Ciao, Italia!

Ciao, buongiorno! Che c e di nuovo?

Hello, good morning! What’s new?

Plenty is new with me. I am in ITALY and it is beyond amazing. Well, it was amazing until I got attacked by mosquitoes and was left with no less than 20 bites all over my legs… but then Canada (Amy) came to the rescue and let me borrow her magic anti-itch stick thing. It was a life saver. Stung like hell, but boy, did it stop me from scratching. This made my Italian trip enjoyable again 🙂

In anti-itch stick thing we trust. Hooray!

WARNING: This is going to be long. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We’ve been in Italy for roughly seven days. On our bus ride in from Monaco, we visited Verona. This is where the balcony of Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is situated. There is a golden statue of Juliet outside the balcony on the ground. It is believed that if you clasp Juliet’s breast it will bring you good luck for life; so that is exactly what we did.

Our first main stop in Italy was Venice. Relatives of mine whom had visited Venice told me negative things about this city, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It was so old and beautiful. I appreciate a city that is well aged, and Venice certainly did not let me down; rather impressive if I may say so myself. We frolicked amidst 40 degree celcius heat (104 degrees fahrenheit) in St. Marks Square. We allowed ourselves to get lost in all the back streets and amongst the canals and alley ways as we explored the rich cultures of the city of love. We window shopped and fed the huge gathering of pigeons at St. Marks Square while enjoying lunch on the steps in the shade.

Next up was our gondola ride. I had been looking forward to this for so long. It was definitely a highlight of my time in Italy. Our gondola guy was a wealth of knowledge, often pointing out interesting tid bits and things to look at. He let us wear his red gondola-man hat while we took photos and tried to take in the scenery. This was really happening. I was really sitting in a gondola and being paddled throughout the canals of Venice. No words, really. No words.

Our gondola guy pointing the real Venice out to us on board

That night when we approached our tables for dinner, we were told we were being given something traditional to Italy before our dinner was served. We were each presented with a shot glass filled with a lemon-scented alcoholic beverage; Limoncello was its name. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur produced in Southern Italy. It is made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar and because it contains no actual lemon juice, it is not meant to be sour… not meant to be being the key words here. We counted to three and all downed our shots together. YUCK! It was sour and burned as it went down. I could feel it leaving a burning, stinging sensation trail as it made its way down my esophagus. I quickly washed it down with some water and welcomed dinner to eliminate the taste from my mouth.

Me kissing and hugging the Leaning Tower of PisaNext stop was Pisa. No points for guessing what we were eager to see there. Uh, OK, for those who need to refer to their ‘Idiots Guide to Italy’ it begins with Leaning and ends in Tower of Pisa. There! Happy now?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was much smaller than I imaged it to be. I really did picture it to stand a lot taller than it did. It was time to get our creative juices flowing. We quickly got started on lining up quirky poses with the Tower. My personal favorite is one my mate shot for me; it appears as though I am hugging and kissing the Tower.

Love at first sight, baby!

Rome was where we called home for the next few days. I like Rome, not as much as Venice, but I did like Rome. We were able to catch up a little bit on Australia’s participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I am such an Olympic nerd when I’m at home so it is killing me not being able to watch the swimming and the velodrome cycling… although, I guess the fun and experiences I am having pretty much made up for me missing out.

Today’s first outing consisted of a visit and guided tour of the Collesium. Again, it was another day of sweltering heat. I don’t mind the sun, though, plus, I was in dire need of a deep, chocolate tan. The Collesium was spectacular. It’s so amazing that even way back then, with such little technology and machinery no where near as advanced as it is today, the Romans were able to build such works as the Collesium. I stood there for a while, just gazing upon what was before me, making sure I took it all in. Every last bit.

Me standing inside the Collesium in Rome, Italy

We soon moved on to the Trevi Foutain. A traditional legend holds that if a visitor throws a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return trip to Rome. Approximately 3000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day! 3000 Euros! That is unreal. I made sure to contribute to this 3000 Euros. I turned my back to the fountain and flipped the coin over my shoulder into the water. Kodak moment right there, only I don’t own a Kodak, I own a Fuji. Fuji moment right there. Please, no copyright infringements.

From the Trevi Fountain, we walked our way over to the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base of the Piazza Trinita dei Monti. They are, without a doubt, the longest and widest staircase in all of Europe. We climbed them for a bit, but without a bottle of water handy, I was pretty sure that I’d pass out if I continued to climb to the top. We decided to retire from our climb and to get some photos sitting on the steps.

That night we had a huge party out at the camp site we were staying at. Again, we didn’t have tents, but were put in threes in really cute cabins. The alcohol flowed freely, the music was awesome, and we danced the night away, without a single care in the world.

The morning saw us wake to yet another beautiful summers day. Today we were paying a visit to the Pope’s home and the smallest country in the world; The Vatican City. Interesting tid bit: The city has its own independent postal system and service which is recognised as the fastest and best in the world. Mailing a letter out while within the boundaries of the Vatican City will often see it reach its destination before that of the Roman postal system. Neat stuff! We walked around and admired the architecture and history of the Vatican. The city itself, is only 44 hectares in size with a population of appoximately 900 so it didn’t take a huge portion of our day to get through. We made our own way back to camp using the public transport system.

Jade and myself, proud of our Malibu and pineapple guzzling efforts!Florence was our last major stop in Italy. Ah, lovely Florence. We definitely partied hard in Florence. Our first night there we went to do karaoke. It was so much fun! Just when I thought life could not get any better, I found out this karaoke place we were at served alcohol by the 2 liter jug! 2 LITERS (half a gallon)!!! Malibu and pineapple, it was, a whole jug of it, then another, and another. I was so proud with my guzzling achievements so we took a photo!

The next night we hit up the Space Electronic Disco in Florence. I remember drinking, lots; dancing, lots; kissing a cute boy who was also from Australia; dancing some more; drinking some more; then some where along the lines, we some how got back to our cabins (which were so damn cute by the way) and danced on the tables back at the cafe. There are all sorts of weird photos of us frolicking around that I have no recollection of, pretty funny. That night I some how ripped my cute Winnie the Pooh pajama pants on my suit case. Booo.

We woke bright and early, and luckily for me, hang-over free. Hooray! Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the group. Despite several peoples’ major head and tummy aches, we continued to smile. We were in Italy, we had no reason to frown. Before departing Italy today, we were going to stop by the ancient ruins of Pompeii for a guided tour.  Our guide, a very wise and knowledgeable old man took us through what used to be the Pompeii brothel. There were pictures of all sorts of sexual positions up on the walls. Our guide told us that the men used to walk in, pick their prostitute and point to the image on the wall that they desired. The prostitute would then perform the sexual position on the male. It was all a bit amusing actually.

Doggy style!

Off we went to board our ferry to take us to Greece. I’m so excited to go to Greece, especially Mykonos. It will be like a vacation within a vacation.

Missing everyone back home, not enough to make me want to come back, though 😉