Sunday morning we took the train to Verona, the city of love. Our luck with the weather ran out that day and we were greeted in the city with rain. But we made the most of it, and still enjoyed Verona’s sights. Verona is home to a famous Roman amphitheater. Similar to the Colosseum in Rome, it was originally built for gladiator fights. Now it is known world-wide as an open air opera theatre (also, Adele performed there last month. Tickets started at $200). We also went to view Juliet’s balcony. It’s something that I enjoyed, though the tiny courtyard below the balcony was immensely crowed, making for a short visit.
Across the river Adige, northeast of the city, San Pietro Castle towers over Verona. Unfortunately, the castle itself was under construction and not open to the public. But that didn’t stop us from trekking up the stairs to see the notorious view of Verona. It was worth the many stairs up. We arrived home exhausted that evening and ordered take out calzones for our dinner.
Monday we saw more of Milano including the Castello, Parco Sempione, and even fit in some more shopping. It was a little less crowded than on a weekend, but not by much. Now that it’s summer and school’s are out, the center of Milano is extra busy all week. I think we all enjoyed a more low-key day. We did less walking and some of us rested in the afternoon while Mer and I went to pick up my youngest boy from school. I tried really hard to not plan too much- but there is just so much to see in the city! Us three girls had considered going out later in the evening, but then choose instead to stay in. Our evening in included sipping Prosecco on their terrace and enjoying the warm summer air.
Tuesday we were in the city again and decided to climb the renowned Milano Duomo. A few facts about this magnificent structure: construction started in 1386 / it took five centuries to complete / there are 3,400 statues located on or inside the Duomo / 135 spires / it is the second largest church in Italy, one of the largest in the world / only Condoglian marble was used and new canals had to be built at the time to bring the marble into Milano.
Needless to say, it’s an incredible work of art and an astounding place of worship.
Wedesday morning Mer and Brooke went to Rome for a night so I had my parents all to myself. My host dad had the morning free and graciously offered to take us somewhere. We drove to Bergamo, a nearby city northeast of Milano. We stopped for coffee and fresh Sicilian cannoli’s. We had plans of reaching Lake Iseo for the Walking Piers exhibit by lunch, so we were only in Bergamo for a few hours. Those hours were spent in the high city of Bergamo (also known as the old city). To mom’s delight, she even found a candy store with licorice.
From there my host dad drove us to Lake Iseo where he dropped us off. If you haven’t yet heard, artist Christo created a 16 day exhibit where tourists can “walk on water” by walking on a floating dock system that leads to two different islands in the middle of the lake (one island holds the tallest mountain on an island in Europe). It is remarkable. The exhibit is said to have cost $17 million- oh and it’s totally free to enter and open 24 hours a day. My parents and I really enjoyed our afternoon here, walking the three kilometer long floating pier. It’s an incredible experience and one I’ll always remember. The downside was that this small town was not built for this kind of traffic. After the opening weekend, they were actually asking people to stop coming because of the overwhelming numbers of people. Getting home ended up being extremely difficult and long BUT we did eventually return back to Milano and hey, we walked to an island.
The weather at the lake had been in the 90s and after our stressful trip back home, we were all beat. We enjoyed a relaxing evening of take out pizza on the balcony. So Thursday was a refreshingly calm day. We walked around in Milano, ate gelato, and had lunch at one of my Italian family’s favorite places. The girls arrived tired, but safely later that night from Rome.
Friday we stayed in the city again. I caught up on some sleep in the morning after taking the boys to school while my parents checked out the Friday morning market located almost right outside their door. Again, the day included gelato and hearing stories from Rome. That evening I took them to Tropi&Co, a pizzeria that brings out a constant flow of different types of pizzas to try. It was such a nice dinner, all five of us together. I think we were all realizing that our time was quickly coming to an end, with the last full day coming up so soon. I, for one, was soaking up all the giggles that I could with my best friend.
Saturday morning was a rough one. I had plans to take everyone to a nice place along the Italian seaside where we would have a nice balance of scenery walks and relaxing by the sea. But then the trains were all booked (welcome to summertime in Milano). I’ve become MUCH better at being flexible when it comes to traveling. I no longer plan my trips out to almost the hour. But this- this really bummed me out. So after almost 45 minutes of me sitting by myself in the train station playing out all my options, I decided we would go to Lake Idroscalo, a man made lake on the edge of the city. I was reminded that what really matters is my people. I spent all day with my best people. We went swimming in the lake, had hamburgers for lunch, and soaked up all the sun we could. It was a great last day.
To finish off the trip, we went our for dinner with my Italian family. We drank a lot and ate too much, and loved every minute of it. Giacomo, the oldest of the two boys, was quiet at the start of the meal, he understood that they were leaving and he wasn’t happy about it. But he seemed to forget about the leaving part a little more as the evening continued. After dinner we all hugged and kissed goodbye. My Italian family headed back to the house, and the five of us went out for their last gelato before they headed home the next morning.
It’s a strange thing to see your family go home after a vacation without you. You feel like you should be packing a bag too. It doesn’t quite feel right to watch your family climb into a taxi that pulls away with you at the doorstep.
But then you pull yourself together. You remind yourself that you’ve created this life for yourself here, all by yourself. You tell yourself that you’ll be going home too, just not quite yet.
I’m in love with this city, these places, and these moments.
I’m so thankful I could show my family the Italian way of life and I’m already looking forward to the next time we can all sit around the same table.