The last part of my trip took place in Italy and Sicily. After almost a year of not seeing family, I was elated to be meeting my mom and step-dad in Venice. To ensure they didn’t follow my example and wander around aimlessly, I met them at the airport. It was a wonderful feeling to see them walk out of the luggage area. A bear hug was long overdue and I am so happy I won’t have to wait another year for the next one.
This was my second time in Venice and I knew the general layout of the city. At least I thought I did. However, with the endless canals, alleyways and constantly changing street names it is near impossible to not get lost. We took advantage of this and slowly made our way through the heart of the tourist areas. Over the past two years, I have become used to the different European idiosyncrasies that are part of traveling abroad. Most of which were new to my parents. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t remember what life in America is like. Nevertheless, I am more than ready to be thrown in the deep end and readjust!
When I was traveling alone, I spent a lot of time questioning whether I was on the correct street, bus, boat or train. Luckily, I allowed enough wiggle room that being lost could be considered part of the fun. This was a different story when my parents joined me. I didn’t want to be the one leading anyone else astray. Fortunately, we traveled from Venice down to Rome without a problem. After a quick evening spent in Rome, we continued on down to Sorrento.
A trip through southern Italy isn’t complete until you see Pompeii. This was my second time walking through the ruins but the vastness of it was still impressive. Eleven thousand Roman inhabitants occupied the metropolis in 80 BC. They had exercise yards, steam rooms, a brothel, fast food counters, courtyards and palaces. The ingenuity needed to create such an impressive city is quite amazing at that day and age.
From Sorrento, we visited the Isle of Capri which was followed by a drive down the Amalfi Coast. This infamous road is home to gorgeous views of the sea. Most of which are best viewed from a Cliffside road filled with hairpin turns. If the views don’t take your breath away, the driving will.
One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to a farm on the outskirts of Sorrento. It was run by an Italian family that produced their own olive oil, mozzarella, jams, Limoncello and grew a variety of fruits and vegetables. We learned how to make pizza, olive oil and the most DELICIOUS mozzarella cheese. Followed by a wonderful meal of traditional antipasta, pizza and of course, wine. I would have been happy with a bowl full of fresh mozzarella cheese but that wasn’t on the menu.
We took a car ferry over to the island of Sicily. Although it is considered a part of Italy, it feels quite different. I was surprised at how run down parts of it were. However, the stunning blue water is hard to look away from. In a weird way, it slowly prepared my parents for Albania. We only visited the touristy parts of the country, but we did see a lot of hardship as we drove around.
One of my favorite things we did was a boat tour around the island of Capri. It was already chock full of tourists and I could see why as we wandered around. They had everything from high end shopping, to scuba diving to snorkeling to a smattering of restaurants on each corner.
My favorite meal of the entire trip was a seafood feast. It started with a variety of fish antipasta dishes. Followed by pasta. Followed by grilled fish. Followed by an iced lemon granita. All accompanied by endless wine.
It’s no surprise that another one of my favorite days involved the traditional food market on the coast of Italy. The beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables were dotted with trays of delicious looking fish. Some of them looked as though they weighed more than I did. It was fun to walk around and think about shopping there daily and all of the amazing meals that you could make.
As vacations always do, our time in Italy went too fast. However, the adventure isn’t over. It was finally time to bring my mom and Rodger to Albania and show them where I have been living for the past two years!