ITALY – DAY 4: SPERLONGA

3/7/2019 – Sperlonga

On our fourth day in Italy, we wanted a slow, relaxing day. We wanted to take a day trip outside of Rome. Our friends Adam and Stacey recommended that we check out Sperlonga.

I actually had in mind that we would go to the famous town of Positano while we are in Italy. Positano is where colorful houses sit atop a coastal hill and is a hot (insta) “gram” spot. But it was a 3+ hour drive from Rome, at best, so it was not meant to be. Sperlonga it is! We drove.

Sperlonga is a relatively unknown beach town, an hour drive south of Rome. It looks like Positano, except that the hilltop houses are white instead of colorful and it is a smaller town. It is apparently one of the best kept secrets of Italy.

3/7/2019 – Dorado on the top left, the big silver fish, was our choice du jour

We had heard that food outside of Rome could be even more amazing than inside Rome. And that was right! We went to a Michelin star restaurant called Gli Archi and we had such good food. And not that expensive. We had two types of pasta, a plate of grilled vegetables, a whole fish with white wine sauce, and wine. The waiter rolled out a cart with a plate of real, whole fresh fish before he took our order. I think we chose dorado, which served 2-3 portions. The waiter was wearing a tux and had great service, making jokes with us. Amazing food at a coastal Italian town, CHECK.

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After leisurely lunch, we took a leisurely stroll around town and had some gelato. We had strawberry, pistachio, and coffee flavors. Breezy, slow-paced, charming Italian coastal town with whitewashed houses atop a hill overlooking blue sea, white curvy stair cases, white walkways, CHECK CHECK CHECK.

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We drove about 10 minutes to go see a famous cave, or grotto, at Villa of Tiberius. It is an ancient ruin of a fishing settlement. It was part of a museum. The museum was hard to find. There was no sign to speak of. We went into three different streets or parking areas before we decided we found it. We had to ask the person at the museum to learn that it was in fact the museum, because there was no clear English sign. It was a nice walk around the cave and the grounds.

3/7/2019 – Look at those happy two ❤

We drove back to Rome before dinner time and had dinner with Adam and Stacey at Le Tavernelle, near their apartment. It was a home-style trattoria. We had cacio e pepe, which was a dish Care Bear and I were obsessed over in Italy and had ordered several times in Italy at different restaurants. It literally means “cheese and pepper” and it’s a simple white spaghetti dish with just black pepper and peccorino cheese. I don’t like cheese and I don’t like black pepper, but I like this dish. We even had it after we came back from Italy to the bay area, at an Italian restaurant in SF.

We also had a dish of cooked greens I never had before, salmon ravioli, pesto pasta, grilled shrimp, baked artichokes, and others. I ate my heart out. I ate like there was no tomorrow. I was so happy to be in Italy. I took pieces of bread and soaked up the sauce from the bottom of the dishes. I did not want to leave any bit of Italian goodness behind.

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3/7/2019 – Piazza Colonna

After dinner, we went to the Trevi fountain, just the most famous tourist spot in Rome. I was so happy to be back here, 20 years after I was here the first time. My life had changed since that time. I became an adult, I got married, I had a baby, and I was a full-blown lawyer. I am thankful for my parents who showed me the world and took me around famous places in Europe while I was still only a teenager. And I am thankful that I was able to be back here as a happier person. I found happiness in those 20 years, hooray!

Trevi fountain was built around the same time the American White House was built, in the late 1700s. It gets its water from, or at least it used to, an aqueduct nearby. And, as far as I can tell, it is famous because it was in the movies a lot. It was nice to visit it during night because there was less people and the lights were pretty.

A note about Dash’s stroller: Dash’s car seat stroller and car seat had not made it to Rome when we arrived in Rome from California. I think they got lost in the Heathrow airport, where we had a layover, because the Heathrow airport has a weird rule that does not allow gate-checking. (Our stroller and car seat were gate-checked in California.) Thankfully, out of luck, British Airways somehow found them, when they had initially said they were lost, and the stroller and the car seat arrived to our friends’ place on our third day.

But it turns out we did not, or could not, really use the stroller much in Rome or Venice because of the hills and the cobblestones. We got good use out of the hipseat baby carrier every day instead.

The only times we used the stroller was to walk to the Trevi fountain from our friends’ place, which was a 10 minute walk, to go to lunch in Sperlonga, and on our fifth day, when we spent the whole day in Vatican City. Thank you Care Bear for carrying Dash around in the baby carrier for so long almost every day. ❤

ITALY – DAY 3: VENICE

3/6/2019 – On top of the iconic Rialto Bridge, built in 1588, over Grand Canal.

Our second and last day in Venice was one of my favorite days during our Italy trip because we did a lot of sight seeing, it was a gloriously sunny day, we bought great souvenirs, we had good local food, and Venice is simply beautiful with its canals, colorful and quaint buildings, and narrow, bustling streets filled with life. I got to have so many pictures taken of me and our family in the fantastical backdrop. What more can a girl ask for?!

We were there on off-season, so we thankfully did not experience the mad crowd that Venice is internationally famous for. There are no cars in Venice, so that makes walking around so much fun, like in Disney World (sorry Venice for the awfully frightening analogy, but accept it).

Another reason it was my favorite day is that I got to buy Dash some clothes for the first time ever, the moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. More than you want to know about that below . . . .

We had amazing breakfast at our hotel Friendly Venice Suites. It was a big European-style spread with croissants and other pastries, cured meat, cheese, olives, tomatoes, nuts, dried fruits, cereal, waffles, juices, and hot food items. I had scrambled eggs, sausages, a waffle, cereal, and tasted almost everything in the spread, including blood orange juice and orange juice. I loaded up. = D I also had two cups of cappuccino, to continue my one-cappuccino-a-day in the mornings in Italy.

Then we made our way slowly towards St. Mark’s Plaza, which was about a 10 minute direct walk from our hotel. We went passed a designer shopping street and many, many canals.

3/6/2019 – Taking an infinite amount of family photos, which makes me so happy. Thank you mom and dad for being great and patient photographers!
3/6/2019 – Another cute bridge and canal, another picture.
3/6/2019 – Thankfully, I had no urge to be on a gondola.
3/6/2019 – Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in the back

A Long Anecdote About Poo and French Baby Clothes (*Warning: TMI*)

Dash had his first “poop explosion”, “diaper blowout”, “poopy accident”–whatever you want to call it–in no other place than Venice. I did not know what that phrase meant and was wondering whether if we were going to experience it. And we did. Multiple times in a row, for the last four days in Italy.

I instantly knew what that phrase meant when I (finally) experienced it. It means there is so much poo in the diaper that the content erupts out of the confines of the diaper onto the back, belly, and thighs and through multiple layers of clothing.

Dash’s jet lag in Italy threw off his biological rhythm. He had not pooped for over 30 hours. That got us increasingly worried. And rightfully so, because when he finally went, it was as if he pooped three or four times worth all at once in one go, and his diaper could not contain it all, or anywhere close to all.

The poo party happened on a bench by Grand Canal, near St Mark’s ferry terminal. Care Bear frantically wiped him down with whatever cloth was available to us, carefully removed his soiled layers of clothes, and wrapped him in a blanket. We had run out of his spare clothes. I ran out of spare plastic bags to put soiled things in, so . . . I did what I could–use my purse as a bin. : ( After having Dash, my precious purse often turns into a receptacle for wet bibs/clothes/burp clothes and dirty diapers.

We found ourselves suddenly on an urgent mission to find baby clothing for Dash. In the middle of touristy Venice. Google Map was not showing any still-open baby clothing store. So I parted from our group and ran down the aisles of Venice on a mad dash to find clothes for our baby. I found a short sleeve onesie from Hard Rock Cafe, but I wanted something better.

3/6/2019 – My well-dressed two men

As luck would have it, after about 20 minutes on the sweaty mission, I found a high-end Parisian children clothing store called Jacadi Paris. And there I found the cutest (and warm) pair of navy “slacks”, a navy cardigan-blazer, and a pair of navy, white “business stripes” socks.

The price tag hurt me inside a little, but I was happy to dress Dash like a miniature adult, which is how I always envisioned dressing my kids in. Dash looked like a Goldman Sachs associate, or like that baby from Baby Boss, the movie with Alec Baldwin. He looked so cute. I was ecstatic that my first clothing gift to Dash was in Italy, from a French luxury brand, in a style that I wanted. I was glad to have saved up this “first” until now. I will cherish these clothes and the memories from them forever.

— END OF ESSAY ABOUT POO —

After the diaper incident, we were back on our sight-seeing schedule and we made our way to St. Mark’s Plaza.

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3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Plaza
3/6/2019 – Breastfeeding while in line at St. Mark’s Tower
3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Tower
3/6/2019 – View of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, from the top of St. Mark’s Tower

We got in line at the St. Mark’s Tower, which was about 20 minutes long. I fed Leo, first sitting down, then standing and moving with the line until when it was our turn to get on the elevator. We enjoyed great views at the top.

Next we went to see the inside of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

3/6/2019 – St. Mark’s Cathedral

It was built in the 800s. It was built to house the corpse of St. Mark, which the Venetians had smuggled out of Egypt, hiding it in a pork fat barrel to evade Muslim inspection.

I had seen that corpse inside the Cathedral when I was a teenager. It was exciting and fulfilling for me to be back in Italy, re-tracing my steps, learning things I had not known before or forgotten, and viewing things with a more mature, knowledgeable perspective.

This time around, our group had gotten in line to see the corpse, and it was only a few minute line, but I was not interested in seeing it again and so the whole group decided not to see it.

On to our next destination, Rialto Bridge.

3/6/2019 – By Grand Canal
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3/6/2019 – Cichetti and Aperol

For pre-lunch snack, we went to get some cichetti, which are small snacks. We went to a small, local bar called Bar All’Arco. We had toast topped with various kinds of seasoned fish and vegetables. The wine was about $2 a glass. We also had Spritz Veneziano, which is a cocktail made with soda water, prosecco, and Aperol, a mandarin orange flavored Italian spritz.

We went to see the bridge. For late lunch, we ate on the street some delicious thin-crusted pizza. Then we went back to our hotel to gather our luggage, got on the ferry for a 25-min ride back to the train station.

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There was a Guggenheim art museum I wanted to see but we did not have time. I think I want to do a art-only Europe trip at one point in my life, where I can hop from museum to museum, eat at where artists ate or worked at, and indulge and satisfy my desire to do all things art and painting.

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3/6/2019 – Step it up or face FOMO

We had about 20 minutes to spare before our train time, so we went exploring the streets near the train station and got some last minute shopping done. Look at the amount of stuff I was carrying around in the above picture! The baby, the baby’s baby carrier, my purse which was also the baby’s diaper bag, a backpack, and a blanket. Motherhood adrenaline is POWERFUL.

Our train ride back was peaceful. It was four hours. Dash slept for most of the ride. We were on the last car, car number 9, and the only bathroom with a changing table was in car number 1. So Care Bear, Dash, and I traveled through the whole length of the train there and back in a bumpy ride. So fun having a kid, and I mean it. =D

Once we got back to the Rome train station, we took a cab back to Adam and Stacey’s and ordered take-out ravioli, vegetarian meatballs, and tiramisu. They were amazing. Thank goodness for breastfeeding, which keeps the weight off and allows me to pig out without consequence.