In 2016 we planned a research trip to two countries: Italy and Greece.
Our flight landed in Rome, which for me, was the #1 location I wanted to see for this trip. While crowds left the city congested, it still managed to affect a surreal vibe. From stunning architecture to the magical carriage ride we took, the experience inspired wonder in both myself and my wife.
And unexpectedly, some of our fondest and most often-recalled memories come in the form of the delicious pastries and cappuccinos we found in local bakeries. Of course, I also stopped to wonder at the multitude of ancient ruins scattered throughout the area of the city where we stayed. I try to imagine how it would have looked back then, to feel the bustle, the smells, the sounds. Like any good visitor to Rome, we hit the major sites, including the Colosseum.
While in Rome, we took a half day tour of the Vatican. It didn’t have too much to do with my planned research, but who could pass a chance to see the Sistine Chapel and other works of Renaissance art.
From Rome we took a train cross country to Florence, which turned out to be another stunningly beautiful Italian city. In fact, looking back at the pictures of the Duomo and the central square, we can’t wait to return! Construction on the Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze) began in 1296 and was finished in 1436. The cathedral saw a lot of history, including the murder of Giuliano de Medici.
While in Florence, we took a day trip by bus through the Tuscany countryside—one of the finest day tours we have ever experienced. The iconic landscape of rolling green hills enchants, and our tour included a stop at an agriturismo for homemade lunch and a tour of the winery. The tour stopped in the medieval city of Sienna, as well as the hill town of San Gimignano, and lastly in Pisa. Turns out there’s a famous tower in Pisa.
Our last stop in Italy was to take a train from Florence to Venice. For first-timers, it took a bit of doing to find our hotel in the maze-like alleys between canals. Once settled, we also took the compulsory gondola trip through town. A highlight came in the form of a pizza restaurant with a gorgeous view of the canals. A tip for future visitors to Venice: However much time someone recommends to reach the airport, allow an extra hour. Missing your flight is not the best way to start your Greek adventure.