We had two short days in Florence, Pisa, and Rome, but they were probably two of our favorite days traveling together. Visiting Italy has always been on our dream list of places to visit, so we really couldn’t believe we there. The ship docked in Livorno and we drove to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles. This place felt like an ancient amusement park with all the medieval architecture and crowds. People stood on fences, trying to get the perfect photo “holding up” the tower. It was really fun to see and kind of surprising just how much the tower actually leaned. After, we made our way to Florence for just a few short hours to grab lunch and shop around. Florence was breathtaking. It’s really difficult not to sound cheesy or cliché when describing our time there, but if you’ve ever been, you’ll know what we mean.
We met up with a friend for lunch, who had already snagged a spot waiting on line outside of at All’Antico Vinaio. We’ve heard so many amazing things about this place, but didn’t really know what to expect. Well 20 minutes later, we found ourselves indulging in some of the biggest sandwiches 5 euros could buy you, sitting just outside the shop, with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes dripping on our shoes. It was absolutely perfect. We walked through the Historic Center taking in all the sites, stopping at the Duomo which towered over us. We didn’t get to climb to the top of the cathedral, but if we were to go back we’d love to check out Café at the Oblate Library. The views look incredible!
On the morning of our last day on the cruise, we gathered in one of the ship’s restaurants with all the new people we had met, shared stories with, and grew to love. It was our last day together, and it was pretty crazy to think we would be saying goodbye (well, more like “so long”) to this group of people that felt more like long lost friends, in just a few hours. With bags on our shoulders and cups of coffees in hand we all wobbled off the ship, wheeling our luggage behind us, to the bus that was waiting for us at the port. We all loaded on, told the driver our stops, and drove in to Vatican City for our last excursion together. We chatted about our favorite parts of the 7-day trip, what are plans were after our day in Rome, and where would all be flying out to next.
Like a bunch of sardines we all packed ourselves into the Vatican Museum for a tour before heading to the Sistine Chapel. Pulling up to the museum was quite a sight to see; lines wraps around the building and crowds of people stopped on the street to snap photos. If we weren’t with a group like this, we’re not too sure if we would have been able to visit and experience Vatican City in this special way, without getting too overwhelmed. (This was the debarking tour we signed up for.) We really wish we took more photos, especially while in the Sistine Chapel, but they were very strict about photography. The artwork was unlike anything we’ve every seen before, and by the end of our tour we had a few kinks in our necks from looking up at the intricate paintings on the ceilings the whole time. We immediately fell in love with the 3-D painting effect, troupe l’ceil, which creates the illusion of shadows making paintings look like sculptures. They definitely fooled us a few times, especially when one of us didn’t have their glasses on. 😉
After our tour we checked into our hotel where we refreshened up for the evening and then quickly headed out to explore the city. By this point we were starting to feel the affects of so many days of travel with a jam-packed itinerary, but we quickly reminded ourselves that trips like this are only once in a lifetime and we only had one day in Rome, so off we went! We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Taverna Rossini (Margherita pie and cacio e pepe, which is officially our new favorite pasta dish! So tasty!), which was right down the street from our hotel, before heading to the Spanish Steps. We decided to walk there, (take in the sunshine, and fresh air along the way) and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves strolling through Villa Borghese on our way there. The architecture and artwork in Europe is truly breathtaking, but this park was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Imagine children singing songs and playing games in the shade under huge trees, adults dancing and playing music in the street, roller blading competitions resulting in some of the loudest cheers from crowds nearby, and couples riding twin bicycles with the biggest smiles on their faces. This place was full of life and love and the energy was completely captivating. People there really know how to have a good time and enjoy life — they’re doing it right!
After an intense cab ride with the sweetest older driver, who wasn’t really sure where we were trying to get to, but did his best to wind in and out of the narrow cobblestone streets, we arrived at our dinner spot for the night: Alfredo e Ada. It is a traditional Roman restaurant that was recommended to us on Instagram, and boy oh boy was it worth the search! Around the Colosseum there are so many restaurants aimed at tourists, which are super convenient, but we wanted to really experience an authentic meal that was somewhere the locals may eat. The intimate and homey atmosphere, was truly perfect for our last night in Europe. The dim lighting, the waitress who recited us the entire menu from memory, some red wine, and complimentary dessert. Next to our table, on the wall hung an old calendar from November 2004…the year we started dating. Maybe it was simply a coincidence, but as we shared some of our favorite stories from over the years and our dreams for the future, we couldn’t help but feel as though we were right where we were meant to be.
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This post was made in partnership with Princess Cruises. As always all thoughts and opinions are our own.