My family came to hang out with me and my Italian family for almost two entire weeks and it was the best thing ever. June 13th my parents, sister, and friend started their journey overseas. For my dad, Mer, and Brooke this was there first flight overseas to Europe. They were all champs. I picked them up at the airport Tuesday morning. I was all tears, they were all tears, you get the idea (June 12th had marked FIVE MONTHS since I last hugged them). The night before I had barely slept because I was so excited and so busy mentally willing the hours to go by faster. I luckily found an AirBnB about a five minute walk from my apartment. Everyone got settled in Tuesday early afternoon and then we headed out for food.
I can be a bit of a planner and I knew that I had less than two weeks to show them a million things, so of course we started off right away that afternoon with pizza. The girls ordered their first legal beer to go with it. From there we walked off some of the pizza by walking to the center of Milano, to the Duomo. We then went back to pick up the oldest of my two boys. When Giacomo saw me at school he yelled “YOUR FAMILY!” and came running to the door to see his new friends. Another must on anyone’s first day in Italy is gelato. We grabbed some gelato later in the day with both boys and my host mom.
Almost all the evenings that we were in the city, we had dinner at my house. My host mom is an incredible cook and she blessed us with many homemade, classic, Italian meals.
Wednesday I had the afternoon completely free. So we took advantage of the beautiful weather and went up to Lake Como for the day. Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy and one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Despite missing our first train, we made it up by lunch time. We strolled around the city, popping in churches, eating gelato, and catching up. We ended the day by taking a ferry ride around part of the lake. After getting back into the city, I took the girls out for Aperitivo (happy hour with food).
Thursday we saw more of Milan. Expolored the backstreets behind the Duomo and did some shopping. It rained some as the day went on, which made for a low-key relaxing evening. It was perfect to prepare us all for the upcoming weekend trip.
Friday morning we caught our train to beautiful Venice. Prior to this trip I had asked my family to tell me a few places they would like to visit. Venice was number one. I could write an entire blog post about our weekend in Venice. For now, I’ll try and summarize it the best I can. First off, we really could not have asked for better weather. It was sunny and high 80s. Quite different than last time I visited, in February. After arriving from the mainland to Venice, we went straight to one of the main bridges for a beautiful view of the Grand Canal. It was so surreal to be there again, and this time with my family.
For the rest of the day we walked through the tiny Venetian streets and over bridges, heading slowly toward Saint Marco’s Square. We had pizza again for lunch and stopped of course for gelato. We took lots of pictures, laughed when dad wore Mer’s sunhat, and then bought him another one later. Laughing with my family- that had been something I had really missed.
Saint Marco’s Square is one of the highlights and main sights of Venice. The square holds the church of Saint Marco. A spectacular work of art completed originally in the 11th century. The square also holds the Campanile, a bell tower that gives visitors a unique view of Venice from high above. We decided by late afternoon that it was time to do the most touristy thing that a person can do in Venice- we took a gondola ride. It’s magical and breathtaking floating through the small canals. 10/10 recommendation people- even if it makes you look like the biggest tourist.
At one point in time Venice had one of the largest trading ports in all of Europe. They controlled many imports and exports and were very dominate in the Mediterranean Sea. Just to give you all an idea of how long this city of islands has been around, Venice reached it’s pinnacle of commerce and trade and then began it’s downfall all before America was even founded (!!!!).
Saturday we decided to spend the day island hopping around Venice. We went to two different islands, Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for glass blowing. We had the opportunity to watch a glass blowing demonstration, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we were left speechless and amazed at the impressive form of art.
Burano, the second island we visited, is known for their brightly colored buildings. It’s a nice place to walk around and get a bit of a break from the crowds of Venice. There are shops on almost every street with postcards, clothing, paintings, homemade jewelry and so much more. We grabbed lunch here and relaxed some before heading back to Venice for a few more hours.
To avoid an incredibly long post, I’ve split our trip into two blog posts. Hope you enjoyed reading about our travels so far. Next, the city of love.