From Italy With Love

"There's no place like home," said Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and while I totally agree with her, there's also something to be said about getting away for a little while. As I look back on my recent trip to Italy, my heart is full of gratitude, beautiful memories, and joy. I hope you don't mind if I share some pictures, memories, and lessons I learned along the way.

My husband, Mike and I, were gone September 28-October 7, to see my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. We flew from Nashville to Philadelphia to Venice. First bit of advice--pay extra for more comfy seats on the plane or sit on an aisle seat!

While we thought aisle seats would be better, in theory they weren't as good as I thought. Mike and I were an aisle apart, and the lady next to me didn't appreciate me laying my head on her shoulder to sleep!

The flight was only 7 hours, and while our bodies thought it was 2am, it was in fact 9am in Venice. When you get there, make sure you stay awake as long as you can and then take a little nap in the afternoon. After that, you’re good to go! 

The first thing I noticed was that “we're not in Kansas any more,” or should I say “not in the South, y'all.” Southern hospitality is out the window— drivers, even cyclists won’t stop for you, and yet I didn’t see one accident. Get out of the way! Life moves fast--stay on the sidewalk! 

My sister lives in Vicenza, about 45 minutes from Venice. Since Melody speaks Italian, it was easy to travel and enjoy listening to her haggle prices down at the market. More good advice, learn some Italian or be with someone who speaks it; it will make conversing over prices, asking for directions, and reading menus go more smoothly. Shopping the open markets was delightful. Usually, I tend to peruse and then come back later for my purchases. But the pace is fast, people are everywhere, and the ability to remember what you saw and where you saw it is difficult. Negotiate the best price and buy it now

On our gondola ride throughout Venice, our gondolier doubled as a good tour guide. Speaking 5 different languages, he gave us the history and a fascinating tour of Venice.

Make sure to tap “on” for your location settings on your phone—that way you’ll look back at your pictures and remember where you’ve been. Below is the famous Rialto Bridge. People watching is the best—this was a great place to see all the Instagram influencer wannabes taking selfies and almost falling in the river.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was definitely a site to see. Most people took pictures holding up the tower, so we had to be a little different. The people behind us were on the lawn where the sign said, “stay off the lawn.” I’m fun, but I couldn’t break that rule no matter how much better the picture could have been!

  • Traveling advice: wear durable, comfy shoes! We visited 8 cities in 8 days--Vicenza, Venice, San Gimignano, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Verona, Orvieto.  It's hard to believe, but we walked 24,000 steps/over 10 miles in Rome in one day. I looked down at my feet and asked Mike, "what's that?!" He said, "that's your ankles!" I didn't recognize them because they were so swollen! Considering everything we did that day, it was totally worth it. They say Rome wasn't built in a day; they could also say, Rome wasn't meant to be walked in a day! We made sure we were there for more than one day—after a good night’s rest, we were ready for more walking!

The Coliseum and Forum in Rome.

Bocca Della Verita (the Mouth of Truth)

Coliseum in Verona

  • Taste everything. I wanted to try all new foods and not have them change anything to the entrée. Although I didn't get the spaghetti with clams, I tried most everything else. If there was a pastry, I had it. Gelato, I ate it! This was probably the weirdest best pizza I've ever had. I savored every bite.

We were told to wait 'til San Gimignano for the world's best gelato. Begrudgingly, I waited 4 days for that gelato. It was worth the wait!

Although I'm not a coffee drinker, I had heard about these frozen coffees; it tasted like a coffee frosty.

If you're going to have more gelato, and who isn't, make sure to have a beautiful cathedral in the background for your picture!

The fresh fruit was amazing. We weren't sure if we were supposed to eat the coconut, husk and all, but we did! Lots of fiber and good for you!

Although we have bubble tea in Nashville, I've never tried it! So I added this to my list of new things in Italy.

The basilicas, statues, and doors intrigued me. We visited Vatican City—fun fact, it is its own country. St. Peter’s Basilica is there; we also visited St. John’s Basilica, and St. Paul’s Basilica. This is St. Peter—you’ll always recognize him because he has the keys in his hands.

This is the outside walls of St. Paul’s basilica. I took this picture after we ran around 3/4 of the outer perimeter trying to get back to the bathrooms before 6:30 (8 minutes.) I left a bag in the restrooms—we made it back in time and thankfully my bag was picked up by security! What an adventure—we were so out of breath. Best part, though, is that Mike carried my bags from then on.

Another fun fact, I took over 100 pictures of doors throughout Italy. They are all so different and unique. Stay tuned for my coffee table book coming soon!

It’s good to be back home where people don’t try to hit me with their cars! I do, however, miss my family, as well as all those pastries and gelatos. Here’s my final advice:

  • Take the flight. Try something new. Buy the hat. Drink the fizzy water. Eat the whole coconut. Ride the gondola. Buy all the pastries. Climb the stairs. Take the subway. Walk…then walk some more. Soak it up. Slow your pace. Laugh a lot. Learn the history around you. Breathe in gratitude. Smile til your face hurts. 

Until next time, 






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