I’m feeling compelled to share bits of our trip to Italy before it all becomes a blip of a memory. Because if it doesn’t get posted here, now, it’s never going to happen. (I blame college for that sad truth.)
Heat, mosquitoes and exhaustion aside… Italy was amazing. While England certainly feels old compared the the U.S., Italy feels REALLY old. And it is. As such, millions and millions of people think of it as a must-see destination. (I’m pretty sure they all converged on Venice when we were there.) Even the stuff that isn’t on the highlight reel is remarkable. And so here’s our tale…
The baby and I got up early enough to take a 4 AM taxi to London Stansted airport. I’m glad I did it to avoid parking and shuttle-catching and baby-toting and hauling our luggage myself. Particularly because RyanAir makes it as challenging as possible to get your luggage checked. Thankfully everything went pretty smoothly from there.
We stayed in an amazing apartment in the college town of Ferrara. [Everything about that last sentence comes with a subtext of “not baby-friendly.”] Ferrara is known as a city of bicycles – because everyone rides bikes and steals them, too – and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There’s something about artists and intellectuals, but they were all sleeping every time I tried to go out/didn’t speak English/disappeared since the Renaissance 500 years ago.
Located in the town center are a castle and a medieval cathedral, as well as a variety of historic palaces. The day the market was located in the main plaza by the cathedral surprised me – if you could imagine the lingerie and clothing replaced with live chickens and horseshoes, you could feel like you’re in a market in a period movie.
One of Jon’s college friends visited with his girlfriend. They’re tons of fun and I’m glad they came. We even finagled a baby-sitter so that we could fit in a double date. (Whaaaa?) I nearly tossed my calappacia (a local pumpkin pasta specialty) when said sitter called during dinner… though she was simply reporting that a bat had flown into the apartment. With some teamwork, we trapped the bugger in a towel and set him free to his little bat friends.
We also visited Venice. It’s probably hard to do the untouristy Venice during the day/in a day. And since it very well may have been the only day I’ll spend in Venice, I didn’t want to miss out on the must-see things (Palazzo Ducale, San Marco bell tower, a gondola race, etc, etc). The waterfront is absolutely astounding, lined with magnificent architecture. I imagined cruising into port on a merchant ship hundreds of years ago with the Basilica of St. Mary of Health at the mouth of the Grand Canal… it had to be striking! There is SO much to see, and an afternoon was not nearly enough. If I do go back, we will ride in a gondola. And stay a couple of days. And make the kid walk. And hopefully there will be a cool breeze.
There was a trip to the Lambourghini factory/museum.
And on our last day we visited Verona. It was a lovely city (and doable in a day). We had an amazing lunch at Osteria da Ugo (thank you, Trip Advisor mobile app!)… wandered from palace to castle to Roman arena (the third largest in Italy)… and even stopped at Juliet’s balcony, where star-cross’d tourists have worn a shiny spot on the right breast of the bronze statue of the fair maiden.
I wish I would have had it in me to do more and see more and stay longer, but, well, I didn’t. Knowing all of our stuff was about to arrive in England had me chomping at the bit to get home and get a start on settling in (3 months after arriving). Hopefully it will work out for us to go again on a real vacation, when I’ll be prepared with the advance knowledge of a lack of changing tables – ANYwhere.