Italy was an adventure.
A beautiful, not-too-stressful, family-centered, very hot, trek from Oregon to Italy.
We traveled to Italy because it was something that Chris' Dad & Mom have always wanted to do and the time was now (trips like these seem to be easily put off for any number of reasons...too many "somedays"). We took the kids. We also took our friend Katie with us as an extra pair of hands (and a whole lot of heart).
We spent our first five days in Rome, then moved on to a villa outside
Siena, then on to Monterosso in the Cinque Terra for two nights,
and then to Milan for our flight home.
Traveling to Europe from the west coast of America is definitely a trek - with kids in tow it's even more interesting. The things we had on our side: Simon loves to travel (loves airplanes, buses, etc - really any sort of transportation is exciting to him at least initially) and Anna is a very go-with-the-flow toddler. All that said, I think Chris and I did a really good job at setting our expectations for this trip. We knew we weren't going to see everything (and had no intention of trying). We knew we were going to be on modified schedules based on how the kids were doing, how much we wanted to push it, and how we all felt.
We were going for the overall life experience and for the chance to spend time with Chris' parents & sister.
I WANT TO REMEMBER
I found the best way to share some of our trip with you is to write out some of the things I want to remember and pair them photos. Some of the thoughts were prompted by the photos themselves (a good way to organize your writing after a trip) and some came about through the process of sitting down and making myself write some of these things out. Others came to mind by the use of the very simple I want to remember prompt.
Here's a look at our Italy adventure in words + photos:
I want to remember Simon and the gladiators. He saw
them and wanted to do battle with each one. This worked ok the first few
times but each one of these guys is out there doing a job - they want
money for each interaction and photo.
I want to remember the green umbrella that was picked up from a street vendor that soothed and protected the non-sun loving 8 year old.
I want to remember the artfully decorated cows that greeted us around different corners and that Anna immediately ran to and would have stayed and looked at for hours if we weren't headed somewhere else.
I want to remember how amazingly, almost incomprehensibly old everything is there. I simply have no concept of time that goes back that far.
I want to remember how Katie and I maneuvered our way through the Vatican after realizing that our tour guide was going to make it way too long for two little kids (conducting the tour in both English and Russian). We created our own abbreviated tour and still got to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's.
I want to remember how everyday was punctuated with gelato (sometimes more than once).
I want to remember how the purchase of a sword and a shield brought days of entertainment.
I want to remember the two of them, at their individual ages, interacting throughout this adventure.
I want to remember how great piazza's are for getting the wiggles out while waiting for dinner (feeding pigeons is a bonus).
I want to remember how much he loves travel by plane, by taxi, and by train (so much more so than by car).
I want to remember staying outside of Siena and taking in the beauty of the vineyards.
I want to remember the simplicity of the mornings without being in a hurry.
I want to remember the light.
I want to remember the connections and the laughter and the hand-holding and the "Simon, get over here" and the naps and just being outside of usual day to day.
I want to remember how much Simon loved going into the churches and lighting candles and saying prayers for loved ones.
I want to remember looking up and seeing the churches and other buildings reaching up and touching the blue sky.
I want to remember the colors and the pride in the neighborhoods in Siena.
I want to remember the crazy experience of attending il Palio - a very famous horse race around the Piazza del Campo in Siena. Thousands of people packed in to the center, thousands more along the edges in seats put up just for this event, thousands more standing in balconies and even more hanging out of windows in the buildings above.
I want to remember how I said all along that I would just stay back with the kids because large crowds are not my favorite thing.
I want to remember how I went anyway and loved it.
I want to remember arriving in our final destination of Monterosso and taking a deep breath at the chance to relax in a beach town for a couple days before beginning our adventure home.
I want to remember renting a paddle boat with a slide and peddling our way out into the Mediterranean and each of us taking turns going on the slide (even Anna riding in Chris' lap).
I want to remember how so very much he loves the ocean.
I want to remember how much I love to see other parts of the world and how very thankful I am to return home.
I'm looking forward to heading back again next year (without the kids) and seeing a few different parts of Tuscany for an entirely different adventure on a tour with ScrapMap. You can learn more about that trip here.