There I stood, a child of just 13, gazing up at Michelangelo’s majestic David, still not believing I was actually in Italy. As I glanced around the room, I couldn’t recognize any other works of art, but had a sinking feeling that I was surrounded by countless masterpieces. But how did I end up in Italy, you may be wondering? Well, through our local travel agency my family and I booked Brendan’s Worldwide Vacations’ Real Italy tour, guided by Trafalgar Tours, for Christmas 2007. Our tour guide, the sweet and charismatic Antonella Perfetto, made all the arrangements regarding hotels, attractions, transportation, and even attained special access to certain sites. This made for an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to anyone.
Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Our vacation began in Rome, where we stayed at the Sheraton Roma Hotel, and I purchased my first souvenir — a miniature, mint green Smart car. The next day was Religious Rome, which included tours of the larger-than-life Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the optional excursion into the mysterious Catacombs. It was an enlightening tour and displayed all of the Vatican’s religious splendor, while also flaunting the richly painted, sculpted, and carved art works of Michelangelo and his contemporaries. We even saw the Colosseum! The following day, we traveled to Assisi, where inside the crowded Basilica, we witnessed the famed Giotto frescoes of the life of St. Francis, while taking in the picturesque view from atop Mount Subasio.
We next traveled to Venice by way of water taxi, sailing on the same waters that have been traversed for thousands of years. Upon arrival, we stayed at the Boscolo Hotel Bellini, which was in slight disrepair. However, everywhere I looked, beautiful, hand-blown, Murano glass chandeliers provided the light. In the city of Venice, we were treated to a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and a glass-blowing demonstration at a Murano glass factory. Following the tours, my parents explored the canals on a gondola, while my sister and I ate gelato for the first time and visited all the tiny shops selling glass-blown jewelry. Rather than waiting for the rest of the tour group, my family and I decided to walk back to the hotel…which was not such a great idea. We got lost, several times. However, we did make it back to the hotel (after several hours) by way of small, rural neighborhoods that were dripping with history.
Our next stop was Florence, where we made camp at the Palazzo Ricasoli, a hotel with rooms as bare as monk cloisters. This was the fateful day I met Michelangelo’s David in the Gallery of the Accademia, a small, off-the-beaten-path museum, which houses some of the world’s greatest treasures. My family pounced on the opportunity to take an excursion to Pisa, the leaning town. We had a lot of free time in Florence and roamed around the city for several hours, taking in the Santa Croce Basilica, the Florence Cathedral and Baptistery, and even bought genuine Italian leather jackets — quite an exciting stop.
After Florence, we journeyed to the Amalfi Coast, by way of extremely winding roads in a large bus. This was what caused me to throw up once we arrived in Sorrento. In Amalfi, we resided in the San Francesco hotel, an exquisite, sophisticated abode, built on the side of a cliff, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Following Amalfi, we returned to Rome for the final night of sightseeing, and flew home the next day. This was one trip that will never leave my memory and keeps me longing to return.
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