We took our first international trip with the kids. We spent just over 2 weeks in Italy, traveling by car and by train from Rome, through Tuscany, to Florence, Venice and Milan. Wendi's sister Joni, who just graduated from medical school, came along for the trip. Everyone had a wonderful time!
We began our trip in Rome. Our hotel was just down the street from the Colosseum-- what an amazing site!
We spent our first day seeing the sites of Rome, including the Forum and the Pantheon...
...followed by Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain. Molly couldn't quite stay awake!
The vatacan and St. Peter's Basilica were incredible. We got to see the Pope give his weekly address, and we had some amazing views from the top of St. Peter's. The Sistine Chapel was also inspiring.
We went to a Lazio-Parma soccer game in the Olympic Stadium in Rome. The intensity in an Italian soccer game is quite something to see! We also visited the Paletine.
We visited a park called the Parco Regionale della Maremma on the Tyrrhenian Sea. We had a beautiful (but tiring) hike to the sea.
The drive through the Tuscan countryside was beautiful. We stopped at Montalcino, a classic Tuscan hill town that is known for its Brunello wine.
Siena was another beautiful Tuscan town with a famous square where there is the "world's fastest horse race" and an impressive amount of art.
Next we went to San Gimignano, a town with a "Manhattan-like" skyline with lots of medieval towers.
Pisa was one of our favorite places. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was really beautiful, and the view from the top was spectacular. Of course, we all had to try to "hold up" the leaning tower-- hopefully we won't have to rely on Nate to do it :-).
We rented bikes and rode around Lucca. Nate's favorite part was climbing the tower with the trees growing on top!
We hiked the "5 Villages" in Cinque Terre, all built on cliffs on the Ligurian Sea. There were amazing views, well worth the sometimes difficult hike!
Florence was one big art museum. Wendi spent most of the time in Florence at a conference, while Steve, Joni, Nate and Molly explored the city, visiting several cathedrals, a synogogue, the Uffezi Gallary, the David statue, Ponte Veccio, Piazzela Michaelangelo, and the shopping district.
Venice was as spectacular as we expected. It is such a different type of city with no cars. We visited the San Marco area and Murano (where we saw some artists making glass items) and took the requisite gondola ride. We also went to our first opera, which turned out to be really good! Nate and Molly loved all the boat rides, and they loved feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's square, which Aunt Joni really did NOT like :-)
Our final stop was Milan, where our friends Amy and GP showed us the sights. We saw the cathedral, the castle, and the end of the Giro d'Italia. It was a nice ending to a wonderful trip!
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