Summer is in full swing…sandals and sun dresses, the hint of a tan, fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, time in the great outdoors, and especially summer vacation!
After we took our much needed vacation to Raleigh and the Outer Banks a few weeks ago, I can’t help but long to be back in Spain and Italy where we were this time last year. Just before we got married, I spent the summer studying abroad in Europe. I loved every minute of it and could not stop talking about it, so Matt and I vowed that we would take a trip to Europe together sooner rather than later. As soon as Matt graduated from grad school, we booked our plane tickets and began planning our trip.
We flew into Madrid for a whirlwind afternoon with my friend Whitney and her boyfriend who were living abroad. We got to see Madrid like a local with true Spanish experiences—a tour of the Las Ventas bullring, a table full of tapas for lunch, a trip to an Asturian cider bar where we learned how to pour it, a walk around the gardens at the Royal Palace, and dinner with a viewing of the Euro Cup match.
The next morning, we hopped on a plane to Rome to see the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Palestine Hill, St. Peter’s Basilica and other requisite Italian experiences…like Matt’s “big knockers.” Ha. He insisted on me taking that picture. 🙂
Next, we hopped on a train to Cinque Terre where we stayed in Manarola at Ca’ d’andrean which was recommended by the New York Times, and it was wonderful. There was even a little garden out back filled with lemon trees (with lemons bigger than a softball!) where we relaxed and sipped on lemoncino while enjoying the stunning views. Cinque Terre is an incredible place—truly unlike any other. The tempo of life is different in the best way possible. And the seafood! Mmmm….delicious.
For our last stop, we visited the lively city of Florence, cultural hub of Italy. We spent a good amount of time there shopping in the market and local artisan shops. We visited the Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum which was by far one of the coolest exhibits we saw. Wow! I only wish I could have taken pictures.
On our way out, we saw the Duomo and Opera House in Milan in addition to a little shopping for the biggest sale day in Italy before flying back home. Ah, I miss it even more now!