Our first stop on our tour through Italy was a visit to the Vatican. Unfortunately, we had to wait in line for about two hours in the rain before we could even get through the doors. This was a bit of a disappointment since I was already tired from being woken up in the middle of the night by the town nut job-aka Jane-so even the thought of standing that long was exhausting. Having gone to Catholic schools all my life and now working at a Catholic school, I thought I might qualify for some sort of “express pass” in getting into the Vatican, similar to those passes you can get at amusement parks to skip to the front of the line for roller coasters, but apparently the Vatican does not do that. So I ended up waiting in line with the rest of the lay people/peasants as my hair frizzed out. The wait was worth it though as once we got in we saw many beautiful paintings and statues. We stopped at the gift shop to pick up a crucifix for our landlords/parents because we are just the greatest daughters ever and don’t want our Mom and Dad hanging out with any vampires (I hear those vampires are bad news! Can’t let my Baby Boomers get caught up in the wrong crowd!). Then we grabbed a quick pizza lunch. Sadly, our lunch was a pretty stressful experience as the pizza lady was mean and rushing Jane and me to make our decision! Did she not know that deciding on a pizza is a huge decision that must be well thought out and cannot be rushed?! Did she not know that the worst remorse one can experience in life is food remorse?! It’s not a decision that can be taken lightly, like deciding to get into a dark van with a complete stranger or deciding to spend two weeks in a foreign country without doing any sort of research at all. Pizza decisions require lots of time and thought.
After our terrible lunch experience we got on our tour bus to head to Sorrento. The drive was a couple of hours long so about halfway through we stopped at a service station for a bathroom break and snacks. We were on a tight schedule so our tour guide told us we had a half hour break before we had to be on the bus to continue our journey. Jane decided to spend the first 28 minutes of her break sitting at a table like a zombie staring off into space before she decided she wanted an iced coffee. That coffee experience turned out to be almost as stressful as our pizza experience! First the line for coffee suddenly got long, then Jane went to the wrong counter to pick up her coffee and the coffee workers didn’t speak any English so they didn’t know what we were trying to say! “Wow Jane, I’m so glad you did absolutely nothing for 28 minutes and then finally decided you wanted an iced coffee with TWO MINUTES left of our break!” I said sarcastically as we ran to catch our bus before it left us in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we got back on just in time.
After a few hours on the bus we finally arrived at our hotel in Sorrento. Jane and I both really had to go to the bathroom but again, being the selfless older sister that I am, I let her go first. When it was my turn to go I stepped into the bathroom and tripped over an extremely large towel that was for some reason covering the entire bathroom floor. “Why the HECK is this gigantic towel on the floor in the bathroom?!” I yelled to Jane “I nearly broke my face tripping over it!” “Oh yeah.” Jane responded casually. “I put that on the floor. I thought we could use it as our shower mat.” “What?!” I said “Why did you choose the LARGEST towel that takes up the whole bathroom floor?! Why didn’t you just install wall to wall towel carpeting in the bathroom?!” “Oh well aren’t you sassy!” Jane said “I’ll have you know that I didn’t want to get the tile slippery when I showered.” “Are you planning on showering tonight before dinner?” I asked. “We only have like 15 minutes to get ready you know.” “Oh no, I’m not showering tonight I’m WAY too tired.” Jane answered, acting as if I had just asked her the dumbest question. “I don’t plan on showering until tomorrow after we go to the beach.” At this point I started laughing hysterically. I couldn’t get over the fact that we had not been in our hotel room for more than 4 minutes yet Jane’s immediate concern was making sure the bathroom tile stayed dry after a shower she didn’t plan on taking for at least another 12 hours or so.
The next day we got right into our swim suits and headed to Capri to go on our boat cruise! We cruised around the island, jumped out and swam a few times (Could have really used that gigantic towel to dry off with when we got back on the boat but unfortunately it was already assigned the role of shower mat so I had to air dry), and just enjoyed the sun and the bright blue water. It was a perfect way to de-stress after our pizza experience. Once we got back on the island we had a few hours of free time to have lunch and explore the island. Jane, a few of our tour friends, and I walked around trying to find a place to eat. We walked by a place with outdoor seating overlooking the water. The restaurant owner was standing at the entrance and was overly enthusiastic about welcoming us and wanting us to come in and eat at her restaurant so we did. She grabbed some menus and showed us to our table. The tables on the patio were packed so closely I was practically sitting on the man at the table next to our’s lap. That should have been the first red flag that it was going to be a bad eating experience. We placed our orders and then I went in to use the bathroom. When I went in to the stall I noticed the handle was a little funny but didn’t think too much of it. Then when I tried to open the stall door I realized it was jammed and I couldn’t get out. I fiddled with the handle a little bit and banged on the door for a while. “Oh this is just great, I’m locked in the bathroom” I thought to myself. Had I been locked in a bathroom in America I could have just climbed out through the ten foot gap between the floor and the bottom of the stall door but nooooooo I had to get locked in a bathroom in Italy where they respect privacy and the stall door goes right down to the floor. Finally one of the restaurant workers came in with a screw driver and let me out. I then went back to my table as if nothing had happened and made no mention of my traumatic bathroom experience. Not long after our food came out which we all ate and then immediately felt sick. Afterwards we were talking about how terrible the food was and Jane said, “Yeah, ya know I was told by a few people before we left on this trip to not to eat at any restaurant where the owner calls you in because usually it’s a bad restaurant.” We all gave her a look. “Thank you so so much for that extremely useful advice, Jane,” I said. “It’s so nice of you to share this information with us now that we probably all have food poisoning and/or parasites from that disgusting meal.” Here I thought the owner was just friendly and really happy to see us.
After our lunch we walked around a bit to check out the island and then took the ferry back to the mainland where there were lots of cute places to shop. Our tour guide gave us all some time to check out all these great shops and local street markets but Jane and I wanted to make better use of our time so we found an Irish Pub and sat outside drinking Magners. I though we were having a rather enjoyable time just sitting in silence watching the people traffic, enjoying a nice drink on a nice day but apparently Jane was not enjoying her time as much and wanted to try to make conversation. Thus, this stupid fight ensued:
Jane: So, what do you want to talk about?
Jane: You don’t want to talk about ANYTHING?!
Me: Nah, I’m kind of tired. Plus, I don’t really have anything I want to say right now. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to today.
Jane: I think we should talk about SOMETHING at least.
Me: Why? Are you uncomfortable with sitting in silence with another person?
Jane: Well yes, I feel like we should at least try to make some conversation, don’t you?
Me: Why do you feel awkward and uncomfortable with me?! Is this a meet and greet?! Am I on an interview? I think it’s polite to make conversation with someone you don’t really know but we are sisters so I really don’t feel like we need to engage each other in a forced conversation! I am VERY COMFORTABLE sitting without having any conversation with you. Honestly you should take that as a compliment Jane because it means I’m very comfortable with you.
This then led into us having a conversation about conversations which then led into us having a debate on the straw ban in the United States and whether or not it has made its way to Italy yet. So once again, Jane got her way. Classic youngest child.
Once Jane was done talking my ear off we met back up with our tour group, attended a pizza making demonstration and then enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner. We decided to call it an early night as by that point I had broken out in a full body rash due to the sun poisoning I got from being out on the boat and exposed to the sun too long. Classic pale Irish kid. But other than the food and sun poisoning, and being locked in the bathroom, our day in Capri was amazing!
The next morning we traveled to Pompeii and did a guided tour there. To sum up Pompeii in a nutshell-very hot, lots of bricks, lots of broken clay vases and cups. This is also where Jane mysteriously picked up an Australian accent. The first couple of times I thought I had just mis-heard her or that the heat was getting to me, but then when she said “It’s hot out here today” in CLEARLY a fake Australian accent I had to put my foot down. “Why are you suddenly talking like Nicole Kidman?!” I said “We have literally been out of Chicago for 72 hours!” Jane apparently had no idea she was talking like that and we both started laughing at how ridiculous she sounded. Jane claimed she sometimes accidentally picks up on other people’s accents and since our tour group included lots of people from Australia, she was doing it without realizing it. Classic town nut job Jane.
After Pompeii I got on the bus with Crocodile Hunter Jane and the rest of our group to begin our journey to Florence. We all watched the movie Mama Mia which I’m sure the boys in our group were thrilled about. I had never seen it before and I was extremely appalled at the ending (Warning: Mama Mia spoiler alerts ahead)! I mean seriously?! They just decided to NOT find out who her father really was?! They are really just going to “share” the father role?! She’s just going to go her whole life never knowing which of those three men is actually her father?! How is that OK?! I mean I’m no psychologist but, wow, seems like a great way to mess up that poor girl. I mean a simple paternity test would do the trick. Then after that depressing movie we had to watch this dumb boring informational video about Florence and Italy. It was so slow and outdated I literally had no patience for it and was starting to get fidgety. “Would you just sit still?!” Jane finally yelled. “I’m sorry Jane!” I yelled back. “I can’t sit through this, it’s too boring! I’m a Millennial I need constant stimulation, this is too slow for me! It’s too much text to read and not enough flashy images, I’ve check out. If I had data on my phone I’d probably be tweeting by now.” Somehow I was able to survive the rest of the video and make it to our hotel in Florence. Our hotel room was nice but the shower was weird-the shower head was like a garden hose and you had to hold it so when I showered I felt like I was bathing a dog. Jane also had trouble with this shower and basically flooded the bathroom. We really could have used that gigantic towel on the bathroom floor this time. Once we were done at the dog groomer’s-Whoops I meant showering-We headed out for a spaghetti and meatball dinner and then out to a karaoke bar where Jane and I absolutely killed it with out rendition of the 1999 Backstreet Boys chart topper “I Want it That Way.” It was a real crowd pleaser.
The next day Our tour group attended a leather demonstration at one of the local Florence leather shops. Afterwards we walked around the shop and considered buying some purses, but then we saw the price tags, remembered we were poor, and decided against it. After the leather shop we had a guided tour of the city and then we were free to do our own exploring again. Jane and I climbed the steps to the top of this bell tower which was exhausting but the views were awesome.
After that we tried to find this one Panini place we heard was good but we never found it. Jane kept leading us in zig zags so we kept getting lost and confused. I kept suggesting we go back to the central square so we could get an idea of where we were and then look at the map again and see if we could pinpoint how to get to the panini place to which Jane would ignore and say “Well let’s just go down this little street and see where it takes us.” So then I would sigh and follow her, we’d walk for about ten more minutes, not find the panini place, argue a bit and then Jane would say “Well I don’t know why you’re following me! I don’t know where I’m going!” Then we’d both laugh at how dumb and lost we were. This little scene happened a few more times until we finally gave up and just got gelato. After having our gelato we walked past some artist doing some chalk drawings of famous paintings on the street and got into a minor disagreement about whether or not one of the artists was doing a drawing of the Mona Lisa or not. Jane was convinced it was the Mona Lisa and I was convinced it was not. It wasn’t until later that we discovered we were looking at two completely different chalk drawings so we were both right!
After our chalk argument Jane took me on an exhausting quest to-and I kid you not-help her find a RING that would “remind her of her time in Florence.” I swear we walked every inch of Florence looking for this damn magical ring but Jane was so specific on what she wanted we couldn’t find anything to her liking. She was VERY annoyed and upset. She looked so sad so I kept trying to appease her suggesting other shops. “Hey Jane what about this shop? You think this might have your ring?” I asked. She just kept walking, looking down at the ground like a four-year old child and said sadly “Probably not.” “What are you, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh!” I said. “It’s a ring! Stop pouting and move on!” We both laughed at how childish she was being and just decided to give up and started to walk back to our hotel. About a block before our hotel we stumbled upon a jewelry shop and decided to try one more time. We walked in and it was as if we hit the jackpot-beautiful and affordable rings everywhere! Finally! So what did Jane walk out of the store with that day? Her perfect Florence ring you would think, right? Nope. SHE BOUGHT A NECKLACE CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! SHE CHANGED HER MIND AT THE LAST MINUTE AND DECIDED SHE DIDN’T WANT A RING ANYMORE BUT A NECKLACE! “Are you KIDDING ME Jane?!” I said as she walked out the door with her purchase. “You just dragged me on a 30 mile walk for your magical Florence ring and you get a necklace?!” I nearly collapsed.
Later that night after we laid down for a little bit and I finally decided against having Jane take me to the hospital to have my legs amputated after the ring journey, we got all dolled up for our tour group dinner in Tuscany! The views were awesome, the food was good and the sangria was delicious. After dinner we all headed to a night club where we enjoyed more delicious drinks, dancing, and of course fog and seizure inducing flashing lights. It was such a fun night and a great way to end our time in the wonderful city of Florence!
Part 3 of our trip coming soon! Stay tuned!