Good morning! After an amazing day in Innsbruck, Austria yesterday, we’re finally in Italy! We’re here in Venice until tomorrow, then hop a train south to Florence and Rome! Follow us on Instagram (@littlehousebigheart) and twitter (@lilhousebgheart) to see some pics from the trip!
And today, here to help us all get in touch with our inner Italian is Rebecca from Happy Accidents!
Rebecca’s a newcomer to the blogging world (and a fellow engineer) but I’m already in love with her blog (especially these adorable Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cupcakes)! She’s here today to share her amazing trip to Italy with us, so sit back and enjoy her phenomenal photos! When you’re done here, pop over and check out her blog!
First I want to say THANK YOU to Jess (and Kevin) for letting me guest blog for them. I only just started blogging and have recently been super busy (we sold a house, moved into an apartment then bought a house and moved in there all within 1 month) but I hope to get a lot more active in blogging and Little House Big Heart has been a great inspiration to me for over a year of following along [LHBH EDIT: Aw, Rebecca, we're blushing!].
When Jess posted they would be going to Italy, I was excited to volunteer to share some Italy insight and blog about my trip there almost 3 years ago. Let’s look at some of the sights I really enjoyed and I’m sure we’re all excited for Jess and Kevin to see so we can hear about the entire experience.
After a brief layover in Munich Germany (Jess and Kevin visited here, too), we landed in Rome and got a taxi ride in to the city. When planning our trip we decided to go on a tour because neither my Mom nor I have been much of a traveler. We chose Collete Vacations and I could rave about them for weeks. Everything was thoroughly planned out, we had plenty of free time to explore on our own and we even got to see sights I didn’t even think of when we decided on the locations in Italy we wanted to visit. In our Italian Vistas tour we got to see everything we wanted and more. It may have been more expensive than planning out ourselves but the convenience of the travel was worth it. And they only left without us once…
Rome was absolutely fantastic. I could have spent 2 weeks there alone. There are a million sights to see. We walked around on our own twice and covered only parts of the city. My parents have since gone to Rome twice (lucky ducks) and still find new things each time they are there. My main points of interest were the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Vatican (although it’s technically its own country). None of these places disappointed.
During our free exploring time in Rome we headed “downtown” to see all the sights it offered. Our hotel was only a couple blocks from so many points of interest, mainly the old and new forum. Various churches such as Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore (dedicated to the Virgin Mary), San Pietro in Vincoli (home of the statue of Moses) and San Pietro in Vincoli (build to house the chains that bound St. Peter).
Panoramic of the Old Forum. Much of it was destroyed and built over top of.
Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere – remarkable marble carvings
Having taken a class in college on Ancient Greece and Rome I was fascinated by the Colosseum. It’s prominent anywhere in downtown Rome and allows for incredible photos. I could have looked at it all day. Pictures don’t even do it justice. The layers of history, the views of the city from it, the SIZE…all amazing.
I seriously can’t get over this giant beauty
Some of the “new” forum on the right
You don’t know what old is until you visit Europe and personally I feel Rome.
Viewing the different levels from the inside
The Trevi Fountain is the best place for a relaxing stop during the afternoon. It’s a bit of a walk from “downtown” Rome, but the water makes it cool in hot weather and the gentle sounds of water are so relaxing. We got sandwiches and gelato (YUM) and spent an hour or so here.
Just can’t get enough of this picture
Myth has it that if you throw a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand you’ll come back to Rome someday. Of course they told us this BEFORE telling us that going to the Vatican technically meant leaving Rome and coming back. But it worked for my Mom to come again so I’m sure it will for me someday. Hope Jess and Kevin don’t miss a chance to throw a coin!
The Pantheon in Rome is a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. The most fascinating feature of this building to me (as an engineer) was the that the circular part of the building is built entirely out of unreinforced concrete which has stood for over 2,000 years with a hole in the middle (the oculus) open to the sky. It really is an architectural wonder.
Spectacular with the sun shining in
The portico connected to the rotunda is held up by 8 LARGE granite columns. My parents said there is a fabulous cafe across the street from here where they spent many evenings sipping wine and enjoying the sights
We spent a long afternoon in the Vatican. First we visited the Vatican Museum and walked through various galleries of art, sculptures, maps, painting and various other “collectables”. We couldn’t take pictures in the Sistine Chapel so we got a briefing out in the gardens ahead of time. It’s amazing in there. I’m not Catholic but it represents so much. Having been here actually made the election of the Pope much more interesting to me this year. The painted ceiling depicting The Last Judgment, knowing the time and energy Michelangelo put in to it, is breathtaking.
Map room with paintings on the ceiling
Leaving the Sistine Chapel we went into St. Peter’s Basilica. Architecture in here including the dome (which is the largest in the world) is astonishing. There is enough history here to explore for hours.
I hope Jess and Kevin really enjoy taking in the sights and history of Rome, but don’t forget to have some fun too.
After taking a boat trip to The Island of Capri out of Naples (I heard they have great pizza) and another boat afterwards to Vietri Sul Mare, we headed to Pompeii the next day. Again, it was hot, but the sights and history were captivating. I spent a unit of a class in College learning about Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius so this was another trip I was excited for. How anything is left standing after the natural disaster and all these years is inconceivable.
Streets along the shops
Inside a shop
Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but the buildings that still stand and layers of materials for construction is so interesting to see.
A fun fact about Pompeii is they have welcomed stray dogs to call this home for years. Various mosaics that survived even show the love for dogs. As dog lovers themselves, I think Jess and Kevin would enjoy this.
After a drive along the coast and through a bit of Tuscany we made it into Florence. The tour hit some sights of Florence such as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and then gave us little self-exploring time.
The Façade is the collective work of various artists
We also saw models of famous statues such as The Statue of David by Michelangelo. We actually visited the Accademia Gallery where the original statue is kept but there are no picture allowed.
Palazzo Vecchio (David is off to the right)
Another stop of our tour took us to the Basilica de la Santa Croce. The tombs of many famous artists are here such as Leonardo De Vince. The architecture in this church is so intricate (what church in Italy isn’t?). The detailing on the ceiling really caught my eye. DIY anyone?
I’d highly recommend that Jess makes sure she gets a chance to explore the shopping carts. It’s never ending and you could seriously get lost, so drop bread crumbs.
Which way do I go?
Ponte Vecchio. Bridge with various shops, unfortuantely our only exploring time was late
Although we didn’t get to be here more than a day I can say it’s a city of beauty and fashion from the people to the buildings.
Hotel rooftop terrace
Our last stop in Rome was Venice. It’s awesome to see how EVERYTHING is done by boat from the police boat to food delivery. We left our luggage at the first dock upon arriving in the bus and since we walked to the hotel we watched them unload the boat with it at the hotel. A little bit of throwing was involved…word to the wise, keep your wine bottles separated or else they might break…someone was NOT happy their new leather jacket from Florence was soaked, oops.
On our first afternoon in Venice we took a boat to the Island of Murano where they are famous for glass blowing. In 5 minutes this gentleman turned a blob of melted glass into a glass horse.
Craftsmanship at it’s finest
The canals are a lovers’ paradise. So beautiful and romantic. We had a bit of a rainy stay here but it did clear up enough one afternoon to allow us to enjoy our gondola ride. I really hope Jess and Kevin get to enjoy this with a bottle of wine. Or a 2 liter of wine….
The waiter tried to convince us to get the big bottle (on right) but we said we wouldn’t drink that much, after 2 regular bottle we then bought the middle sized on. When in Rome…(I mean Venice)
The boat dropped us back off at the Piazza San Marco where we visited St Mark’s Basilica. The floors of the church actually roll like soft waves. The weight of the building, build from various sources of marble are so heavy that the floor has shifted over time. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside. Venice sits on shallow waters and individual “islands” are held up by piers or large floatation devices. Have you seen James Bond Casino Royale? It’s not all movie magic!
Extraordinary color variations in the marble. Very grand indeed
Another must visit near to St. Mark’s Plaza is Doge’s Palace. It was once the residence of the Doge of Venice but is now a museum. It features the Bridge of Sighs linking the palace and the prison which is named as such because you could apparently hear the sighs of the prisoners inside. It was undergoing architectural restoration when we visited so we got just a little view from the outside and were able to walk through inside and look out. At least prisoners had some nice views of the Canals.
I don’t spot any prisoners in orange stripes!
Anyone wondering how the tour company left us once? We were at the Spanish Steps in Rome on the first night, wandering around as a loose group and the tour guide said meet back here in 15 minutes so we can walk to dinner. We got to the meeting spot a few minutes late and they were gone. We stayed close by for a minute or two (found a couple who was also left) then the tour guide came back for us a few minutes later. It was still a great night though with wine and pasta topped off with Italian espresso!
Anyone else been to Italy or the other spots Jess and Kevin are visiting? Please share your experiences in the comments below. I can tell you I only touched on everything these beautiful cities (and Italy) have to offer.