Mishaps and Mountains of Fun

Colosseo in Rome!
Colosseo in Rome!

What a time to be alive! Missing trains, paying fines, and the best of times. The last week has been a busy one for me, but I was lucky enough to spend the 10 days before that with Nicole (my sister) and Stephen (her boyfriend). And we had QUITE the adventures!

Venice, on the Grand Canal
Venice, on the Grand Canal

After they arrived late on a Friday night, we immediately headed into Piazza Verdi to enjoy some beers, catch up, and plan for the next 10 days. Our exploration together began in Venice on Saturday and Sunday. And I finally got to go on a gondola!!! We had a fantastic time exploring the city of canals, and enjoying lots of wine. Although we did lots of walking, we saw just about all of Venice and it was spectacular.

Ponte Vecchio in Venice!
Ponte Vecchio in Florence!

Next stop was Cinque Terre. Nicole and Stephen had decided to go explore on their own as I had class on Monday, but that didn’t work out too well. Their train arrived late at the connecting station, so they missed their second train, and they decided to return to Bologna instead of waiting 4 hours for the next train. It was a bummer they missed that connection, but I got to show them my favorite city. We even climbed one of the towers and the view from the top was amazing!

View from the top of the tower in Bologna
View from the top of the tower in Bologna

Because I didn’t want them to miss out on seeing Cinque Terre, I decided to go with them on Tuesday. This is where their visit became very interesting. The cities were all beautiful and we had fun in each of them, but time came to head back to Bologna and rest before our next trip. We managed to get on the right train to La Spezia (our first connection), but in La Spezia we misread some signs and ended up on a train headed back to Cinque Terre! Ooops. We got off in Vernazza, the city Nicole and Stephen had liked best because it was the most alive with people, and started looking for the next train.

Cinque Terre: Vernazza. With Nicole and Stephen
Cinque Terre: Vernazza. With Nicole and Stephen

Unfortunately, there were no trains coming for at least another hour and a half, so all we could do was wait. Now typically this wouldn’t have bothered me, but, it was already 8pm and getting pretty cold. Also, we knew that getting to La Spezia was just a small part of our journey back, we would need to buy new tickets at that station and make several more stops before getting back to Bologna. Originally we had planned to arrive home around 10pm, now our earliest return time was going to be 7am the next morning!

Climbing across the closed - due to rockfall - Trail of Love
Climbing across the closed – due to rockfall – Trail of Love

Once we made it out of Cinque Terre and back to La Spezia, we planned out our next trains, bought our tickets, and headed out to see the surrounding city. And it was a ghost town. While there were lights on everywhere, shops were all closed and very few people were walking around. It makes sense since it was about 10pm and we were stuck in the city until about 1:30am, but we couldn’t even find open bars!? Luckily, we came across a small pub that was still open and sat down for some wine while we waited.

Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Leaning Tower of Pisa: at 3am of course!

Our next stop was Pisa, at about 2:15am. We hopped off the train, debated for a few minutes, then headed to see the tower. At 3:30am, we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In my opinion, the tower was so much cooler at this time of night, no one around, and it added to the exhilaration of our adventure from Cinque Terre back to Bologna! I’d highly recommend a late night trip to Pisa (less tourists and crowds).

Late nights
Late nights in train stations

FINALLY we were headed to Florence, our last stop before Bologna. Funny thing about this was, we had planned to go to Florence later that day but all of our stuff was in Bologna! We spent about an hour in the train station, then around 7am we were headed back to Bologna. After such a crazy, sleepless journey we were all excited to be back. We got to Nicole and Stephen’s hotel, took some showers and a quick nap, then gathered all our stuff for the weekend and off we went!

Climbed to the top of the Duomo a second time! Florence
Climbed to the top of the Duomo a second time! Florence

Once we were back in Florence, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday morning, we had a blast! Things began going a little more smoothly, and I got to see a lot of new things I missed the first time I was in Florence. We even saw a rainbow over the city when we climbed to the top of the duomo!

Christmas in Florence!
Christmas in Florence!

After Florence, we made our way to Rome. This was my first time in Rome, and it was incredible! Although the city is much bigger than Bologna, and the other cities I’ve been to, I absolutely loved it. We purchased 72 hour bus passes, which worked out perfectly because we took the bus everywhere during the weekend. Nicole, Stephen, and I were in Rome from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, then they flew home to California and I took the train home to Bologna.

Sunset in Rome
Sunset in Rome

Rome is so exciting because there are so many ruins to explore and they are all mixed in with the city. Old and new. We were also lucky enough to see some amazing sunsets while in Rome. The way the ruins looked with the sky on fire behind them was just breathtaking. And it was so much fun finally seeing the trademark tourist things like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain!

The Vatican on a rainy day
The Vatican on a rainy day
Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

I had an amazing time exploring with Nicole and Stephen, showing them around Italy, especially Bologna!

Fontana di Trevi at night
Fontana di Trevi at night

Now, my last few days in Bologna are coming up, with one final paper due this week and all of my friends leaving by Friday. Luckily, I have a few extra days to spend in Italy, and Matt Lam is coming to visit!!! I’m so excited for our adventures to Rimini and San Marino, then a couple of days back in Bologna so I get to show him my favorite city before we fly back home to California!

My favorite people and the Colosseum
My favorite people and the Colosseum

Until next time, grazie per leggendo! xx

Palatine Hill and the Roman Forums
Palatine Hill and the Roman Forums

Oh P.S. – Nicole wrote a little bit for me to share:
“Visiting Paulina in Italy was such an adventure! From the first night when Stephen and I arrived sleep deprived and jet lagged and went straight to partying in the piazzas of Bologna to getting on the wrong trains and having to spend the night in train stations and seeing the leaning tower of Pisa at 3:30am….there was not a dull moment during the whole trip! Thank you so so much for showing us around your home away from home Paula! You are so lucky to live in Italy and hopefully we’ll all be able to go back and explore more soon!”

Miss you, love you, see you soon!
Miss you, love you, see you soon!

9 thoughts on “Mishaps and Mountains of Fun”

  1. I knew you’d find Rome magical… It was one of my favourite cities to visit in Italy! Did you make it to the Vatican & Sistine Chapel?

    LOVE the leaning tower of Pisa at night. Absolutely Stunning.

    1. We did get a chance to see the Sistine Chapel (I snuck a picture against the rules)! We didn’t, however, make it inside the Vatican or to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, but that just means we’ll have to go back in the future!

  2. I am so happy you got to host Nicole with Stephen and show them around some of your favorite places…plus explore new ones. Funny how sometimes detours and missed connections turn out to be the best experiences during the trip…like seeing Leaning Tower in the moonlight instead of day light 🙂 What was the best thing in Rome in your opinion? (Other than old ruins basking in magical sunsets!)

  3. Paulina, this was my favorite post so far; it just screams “adventure and fun”! Just reading it was fun. I’m so grateful that you get to experience all of this during your stay in Italy and that Nicole and Stephen got to visit you. 😉

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