We were sad to move on after an amazing month in Ghana. We were just starting to get used to living rent-free and having homemade meals magically appear in front us each evening. But we had lots to look forward to- a family vacation in Italy!
Our last morning in Accra was a bit frantic; David was supposed to pick us up at 3:30am but must have slept through his alarm… and it’s impossible to call a cab in Accra (you normally just walk to the side of the road but not so early in the morning). Alex saved the day by waking up his poor neighbor, Jeannette, and borrowing her car to drive us to the airport at 4am. One last time Papa Papp guided us through our Ghanaian adventure.
We arrived safely at the Rome airport and made it to the airbnb without event (though dad had been targeted unsuccessfully by pickpockets on the way!). We met my parents and Aunties Malinda and Pam at the airbnb and had warm reunion hugs and Italian dinner. We only had a day and a half in Rome but managed to make it to the Coliseum, the Forum, the Borghese Gardens, the Pantheon, and finally met up with our lovely Camino friend, Libby! True to form, Libby was two steps ahead of us and led us to the best gelato in Rome, which I am still thinking about almost a month later. You guys, they put chocolate in the bottom of the cone! Then two scoops of amazingness, then topped with some sort of melt-in-your-mouth magical cream. It was Nirvana. I failed to take photos because my eyes were closed.
Leaving Rome, we met up with family friends Jim, Lisa, and Lesley and made our way to a small town called Guardea in Umbria where we had a villa reserved for the week! A real Italian villa, compete with about ten bedrooms plus a carriage house, swimming pool, and woodburning pizza oven, and a view over the valley.
We spent the week relaxing at the villa, cooking meals together, and taking side trips to the various hill towns in the region. Our favorite by far was Civita, perched on a mountaintop as if it were plucked right out of a Lord of the Rings movie.
Before we knew it the week was over and Jim and Lisa were off to Milan while the rest of us made our way to Florence. Cale was able to sightsee turbo-style with Aunt Pam (they sped through multiple museums to see all the great art: The David, Venus, etc) while I took a more leisurely speed with Lesley and Malinda- to the Galileo museum and then Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens where we met up with turbo Cale and Pam.
The group was dropping like flies (mom and dad flew to Barcelona and Lesley took the train to Rome). We were down to four: Malinda, Pam, Cale and me, and we took the train to Venice where we stayed at a lovely airbnb in a less crowded part of town. Our time in Venice was spent enjoying the food and meandering around the city.
Cale managed to go for several runs n Venice, somehow without getting lost and is now talking about his next marathon. Meanwhile I tried to go for one run but tripped and fell, skinning both knees, one hand, and one elbow, and held back tears while 5 Italian men lectured me about being more careful. So I’m back to walking and haven’t started training for that next race 🙂
Overall our time in Italy was fantastic- we feel so lucky to have such a loving family that took such good care of us ‘kids.’ It was amazing to see the family, but then it was sad to see everyone leave one by one. Now we’re back to the two of us, and on to the first part of our trip that isn’t even loosely planned! I might go into shock not having a plan, I know. We’ll see what happens.