Italy 2015 Wrap Up

[So uhh…Disclaimer.  This post is long.  Like makes previous posts that I’ve had a disclaimer on look short.  It’s just shy of 20,000 words.  A professional typist typing at 80 wpm would take 4 hours just to retype this post.  I don’t blame anyone if you don’t want to read through it entirely.  You can search the area/town you might be interested in or skip down to the concluding thoughts where I give more opinions/advice based on our experience.  The day by day portion is more of a travel journal.  Also, Alyce has a talent for saying more than I do in much fewer words, so you can read her posts too.  Good luck.]


Italy…Finally.  This one had been on both of our wish lists for a while.

Me – I’ve always been fascinated with Roman history.  The Romans were an incredible society and were more advanced than any other that would show up for quite some time.  My engineering side has always been impressed by what they were able to accomplish 2000 years ago.  My law side is similarly impressed with Rome.  The Louisiana Civil Code that we use today is a direct descendant from Roman law – one of the few things I took from the Legal Traditions class we had to take at LSU.  It equally influenced just about all of the Western legal systems.

Alyce – She has a strong Italian heritage on her mom’s side.  Her Nonna (the Italian word for grandmother) cooked all sorts of delicious Italian meals, many of which I was fortunate enough to get eat too.  Pasta, Pizza, Italian meats and cheeses are many of her favorite foods.  She loves the history too, just as I enjoy the food, markets, etc. as well.

As is usually the case, Alyce had to rein me in on the planning/scope of the trip.  I wanted 3 weeks.  Alyce shut that down being as we had never even traveled with James when she was submitting her vacation request.  Also, she had only been at her new job a couple weeks when vacation requests were due.  Going right for a 3 weeker would have been a little bold.  In fact, she just submitted her vacation requests for 2016, and the same situation played out.  I wanted three weeks; she settled at two.  I’ll get the three weeker in 2017… [Editors note: Since writing this, we have changed our 2016 fall vacation to 3 weeks.  Persistence pays off.]

Two weeks sounds like a lot – and it is for US vacations – but it really isn’t that long to see a country.  You lose one night to travel, so you’re down to 13 nights before you even get started.  Plus, we had a 15 month old with us.  We don’t quite see/do as much as we used to…

Speaking of which, I planned about half of what I usually would (in terms of meals/activities/wine/etc.), and we still ended up skipping half of what we had planned.  And that is fine and somewhat expected.  No one wins if we wake up a baby and have him scream through a lunch because we wanted to go to a particular place.  That’s not enjoyable for us or the others around us.

Similarly, I probably planned our stops a little differently in the past.  I definitely would have stopped a lot more along the way during our transits.  We drove right through the heart of the Chianti wine region and didn’t stop at a single place.  As it was, we stayed at 5 different spots over the 13 days…That’s moving when travelling with a one year old.

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Impressions of Florence

Florence is gorgeous.  There is no doubt about that.  The art, history, and shopping are unbelievable.  However, I still don’t think it is the easiest place to bring a baby James’s age.  It is true that it is slightly less crazy than Rome, but SLIGHTLY (in my opinion).  I still didn’t feel comfortable letting James run around much.  There may be less scooters, but there are still alot of cars/buses and ALOT of people.  The couple that we rented from in Florence said that tourism is up 25%.


Also, there is no green space or grass.  We actually looked on a map to try to find some grass for James to run around on, but when we got there there was a fence around the grass, and you weren’t allowed to walk on it!!!

Oh well.  Florence is definitely a place that I would love to revisit for about a week.  I don’t feel like I got to experience all that it has to offer.

Until next time, Ciao Florence!

P.S. In case anyone was worried, we bought James a new pair of shoes.  Also, you may have noticed that he has a red mark on his forehead in all of the pictures.  On the first night in Rome, he got bit by something (mosquito?) and it really got inflamed. It’s going away now, but I just wanted to point that out.


Also, please excuse all the frizzy haired pictures of me.  I have a blow dryer and straightener but no voltage adapter.  The apartments had blow dryers, but I couldn’t make those work either, and I figured that it just wasn’t worth my time.

And last thing…scroll down as we posted multiple posts today.

Dining with James

One night in Florence, we ate at a restaurant called Natalino.  It was about half a block from our apartment, which was perfect.  We ate outside and everything was delicious!  We had liver pate, porchini salad, veal, and cuttle fish and shrimp stuffed in squid.  James was in a good mood, but he didn’t want to sit still.  We let him run around the street, and he did this for about 2 hours straight.  He was very entertaining to the other diners, although Justin and I were exhausted from chasing him the whole time!


As I may have mentioned in previous posts, dining out with James can be a bit unpredictable.

What mood is he going to be in?  Will he be happy and content like he was at Roscioli in Rome? Will be a wild man like he was at Natalino? Or will he just be over it and overly tired like he was Sostanza?  We never really know what the mood will be. He’s been somewhat unpredictable and as a result, I am HUNGRY! That’s one thing that I never thought I would say on this trip.  Those who have read this blog on it previous trips know that we love to eat.  I may be small, but I can put away food like a Sumo wrestler, just ask my father-in-law who has been embarrassed by our orders on many occasions.

So, we weren’t able to eat at Sostanza today in Florence.  We had 1:00 reservations, and James was just not having it.  We actually went in and sat down, but I could tell that it just wasn’t going to happen so we left. James’s nap schedule has been very unpredictable so eating has also been somewhat sporadic.  After the Sostanza meltdown, we brought him back to the apartment and he took a good nap.  In the meantime, I sent Justin out for some food.  I didn’t care what it was.  He came home with 2 different pastas and a lasagne.  Most importantly, he came home with a bottle of wine.  It has been a long time since we could kill a bottle of wine so quickly, but it was just what the doctor ordered 🙂

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When James woke up, team Ittmann re-grouped and we were ready to stroll around Florence again.  We spend the evening shopping for souvenirs, riding the carousel, and eating dinner at Mercato Centrale again.  Justin ordered the mixed grill AND a steak for us. The guy behind the counter kept telling him that the mixed grill was for 2 and Justin insisted that that is what we wanted.  We shoveled it in without any leftovers.  James ate some steak, meatballs, and a good bit of cannoli, although most of the cannoli cream ended up on my jeans.

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In case anyone was wondering, James has gotten much much better with going to bed at night.  Usually, at home, I put him to bed in his crib wide awake and he plays for a little while before falling to sleep.  We realized that he didn’t have anything to play with, so we put his leapfrog tablet in the crib with him and the problem was solved.  We have not had to resort to Benadryl in several days.

This is our last night in Florence, tomorrow we leave for Tuscany!


P.S. Sorry if these posts sound like the ramblings of a crazy person! I have to write them quickly while James is sleeping or at night when we are all super tired.  I’m sure they are filled with grammatical errors, but I just don’t feel like proof reading them.  Sorry, dad! I’m sure they are driving you crazy!

Mommy Meltdown

Just so that nobody gets the wrong idea about our trip, I’m going to describe our first morning in Florence.  One of my pet peeves is that some people live in Instagram and Facebook worlds where everything looks like sunshine and rainbows.  The kids are always dressed perfectly, mommy’s hair is blown out, and the makeup looks professionally done.

Yes, I am in Italy with my husband, and baby, and I am extremely blessed that we are able to do this.  But today, I had my first WTF was I thinking taking our 1 year old to Italy.  For me, it starts out with coffee.  Every morning of my life, I have 2 shots of espresso before doing anything. Period.  Since we have been here (4 nights), I think that I’ve had 3 shots total.  If you do the math, I am way behind.  Why? You’re in Italy, espresso heaven? Because, every morning we have been here, except for one, we are in a huge rush to get out the door and do something in the morning.  Today, it was the city tour of Florence.  Unfortunately, when you wake up at 7:45 and have to have a 1 year old awake, diaper changed, dressed, given milk, and everything packed up to be at the tour for 8:30, there is just no time for coffee.  And I am feeling the effects.

Also, yesterday during a classic James meltdown, he kicked off his shoes in the market.  I thought we grabbed both of them, but when I went to put them on this morning, we only had one shoe.  Those are his only pair of closed toe shoes.  No big deal, we can get another pair of shoes, but not before the tour.  Of course, it was quite chilly and windy.  James had on sandals and the mommy guilt set in.  Why couldn’t I keep track of his shoes? Now my baby is going to be cold? Why didn’t I insist that we bring that blanket to wrap him up just in case?


Then, I gave him some of the dried fruit and veggie snacks that I had packed.  Apparently, he had stored up the dried beets in his mouth, because, honestly, they are gross.  Then he spit them out in one bright pink blob all over his shirt.  Great, hopefully the bleach pen that I packed will get this out.  Yes, it did, but I also got bleach all over the non white portions of the shirt as well, and now it’s ruined any way. Aaaaahhhhhhhh

The last couple of nights James has cried a lot going to sleep.  I don’t know if it’s still the effects of the jet lag or the different surrounding, but he went from asking to go in his crib at night (at home) to an hour long process of tears, reading books, more tears, more reading books, now both mommy and James are crying, get out the Benadryl and Motrin, more crying, wait, I think he finally went to sleep.   So naturally, I assume that I’ve screwed up my kid with this trip.

The 3 hour tour of Florence was pure torture.  The tour guide and the actual tour were great, but I’m talking about the James factor.  I’m sure you are thinking, what kind of moron would take a 1 year old on a 3 hour tour? Yep, I’m wondering that myself.  Cue the mommy guilt.  It’s not his fault, of course.  He’s a baby.  He’s a baby that wants to run around in the museum with thousands of people looking at the statue of David, and scream at the top of his lungs in the Duomo, and be wild in the streets where there is so much action.  I started looking at my watch about 15 minutes in.  By the end of the 3 hours, I was stressed to my breaking point.  We got back to the apartment and I cried.  James was happy.  But I cried.



Right now, it’s about 4 pm. James is about 2 hours into a nap.  I took a nap, took a shower, washed some laundry, hung it on the line to dry, and I’m starting to feel better.

So just in case anyone was thinking that everything has been smooth sailing, I like to describe a bit of what is going on behind the scenes.

I realize that it was just a bad moment and things will get better, but seriously, can I get a dang cup of coffee?




Today was a travel day.  These days are always busy and usually start off early packing everything up efficiently so that we can move around as easily as possible.  Doing that with James is a little more challenging.  As soon as I would pack up some things, he would take them out again and I would have to start over.  Our apartment in Rome was really big (about 1200 sq. ft).  This is good and bad.  Space is always a good thing, but there were alot of little corners for James to hide his things.  Especially his beloved wubbanubs.  All morning I kept an eye on those things. Frog, check, tiger, check, giraffe, check, puppy, wait, where is puppy?  Then picture me running all over to find puppy and the process starts again.

We were taking the train from Rome to Florence.  We had to be out of the apartment by 10:00, but we didn’t have to be at the train station until about 12:30.  So, we killed some time walking around and got a cappuccino.  Justin used uber to bring us to the train station.  It was awesome! No issues at all.

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The train station was very busy and we have a lot of luggage…..2 big suitcases, 2 soft duffle bags, my giant purse with all of James’s stuff, a stroller, Justin’s camera/computer bag, , a 1 baby.  It was a bit crazy navigating everything, especially since there were stairs involved, but we all got there in 1 piece.  I wore James in the carrier and Justin carried the suitcase. The train ride was about an hour and a half.  James was as well behaved as a 15 month old could be.  We were very proud of him.  I was also proud of myself because I was able to change his diaper in the bathroom (without a changing table) without him touching the floor.  And he was wearing jeans and tennis shoes.  Boom. Point for mom.


When we got off the train we planned to take a taxi to the apartment in Florence.  It was raining when we got there. W set out to find the taxi line and we could not believe our eyes it was literally the longest line I have ever seen.  Wait, are we getting ready to ride Tower or Terror at Disney World?  Please tell me that a dancing bear will be jumping out at any minute to entertain my child.  No, the reality was that we were going to have to tough it out in the long line in the cold and rain.  I forgot to mention that it is much cooler in Florence than Rome.  Plus, it was extra chilly due to the rain.  Luckily, James held it together and I pulled out every trick in the book to keep him happy. 1 hour later, we, made it to the front of the line and were in our way to our apartment.

The apartment in Florence is great.  Much smaller than than one in Rome, but I almost prefer it.  Much easier to keep an eye on James.  Did I mention the very steep staircase leading to our bedroom in Rome.  Yeah, that was fun.

This place has everything that we need and the owners were super nice.  They were very accommodating to everything that we needed for James.

After we got somewhat settled in, we walked around a bit and got something to eat.  I could immediately tell that I was going to prefer it to Rome.  It is absolutely beautiful.  I still found it very crowded but at least there aren’t cars and scooters coming through every minute.  The only cars allowed to drive in the city’s center are those with a special permit.

We ate at the Mercato Centrale food market.  We had pizza and gnocchi.  James fell asleep in the stroller, but I woke him up for dinner, and he ate really well (Yay).  He even had some cannoli.


Tomorrow we have a tour of Florence