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Italy: Country of carbs and cappuccinos

by Melissa Artobello

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Up next on the Euro tour was Italy, where we spent 5 days and 4 nights exploring the peninsula, famous cities and landmarks, and the wonders of Italian food and drink. (I became a coffee drinker after tasting Italian cappuccinos).

The first stop was Pisa where we got to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and of course take silly pictures of us leaning against it or holding it up. Our tour guide actually made it a competition to see who could take the funniest picture. After being touristy, we gorged on our first Italian pizza. Unlike American pizzas that bury everything with toppings, Italian pizzas are simple with usually just thin crust, marinara sauce, and cheese. It was authentic and delicious.

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After Pisa, we drove to Florence to walk around and absorb all the art and culture. We saw some amazing landmarks like Florence Cathedral,

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the Gates to Paradise,

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the Ponte Vecchio bridge,

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and not to mention all the sculptures that are scattered around the city.

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Next, we were off to Rome for the night and the next morning we set straight for the Colosseum. It was incredible, and HUGE. Unfortunately, we didn’t tour the inside, but it was still amazing just walking around it and admiring its architecture.

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We continued roaming (get it? Rome-ing!) around the city, visiting ruins, Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon, and the Fountain of Trevi.

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The next morning, we were up bright and earlier for a tour of the Vatican, which is it’s own country and the smallest country in the world for those of you who didn’t know that. We were the first ones through the doors so it was quiet and not crowded at all. We walked through hall after hall, passing by incredible works of art and experiencing history. We got to see the progression of art throughout the centuries and how it became more advanced and realistic.

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Then we reached the Sistine Chapel, and everyone was speechless. One, because there’s no talking allowed in the room, and absolutely no photography. But also because the art was so astonishing it took your breath away. There’s just something incredible about seeing pictures and learning about something for a majority of your life and then finally getting to see it with your own eyes and be there to experience it. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

After our long journey through the Vatican, the tour dumped us in the heart of Vatican city: St. Peter’s Square. We walked around the huge plaza and explored St. Peter’s Basilica before returning to our campsite.

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Yes, during our time in Italy, we stayed in pimped out campsites with cabins, night clubs, restaurants, pools and grocery stores. It was a change from hotel scenery and it was more outdoorsy which was nice. If you decide to take a trip to Italy, definitely check out these kinds of campsites if you want a cheaper or just different kind of lodging.

The next two days were spent in Venice. We explored the canals and many twists and turns of the city’s streets. No cars are allowed on the island, so anywhere you go, you go by foot or by boat. However, if you don’t own your boat, you’re pretty much out of luck because the gondola rides cost a fortune. We didn’t do it because it was so expensive, but many tourists think it’s worth the experience.

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Although the canals are pretty, they also stink. Especially in the summer when it’s super hot, it smells like sewer wherever you go. But don’t let that stop you from visiting this amazing place. We got to eat delicious gelato, walk across the Realto Bridge and stand in Piazza San Marco.

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The next day, we jumped on some boats and island hopped to some of Venice’s many islands. We walked around, visited beaches, and cruised around the water the entire day.

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That night at dinner, our tour group decided to have a masquerade dinner to show off the Venetian masks we bought. It was a fun way to end our trip in Italy.

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