Recently I had the opportunity to travel with Explorica Educational Travel on their 9-day tour of Rome, Florence & Venice. Growing up with the stories of my Italian grandparents, it had been a lifelong dream of mine to someday see Italy for myself. I am pleased to say that this trip not only exceeded my expectations, but made me fantasize about which Italian city I would like to call “home”.
Honestly I am torn between two. We started off our tour in the eternal city of Rome which cannot help but impress. Never before have I seen a place so inundated with artistic beauty. We took guided visits of the Colosseum, Forum Romanum, the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica and then had free time to explore on our own. After meandering through the cobblestone alleys for a while I concluded that it is simply impossible to get bored here. How could someone ever tire of wandering around, gelato in hand (I cannot stress enough how necessary this is ��" particularly any of the flavors at San Crispino Gelateria if you can manage it), running into marble statues like they are dear old friends? This is city life at its absolute best.
On the smaller scale, but no less aesthetically pleasing was Assisi. Traveling on our way from Rome to Florence we stopped here for lunch, and from the moment I entered this hilltop town I felt instantly at home. Standing in the piazza in front of Santa Clara you look one way and see window-boxes overflowing with flowers and people gathered around the central fountain; look away from the homes and outdoor cafes and there are breathtaking pastoral views as far as the eye can see. My very favorite meal of the whole tour was eaten here, a heaping plate of linguine aglio e olio, in a restaurant off the main drag towards St. Francis’ Basilica. Wandering around the narrow alleys of Assisi, everything moves at exactly the right pace and you can’t help but close your eyes and breathe deep.
Maybe I can retire there…
-Chelsea, Explorica staff member (www.explorica.com)