I can only describe the beauty of Venice by explaining that, headed into this trip, I was so, soooo sick. Our last flight in from Paris, I clutched my vomit bag in front of me the entire flight. I had bronchitis, no voice, surely a fever, and a massive headache. But arriving on our little boat taxi to the island, stepping out onto the dock, and taking in Venice, I started to cry. I have never felt so overcome by anywhere that I have traveled, and despite how terrible I felt, I wanted to explore. All of a sudden, I felt like I could walk for miles, get lost, lose sleep, and dance. Venice is festive and colorful and fresh and alive.
Our first stops were obviously pasta and gelato. We spent the night in a low-budget hotel, saving our fancier stays for Rome and Valentine’s day, but even low-budget in Venice comes with a cute view!
Scott, being the wonderful husband he is, ran down to the pharmacy when I couldn’t fall asleep, and y’all—Italian cough syrup is the Cure. By the time our early morning train took off for Rome, I felt like a new woman, cappuccino in hand.
SO Rome, how amazing. How ancient. How many SCAMS though. We got out of the train station, walked to the only booth we could find to buy public transport passes, which we did, without realizing until halfway through our trip that they were sold a year expired lol awesome. Make sure everything you purchase in Rome is official. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, so, probably opt for distrust.
Anyways, we took the bus to our hotel in Trastevere, which is sort of Rome’s Brooklyn, as far as I can tell. It’s not where all the big attractions are, and it’s recently cleaned-up, but it’s beautiful and peaceful. We dropped off our bags and walked to pizza!
After food, we checked out nearby cafes, and checked-in. This was my favorite place that we stayed during our first week! Pictured above are the view from our room, the breakfast room, and the courtyard!
That night, we went to Piazza Venezia, close to the Forum and the Colosium. Some very Euro couple madeout in the middle of an incredibly busy sidewalk and I was furious that I didn’t have my film camera on me. It was so classic.
Our next couple days were all about site seeing! We’d start our mornings with a traditionally Italian breakfast of lots of sugar and caffiene. I walked Scott through all of the sites I have grown up looking forward to, my favorite being Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain.
The Vatican was a stop that had a surprising affect on me. Scott and I both grew up Catholic, so I know the history and tradition of that place. In months leading up to our trip, I wasn’t sure I would want to go. The Catholic church’s leadership has led abuse and scandal, and the amount of lies and money wrapped up in that history and tradition now—it’s not lost on me. But I remembered Peter’s death when we arrived in Rome. I remembered that the best friend of Jesus had walked where I was stepping, but where I experienced beauty and culture, he was crusified for his actions of building-up the early church. Seeing the pilar, the spot where he was reportedly crucified, and remembering his unworthy crucifiction and upsidedown death, I felt awe. This man made many mistakes, lost everything, and kept giving of himself because of who he knew Jesus to be, and remembering that man and feeling close to his life, was well worth the trip. We did however skip the vatican museum and sistine chapel, which some people have told us is a mistake, but they’re not free, like St Peter’s square, so I feel justified in that.
On our last day we got breakfast at Piazza Popolo and soaked up our last moments in the City To End All Cities. Then we returned to the train. We were so sad when it came time to leave our beautiful lemon-tree-courtyard hotel. But hellllooo Valentine’s Day in Venice!
This stay, we were on the other side of the island, did a little bit of shopping, and got a little lost. We also ran into Scott’s Aunt and had a great walk, lunch, and an affogato out in the sun.
Maybe my favorite moment of our whole trip was Scott and I’s Valentine’s Day Dinner. Some people make reservations and get dressed up; we break open-container law. To each their own. We got a take-away pizza from a small local business that we fell in love with, Bella + Brava, bought a wine cocktail at the grocery store, snuck away to a long dock and ate with our feet dangling towards the canal.
Scott gave me a letter, addressing a fear I have that marriage ends when you die because “til death do us part,” letting me know that he called in a special request with God. I feel better. And very lucky to be married to someone who marches to the same beat and cares so deeply about what I feel.
After Valentine’s Day it was time to meet Scott’s family at the airport for our shuttle to the Dolomites! Scott’s sister Alison is newly engaged, so we all have a lot to celebrate and it was very exciting to see everyone. We arrived to the resort just in time for dinner!
To sum up this experience, it was five-star and I have never experienced anything so luxurious, ever. We had large, beautiful breakfasts, swam in an outdoor heated pool surrounded by snowy mountains, I got a full body massage and peel, and our room stayed pristine the whole week there (which is unheard of). Our bathtub had jets, they gave us a complimentary jam, and now, I know that I don’t like caviar.
We went on a photography tour with Scott’s aunt that was incredible. It felt amazing to trek through the snow atop a mountain within six months of having a life-changing surgery. Also, shoutout to the gym at this resort for helping me return to workouts and feeling physically strong! I didn’t need a lemon-water soaked towel after my workout, but boy, you will not find me complaining.
The resort also had a number of saunas, relaxation areas, amazing teas, and the best service! It was so much fun to see everyone enjoy different activities and then come together at the end of the day for a nice meal. I love being a part of this family!
Unfortunately, the trip was not without its ski injuries, which was stressful for us as a family, but it also brought us all together to support each other, share stories, and laugh through the pain. And I think that’s what family is all about!
When it was time to return home, we were ready. Bring on the dumplings. Give me my cats. I missed NYC. So we flew another 14 hours, all together, I watched Casablanca, and thought, “We’ll always have [Rome].”
Coming back, I feel so inspired, by the resilience of my mother-in-law, my grand parents-in-law’s zest for love and life in their 80’s, the scenery we were blessed enough to see, and the Italian way of life. I think Brene Brown says it best, “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”