This year’s Easter meant a visit in Sydney from one of my favorite traveling companions, my mom. Together, we headed to Melbourne for the long weekend, stirring up memories of one of our other big trips, 2013’s Easter week in Italy. I previously wrote about arriving in Rome, Naples and Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and Capri, but, bittersweetly, the trip was coming to a close.
After our day on the island of Capri, we returned by ferry to Sorrento. There, we treated ourselves to a meal I still rave about today: dinner at Inn Bufalito, which specializes in one of the most heavenly foods on earth, buffalo mozzarella, set in a beautifully rustic courtyard. Take me back! We topped it off with gelato at a Sorrento favorite, Gelateria Primavera, which offers 70 flavors and impressively gaudy decorations.
Spring break in Italy was already shaping up to be unforgettable, with visits to Rome, Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast. Our next destination was the island of Capri, home of foil juice packets and calf-length pants. Wait, wrong Capri.
After a quick homemade lunch in Capri’s town plaza, the sun finally made a brief appearance as my mom and I climbed to one of Capri’s lookouts over I Faraglioni, striking rock formations just off the island’s coast.
Looking out over I Faraglioni
I have to admit: I’m something of a philistine when it comes to the arts, but when traveling Europe, no matter how you feel about art, you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience at least some of it. As I wrote about a few months ago, Rome surpassed my expectations. I didn’t get a chance to see a ton of art in Rome, but what I did see was impressive. This guest post from Sandra highlights some of the best art and culture to be found in Italy’s capital city.
Sculpture at the Castel Sant’Angelo (photo credit: me!)
If you want to immerse yourself in a hub of music and arts, Rome is most definitely the city that will satisfy your every craving. As a place that is widely known for its long-standing love affair with the arts, lovers of music, fine painting and sculptures have flocked to the city to view its extensive offerings. If you are planning a cultural trip to Rome, whether by yourself, as a couple, or part of a group, here are the best things to do in Rome that will ensure that you experience all aspects of the arts that this spectacular capital has to offer.
I’ve taken enough of a break from detailing last spring break’s Italy trip, so let’s get back to it! When I left off, my mom and I had traveled through Rome, Naples, and Pompeii, arriving in Sorrento, a charming coastal town on the edge of the Amalfi Coast. Getting into the city by night, we settled into our hotel, strolled around for a bit, and had yet more exquisite Italian food and gelato, prepared to begin exploring the Amalfi Coast the following day.
Sorrento by night
Having fallen madly in love with Cinque Terre years before, I expected the Amalfi Coast to be a southern Italian version of that. Beginning with a bus ride to the town of Amalfi, we were met with dreary weather and an excess of tourists, but we made the most of the day anyway.
Fun fact: “A fa Napoli!” in Italian means, “Go to Hell!” but literally translates to, “Go to Naples!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Italy’s third-largest city, but would it prove fitting?
After kicking off our Easter week trip to Italy with a few days in Rome, my mom and I headed south toward our next destination, Naples. We navigated an intercity train to a dodgy metro and then, in limited Italian, found our way up a funicular to the luxurious, five-star Grand Hotel Parkers, where my mom had scored a great deal.
Everybody I talked to said Rome was terrible: overcrowded, expensive, busy, full of tourist traps… Despite these subpar reviews, I was still determined to see the famed capital at least once during my time in Europe. And boy am I glad I did, because Rome turned out to be pretty fantastic.
Overcrowded, expensive, busy, and full of tourist traps? Yes. But also replete with ancient history, mouthwatering food, and beautiful monuments.
In my last post, I detailed the eventful start to our trip. Day two started with the Vatican. How often can you say you walked from your hotel to another country? The lines to enter the Vatican can, unsurprisingly, be outrageous, particularly just before Easter and following the excitement of the new pope, but, fortunately, my mom had booked tickets ahead of time (pro tip!). With this holy version of Disneyland’s Fastpasses, we skipped the crowds and went straight in.
Entering the Vatican
I’ll admit I’ve tired of ostentatious palaces and antique artwork, so we passed through some of the halls fairly quickly, although it was still all quite stunning.
We may live in the era of social media, where news is instantaneous thanks to constantly updated Twitter and Facebook feeds. When an earthquake hits California, I am immediately alerted by a flurry of “OMG EARTHQUAKE!!!” tweets and statuses (thanks, guys).
So, last year, when Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned and a new pope was on the verge of being elected, I expected, naturally, to receive the news via social media. Instead, from my cozy apartment in the center of Madrid, a city with
I can’t believe the year has flown by so fast, but it’s time once again for my end-of-year travel recap post (see 2011 and 2012). And I must say that, having visited sixteen countries this year alone (plus loads of cities within each), 2013 may have been the best year for travel yet.
Once again, I began the year in California, home from Spain for two weeks to celebrate Christmas with friends and family. I then returned to my beloved Madrid, where I would live for another six months. At the end of January, I took a fabulous trip to the Spanish island of Menorca for just €15 round-trip, which proved absolutely beautiful, particularly because the island was almost empty in the off-season, allowing us to crawl coastal cliffs and explore abandoned buildings with no one around.
We ended the third day in Menorca with one of the best sunsets I’ve ever witnessed, preceded by a full double rainbow. Perfection.
Life continued in Madrid with lots of adventures and outings with friends I now miss. I also got to return to Sevilla for a work trip, rediscovering all of the things that made me fall in love with the city when I lived there the previous year.