1. Day 85. The End.

    The last day of our amazing journey across Europe. Hard to believe that it’s already over.. 85 days later, 19 cities, 7 countries. We will forever have these memories; of the places we went, the things we saw, the people we met, the things we learned. These things have shaped us and helped us grow in a way that no college course or book can. Looking back on all of the hard work it took to get here, it was well worth it and there is nothing I would have done differently. Bittersweet that we are leaving tomorrow morning. We will miss marveling and exploring every single day, but there are a lot of things that we won’t miss. I won’t go into detail.. but we have never been more proud to be American and we cannot wait to come home to the land of infinite choices and free refills and friendly people and.. the list is endless.
    For now we’re closing this chapter in our lives, but we cannot wait to start the next one and see what’s in store. Thanks for following our blog, we’ll see you at home.

     

  2. August 15-18. Rome, Italy.

    We returned to Rome from Sicily to await our departure back to the U.S. and we got the chance to explore the city again and eat as much pasta and pizza as we could. We visited the pantheon, something we missed before, and loved the historical center of Rome where we found trinkets and gifts to bring home for our friends and family. I’m a sucker for a memorable trinket.
    As our last day quickly approached we enjoyed our last days in Europe, but we are both so excited and ready to come home.
    We miss the ease of life, the diversity, the opportunities, and so many things about the U.S. but most importantly, we miss the people we love.
    A very important lesson this trip has taught us- you can travel the world and enjoy every moment of it, but you will always find yourself looking forward to returning home.

     

  3. August 6 & 7. Days 71-72. Roma, Italy.

    The Colosseo & the Roman Forum.

    The Roman Colosseum is really an amazing sight with a deep, interesting history. As we all know, gladiators once fought here against each other and against exotic animals until the death, all for the entertainment for the people of Rome. But amazingly, the amphitheater, completed in 80 A.D. could hold between 55,000 and 80,000 spectators which were seated by social rank, each finding their place easily because of the organized, numbered entrances, rows and seats which can still be seen in parts of the Colosseum today. At the conclusion of an event or in an emergency, the entire amphitheater could be evacuated within 15 minutes! How the Romans figured this out in 80 A.D. blows my mind. There are so many more amazing architectural and engineering instances in the Roman history, I loved learning about them and how advanced they were for their time.

    The Roman Forum is an area of now ruins, across the way from the Colosseum. The Roman Forum was once the center of commerce and meeting place for the Roman Empire. I’m not even going to try to explain all of the history here, because there is too much and I am bound to get something wrong. Although I was in awe the entire time I was walking though the ancient ruins, I cannot pretend to have a grasp on the entirety of it. The area that is the Forum has several ancient buildings and monuments, some still intact some not, erected by Rome’s greatest Emperors, including Julius Caesar, Augustus and Constantine the Great. The 8th photo is of me in front of the place where the Temple of Caesar once stood, and where he was assassinated and cremated in 44 B.C.! Isn’t it crazy that you can stand in the same place that Rome’s most powerful Emperor was killed, all before the birth of Christ?

     

  4. August 5th. Day 70. Roma, Italy. The Vatican City.

    Today we visited the Vatican City, where we saw St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel. In one day, we saw the holiest, the greatest, the oldest, and the most famous of the Christian religion..
    St. Peter’s Basilica is an amazing piece of artwork, seemingly created by the hand of God, but in reality created mostly my Michelangelo. It is known as one of the holiest sights in the world and “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.” St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, and one of the twelve apostles, is buried underneath the Basilica. When standing inside of the Basilica, its chilling to think of all of the religious history there. Photos 1 & 2 are of the outside of the Basilica. Photos 3-7 are of the inside. Photo 6 is a sculpture by Michelangelo.

    Photos 8-10 are from inside the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel, build in 1473 is one of the most famous chapels in the world, because of the 12,000 sq. feet of ceilings and walls frescoed by Michelangelo. Since it was not allowed to take photo or video in the chapel, we only managed to sneak these two of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, even if you know nothing about art, you’ll probably recognize it.
    Another stunning part of the chapel was the altar fresco, The Last Judgement, also by Michelangelo in the last photo (I got off Google) which took him four years to complete. The altarpiece is a beautiful, chilling depiction of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment of humanity by God. The painting shows the souls of humans rising to their fate.
    The Sistine Chapel is one of the most amazing things that I have seen along this trip; for it’s beauty and history, but mostly for the stories told on its walls and ceilings. These depictions created by one of the greatest artists our world has ever seen, will forever be a reminder to me of the real reason we were put on this earth.

     

  5. August 3rd. Florence cooking class. Day 68.

    We took a trip back to Florence for a cooking class I was dying to take, and it was well worth it. We first had a tour of the Florence central market where we got to spend some time at a specialty shop to taste aged balsamic vinegars, cheeses, truffles and pestos. We loved the delicacy and richness of it all so much but we could only afford to bring one thing home, so we chose 9 year aged balsamic vinegar. Can’t wait to share it with the people we love.
    After the market, we went to a traditional Italian kitchen with huge marble countertops.. A dream kitchen for me. There we prepared Tiramisu from scratch, then pasta from scratch. Making pasta with our hands wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, there is a lot to it and I can see why it’s a lost art when pre-made pasta is much easier. But the reward when you are finished it so worth it. It’s fresh, simple flavor and perfect doughy texture cannot be compared to boxed pasta. Especially when you serve it with a homemade bolognese like we did in our class. The meal we had was amazing and I am so inspired to perfect my pasta-making skills when I come home. This cooking class is allowing me to bring home a piece of Italy with me, one that I can relive over and over and share with the people I love. Oh, the powers of pasta.

     

  6. More photos from Cinque Terre

     

  7. July 29- August 2nd. Days 62-65. Cinque Terre, Italy.

    Cinque Terre consists of five towns, or “five lands” on the coast of Italy in the Tuscan region. Each village is nestled into the coastal cliffs only a few miles from each other. There is a trail that links all five towns that you can hike in less than three hours between all of the towns. If it weren’t for the heat, we would have loved to take the hike. We opted for the short train ride between each town and fell in love with the charm of the towns. They mostly consist of family owned restaurants and shops selling typical Italian products, pesto, pasta, soaps, ect. But each town can be discovered on foot in only a few hours, which was a nice change of pace from the huge metropolitan cities we’ve been in lately.

    Riomaggore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Montorosso are all five of the towns. The very first photo is of Manarola, mirroring the photo I posted on my blog in 2010 when this trip was only a dream. (see post prior to this one)

     

  8. Reading though my old blog from when I was staying in Miami in 2010, I found this post. I wrote this on August 14th, 2010. Its crazy to think that three years ago, almost to the exact date, this trip was still just a dream of mine. The most ironic part is the photo I chose, probably from google or something, knowing nothing about the place in the photo. And this week we were standing in that exact town, taking this exact photo. You’ll see it in my next post.

    Just a little surreal to read my own words, hoping and dreaming to make it to where I am now. I pat my younger-self on the back for writing that post, now allowing me to appreciate all my hard work and determination to get here. And to think that it only took three years.. It was worth it.

     

  9. July 24-27. Days 57-60. Florence, Italy.

    Our stay in Florence included a lot of pasta and artwork. It was lovely. However, it was blazing hot and not a single building had air conditioning.. So we struggled there. But here are some highlights from our time in Florence.

    Photos 1-7 are all taken from Basilica di Santa Maria and all of it’s Italian marble beauty. We marveled at it’s ornate detail, especially of it’s famous dome, from the inside and from the out. And because I’m a sinner, I had the pleasure of wearing a hospital-gown-like cover up to cover my shoulders and legs.. Because in one hundred degree weather everyone should cover their bodies. Eye roll. You can see my enthusiasm in the photo above.. But, it was kinda funny strolling through the cathedral wearing that.
    Afterwards, we climbed about 600 ancient steps to the top of the Basilica’s dome. Despite the sweat, and sore legs the next day.. The view was worth it!
    Photos 8 & 9 are Trevor’s shots of me on one of Florence’s most picturesque bridges.

    We visited Florence’s main museum, the Uffizi, where we got to see Sandro Botticelli’s work up close. You may recognize the photo of the painting, his “Primavera” or “Allegory of Spring” was probably one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. We also got to see his mystical painting of Venus on the sea, “Birth of Venus.” But since it was against the rules to take photos of the paintings, we only captured a photo of one. Rule breakers. Nonetheless, our time in Florence was amazing. We actually plan to go back for two nights on our way to Rome, so we can take a cooking class I was dying to take. Can’t wait for that.

     

  10. July 21-23. Days 55-57. Venice, Italy.

    Venice is such a beautiful, history-rich city. There is no place like it in the world. That being said, it’s extremely high prices, (on pretty much everything) less than well-kept streets and canals, and over crowded sights do not make the best for a relaxing vacation. With our luck, a heat wave was making its way over Venice as we were there which added to the frustration.. On top of that, not many places in Italy have air conditioning. Enough of my complaining..

    Venice is truly a remarkable floating-city. With the entire city relying on transportation by boat, its unlike many places in the world. The buildings are all old, you can’t find one less than 100 years old if you tried! And the food was great, too.. Once we got over the high price of it. The photos do the best story-telling when it comes to Venice.

    Even after all of the hassle, heat and high prices, we’re glad that we went to Venice.