Our honeymoon was quite possibly the most exhausting nine days of our lives...but also the most amazing, educational, and inspirational nine days we've ever spent together. After the wedding, we pulled out of Sweetwater at 1am on Saturday night (or Sunday morning??) and arrived at our hotel in Dallas around 4:30am. Our flight left DFW Sunday at 2pm; I will never be able to explain nor understand how my husband did not sleep a minute during our thirteen hours in the air. All he did was watch movie after movie and provide his lap as a pillow for my weary head. Our first stop was Rome, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The weather was hot and sticky as we walked our legs off but we occasionally dropped in a cozy pizzeria to rejuvenate and try the local cuisine (pepperoni pizza...is that considered the 'local cuisine'?). Despite heavy jet lag and post-wedding exhaustion we pushed through and saw all the major sites, our favorite being the Colosseum. The feeling we got walking into the arena was like nothing we'd ever felt before. Knowing what took place in front of fifty thousand people day after day simply takes ones breath away. We also visited the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican, Saint Angelo Castle, and several other historical places of which I shamefully can't recall the names.
From Roma, we took a train to Firenze (Florence). The train ride itself was magnificent; gorgeous views of the Italian countryside seemed surreal. Without a doubt, the kind of things only dreams are made of. As I read "Under the Tuscan Sun" during the trek, I kept looking out and thinking the words were somehow seeping through the windows and painting a canvas of depiction through the glass. It was perfection. We were charmed the minute we arrived in Florence, easily finding our hotel and grabbing lunch at a quaint cafe on a quiet, yet picturesque, street. Our lovely friend Whitney Cypert had previously advised us to visit the Ponte Vecchio, a Medieval bridge over the Arno River. Not to worry Whit, you did NOT disappoint! Lined with one-of-a-kind jewelry shops and tempting gelato cafes, we found ourselves frequenting the Ponte Vecchio numerous times during our Florence stay. We went on a tour that took us high above the city of Florence to Fiesole, a scenic town in the hills with Etruscan roots, Roman ruins, and breathtaking views of the city. Zach tried to tell me George Clooney's house was on the hillside and got me all excited; can we say gullible? We spent the rest of our time roaming the city, getting lost in the San Lorenzo Market, and eating as much gelato as our stomachs could handle.
After another relaxing train ride, we arrived in Venezia (Venice) with three days of excitement left. Repeating our gusto from the previous two cities, we hit the ground (or this time, canal) running. Venice was like a dream. Have I already used that expression? Okay, Venice was not like a dream; Venice WAS a dream. We fell in love with the city's vibrant colors, warm energy, and unique charm. Each building seemed a work of art, reflecting its beauty in the canal below. The scenery was magical at first sight, evoking the feeling of entering a real-life fairy tale. I kept telling Zach, "I feel like we are on the 'It's a Small World ride at Disneyland"! Let us tell you first hand, it is easy to get lost in a city of more than one hundred islands united by over four hundred bridges and waterways. It's well worth the many detours though; Venice is an artistic and architectural masterpiece filled with palaces from the Renaissance and the Gothic and Byzantine periods. During our stay, we visited the Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, Basilica of San Marco, and cruised around the Grand Canal by water taxi. I think Arthur Symons got it right when he said, "A realist, in Venice, would become a romantic by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him."