where do i begin? last month (june) i took a two-week vacation with my mom to italy. there are a few things you need to know. first, my mom has wanted to go to italy forever. second, we haven’t taken a vacation together since 2006. third, this was my mom’s first international trip. lastly, we made memories on our italian invasion that i will cherish for the rest of my life.
my journey began in seattle where i worked my behind off to plan for being out of the office for over two weeks. how often do we do that? i’m going to venture to guess not often enough. in fact, i recently read an article about how few people actually use their vacation time. trust me, you’re doing no one any favors by skipping vacation. let me say that again. you’re doing NO ONE any favors by skipping vacation. but once it was time to head to the airport, i let work and life fade away as i mentally prepared for my transatlantic journey.
the first stop was kansas city (shout out to my hometown!) where i met up with my mom. then we boarded a plane to hotlanta for a few hours before finally making our trek to italy. i have to say, my mom was super cute. she was getting her first passport stamp (more about that later) and taking her first long-haul plane ride. big things poppin over here people!
the plane ride was about 9 hours and when you’re stuffed in coach like sardines, it’s a pretty miserable ride. but as my friend/soror/spec brittanie said, it’s hard to justify the cost of flying in luxury when it’s so much more than the coach tickets. one day though! the plane ride was fairly uneventful. we watched a few movies, ate too much so-so airline food, drifted off to sleep, tracked our flight progress over the ocean, talked about life, and of course took selfies! but since this is boring i’ll skip to the good part – landing in rome!
if you think deplaning a domestic flight is bad, international is ten times worse. there are so many people who have been cramped in their seats for far too long. it took forever! but finally we made it. the italian invasion began. after a grueling stop at customs where they barely stamped my passport (i seriously can’t see the stamp) and hid my mom’s stamp somewhere on page 9 of her passport, we got our luggage, hopped on a bus to our hotel and took in the beauty – and smells – of roma!
shout out to my line sister shade for the great hotel recommendation on the beach. we stayed on the mediterranean just outside the city. it was great to look out the hotel window and take in the serenity of the sea. talk about peace! but it also gave us a chance to decompress from our journey over. after a day of sleeping, eating, and relaxing, we were ready to take on the eternal city.
our first stop was the colosseum and that meant another bus ride to the train into rome. i can’t even begin to tell you how breath taking it was to exit the sub station and stand face to face with this ancient monument! sure, it is a landmark dedicated to savagery and everything wrong with machismo, but omg, it’s ancient! and impressive. we walked around to take it in like the good tourists that we were. after a few snaps of the camera, more selfies, and countless uninvited solicitations for everything from water to umbrellas to no-wait tours, we hopped a double decker tour bus and got to exploring.
driving around on that bus with the sun blazing down on my thick, chunky natural as we whizzed past landmark after landmark, i couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. i mean really, why is this city so awesome? temples, churches, castles, oh my. and then we reached the vatican! vatican city is … there are no words. walking through st. peter’s basilica and then the vatican museum and finally seeing the sistene chapel in person? who’s blessed? this lady right here! and my mom who has major knee issues was a trooper and climbed those stairs like a g! we walked over 10 miles that day. sorry mom. but you made it!
we spent a few days in rome seeing the sights, eating the food, drinking the wine and experiencing the culture. then we headed up to umbria for a seven day cooking excursion. we stayed at this absolutely lovely resort hidden away on one of umbria’s thousands of hillside villas surrounded by olive groves. what? it was quiet and small and far from the hustle and bustle of life. we barely had internet access and it was restricted to the lobby of the resort. this week was full of adventure for us. cooking classes, 4-wheeler tour of the city, and trips to perugia, assisi, marciano, and more. to be back there now!
after umbria, we headed up to tuscany and spent a few days in florence. sadly, it was the start of the major tourist rush and we had to contend with large crowds on those very tiny cobblestoned streets. not the best thing in the world, but it was florence so who cares right? we walked the entire city, ate some more, took more pictures, shopped, and mingled with the locals. let me tell you, yes italian men love black women. no, they didn’t think we were prostitutes. it was so nice to have men showing chivalry – helping you off the bus, lifting your bags up and down, holding the door, and other things we no longer get at home. men, get your life! those things are necessary.
i still can’t get over how beautiful and large the cathedrals were. when you think about how hard it must have been to build something that tall back in the 14 and 15 hundreds, really? just marvelous. and the food. listen, it’s a good thing we walked so much because i could have easily needed to be on biggest loser.
there is still so much to unpack after this experience. my place in this world in relation to my status as a woman, a daughter, a christian, a black person, an american, a single person, a lover of creation, a respecter of history, and ultimately, a world traveler. thankfully, i don’t have to do it all at once. i can continue to enjoy the awesome memories i brought back for years and years to come!
and just because i couldn’t help myself, here are even more photos!