the India of Italy—crowded, corroded, congested, and dirty. Thankfully, our hotel was really nice and it was a 2 minute walk to the port to catch our ferry to Capri the next day.
Random Street in Assisi
In the crypt of St. Francis
In front of the Church of St. Francis
Our only picture in Naples--the fountain in front of our hotel
Going to Capri with my parents was a totally different experience than going a week before. It was as if it were a whole new Capri. [it could have partially been because it was on my parents’ tab this time…] After getting to our hotel, which was gorgeous, and to our room had a huge balcony to lounge on that opened out to a seaside view, we took a private boat tour around the island. I went on a group tour the previous week and although this cost a pretty penny more, it was worth it. The views were close up and I even got to swim through the Green Grotto (one of the all time highlights of the entire trip so far) The water wasn’t cold, we could stop where we wanted, and our skipper (Mario) has connections with the Blue Grotto (which some of you were wondering what it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Grotto) Rowboatmen to let my parents jump the queue. After the boat ride we went to Villa San Michel. Built by a Swedish doctor, author, animal lover, and an architectural connoisseur, Villa San Michel was suggested to us by the professor who we had met in Assisi. The villa was decorated with a conglomeration of various ancient artifacts and the gardens, oh the gardens! The views and the flora were out of this world and he even had an Egyptian Sphinx from the reign of Ramses II in his garden. After the villa, we went to Chiesa San Michel, a church where the entire floor is one large tile mosaic of the Garden of Eden. For dinner we went to this hidden restaurant, La Pergola, where they grew all their vegetables in their garden right next to the restaurant. They sat us with a view of Mt. Vesuvius on the mainland. This city is also different at night and is definitely enchanting.
Onward to Capri
On our boat tour
Swimming the Green Grotto
The Gardens in Villa San Michel
Chiesa San Michel's Mosaic floor
The balcony of our hotel room
La Pergola for Dinner
The plans for the next day were going to include Sorrento and Herculaneum, but we all wanted to stay longer in Capri. And so we did.
The next morning we woke up slowly, wandered the streets, walked through the Augustan Gardens; gazed out at the ocean; caught a ferry to Naples; then caught a train to Rome. This train stopped in the middle of nowhere for 30 minutes because of technical difficulties. When we got back to Rome, mom and I went to the Spanish Steps for shopping, then all of us went to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta to peer through the keyhole; dinner @ Il Desiderio Preso per la Coda (the fresh ricotta place—where we discovered that the ‘fresh ricotta’ is actually mascarpone, gorgonzola, and parmesan!); one last gelato at Il Giolotti. We got back to the hotel and did some major repacking and my parents were off to go home at 7:15am the next morning.
I am sad to see them go, but I know we’ll be reunited in 2 weeks. The time I had with them was great and I accomplished my goal—they now have a desire to come back to Italy. Eating awesome food, staying in classy places, and traveling first class was wonderful and I’m now ready to rough it out for the next couple of weeks.