Salve! Come stai? (Hello! How are you?) I’m back from Italy, and all the more inspired because of its diverse, natural and overwhelming beauty.
The Kardashian’s have this thing – yes, I’m going there – where they share what the Pitt of their day was, and what the Peak of that same day was. So, rather than BORE you with a recap of my adventures in Italy, I’m going to explain the Pitt and the Peak of each place that Andrew and I visited on this Coach Bus Tour organized by Air Transat Holidays.
Pitt: Our Hotel in Rome. Upon landing, our Air Transat Representative met us at the airport, and she informed us that our hotel accommodations had changed. Not a big deal, yet when we checked in we learned that the only way to get to the city was to book a shuttle bus – to and from the designated location outside of St. Peter’s Square – that we had to pay 1.50 Euros for each way.
In addition, our hotel room’s air conditioner broke, and we came home to a huge puddle in front of the bathroom one night. For a Pitt this wasn’t too bad, but it was annoying.
Peak: Seeing the Mouth of Truth in person. This had to be my MOST favourite part about Rome. Mainly because – long story short – when Andrew first met me, he lied about his age. He kept this lie going for about a week, and then finally told me the truth our last day in Cuba. I told him the legend: if a liar puts their hand inside the Mouth of Truth, this mouth bites off your hand. Andrew was nervous, but we both survived! I have to say, seeing the Trevi Fountain also took my breath away.
Pitt: Our “photo stop” in Naples for a panoramic tour of Maschio Angioino and Piazza Plebiscito was NOT long enough. Andrew and I assumed we’d be spending half a day in Naples, which I was very excited for because my family is from a small town just outside of this city center. We were there for about 45 minutes, in total, if that. In the comfort of our hotel room in Sorrento, I cried.
Peak: Though for only a short period of time, I did get to walk around Naples, but the best part was the drive into the city. We saw the Port of Naploi, where my Nonni’s (Grandparents) and mom boarded a ship that took them to Canada. Incredible.
Pitt: After climbing the winding roads of Sorrento up to our Hotel in a shuttle bus, I was slightly nauseated and wanted to go to the beach. The hotel informed us that they had a “sister hotel” down the street with stairs that go down towards the beach. We set out on an adventure. There was a white line that divided where people can walk along the road, picture it like a bike lane, but MUCH smaller. I thought we were going to die. I forgot the name of the “sister hotel”, so we began asking Hotel’s along the way.
Walking in the blistering heat wasn’t the most enjoyable. Sweat was dripping everywhere. None of them knew what we were talking about, but one finally said we could use their stairs. We began our decline, the stairs were ancient and steep. There was no beach at the bottom, but a cliff. I am not a strong swimmer and refused to jump in. We headed back up and a man – who worked at this hotel – was guarding the door. He wouldn’t let us go back up because we weren’t staying at the hotel. We were breaking the law. Eventually, after Andrew’s pleading and near tears, he let us walk back up. We swam in our Hotel’s pool.
Peak: Outside our hotel room were LEMON TREES. (Though we locked ourselves out on the roof when taking pictures with them.) Also, I finally found a Umberto Eco novel in ITALIAN (the authors original tongue) in the city of Sorrento! I had been trying to get this book shipped to Canada for years. Definite highlights.
Pitt: SO SEA SICK. I’ve never been so puke-y in my entire life. I literally threw up twice off the side of the boat during our Blue Grotto Tour, and boat ride around the entire Island of Capri. Once I threw up my entire breakfast, fish began to swim to the top of the water to gobble it all up. Disgusting, I know, but it was hilarious. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been sick.
Peak: Swimming and the views. Off the side of the boat (on the Blue Grotto Tour) we swam in the sea right beside Capri! Thank God Andrew took photos during my delusional, sick state because everything was beautiful. We took the Funicular (basically an enclosed ski lift that you standup in) to the top of the island where all the little stores and restaurants were. I was weak, but not unappreciative of what I was seeing.
Calabria (Just an Overnight – stop over – on our way to Sicily)
Pitt: The dinner at our hotel in Calabria (which was included as part of our Tour Cost) was disgusting. The food was NOT traditional Italian and all I wanted was a big bowl of Rigatoni! This plated dinner included a Crepe with meat and sauce inside, some Chicken Alfredo with a nasty after taste and the best part were the steamed green beans.
Peak: That night we went for a stroll around the streets of Calabria with our tour guide, Fabrizio and tour group. We stumbled upon a Karaoke bar. Here, the beer and espresso’s were flowing, and I convinced Fabrizio – a naturally gifted singer – to sing Ti Amo. It was AMAZING, and my favourite part of Calabria because we made our own fun.
SICILY (This was the MAJORITY of our trip as we travelled all around the exterior of Sicily, and visited: Taormina, Syracuse, Agrigento, Ortigia, Monreale and Palermo)
Pitt: We stopped for lunch in Ortigia as an extra excursion for lunch the day we were scheduled to go to Mount Etna (the active volcano). Here, Andrew and I ate the most amazing Seafood Risotto and Margarita Calzone. At the end of the meal, I left to go to the bathroom, and Andrew has some trouble paying. We gave extra Euros so that we would get back change. The waiter never came back with our change. Andrew had a dispute with him, explaining we decide the tip, and that he should bring back all the change – not tip himself. This was a rude awakening that if you don’t speak the language, you won’t be respected here.
PEAK(S): SO MANY. First, Taormina is the most beautiful town I’ve ever spent time in. This is not an exaggeration. I’m already dying to go back. Similar to Rome, but more airy and bright. Fabrizio told us, “you’ll leave a piece of your heart here”, and I did. In our free time Andrew and I went up to the Ancient Greek Theatre where we could see Mount Etna through the middle of it, off into the distance. The next day we went to the top of Mount Etna, dried lava everywhere, it looked like a black moon. As we drove away from the mountain and craters it took everything for me not to cry. It was that beautiful. My third and final favourite of Sicily was in Syracuse, the Ear of Dionysus (an ear shaped grotto). This is clearly and overview of Sicily, but these three sites were my favourite and I left a piece of my heart in each place.
Overall, the tour was fantastic! Fabrizio speaks about 5 languages fluently, and was full of knowledge. He spoke about Italy’s economic status, Europe’s Euro crisis, and the problems in Greece, plus recalled the ancient stories of Ovid, Homer and Shakespeare. These are topics that I enjoyed hearing about very much during our drives through Southern Italy, and I truly cherished them. Legend has it that it was in Sicily that Medusa got her head sliced off, and the Cyclops threw the rock at Ulysses upon his escape from his cave. When booking a Coach Tour Bus trip, you must remember and take into consideration that you CANNOT choose who is on that bus. You’re touring with strangers for the majority of the trip, so be patient, and considerate of other people. If you do this, then you’ll be fine!
Though there were some Pitts along the way, the Peaks outweighed them all. I love Italy and cannot wait to revisit this magical place.