Well, that’s what it felt like by the end of it. In reality we only had about 3 days between all 3 cities so we didn’t fit in everything we wanted to see, but here’s a quick rundown of what we squished into a fun-packed family trip.
We flew into Rome with just over 1 day before our Mediterranean cruise started. After being on the go constantly in Turkey over the previous 17 days, we had originally planned just 1 relaxing day at the hotel in Civitavecchia. However, when an opportunity came up to do a food tour in Rome on that day, we couldn’t say no.
When the food tour was over the kids were tired, but knowing this would be the only chance we’d get to explore Rome, we pushed through. A short train ride brought us to the iconic and awe-inspiring, Colosseum. One bizarre jinx followed us throughout southern Europe. It seemed like almost every single famous monument we saw was undertaking some sort of renovation, which resulted in it being covered in scaffolding. This happened in Athens at the Acropolis, here in Rome at the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, and the Pisa Cathedral, just to name a few. Argh!
We considered taking a several kilometre walk to reach Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but decided not to since we were all worn out and jumped back onto the train followed by a 75 minute drive back to our hotel in Civitavecchia.
On our first afternoon in Florence, we met with Erin’s parents and walked around town. The statues in the perennially packed Piazza della Signoria were exceptional, including the draft of the famous “David” by Michelangelo.
A short walk away was the illustrious Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo). It is hard to describe the magnificence of the architecture – so ornate and intricate, yet so huge. In fact, I couldn’t even fit the whole building within 1 photo. We walked inside the church which was free but Erin had to cover up her shoulders and paid €1.50 to rent a poncho to cover her “indecent” shoulders.
Afterwards, the kids had a ride on a nearby carousel and we just meandered around the town. It’s such a gorgeous city, there’s so much to see and do. The pedestrian walkways were very smooth so pushing the pram was easy. But as you would expect, most things are relatively expensive. I spied some genuine Italian gelato, which was a scrumptious break after all the walking.
We spent most of our time in our hotel, Villa San Michele, on our 2nd day in Florence and enjoyed an adults-only dinner in town. The kids were being looked after by a babysitter at the hotel. The food at the restaurant we chose was mediocre, but it was a very memorable meal with Erin’s dad ordering a 1kg Florentine steak (2 pounds, 3 ounces).
We also watched the sun set over the river, standing in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio – a famous, yet small, bridge spanning the Arno River with historic buildings still standing on it to this day, mostly housing jewellery thus giving it the nickname “Golden Bridge”. If you value your money though I’d shop for the jewellery elsewhere.
The next day we had planned to drive from Florence to Nice, France, which was going to take 4.5 hours, but I couldn’t let myself leave Italy without seeing the most iconic building of all – the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was a slight side-track but it was well worth it.
We drove straight to the tower and pulled the car over on the side of the road (in a no parking area), and I jumped out and grabbed a few photos before we got back in the car and continued to France. The whole visit lasted no more than 15 minutes. Now that’s fast. I got what I went there for, and it wasn’t just photos of the tower, but witnessing a strange demented form of yoga spontaneously overtaking tourists on the grassy plaza. Weird!
It seems like Italy flew by too quickly but we are sure to go back in the future to savour the flavour, it’s just a question of when. Mumma Mia!