Our long awaited arrival in Italy. Eager for our first taste of wine and pizza in this amazing place, we arrived to an unplanned 2 hour wait for lost luggage and thus hungry and tired we settled for airport cafeteria pizza and a water. We then braved Italian driving in our rental car for the 3 hour journey to Sant’ Agata. Though scenic, we encountered another 2 hour delay due to a tunnel closure. Tired from the day we easily adhered to the driving advice of “Nancy The Navigator” (our GPS) when she led us blindly down a meter wide road. Following with hesitant belief, it was only a young passer by on his bike who kindly stopped us before we became stuck in this road for the duration of the night. Another few feet and none of us would have been able to flee out the windows, and being dark we would be unable to reverse down the path. Finally arriving at our home – we headed for our first official and most delicious Italian meal.
Days in Sant’ Agata started with a morning walk exploring the trails in the surrounding hills. Still working to find a balance between home schooling needs and gelato requirements we settled on a schedule that allowed for both. Mornings were for studies and afternoons were for walks down the 45 minute trail to Sorrento with the promise of a Gelato at the bottom. While the steep walk back up the hill was a challenge on some days, “power pellets” (peanut M&M’s) handed out at every 5th trail marking seemed to help the kids make this journey.
With Scott and Finn as part of the group, food is always on the mind. Italy did not disappoint. We took a gelato class and the kids made amazing lemon Gelato with 3rd generation gelato creator Mario Gargiulo – it was a great evening. We ate in street side cafes while being serenaded by accordion musicians and I was able to scratch one of my bucket list items off of the books as we travelled to Naples for Pizza.
Naples and Pizza
Adventures Around Town: Pompeii & Vesuvius
Pompei: A short drive to Pompeii turned out to be a 3 hour unplanned tour down the Amalfi Coast – once again thanks to Nancy the Navigator. The 50-kilometer drive up the Sorrentine Peninsula requires a driver with nerves of steel, however the view and scenery are well worth it for the passengers.
Pompeii’s history was brought to life at this amazing archaeological site which further spurred the kids interest in the story of the 79 AD eruption and strengthened their desire to conquer the Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius has gone in our books as one of the kids favorites. The Volcano is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of its proximity to the city of Naples and the surrounding towns – not to mention the 79AD eruption. Having admired this Volcano from a view across the Gulf of Naples each day from our home – the kids were keen to take a day off school and hike to the crater at 3,714 feet. The day was windy, the hike was beautiful and rewarded with hot chocolate at the top. Bucket list item for the kids – done
Bagni della Regina Giovanna
Just on the edge of Sorrento lie the Roman ruins of the Baths of Queen Giovanna (Bagni della Regina Giovanna) where limestone cliffs contrast with the emerald water and provide some great cliff diving and a chance for the kids to get their beach and snorkel fix.
Welcome to Rome
So what can we say. Just when you think that Italy is the most magical place, it gets even better. Not a group of city folk, the prospect of a few days in one of the busiest cities in the world was not high on our level of “can’t waits” but then the colosseum comes into view and really everything changes. Although Jack will always be on the side of Greek mythology, man those Romans were bad ass.
The Schulz-Achelis &
Steer Family Reunite
The Steers Buy A selfie Stick!
We finally reunited with Anna, Gunnar and Krista for a week in Rome and Venice. The kids fell right into step as siblings and we enjoyed the company and theological expertise of Gunnar and Krista. Days were spent exploring the hidden treasures of the city, ornate churches and daily Gelato. St Peters and San Clemente were highlights, and surprisingly even 2 hour wait to get into the Sistine Chapel proved to be a sort of fun “family time experience” however we all agreed that the herding through tightly pressed crowds to see the Sistine was a bit too much and had eager to get out back into the sun.
Hitting the early morning train from Rome to Venice allowed for a few hours of R&R. We rented a house for the whole gang and were ready for the new adventure. Venice did not disappoint. Again just when you think Italy cant get any more amazing you come to Venice. We arrived at the main train station then water taxied to our new home. A large apartment just off a city square lined with cafes, shops and grocery and the canal at our door step.
Venice included early morning runs getting lost among the canals that line the Piazza San Marco, a visit to the island of Murano for a stroll around the blown glass shops and days exploring Saint Mark’s Basilica, St Mark’s Campanile and a stroll over Bridge of Sighs – the enclosed limestone bridge that passes over over the Rio de Palazzo. The bridge earned its name as this was the path that connected Doge’s Palace with the state’s prison and thus it is said that prisoners would sigh as they saw their last light of freedom.
Again all these adventures were shared with the Shulz-Achelis family with busy days and relaxing evenings cooking together as a family enjoying great food, wine and each others company