This is Multnomah Falls. A place I have visited handfuls of times. I’ve hiked to the top, to the bridge, and just sat at the base, as I did this day just a few days ago, and admired the raw beauty. As I write this, a fire has exploded around this magical place. 30,000+ acres have now burned just in the Columbia Gorge alone due to a teenager being careless with fireworks in a dry, dusty forest. Maddening? Yes. Painful? Yes. After three months traveling away from this beautiful mecca I call home, I am inspired to fight for these places, more now than ever. I apologize for the negative tone in the beginning of what truly is a gorgeous ending to our Europe adventure. I’m just a little sad today. Knowing one of my treasures will never be the same.
Back to the fun stuff… Italy. Ahhhhh…. I can smell it. Pasta, pizza, wine, dry air, and salt. My tanned skin gives thanks to the last three weeks we spent in Italy. From Cinque Terre, we headed back to our little villa nest and were able to regroup for the next night’s adventure. The ladies wanted to take us to Friday art night in a neighboring town, Pietrasanta. A South Korean artist had his marble sculptures on display and we were able to see them and him. Marble is prevalent everywhere in these parts of Italy. Especially in the hills in the northwest where it is mined. I tried to capture my best photo but didn’t quite get close enough. Pretty amazing to see giant slabs of marble just hanging out on the sides of the roads. It’s also pretty amazing I was able to see where it all comes from. Here is more of what Pietrasanta has to offer.
A quick snapshot of Tomek and his fam. Also a nice shot with Tomek and his mama and auntie ❤️ Mike made me ‘ham’ it up a bit as well so..It’s funny because most of the mannequins we saw in Italian fashion windows were striking this pose so naturally I thought it was most definitely appropriate. The frame and umbrellas were a nice touch.
Big time love in our hearts for this place. A nice 2.5ish mile hike from our village to this one through an old gravel hilly trail led us here. Something translated into ‘four steps between ancient flavors’ we had no idea of the party that was about to ensue that evening. We assumed something awesome was to happen based on the tiny 1000 person town decorating as such. It’s difficult to actually know the population of just the hilltop alone but 1000 is a max guess. Could be closer to only 500.
Old traditions and ancient artifacts were displayed throughout the windy streets of this town. Winemakers were delighted to speak broken English with me about my job in Oregon. They were shocked to see four Americans walking the hill at dark to stumble into their sleepy little town. It was fun to make new friends. Again, referencing back to our couchsurfing friend, Kurt, in Portugal, “There are only two types of languages in the world. Smiles and music. No need to translate either one”. Thankfully smiles got us along way that night. Here are some new local winemaker friends who graciously gave us two free bottles of their gorgeous wines grown on the hillside. Sangiovese and Vermentino. Spot on. Tomek, Katherine, Mike, and I embracing the local shindig. These lovely local ladies were making and selling our headbands for three Euro each. Hard to pass that deal up. An incredible night spent amongst locals who spoke very little English just loving that we were a part of the celebration. We felt extremely loved that night. Ortonovo, you’re the best. Big hugs to all those fine folks. One last night with the family in the hills. This is Iggy, Marta’s adorable son. He spent a few days with us and was just a lovely example of what a thirteen year old should be. Can’t wait to host you in the states Iggy!!! And this is the neato pizza joint we celebrated Mateusz’s birthday at.
One last family photo before we depart. 😊
A nice beach day on the coast in a town named Lerici, was the exclamation point to our mind blowing stay with the ladies in their village. Just a smidge crowded but to be expected during the week of the Italian holiday, The Feast of Assumption. All of Italy was on vacation with us. We knew there would be crowds with a beach like this one.
A tough goodbye was had. Warm big embraces from new friends and dear friends bid us adieu. Next stop: Perugia.
A crazy cool walled city was next on the list for us to conquer. A friend’s parents live in this gem of a city and were to take us out into the Tuscan hills for a proper wine tasting. Before the tasting, we did some exploring. Wow. A beautiful ancient city with a ton of history. The city center was pretty amazing. You would never know old streets are hidden beneath the town’s tourism center. An escalator takes you down to see this.
It was a trip learning of how these original structure were built upon as a punishment from Pope Paul III during the Salt War years. Apparently, Perugia was not willing to comply with the new salt tax back in 1540 so the Pope built right on top of the original city. The structure now has three floors to roam. Pretty neato.
Definitley had a Napa Valley feel to it. A lovely city in the Tuscan hills, Montefalco is home to some delicious wines I have never tried before such as these.
Tabarrini. Excellent wine stop thanks to these wonderful new friends, Stephen and Suzanne and our great host Daniel.They also took us to Assisi where we toured the Basilica of San Francesco. Amazing! They did not allow photos on the inside but here is the outside. A full day soaking up all we could of Tuscany. Memorable wines, people, and cities. Next up: ROMA!!!
Oh Rome. You are pretty fantastic. Our last city to conquer before we fly home. We only had two days to tour this gigantic place so we knew we had to hit the ground running and that’s exactly what we did. The metro in this city was wonderful. The 48 hour Roma Pass is worth it. First stop, our Airbnb. Just a quick 10 minute walk from our metro stop, 20 minute walk to Vatican City, and a bus stop right around the corner, this room with a courtyard view (and AC!!!) was perfect. We started making rooms with air conditioning mandatory in Italy. The heat was fierce. We still managed to see tons. Starting with…The Colosseum. Woah. A place you never really can capture the feel of with a camera. To stand inside this place and look at this, is truly unreal.To know of the death that occurred here, the brutes that were able to build this, the crowds that cheered, and the ancient souls who wandered here. Whew. It was intense. An amazing sight to experience. The Roman Forum too. Just awesome.
Let’s not bat an eye at the Pantheon either. Woah. Again. How did these people build this?!? In 126 AD nonetheless! That is some talent. Very impressive and free! We walked into this right at sunset which was gorgeous.Capitoline Hill. Impressive indeed. We also made appearances at the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Castle of St. Angelo, the Capuchin Crypts, and of course Vatican City. Seeing the Capuchin Crypts was so creepy yet I couldn’t stop being mesmerized by all the bones. Unable to take photographs, I vividly remember some of the men still having beard hairs on their dried up skin. Pelvis bones creating flowers and suns on the ceiling, shoulder bones making angels, vertebrates weaving in and out of rooms. As creepy as it was, it was still pretty cool though. Paying the five euro for a guided listening tour was well worth it. Amazing to think there are hundreds of thousands of bones buried throughout the city.
The Vatican was spectacular. I took as many pictures as I was able in the museums. Mike and I loved Raphael’s rooms. The hall of maps was pretty rad too. The Sistine Chapel was mind blowing. No photos allowed but we spent some solid time in there just looking up, following the stories and timeline. It was neat sitting next to a tour guide who was explaining every single detail you could see. To buy advanced tickets and right at 8 am is ideal. It wasn’t crowded. We didn’t wait in any lines. Highly recommend this route. Here is Saint Peter’s Square. The line to get into the church wrapped even further to my left so we skipped it. I’m sure it was worth the wait but not in 100 degrees. Next time.Our last stop was Borghese Park where we sat on a bench, enjoyed our last Peroni, shared a delightfully refreshing lemon popsicle, while watching endless amounts of people pass us on motorized pedal bike/golf carts. The park was gorgeous. Filled with a zoo, museums, fountains, statues, and a killer view of the Vatican.These are the last two pictures from Italy. Bon voyage!!! Excited to be home. Crazy to think this is all we had for three whole months. Half of which I probably could have left home. Glad to put those five outfits away for a while.
Thank you all for following us on our whirlwind tour of Europe. Our goal was nine countries in three months and we did just that. I could not have imagined such an adventure with anyone else. Michael is my solid rock. We make great teammates. Excited for future travels. South America is next on the radar! Until then, come visit us in the great Pacific Northwest. I’ve missed you Oregon.