Ciao my friends! I would say it’s good to be back but it’s pretty horrible. I woke-up in a haze at 5am last Friday morning with no Italian roast coffee, no view of the Mediterranean sea and, worst of all, my kids were still with me after 15 days of non-stop travel. But, I’m getting way ahead of myself.
On Thursday, May 19 my family and I embarked on a trip to Italy that would take us from Rome to the Tuscany region and finally to Sorrento on the coast, in just 13 days. It was amazing, horrible, exciting, terrifying and a complete blur of wine, pasta and gelato, the way every great Italian vacation should be.
I’ve decided to replace the usual rundown each Monday with a slice of life from the trip, with some added categories of course, to try and recap as much as possible. Since we started our adventure in Rome, and since I’m still running about six hours ahead of east coast time and cannot think straight, I figured it was the best place to start.
And, just so you know, I plan on being completely obnoxious with all my newfound Italian language, will be purchasing a scooter to whip around my town with, intend on including limoncello as a staple in my diet and may take up smoking. I’ve been changed.
WEEK OF MAY 16, 2016
So I had all these grand ideas of what running though the Italian countryside would look like. None of them included a ridiculously steep and winding road, with no shoulder, where Fiats, scooters and Smart cars whip around with reckless abandon but, that was exactly what I encountered at our first hotel in Rome. The hotel was about 15 minutes outside of the city and on top of a mountain which was excellent for your eyeballs but treacherous for your running routes. I’ve run in a lot of questionable places in my life but, I never even thought about actually running in the streets of Rome once I saw that. Insanity!
The first hotel we stayed at boasted a running track that was 800 meters long. It didn’t sound ideal but I figured I could do some speed work on it and, it was better than risking my life on the streets. However, the “track” once I actually found it, turned out to be a mixture of stairs, rocks, dirt and parking lot that was maybe 400 meters around. The good news was that I found the loveliest bathroom adjacent to it, which we know is basically every runners dream.
Another very cool discovery were the lion statues scattered around the grounds. I felt like I was running with them…or from them…or whatever, it was just very cool.
And, of course, the boys could not wait to climb all over them.
So basically anyone riding a bike though the streets of Italy is insane. That is all.
One of my best swims ever was in Rome at the hotel pool. Now this pool was not like ones we have here, oh no, this one basically encouraged drowning, or, better yet, dared you to survive a casual swim. You see, there was no shallow water. None. Not even a gentle slope of bottom, anywhere in the pool. There was a very teeny tiny ledge on one side where I could stick my nose and mouth out of the water if I stood on the extreme tips of my toes. Naturally, it was amazing for lap swimming.
One morning, around 7am, I headed down to the pool and was the only one there. It was a beautiful thing to be swimming laps in an outdoor pool with the sun shining and the promise of another amazing day in Rome!
Rome is definitely all about the shopping! It’s funny because I kept feeling like I was at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, which I know is horrendous but, I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually in Rome, Italy. Surreal.
Of course the boys sniffed out the Disney store like bloodhounds.
Before leaving for Italy I would have been hard pressed to tell you when the last time I had pasta was. Now, I can tell you that while there, not one day went by when I didn’t have pasta. I was eating more spaghetti off of the boys’ plates, chowing on my own gourmet dishes and savoring every single last morsel of carbs, cheese and deliciousness. Oh Italy, you are a foodies dream come true!
Also, every restaurant is called a “pizzeria” even though they have fancy dishes including fish, steak and pasta. We asked the concierge twice about this restaurant, our first night in Rome, because it was called “Paul’s Pizzeria” and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just pizza. He thought we were dumber than we looked. #StupidAmericans
Also notice there is no one else in the restaurant. It was 7:30 which is almost considered lunch in most of Europe. By the time we left (with two sleeping boys) at 9:30pm, the place was filled! This would be an ongoing trend.
So I just need to tell you up front that I drank wine just about every single day we were there and I have zero regrets.
I perfected the hangover run, which I’m not sure I should be proud of, but I am. In fact, Garmin should have some sort of badge with an algorithm of drinks consumed the night prior vs pace maintained the following morning.
When in Rome…you do tours of everything.
THE TREVI FOUNTAIN (ONE OF MY FAVORITES!)
VICTOR EMMANUEL II MONUMENT (Il Vittoriano)
LIMO TOUR OF ROME AT NIGHT (BECAUSE IT’S SO DIFFERENT IN THE DARK)
THINGS I LOVE
- All the food, all the time.
- All the wine, all the time.
- The coffee. Although, they ration it out in tiny little cups so you have to order about 15.
- The gorgeous surroundings of an ancient city.
- Learning something new everyday
- Eating something new everyday.
- Meeting people from all over the world!
- Realizing people from all over the world love Americans, despite what is happening politically right now.
- Having these mémoires with my family.
- Being unplugged.
THINGS I DON’T LOVE AS MUCH
- The eight hour flight to Rome after the four hour drive to JFK.
- The smoking! OMG everyone smokes. Gross.
- Not knowing the language. #helpless
- The insane drivers.
- The dirtiness of the city. Lots of garbage, graffiti and construction.
- Having to peel prawns from their shells and then stare at the carcasses on your plate. Ew.
- Relying on random Wi-Fi and playing a game of not using too much data roaming on my phone.
I read The Outliers and The Kind Worth Killing while I was there. The Outliers is one of the best I have read in a long time and I cannot wait for the next one! Let’s just say the ending leaves you begging for more.
Since I have no pictures of me reading, here’s a nice statue of guy and his snake…
Of course it was statues like this and, the hundreds of naked paintings, that had the boys giggling like crazy and declaring several of them “inappropriate!” which lead to a lot of explaining from me and having to overuse several proper terms for human anatomy. I can only hope they share this information with their classmates and teachers. #TheNakedBodyisBeautiful
We all know that European futbol (American soccer) is basically a second religion in Europe. We saw this phenomenon in Spain and Portugal and the tradition continued in Rome and throughout Italy.
One night, while leaving the hotel, we saw crowds of people at the entrance and all kinds of paparazzi, being held back by barricades. I was psyched thinking at any moment George and Amal Clooney would be arriving. However, much to my dismay, we later found out that the local futbol team, Juventus, was staying at the hotel for the National Championship game to be held in Rome.
The fan frenzy continued and, the night of the big game we could actually hear the crowd of 100,000 people from our hotel! And, of course, there were fireworks…
RANDOM PICTURE FROM ROME
This was the boys’ most favorite souvenir by far. Obviously I’m failing at parenting but succeeding in social media so…
[Tweet “When in #Rome! A tour of #food, #wine and #futbol from a random #American athlete “]
How have you been? I’ve missed you!
Have you ever been to Rome?