The Italian people are the nicest people I’ve ever met. Their food is unbelievable. The landscape leaves you breathless.
We spent the night on the night train from France to Italy.

This was my car-mates on the night train. DD didn’t stay with me and mil, she stayed with her BFF and her other two friends. We had an awesome time even though the rooms were tiny. We told ghost stories and pretended to be Asian tourists. My car and the car next door  were the only non-Asian tourist rooms on our car.

We got to Italy in time for breakfast. It was so good! Lots of fresh fruit. Peaches everywhere.
That day we went to Florence. If I could do anything over, I’d plan a full two days in Florence and skip Pisa.

DD and her BFF were sick in Florence. BFF’s mom is a world traveler. BFF and mom stayed in Florence and saw the local tourist doctor while we made our way to Pisa.

I have some pictures somewhere of the tower, but I’ve got to tell you, Pisa was a HUGE disappointment. You know those cheap touristy places that drive you crazy in cities like NYC, DFW, San Antonio? That was Pisa. VERY commercialized. It didn’t feel sacred at all. BUT the Pisa baptistry was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever heard. Most people in Pisa have lived there forever. They’re parents lived there, and their grandparents did, too. They’ve all been baptized in this gorgeous marble baptistry. A lone man walked in and started singing while we all sat on the marble steps surrounding him. His voice echoed off the round walls. It was haunting and touching at the same time. Outside, the temps were reaching near 98 and we were all exhausted. But inside, the marble was cold. That man’s voice will live in my memory forever. Were weren’t allowed to take photos inside the baptistry.

We stopped at Assisi on the way to Rome. Assisi was everything Pisa wasn’t. It was sacred and beautiful. The scenery around the town is straight from a Tuscan postcard.

We had the best pizza I’ve ever tasted in my life in Assisi. 🙂

Then we were on to Rome. Our tour guide told us there are so many artifacts in Rome, things that would normally be in museums are on roadsides there. People can’t remodel their homes without finding some ancient artifact or another. Our first night there, we went on a night tour of the city. I went to Trevi Fountain and threw my coin and had the best pistachio gelato. YUM!
The next day we made our way to the Vatican. The Pope was there! Talk about chilling. I’m not Catholic, but watching and listening, I was stunned by the power.

The Pope blessed us while we were there. (Pretty cool)
I’d love to spend more time at the Vatican. I felt rushed the entire time. BUt the place was so incredibly crowded. It was CRAZY!
After the Vatican, we went to the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, and they gave away free champagne. I wish I’d paid more attention to the brand. I don’t usually like champagne, but I could’ve had that with my meal. It was perfect for the hot day. (Another 100 degree one)
The week before we were there, the Romans said they were wearing light jackets. We were there for record setting heat!

From the restaurant, we made our way to the Coliseum.

DD, BFF and another friend went off on their way, and I went off one mine with other people.

I’m in the background here. I have no idea what I’m thinking. But I bought the hat in Florence! I bet I was having some sort of weird premonition. Something was saying don’t go any further. Just sit down. Who cares about all this ancient history?!?

Even DD and her BFF were trying to convince we not to venture off.

And ten minuted later, I was talking about Gladiator ghosts and, boom, down I went.
The EMT’s were very Italian. 🙂

I’ll definitely go back. San Giovanni’s nursing staff might have been nice, but I don’t want that to be my last Italian memory!
My next trip is already planned. Summer 2010, I’m taking a group of kids on the From ROme to Athens trip, and I can’t wait!

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