There are thousands of reasons to visit Italy – the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower, the charming Venice. But to me, a proverb I learned when I began to learn English in my early 20s has inspired me till now: All roads lead to Rome. Also, the name of Marco Polo, the first European to provide the Europeans with a clear picture of the East, especially China.
However, not until this May did I have the chance to visit this long cherished ancient country with splendid history. I have visited most of the European countries but not Italy. Perhaps I purposedly kept the best for the last.
What amazed me more after my visit to Italy, is that I found more connections with Italy: the street address where I live now in Anaheim Hills, California, is not named as a road but Via Sabia, and in Italy, I found most of the streets are called Via. I do not know whether the earlier developers of the street block was an Italian, but for sure I have a very nice and friendly neighbor who is originated from Italy.
Our first stop in Italy is Rome, the 14th most visited city in the world, the third most visited city in the European Union, and the most popular tourist destination in Italy.
As the plane touched down in Rome, a sense of awe washed over me. It was my first time in Italy, and I could hardly contain my excitement. Rome, the eternal city, awaited me with its rich history and captivating landmarks. Wasting no time, I embarked on an exploration of its timeless treasures.
The Colosseum stood proud and mighty, echoing stories of gladiators and ancient spectacles. Walking through its corridors, I could almost hear the roar of the crowd and feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Nearby, the Roman Forum unveiled the remnants of a once thriving empire, where emperors ruled and the grandeur of the past was palpable.
Rosa and I had a chance to put our hands into the Mouth of Truth, which had been made famous because of a Hollywood movie. We also rode in a horse cart to pass the pebble road along the Colosseum.
The hotel where we stayed for three nights close to the Spanish Steps. Built in Rococo style between 1723 and 1726, they are the steps that lead from the Piazza di Spagna square to the French monastery church Trinita dei Monti (built between 1502–1587). There are 135 steps and three different terraces, referring to the Holy Trinity.
There are other attractions in Rome, but nothing is more magnificent than the Colosseum.
Vatican City – A Pilgrimage of Faith
A short journey from Rome led me to the spiritual enclave of Vatican City. With an area of 0.44 sq km and population of 825, it is the smallest state in the world. However, it is the most powerful state in religion.
Stepping foot into St. Peter’s Square, I marveled at the magnificence of St. Peter’s Basilica. The sheer grandeur of the world’s largest church left me in awe. Inside, I gazed upon Michelangelo’s breathtaking masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, where each brushstroke seemed to bring the biblical stories to life.
The crowds remind me of China, where most of the tourist attractions are “people mountain people sea,” and only in Italy you can see the competition.
Florence – The Birthplace of Renaissance
Leaving Rome behind, I embarked on a journey to Florence, the enchanting city that gave birth to the Renaissance. Walking along the cobblestone streets, I found myself surrounded by architectural marvels. The Duomo of Florence dominated the skyline with its mesmerizing dome, while the Uffizi Gallery showcased artistic treasures from the likes of Botticelli and da Vinci.
Pisa – The Leaning Wonder
A short detour from Florence brought me to the captivating city of Pisa. There, I marveled at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, its iconic tilt defying the laws of gravity. Since the tower is leaning, tourists were posing for photos in their own ways to support the tower from leaning. It was a true testament to human ingenuity and a sight I would never forget.
Verona – A Tale of Romance
Continuing my Italian odyssey, I arrived in Verona, a city steeped in romance and immortalized by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” I visited Juliet’s House, where the famous balcony scene unfolded. In the courtyard, lovestruck visitors left notes and letters on the walls, seeking the blessings of the fictional heroine. People struggled in the crowd to post for a picture with Juliet’s statue. I found the breasts part of the statue is most shining, and our tourist guide told us that most visitors try to touch the breasts in an effort to get good luck.
Verona’s charming streets and picturesque squares exuded an atmosphere of timeless love.
Venice – The Floating City
I have visited the Venetian in Las Vegas many times and have rode the gondola there along the canals inside the building. However, when the real Venice was before me, I still felt shocked.
It was a rainy day when we arrived in Venice. To get to the Venice island, we had to take a water taxi. There is no car in Venice, everyone should walk there, or take a boat. All the hotels and houses have been connected with canals and many families have their own boats as their only transportation means with the other parts of the world.
A gondola ride carried me through the maze-like canals of Venice, the ethereal floating city. The serenade of the gondolier resonated in my ears as I passed under the iconic Rialto Bridge and explored the vibrant streets of the city. St. Mark’s Square, with its intricate Basilica and imposing Doge’s Palace, transported me back to a time of opulence and maritime power.
Milan – A Fusion of Modernity and Tradition
Concluding my Italian adventure, I arrived in Milan, a city that effortlessly blended modernity with historical charm. The majestic Milan Cathedral, with its intricate Gothic façade, left me speechless. Nearby, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an opulent shopping arcade, showcased Milan’s flair for fashion and design. Exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, I discovered hidden gems and indulged in delectable Italian cuisine.
Thanks to Signet Tours, I have realized my dream to see the wonders in Italy. The trip has also changed my attitude towards the Italian cuisine. In my mind, Italian food was just pizza and pasta, but we tasted many delicious Italian food from Rome to Milan, that has added something in my memories of Italy.