As I write the title of this blog post, I realize how many places we actually went in the last three days of our trip. In addition to Pisa, Verona, and Venice, we also went to Burano and back to Rome! No wonder we had no issue sleeping on the flight back home.
We left Florence rather early on the sixth day of our trip. En route to Venice, we had two stops to make prior to arriving. Our first stop, in the opposite direction of Venice, was Pisa, to see the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was surreal to see this famous landmark in person, but also bizarre. The town of Pisa isn’t really that big and is honestly in the middle of nowhere. Admittedly, I also wasn’t expecting crowds of people that were all trying to get the exact same picture with the tower. We had to get a little creative to try to crop out as many tourists from our pictures as possible. Overall, we enjoyed our hour of taking creative pictures in front of the tower.
After leaving Pisa, we boarded the coach to continue on for another few hours until we reached the city of Verona. Verona is the city where Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet was based, so naturally, we went to see Juliet’s Balcony. Of course, that famous love story wasn’t based on real people, but it was a fun place to visit for any romantic at heart. Jody and I even wrote a note with our names and wedding date on it and stuffed the note it the wall of the surrounding courtyard. I felt like our note was a bit more romantic than the bandaids that adorned the entryway and the locks that supposedly get taken down each night!
We need to talk about this pizza for a second. After our group spent our fair share of time at the Casa di Giulietta, we ventured a little further into Verona to find dinner. We came across this restaurant, with picturesque outdoor seating (usually a requirement in picking a restaurant!) and ordered a couple bottle of wine and our meals. This pizza is called the Romeo, and it was hands-on the best pizza I had on the entire trip. It wasn’t made with a traditional tomato base, which made it even lighter to eat. Proscuitto, arugula, parmesan and cherry tomatoes — it’s a must try if you ever come across it!
We arrived in Venice late the night before, so we had to wait until the next morning to get a glimpse of this floating city. After a smooth ride into the city by way of water taxi, we wandered around the square and blown glass shop before our walking tour began. During the walking tour, we learned about the history of the city, including which buildings have been there the longest.
Later, after lunch and more gelato (yum!) it was finally time for our gondola ride! Admittedly, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be — our ride was rather short and our gondolier didn’t provide the “Venetian Experience” that most dream about during these romantic boat rides. While that was disappointing, it just means we will have to return to Venice and book a longer ride one day in the future!
For dinner, we opted to do a dinner and cruise to the island of Burano for an authentic seafood dining experience. Burano is the cutest little island town, and Jody and I enjoyed roaming through the colorful streets and shopping in the lace boutiques before heading to our dinner. For dinner, we ate our weight in fish, seafood lasagna, and calamari, which, of course, was delicious, but we mostly enjoyed our company. This dinner marked the end of the trip with Contiki and Jody and I were headed back to Rome the following morning. We had such an amazing time with so many wonderful people and we weren’t ready to say goodbye!
We stayed up late into the night with our new friends until we finally had to say goodbye. Morning came early and Jody and I slept for most of the drive back to Rome so that we could enjoy the last few hours we had in the Eternal City. After dropping off our bags at the hotel, our first stop was at the Spanish Steps, which was a beautiful view from both plazas! We then found our way back to the Trevi Fountain to get a few more pictures in front of the iconic fountain. From there we just wandered around until we found a spot for dinner, the Colosseum. A few nights earlier, we had decided that we wanted to end our last night in Rome sharing a bottle of wine next to the Colosseum while watching the sunset over the city. Pictures will never do it justice, but the building all began to glow as they caught the last glimpse of the sun that night. I can’t imagine a more perfect ending to such an incredible trip!
We had such an amazing experience on our Italian Espresso tour! From the rich food, the new friends, memories made and many glasses of wine shared, I fell head over heels in love with Italy. I think I leave a piece of my heart wherever I travel, but there’s just something about Italy that I don’t think will be able to keep us away.