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Italy

Travel

Rome and the Italian Open

June 16, 2016

After a few fun filled days in Florence, Mat and I took the TrenItalia south to Rome, the Eternal City. Mat and I visited Rome on our last trip to Europe two years ago, but this time we were back for a specific reason: the Italian Open! Neither one of us had ever been to an international sporting event, and we both really wanted to experience that.

Since we saved money booking our trip, this allowed us to splurge on an experience we might never have otherwise been able to have. When we bought our tickets we didn’t know who would be playing in the semi-finals, but we lucked out and got to see the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic play the number six in the world, Kei Nishikori. The cherry on top was that the match went into a tie breaker!

The entire day leading up to the game was pouring rain. That’s didn’t deter us much, we still walked around this gorgeous city and saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Piazza Venezia. We were so worried that the match would be rained out, especially because it was held outdoors on an uncovered clay court!

We took the (super, extremely) crowded bus to Foro Italico and literally one hour before the semi-finals match, the clouds parted and beautiful blue sky peeked out. It was unbelievable!

The day before the match we checked into our favorite B&B, Gli Scipioni. If you are ever going to visit Rome, we highly suggest staying here! The location is amazing, just steps away from the metro and Vatican City. Plus, they always keep the kitchen stocked, and the freezer full of delicious ice cream! Antonella is such a wonderful human and treats everyone like family.

After we dropped our bags off, we spent the afternoon eating pizza, hanging out by the Trevi Fountain, and visiting St. Peter’s Basilica. I wasn’t able to see St. Peter’s the last time we were in Rome because the line was too long and we didn’t have time. We figured it would be the same situation this time, so we were prepared.

The weirdest thing happened as we were walking toward St. Peter’s; we were in St. Peter’s Square and saw a giant line, as suspected, so we went through security preparing for a lot of standing and waiting once we made it through. However that didn’t happen. Somehow miraculously, or perhaps accidentally, we got in a different line and literally walked directly in without waiting. We are still scratching our heads trying to figure out how it happened. Absolutely zero wait time, even though we could see the line of people wrap around the courtyard.

I wasn’t complaining because I was so excited to see this world renowned church! If the outside seems impressive, the inside is breathtaking. I love thinking about all of the amazing things that have happened in these type of places, and the famous people from history who have walked on the same floors that I was lucky enough to stand on. When we were there the choir came out from some seemingly secret door and serenaded us. They also had a section closed off for church-goers to be able to take Communion. I mean, come on! Take Communion in St. Peter’s Basilica? If I was Catholic I would have to add that to the bucket list for sure.

That evening we had an amazing dinner and easily polished off a bottle of wine. We then walked down the streets of Rome eating gelato, listening to street musicians and then out of nowhere we turned a corner and there was a giant, centuries old building with huge pillars. I’m still not entirely sure what that building was, but that is the just an example of why Rome is so incredible; the mixing of modern buildings with ancient.

We finished the night back at the Trevi Fountain. It doesn’t get much more romantic than the Trevi Fountain at night. As a bonus, it was some of the best people watching of the trip!

There is still so much of Rome we would like to explore, but ever since Mat got me this for our anniversary, it makes it more difficult to not want to put a new pin in for each vacation, so I think we will be visiting the southern portion of the country when we head back to Italy!

What are your favorite sites to see in Rome?

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

ponte sant'angelo Roman, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Roman Forum Rome, Italy

Roman Forum Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Rome and the Italian Open

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

ponte sant'angelo Roman, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

castel sant'angelo Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

Travel

3 Days in Florence, Italy

June 9, 2016

The second stop on our 15 day vacation extravaganza was Florence, Italy.  Still riding the momentum gained from the 2 previous days in New York City, Lacey and I were ready to start the international leg of our trip.  With our pre-purchased museum tickets in one hand and vouchers for a Vespa tour in the other; we were ready for Florence!

The last 2 times I’ve flown to Italy, I didn’t sleep a single minute on either flight.  This results in a hyper-delirious first day as I end up being awake for about 20hrs straight.  Luckily, Italy has the best coffee on the planet (yeah, I said it! Whatchu got Colombia!?), so I’m usually still somewhat functional that first day.

We landed and were settled in our Air BnB in Florence by about 3pm.  We were set up in a beautiful 1 bedroom loft a block away from the Piazza del Duomo.  We’d highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a visit. Tell Frederica we said hello!

After dropping our bags off and doing our best to avoid passing out, we met a few of our friends at a nearby cafe.  We quickly hammered a couple of cafe Americano’s before hopping on some bicycles to check out the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza Michelangelo where we had some gelato while enjoying the views of the city.  After a fun downhill bike ride from the piazza we had some delicious pizza and wine from GustaPizza before passing out for the night.  It was a pretty successful first day considering how tired we were.

Day 2 in Florence got off to a quick start, literally, as we hopped on some Vespas and took off for wine country!  The scooter tour was Lacey’s idea and I’ll hand it to her, I originally thought this was a lame idea but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire trip.  Well done wifey, well done.  Not only was the simple act of hauling ass on a Vespa in Italy super fun, but we saw so many amazing views of the city and country side.  We made quick stops at a gorgeous church and private vineyard before making our way to a private estate where an authentic Italian meal was prepared for us.  The meal was accompanied by some tasty wine grown from the vineyard we had visited.  This was so much fun, as you can see from our trip video edit.

Later that day, we climbed to the top of the historic Duomo in Florence.  The views from the top are unbelievable!  Be careful though as there is only a waist-high fence in between you and certain death at the top of the dome.  Other than that, it’s a really good time! 😉

Our third and final day was spent touring the amazing art galleries of Florence.  After all, Florence was the heartbeat of the Renaissance and we owed it to the city to acknowledge it’s beautiful art.  We swung by the Galleria dell’Accademia to check out Michelangelo’s statue of David before heading over to the Ufizzi Gallery to take a look at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.  While we may not know much about art, we still appreciate how important these pieces are to the history of this region.  People treat famous artwork like celebrities nowadays.  Everyone pushes and shoves to get close enough to take their all-so-important selfie with the painting or statue.  Somehow that factor makes seeing pieces like these in-person both better AND worse somehow.

Our final night in Florence was a mellow one spent at our cozy BnB as we watched Netflix (The Office) on my cell phone as we fell asleep.  There couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to a great 3 days in Florence.

Rome was up next!  More details from that trip to come shortly!

For details on how we used reward points to book this 15 day adventure for free, check out our previous post.

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

piazzale michelangelo florence

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Porcellini Florence, Italy

Tuscany 3 days in Florence Italy The David Florence, Italy

Ufizzi Gallery Florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Duomo View Florence, Italy

Tower Florence, Italy

Birth of Venus Ufizzi Gallery

Duomo Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

Travel

GoPro Vacation Video Edit

May 28, 2016

Lacey and I recently returned from what will be our longest trip of 2016.  We visited 9 locations in 3 different countries over 15 action packed days.  While we fully intend on sharing all of the location specific details with you from our trip, we wanted to start you off with a video edit that summarizes a large portion of what we did during this travel adventure.  Plug in your headphones, turn the volume up, and enjoy our very first GoPro Vacation Video Edit!

Additional Info:

Keep in mind while watching this that Lacey and I booked this trip for next to nothing.  We saved over $10,000 by utilizing credit card rewards points to book this 2+ week adventure.  There is no way we could have afforded flights to these places, stayed in the luxurious hotels that we stayed in, and participated in all of the adventures you see in the video if we hadn’t gotten the majority of it for free.  If you love to travel, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing the very same thing.  Check out this post for the details on how we booked this specific trip with points and let us know if you have any questions.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more details and beautiful pics from this trip!