Dogs drinking from a water fountain.
Getting “lost” and finding fun discoveries I’d never have seen if I could follow directions.
Walking tour of Venice with Hillary’s friend, Laura Maria.
Water taxis/vaporettos - what a lovely commute!
Dinner at Campo San Stefano - delicious lasagna and mint chocolate chip gelato next door, enjoying the beautiful weather with someone on the accordion playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and segued into “Sway” and being so overcome with joy that I almost cried.
The shopping: visiting stationery shops and stores selling school supplies
Getting a demo of a wax seal stamp and buying my own stamp with my initials, made in Venice.
Learning that a bottle of water costs more than a bottle of house wine (and house wine is quite good).
Visiting Arianna Santariello’s studio, Plum Plum Creations, viewing a private demo, and buying original art for my home.
Seeing the work and intention that goes into everything, since Venice is comprised of more than 110 islands - from garbage pickup and deliveries to unique shops and handmade goods.
Tour guide Catrin’s humorous asides as she showed us where Casanova stayed and Bellini’s studio
The view from the terrace of St. Mark’s Square
The gleaming tiles in the Basilica when the lights are turned on for an hour a day
Enjoying an Aperol Spritz
Watching children play in the alleys
Watching an old man fish
The colorful clotheslines dotting old buildings, showing signs of life.
So much street art!
Being able to reach out and touch buildings on both sides of a narrow street at once
Having the best glass of Prosecco I’ve ever had at a bar that was once a bank vault.
“Rest stop” food on the way to Florence that was nicer than most places in Chicago
Said rest stops having the cleanest bathrooms ever.
Gnocchi at Giglio Rosso - magnifico! The best gnocchi of my life. (Not exaggerating.)
Halloween skull chocolate cookie at Don Nino
Cold pressed juice at the Albero Cafe
Antonia the tour guide with her wonderful British accent that reminded me of spending the afternoon with my late grandmother.
Hearing our guide tell me that Antonia thought I was a Renaissance woman.
Turning the corner in the Accademia and seeing David for the first time.
Enjoying gelato at Venchi with the tour group after seeing David.
Watching the movie “A Star is Born” (in English, with Italian subtitles) with Denna and Laura in a beautiful theater and enjoying the architecture during intermission. (Bonus: Learning to swear in Italian.)
Going to Mister Pizza with Denna after the show.
Walking back to the hotel and spotting the moon over the Duomo.
Walking past the carousel and listening to musicians play “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
Bartering in Florence for leather goods and coming home with two new purses
Taking a cooking class and making a four course meal.
Completing a paper marbleizing private lesson and receiving a job offer from the artist, Susanna.
Having a bookstore around the corner from the hotel with a nice stationery section
After dinner shots of Sambuca with a room full of priests.
The marbled breakfast bread at Hotel Lancelot
Stumbling upon the Colosseum down the street from my hotel.
Making wishes at the Trevi fountain
Filling my water bottle at the Vatican fountains
Walking 35 minutes to find the restaurant Anthony Bourdain enjoyed for cacio e pepe at Roma Sparita in Trastevere
Seeing the levels of history in San Clemente, with the water running underneath the church.
Having dinner with my friend Megan and her boyfriend Paolo, where all the locals eat. The prosciutto!
Buying stamps and a pen at the Vatican Post Office.
Enjoying a glass of Prosecco and snacks at a wine bar at the top of the Spanish Steps, striking up a conversation with the women at the table next to me, and being invited to their winery if I’m ever in the area. Running into them again on the street near the Vatican days later.
Finding cute shops tucked away in winding streets
The free little library and reading nook in an alley.
Gnocchi at Osteria da Fortunata at Campo de’ Fiore
Picking out fruits and vegetables I want from the wall and watching them pressed into juice before my eyes.
Catching up with a friend from law school over rice balls at a Bonci restaurant.
Meeting a guy on a dating app my last night in Rome and connecting over drinks and conversation.