Tag Archives: Travel

Christmas in Italy – Settling into Rome, and a quick overview of Rome itself

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In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

 

Thursday, 21-Dec-2017

 

Rome.

The seat of European history. The home of Romulus and Remus, second only to Athens in its effect upon the ancient world. The seeds of nearly everything were planted here: from warfare to irrigation, from republics to frescos.

We couldn’t wait to explore it! With so much to see and do, our targets were nearly limitless… so we focused in on the big ones: Our goals were mostly to see the ancient sites – the Pantheon, Colosseum, and the Forum, alongside some of the baroque architecture of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.

We’d also aim to tour as much Roman cuisine as possible, exploring the restaurants and grocery stores to gather delicious knowledge of Roman cooking. All the while, of course, enjoying the city itself and it’s uncountable outdoor sculptures and plazas.

Our base of operations was a mid-sized apartment that Henry and Leah had rented near the Spanish Steps – not directly on any crazy streets, but close enough to the action that we didn’t have to think about renting a car while we were there.

Sarah and I arrived earlier than the rest of the group, so not only did we get a nice pre-tour as we took a cab into the city from the airport, but we also got to get a tour of the apartment from the concierge before setting off to explore the town a bit.

 

The apartment itself was on the top floor of a series of apartments, complete with a kitchen, three bedrooms, and two small patios that gave us a pretty impressive view of the Roman skyline. We planned to split our time between eating out and cooking in; the kitchen was pretty well provisioned with pans and spices, and the groceries were bound to be stocked with the best ingredients a chef could ask for. But we wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss out on too much of the famous Italian cuisine by staying in – a balance was the way to go.

That first night was eating out – since we were the only one’s in town so far, we headed out on our own and found a small eat-in fast food style place.  Now, I know what you’re thinking… but bear with me.  This place smelled amazing, and didn’t have the American style fast food.  Instead, it had pasta and pizza, and most importantly it had that type of pasta that Sarah and I love – Buccatini, served with sliced sausage and asparagus.

I’ll be honest, that first meal was pretty amazing… and may have been better than any version of the meal that Sarah and I cook. It was simple ingredients… but cooked beautifully, and seasoned perfectly.  Our initial interaction with Roman cooking was a success.

Christmas in Italy – Overarching summary post

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Christmas in Italy – Overarching summary post

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

 

The main idea was that we’d spend about a week in each, exploring and visiting all the sights. There were a few overarching goals that we’d all put together, but honestly it was primarily a “we’ll all meet up, and plan as we go” sort of situation – especially since Bill (Sarah’s Dad) had actually lived in Italy before, and he had a pretty good idea of where we should go and what we should do.

Sarah and I would be the first in country, landing in Rome and taking a taxi to meet up with the representative for the AirBnB that Henry and Leah had booked. We’d spend just under a week exploring Rome and spending Christmas there – making sure to enjoy the culture, shopping, and of course the food, as much as possible.

 

We’d then all jump on a train, and zip Northward through Italy, until we got to Florence. The whole group would stick together on that trip, since the train would only be a few hours… making it a bit simpler and easier to check into the Florence AirBnB.

Florence was about the same as Rome, in that we had a list of various places we all wanted to see, but didn’t have an hour-by-hour plan set out. We’d play it by ear, and explore the land of the Medici’s as it came… continuing to eat as much delicious food and gelato as we could get our hands on.

Not the most detailed, as plans go. That was fine by us, though – Life had been busy for everyone, and the thought of being able to relax, eat, explore, and take in the culture was exactly what we all needed.

To give a summary of the specifics:

  • Thursday, 21-Dec: Arrival, and initial exploration of Rome. Bill and Greta arrive later in the evening.
  • Friday, 22-Dec: Wander around a bit, meet Henry and Leah after their flight lands, and see the Pantheon while exploring and tasting some deliciousness.
  • Saturday, 23-Dec: Visit the Vatican!
  • Sunday, 24-Dec: Sunrise yoga, followed by some cycling and trips to the Trevi Fountain, the Altar of the Fatherland, and the Great Synagogue of Rome.
  • Monday, 25-Dec: Christmas Day! Exploring some of the basilicas of Rome, and I take a short walk to see the Arch of Drusus.
  • Tuesday, 26-Dec: Colosseum and Forum day, followed by heading out to a rather fancy dinner on the town.
  • Wednesday, 27-Dec: A train ride, and a rain ride through Ostia Antica, an amazing open-air ruin. Then, once we’re home, Sarah and I cook up a glorious Roman-style dinner!
  • Thursday, 28-Dec: Our last day in Rome; we do some shopping, then take the train up to Florence! Once there, we settle into the AirBnB, and go out on the town to an amazing trattoria. Possibly the best food of the trip to-date.
  • Friday, 29-Dec: Our first full day in Florence, so we explore the Uffizi, a huge and famous art museum. Afterward, we enjoy another dinner on the town at a small place that Sarah’s Aunt recommended.
  • Saturday, 30-Dec: Explore Florence; we see the DaVinci museum (one of them, at least), have amazingly gloriously decadent paninis, and see the Accademia art gallery (the home of David).
  • Sunday, 31-Dec: A rest day, which is a bit bittersweet, but completely needed. We do explore a fair bit, but the main adventures of the day are an amazing lunch out, and a glorious home-cooked dinner. And, of course, New Years Eve!
  • Monday, 01-Jan: Second rest day, spent wandering and exploring little squares and shops near the house.
  • Tuesday, 02-Jan: We explore La Duomo, do some shopping, and have the famous Florentine meal – Steak Florentine!
  • Wednesday, 03-Jan: A sad day, our last day. We make it count, though, by visiting churches, an abbey, and the Gallileo museum. Sarah and I take a bit of time to walk around on our own as well, to enjoy the last few sights of the city.
  • Thursday, 04-Jan: VERY early morning, followed by a rather intense (but pleasant) amount of travel.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017.

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Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017.

Overarching plot – where, when, why, and how

Sarah and I like to take big trips. We also like to take small trips… but these posts are about a big trip.

Specifically, these posts are about our trip to the United Kingdom, over Christmas and New Years of 2016 into 2017. Our main plan was to visit London on our own, then trend up into Scotland for a bit of a Scottish Christmas and New Years.

 

Overarchingly, our plan was broken up into four segments:

  1. Explore London – we’d fly directly into Heathrow, and spend two days exploring London before taking an overnight train North, into the Scottish Highlands and the city of Aberdeen
  2. Visit with Family in Aberdeen, spending Christmas at Sarah’s parents house
  3. Travel down to Edinburgh with the family, explore a bit, and see what sights there are to be seen
  4. Travel back up to Aberdeen, and spend the rest of the trip exploring and ticking off all the boxes for adventures that we’d aimed for
  5. Fly out of Aberdeen, and enjoy the flight back as best we can!

But the biggest goals of the trip were to relax, be happy, not try to force ourselves to do anything excessive or intense, and generally enjoy the opportunity to check out a country as steeped in history as Scotland!