Weekly TBT Post: Italy (Again!)

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Aimless city wandering: my comfort zone since 2005.

New Zealand is sure giving every other country I’ve visited a run for its money, but Italy has been my longtime favorite. It was the destination of my first trip abroad in 2015, a grad school graduation gift to myself (and my start to what our tour guide diagnosed himself as having as well: the very contagious travel bug).

So it was no coincidence that I chose a TopDeck tour for the summer of 2016 that included stops in Florence, Rome, and Venice. I felt so fortunate to visit those cities for a second summer in a row, and without boring anyone too much with another Italy post, I’ll highlight some of my favorite pictures from my time revisiting these cities.

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Ciao, old friend. (Fun fact: I lost an earring between taking this photo and walking back to the bus.)

After a quick stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we headed to Florence. Our hostel was pretty awesome–with a pool (that was so cold I was the only one crazy enough to swim some leisurely laps), a patio with a live band that our enormous room overlooked, also with a view of the Vatican, AND our room had a TV with music video channels. Along with the wine I had leftover from France, my night in was an introvert’s paradise. 🙂

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Ah, the view from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

But the next day was about seeing as much of Florence (again) as I could. On our group’s walking tour, I enjoyed learning more about the history of the Duomo and Bell Tower, Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge), and other sites I’d been able to see the previous summer.

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Quirky street signs are everywhere. 🙂

After the tour, I happily wandered solo around Florence, following some instructions from my friend Sirjaut who’d studied abroad there. It was a chilly day and I had dressed poorly, so I was speed-walking to warm up, and was on a mission to find her recommended panini place, a sweet park, and her recommendation for the best gelato.

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This was new…

As I am apt to do while happily wandering, even with multiple maps, I got all sorts of turned around. I found the gelato shop, and withheld tears learning it was closed. (Gelato is serious.) I found the park, but didn’t have time to go in. But the happy ending of this story is I found Nino’s and had the best caprese panino of my life–which I inhaled while booking it back to the hostel, so thankful to have run into a couple from our trip at the point when I was fully doubting my navigational skills.  Fortunately, getting hopelessly lost has never prevented me from having an enjoyable day in a foreign city. 🙂

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A cat on a Vespa. I’m in love.

When we arrived to Rome, I hit the ground running solo. I wandered past il Coloseo to more ancient ruins near the Roman Forum.

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And then I walked, and walked, and walked to see more new parts of Rome. I made an exception to my no-shopping (to afford traveling) rule when I saw a few shirts for 2 Euros each at H&M.

Then, I stumbled into a piazza with stairs. Naturally, I climbed the stairs to see what was up there.

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Water Clock at Pincio

And I was rewarded with the most peaceful, green park with gravel paths perfect for more wandering. The plant life was unreal–looking back now, the above picture could almost pass for New Zealand! Oh yeah, and there was this view!

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Terrazza del Pincio: view of the Piazza del Popolo

Ahh, Roma. 🙂 As if my heart wasn’t full enough, after a three-day sailing trip (to be covered in a future post), we headed to Venice.

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Every street is so photogenic!

Cue: another solo day of wandering, getting lost, stumbling into new things in hidden alleys, and beautiful buildings and canal views everywhere I turned.

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Venice is just magical.

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