October 13 2011 by Claudia Kunkel
I'm packing my bags again and this time we're off to Italy. I've been busy planning our itinerary down to the last detail. The planning is almost as fun as the actual travel in my book. Once I decided which country to visit the rest was easy as this would be our third time traveling to the country that is full of history and culture.
Our first destination after landing in Rome will be Florence, located in the heart of Tuscany. It's a quick and easy train ride out of the Roma Termini Station to Florence, just about 90 minutes. Florence is known as the "cradle of the Renaissance" because of the many treasures it holds - Santa Maria del Fiore, probably better known as the Duomo, the Medici Chapel which holds the remains of the most powerful family in Florence from the 15th to the 18th century, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia housing the famous statute of Michelangelo's David. There are so many historical places to see in Florence not to mention making time for the shopping and dining. Yes, pasta, pasta and more pasta! If you need a break from the museums, the hills of Tuscany are waiting just outside the city.
After leaving Florence, we're headed to Cinque Terre which translated means "five lands." There are five coastal villages that make up Cinque Terre and we are headed for one of my favorite stops, Vernazza. I personally think that Vernazza is the most picturesque of the five towns. The small, charming homes and apartments cling to steep cliffs overlooking a small harbor with colorful fishing boats bobbing up and down. The first time I saw this village, it literally took my breath away. The joy and appeal of staying in Cinque Terre is being transported back to a slow, easy way of living; of strolling through the small street down to the harbor and enjoying a glass of local wine and watching the sun set over the sea. If you need a little more excitement, there are numerous hiking trails that link all five towns together.
When we've had our fill of hiking, eating and relaxing, we're off to see the ancient ruins and sights of Rome, the "Eternal City." Rome, famous for Vatican City, the Colosseum, Pantheon and Roman Forum and of course gelato! There are so many historical sites, churches, ruins and fountains that one could easily spend a week trying to take in everything. Oh, did I mention the romantic Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain? I have already written out my wish and practiced it several times so I'm ready when I toss my coin into the famous fountain. If I get brave, I'll rent a Vespa and try navigating the narrow cobblestone streets and the whirling traffic.
All that is left to do is make my reservation in Rome at one of the many lovely Best Western hotels that can be found in Italy.