If you want inspiration for a sitcom, travel with me and my family.
Growing up, I had bright blonde locks and a spunky attitude, and Lizzie McGuire was my favorite TV show. I desperately thought I looked like Hilary Duff so I watched even more religiously. The first thing my sister said to me when we decided to go to Rome, Italy was that she hoped she met her very own Paolo and drove off on a moped into the city just like Lizzie. Clearly the obsession was a genetic thing. My sister was going to meet us in Rome while my parents and I flew from Copenhagen. Before we even arrived, they had lost her luggage and my father had purposely broken mine. I had a suitcase with a wonky handle that decided to not cooperate right at the wrong time in the baggage line, so my father turned it upside down and smashed it on the ground to go in. There was silence and wide eyes all around use then the attendant broke the silence with “I’m going to have to have you sign something that you did that.”
We finally made it to Rome. It was the first family vacation abroad we had taken in a long time and our attitudes showed it. We had me, a know-it-all who had been travelling for six months, two parents determined to get their groove back, and a millennial with no clothes and severe food allergies. We did the exclusive tourist package in Rome including the Colosseum, Vatican, sub-par pizza, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish steps, where unfortunately my sister found no Paolo.
I had planned for my family to travel up Italy by train for the next week. We arrived in Florence where I seized the itinerary and took us to every art gallery, rooftop bar, and church I could find. We saw David’s balls and hung out with Boticelli’s Venus. If you are ever in Florence, Osteria Santo Spirito is a must for the best truffle gnocchi you’ve ever had in your life. It was in Florence where my distaste for Aperol Spritz became a tolerance, which grew into a liking, which blossomed into a deep love. We stopped at apperitivos almost every day, a skill we would hone in on in our next stop, Bologna.
Now, let me explain, Bologna is a very prominent city in Italy for food in the Emilia-Romagna province. Yes, the one parmesan cheese is named after and made in. Little did I know this stop would be the bane of the trip for some family members. Let’s just say that Bologna is a medieval town where the main attraction is food. This is great, except when you are getting tired of Italian food. We found one of the only things to do in Bologna and toured the gardens of a palace in the city. While returning from our walk a stroller with a child began to roll down the very steep hill. My father, with all the agility he could muster, ran after and stopped the carriage right before the ditch. The most hysterical part was that while he was running I could’ve sworn he screamed “The bambino!” which was the Italian word we learned that day. That became the joke of the trip, and however funny it was my dad still saved the bambino.
When we finally made it to Venice, we arrived at the train station right along the main canal. We realized quickly there were no roads in this city and the only help were the luggage porters assuring us life would be easier if we just paid them with their fancy carts to do the heavy lifting. My father insisted it was only a ten minute walk to the hotel, so we started on our way. When you see pictures of Venice, you see the beautiful tiny bridges (over 400 of them). This sight is endearing and almost magical until you are on your twentieth bridge in a distance equaling three New York blocks and you are sweating your ass off because you weren’t accounting for the heat and the man with the map is lost. A gypsy on the street actually assisted my sister in pushing her bag up the bridge and that is how you know it was bad – the person begging thought we were worse off than her. After we found our hotel, we unintentionally partook in a private boat tour of the major canals of Venice, learning our way from the perspective of the water. They showed us where George Clooney got married, which merited a tip of the hat from the women on board. The next few days were spent getting lost in small alleys and seeing glass demonstrations and colorful buildings in Burano. We closed out our time in Italy with a gondola ride. Our gondolier didn’t sing but he had headphones in and the music was audible so it’s just about the same thing. It was a beautiful ride and worth every penny of the tourist trap price. It’s funny that no matter what country my family is in, we always end up on the water.
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