In 2010, Kevin and I took a trip to Spain, and it was the first time we had traveled together in five years of dating. We could never agree on where to go! And because neither of us was sure we’d ever be able to agree on where to go again, we packed our itinerary with 7 cities in 14 days. It was exhausting, and we both agreed we’d try to avoid that in the future.
But the problem with Europe is there is so much to see! Already on this trip to Italy, we’ve blown into Venice and Florence, nearly been blown out of Florence, literally, and whipped around Tuscany in just over five days. We’re breaking our own rules, but what part would you leave out? Here are a few photos from my Instagram feed with some highlights.
We only spent one full day in Venice, and we suffered greatly from jetlag that beat the excitement out of us a bit. But looking back through our photos, I’m enjoying it a lot more, retroactively. As a living, breathing city, though, Venice is dying, and has been for about 300 years. Thinking about the people forced to leave because the city is too expensive, and the fact that the buildings are sinking into the sea really made me sad. And it’s crowded and full of shops mostly just selling tourist crap. But we could still lose ourselves in the stunning beauty of the place, and let our imaginations take us back to another time.
A few years back, I saw a PBS documentary about the Medici family, and that was really my first introduction to Florence. Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome on the cathedral was one of the first achievements that cemented Florence’s place as the heart of the renaissance. Standing beneath the dome was truly inspiring for me, and the green, white and pink marble inlay that covers the cathedral itself makes it, for me, one of the two or three more beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen anywhere. And I’m not normally a cathedral person.
But the image from Florence that I’m thinking about the most often is this one. First, we could see the clouds in the distance from a bridge over the Arno, then it got so dark the day turned into night, and then this happened:
“Holy F%$&!” and “Eep!” pretty much sum it up, right?
That wasn’t nearly the most stressful part of the trip, though, as driving out of Florence and then on the Italian highway system was terrifying for me. If I never see another roundabout again… On our way to our rental in Montalcino, home of the famous Brunello wines, we drove through Chianti and were lucky enough to stumble upon a wine festival where we got to try many Chianti Classicos and Super Tuscans. As we drove south to Montalcino, we started driving by fields of dying sunflowers. While they don’t exactly make good postcards, I think they have an eerie beauty to them still.
We got into the town of Montalcino after dark, and after driving up another steep hill in first gear (I had to drive everywhere because Kevin can’t drive a stick), I was questioning the decision to stay so far south. My nerves had had enough. But then we looked out of our window to see this view, and it was all worth it.
From there, we could start to relax, drink more wine, and explore the Tuscan country side and hill towns like Montepulciano…
And San Gimignano, which is famous for its towers…
We’re on to explore the Emilia-Romagna region now, starting in Modena. We’ll post more pictures from the road soon…