Visit Italy With Me

Even though BabyGirl and I have been home from Italy for several months, we often take time to look through the thousands of photos we took. I see the photos and think about how amazing it is that I saw these historical sights, and was able to share the experience with my daughter so early in her life.

Come with me on a little trip … to Italy!

Roman Colosseum

This is inside the Roman Colosseum, which was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater. It took 8 years to construct and was completed in 80 AD (or as I usually refer to it, ACE). To think, I stood there. In the same place people stood over 1,900 years ago. It truly is spectacular. From where I stood to the fence at the far end of the photo is approximately 350 feet. The walls in the inner oval (part of the hypogeum) area were actually underground. They were the holding areas for both the gladiators and animals that would fight. It is truly a sight to behold. It is enormous and despite being exposed to the elements all these years it has stood to tell the story of modern civilization. Sure, it’s a tourist spot. But due to it’s delicate state the number of visitors allowed inside is limited. That makes it even more special.

Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background, was buried under nearly 20-feet of ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD (ACE). While Vesuvius pretty much destroyed both Pompeii and Hurculaneum, the ruins of Pompeii remained buried for nearly 1700, until they were intentionally excavated after the accidental discovery of Hurculaneum in 1738. Over the last 250 years there have been major excavations, providing so much detail about the lives of people in Pompeii. They had running water, although all the pipes were lead. There was an open-air fresh market and a bakery, fish market, public bath and even a brothel. It was interesting to see how small people were based on the size of the buildings. The one thing that struck me was how well planned and organized the city was given the time it was developed. The ornate mosaic floors and vibrant frescoes are a testament to the artistry of the time. If you even have the opportunity to visit, do not hesitate to say yes!

Original Pompeii Road

This is probably one of my favorite photos. Not because it’s artistic or beautiful. But because of what it captures. This is a road in Pompeii. You can see the curb on each side, which are about 18-inches high. The curbs were so high to accommodate the flooding that was common from the rains. And at one time this hodgepodge of stones were actually perfectly fitting stones which created a very flat road. These were for chariots. And you’ll notice that there are grooves that were created by the wheels of the chariots. The deep groove at approximately the middle of the photo is much more prominent. But you’ll see the other wheel-made groove near the right edge. You can’t help but hear and feel the energy of those who used these roads over 1,900 years ago.

Venice Italy

Strada Nuova in Venice, Italy is one of the main walkways (roads) parallel to the Grand Canal. We were on our way back from spending a few hours exploring the Jewish Ghetto. Strada Nuova is lined with shops and, despite how barren it looks, is pretty busy. It’s an easy way to get from the South part of the island to the North if you need to be on the West side of the Grand Canal. The building are gorgeous and the little foot bridges break up the tunnel feel of the tall buildings. In this photo BabyGirl sports her new scarf she picked out at one of the many boutiques that line Strada Nuova. There was just so much to see and not nearly enough time.

From North to South, Italy is home to so much history, much of it we read about in school. Before going I had an appreciation for what the Romans did to advance civilization (even though they plundered and pillaged a great number of my Jewish ancestors and confiscated their holy relics). Seeing it first hand makes me wish I had actually cared more in my youth. And having been there once, I know now that I will figure out a way to go again and share it with CycleGuy.

Have you ever been to Italy? What are some of your favorite places and memories?

Sara

Vibrant Italy

Roman Colosseum

While I’m glad to be home, 10-days in Italy just wasn’t enough time. Yes, this was an educational trip for BabyGirl so I knew there would be long days filled with history and art and lots and lots of walking. But the beauty. Oh, the beauty. This country is gorgeous. Not just the buildings, but the ancient roads, the bridges, the fountains, the marble and stone and tile work. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Italy, just say YES and figure out the rest afterward.

With a rich history that continues to shape modern history, everywhere I looked there was something that caused me to say WOW or That’s Amazing! I stood upon ancient grounds and saw modern marvels that were at least a thousand years old. And I took in some of the most spectacular art the world has ever seen.

Yet, it was the simple things that impressed me the most. Simple foods, simple homes. The simplicity of a life lived for pure joy and not to impress others.

While Rome and Florence and Venice have their place in history, and the hearts of millions, it was Pompeii and Burano (a small island in the Venice archipelago) that was a feast for my eyes and my brain. Two small villages steeped in history, one reliving its past and another hold on to a past quickly slipping away. Both places you should visit. Both places I wish I had more time to discover.

Almost 2,000 years ago an entire civilization was covered in ash from the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. It was a local man trying to tap a well who unearthed the amazing city below the earth’s lush groundcover, Pompeii. This is an archaeologists dream. A city that has brought insight to early Italian civilization and continues to give us a further history of who we are as people. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Pompeii, I wish I had more. If you ever get to Italy, Pompeii is a must-see! Walk quickly past the stands hawking Pompeii-emblazoned junk made in China and spend that money on a good guide or audio-tour and umbrella to shield the sun so you can truly enjoy your walking tour.

Pompeii Italy

Up north, along the Adriatic coast, Burano is a colorful fishing village holding on to a slow world while boatloads of tourists traipse through their narrow alleys and young people embrace technology while losing patience for the art of lacemaking. The story goes that the small fishing village, a 25-minute boat ride from the docks of Venice, painted its houses in colorful hues to help lead tired fishermen home at the end of a long day. It is an island known of lacemaking, just as its neighbor Murano is known for glass blowing. There are still a handfull of women who make lace, by hand, to create gorgeous masterpieces. A large tablecloth can take a year to make and requires nearly 100 pieces of lace that are then sewn together to make it look as if it was done in one piece. The island is also known for a cookie that is not too sweet, but perfect for dunking in a coffee (or tea) any time of day. The Busola is their signature pastry. I thought it was delightful and had a plain one as well as one dipped in chocolate. BabyGirl didn’t care for it so much, preferring her gelato.

In walking the narrow alleyways of Burano, your eyes are treated to a multitude of plain buildings awash in bright colors, like those below. You can’t help but be happy. And because you can walk from one end of the island in 10 minutes (at a brisk pace), you have to slow down. The shutters, bright colors and fabric door covers beckon you.

Burano Italy

While Italy isn’t really all that large (as compared to driving across the US), it is very diverse and every road is filled with history. This was just my first trip and yet I will not cross Italy off my list of places I want to go. There was just too much I didn’t get to see. But of what I did see I know I want to return. The people were gracious. The food was simple but delicious. The colors are a sensory rainbow.

Go to Italy. Find a way. Eat ramen noodles if you have to, but go. Italy was never high on my list of places I want to visit but it surely won me over. Until next time, Ciao!

All images by Sara Hawkins

Sara