We were greeted at the airport by olive-skin-toned men wearing white suits with scarves and Armani shades as the many Italian women toted leather bags on their equally toned arms. It was picturesque.
As we were whisked through the bustling streets of Rome we passed mopeds, fairy-light-lit pizzerias and red chequered tablecloth’s adorning every inch of the busy streets.
We arrived at our motel and after unpacking, we headed on downstairs for our first taste of Italian cuisine – and it wasn’t too shabby at all, in fact, it was delicious. A pesto spaghetti with sun dried tomatoes and copious amounts of olive oil, mmm.
We wandered around the streets the first day, and lazed around eating pizza, it was a perfect start to the last leg of our tour, where we were incredibly tired from our hefty few weeks of constant travelling.
We did get a surprise though when Shark our best friend literally jumped out at our first Contiki meeting to surprise us with her company on the 2 week journey! There were tears, screaming and much hugging when she arrived.
So then there were three.
We headed off on our first day to Sorrento, where we stopped at Pompeii, wandered around the cold streets, taking snaps of the preserved ruins, and then scoffing down pasta, bread and wine for lunch before we were on the road again travelling.
After winding around the cliffs of Naples, where the ocean lapped up against the rocks, and houses were highly strung off the edges we arrived in our hotel and had a pizza night with buffalo mozzarella the size of tennis balls, and bruschetta, pizza, salad and gelato before we headed home with satisfied bellies.
Our next destination was Capri, where we toured around the exotic Island, buzzing through the narrow streets, holding our breaths as mini trucks passed us by. We walked through the villages, trying the local limonchello shots and chocolate.
We dined on pizza and wine and shopped in the local stores as we snapped photos of the locals, walking hand in hand and gossiping.
It was a perfect start to the trip, as we headed back to Sorrento on the boat, and tried nutella gelato.
Our next stop was Florence. We started the day with wine tasting in the Chianti Region, where we toured the vineyard, tested the different wines, and felt tipsy as we scoffed down biscotti dripped in olive oil. We got photos of the olives, and looked in awe at the amazing views of the Tuscany hillside.
Our dinner that night was my favourite, we wandered into town into this beautiful little family restaurant where an old man with whispy hair slicked down with oil, served us mushroom pasta, fruit slice for dessert and espresso shots afterwards. The conversations with my new found friends were charming, and as we twirled the pasta on our forks we couldn’t believe how wonderful our trip had been so far.
Afterwards, we went to a Karaoke bar and after one too many vodkas, we were up on stage singing, “Men at Work – Land Down Under”, and it was a hit.
Our next few days in Florence were spent touring the city, viewing buildings where many great artists lived, and eating pizza with chunks of mozzarella, seafood pasta, bread dripped in olive oil, and viewing the wonderful sites of Florence.
Michelangelo’s David made me sit back in awe, as we circled the perfect statue, staring at the delicate features on his face to the perfectly carved veins on his large hands – it was absolutely breathtaking, and one of my favourite sites of the entire trip. We partied that night at a Space Disco, where we danced in booths, and carried on without a care in the world.
The next day we headed to La Spezia to view the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was pouring down rain, so we bought souvenir umbrellas and got the traditional tourist photos holding up the monumental tower, there were many laughs had.
We toured the Cinque Terre Islands, ate foccacia where it was first baked and sat in quaint cafes, laughing with friends as we wined and dined all around Italy. The best hot chocolate was had in Monterosso, and Nutella and coconut gelato was tasted in Portovenere as we jumped in photos laughing, and shared our umbrellas in the rain.
For dinner we dined on Pesto, and our waiter melted the hearts of all the girls on the tour.
We were then on to Milan, where we saw the Duomo Cathedral, The Gallery Vittoria Shopping Arcade and the La Scala Opera House. We wandered around the elegant shops and had gnocchi for lunch. It was a relaxing day before our romantic adventure that was Valentines Day in Venice, where we stopped off in Verona beforehand to visit Juliet’s Balcony.
It was a day of love, as we shopped and ate crepes, posted postcards to our loved ones, and ended the day with a beautiful dinner with my favourites in Venice, dining on seafood pasta, red wine, olives and crumbed vegetables.
As we toured around Venice on boat, we stopped into glass stores and bought jewellery, fed pigeons in St Marks Square, bought masks, and ate foccacia and gelato in the streets.
We visited a lace factory, and a glass blowing demonstration, and then journeyed through the canals in Gondola’s with drinks in our hands.
We ate more gnocchi, and stopped into a café for a quick cup of tea, before our dinner on the canals which included grilled vegetables, cheese platters, pasta, potatoes and red wine, which made us all quite tipsy. Another perfect day.
It was nearing the end of our final journey, as we headed back to Rome, stopping in at food service stations, buying nutella cups and cheesy pizza slices.
We arrived back in Rome and went for a walking tour, where we saw churches, the Piazza Venezia, the Spanish Steps and The Pantheon.
We wandered through the cobbled streets and could hear the water crashing from the Trevi Fountain, and as we peeked around the corner, it was just like in the movies – people standing back, throwing coins, eating gelato and taking photographs.
I tasted Boysenberry and Panacotta gelato, and we headed home for dinner.
Our next few days in Rome were spent exploring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and getting left behind from our group as we raced to get to the Vatican in time for our next tour. We gazed at the beautiful structures, and the famous Sistine Chapel and we at ate dinner at Pappa Rex’s where we had a live opera singer as we dined on Italian Cuisine.
We drank cocktails at night, and spent hours at the Trevi Fountain eating cups of gelato as we soaked up the beautiful winter weather, and the good company of our lovely new friends. We wandered the streets of Rome all afternoon and laughed, while shopping in souvenir stores and people watching at the Spanish Steps.
Italy was a fantastic holiday, as we drank bottles of wine, spoonfuls of pasta, and danced all night in the fantastic nightlife. I loved every minute of my Italian Adventure, and as Popcorn, Shark and I toured the countryside with our new beautiful friends and made memories that will never be forgotten as we pretended we were extras in, “Under the Tuscan Sun”.
Oh, Italy you will forever remain in my memory, just as our hands were forever in a bread basket and the soft texture of gnocchi was on my fork.