On my dream trip to travel the world, taste its foods, see its wonders, and meet all the strange and beautiful people who reside here.

Day: 238

Towns / Cities Visited: 154

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 19,898

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,924,097

Today was the day we would finally explore the labyrinth which is the heart of Italy’s capital. Rome was calling, but there was no timed schedule and thus we rose after a lie in, refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. Now, naturally, the best way to start a big day of adventure, is to dig into a solid breakfast, and with dinner falling onto my shoulders this evening, my brother decided to handle the morning meal. Given that he had braved the culinary stores of the city the previous day in search of a pasta machine and a cutter for tonight’s ravioli, our simple but tasty breakfast consisted of some rustically cut tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella (trust me, sharp knives are few and far between in the world of Airbnb), a little roquette, and some turtle shaped fried eggs on sourdough toast (thanks to a cute little cutter he’d bought me as a gift). …

Day: 237

Towns / Cities Visited: 154

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 9,335

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,904,199

After a little research the night before, we had decided to shake up our original order of sightseeing over the following days for strategic reasons. Before we could go anywhere though, we had to make our way downstairs to the pharmacy as my poor mum had come down with a cold. Growing up, she had always instilled in us the idea that one must try and soldier on through sickness where possible. Practicing what she preached, we left with the necessary medicine to get her through the day and headed off to brave the trials and tribulations of the Italian public transport system yet again. With the bus website for Rome looking like it was fresh out of the 90’s, and about as functional, we took our chances on Google directions having more of a clue. All went well for the first bus into the heart of the city, it was on time and arrived at our desired destination hassle free. The only negative being the fact we were crammed in with everyone else like it was a can of sardines. Catching our connecting bus was a little more troublesome, as it seems that every bus in Rome comes to a juncture at one of the main squares: reminiscent of the bus situation in Belfast. As we reached the correct stop just in time to watch our bus trundle away, we realised that Google nailed it on the location of the bus stop but was less than accurate on the timetable. Still, we only had to wait twenty minutes for the next one, and settling into seats once aboard, we were soon on our way. …

Day: 236

Towns / Cities Visited: 154

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 28,713

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,894,864

Our first day of exploring Italy’s famed capital came with an early start, not only because the city and its surrounds are chock full of historical sites but because we had sensibly booked an in-depth tour at arguably the most recognisable of all of them, the Colosseum. Reasoning that walking is always the best way to see new places, and get a true feel for life within them, we had a quick bite to eat and set off into the crisp morning air and warm sun to begin the hour walk to our destination. Just like the previous day, the traffic flowing through the streets did so at a rather terrifying pace, and with seemingly little to no care for road rules or pedestrian safety. Figuring we would save swimming through the heart of the city for another day, we instead chose to follow the river along and skirt around. Passing streets filled with cars parked so close together that it would be literally impossible to get any of them out, we eventually knew we were drawing near when the density of camera wielding tourists speaking in multiple languages spiked noticeably. Rounding a corner, we managed to catch our first glimpse of this truly colossal landmark. As impressive as it is as a structure, it is now somewhat minimised by the fact that office and residential buildings are much larger these days. …

Day: 234 & 235

Towns / Cities Visited: 154

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 23,003

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,866,151

We awoke lazily to what would be the start of two days of small-town exploration on our journey from Tuscany down to Rome. As fun as seeing the famous tourist sites and major cities is, it’s important not to forget that the most authentic experiences are often found in the heartlands of the countries you visit. …

Day: 233

Towns / Cities Visited: 150

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 20,786

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,843,148

Today was to be one of those days. One of those days where, because my mum only had six weeks to cram in as much adventuring as possible with us, we would be attempting the always vaguely stressful task of visiting two towns in a day. This, of course, meant that we rose early and, packing our bags into the car, bid a very fond farewell to Florence. As we drove away, I couldn’t help but feel a little saddened. Florence had been one of those special places that takes up residence in your heart; the kind of place you just know you would be poorer for should you never get to see it again. …

Day: 232

Towns / Cities Visited: 148

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 18,777

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,822,362

It was to be an earlier morning than usual today because we had booked an attraction for 10am, and, as such, we were up, fed, and on the tram in no time. Being that it was our third day of exploring Florence, finding our way to the square we were searching for was simple enough; besides, we were going to see something that is honestly almost impossible to miss, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. This mammoth church sits right in the centre of this historic city: its biblical beating heart, if you will. …

Day: 231

Towns / Cities Visited: 148

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 16,322

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,803,585

Indulging in a lazy Sunday morning sleep in, we rose a little later than normal before readying ourselves and catching the tram back into Florence. Unlike the previous day, the tram ride was far less jam packed, and far less eventful: a fact the three of us were all grateful for. Alighting, we wandered leisurely to the first of our two art centred destinations for the day; Galleria dell’Accademia. This art museum was founded in 1784 and houses a huge collection of artwork by Florentine artists, as well as a collection of musical instruments. More importantly though, it is home to one of the world’s most famous sculptures: the Statue of David by Michaelangelo. …

Day: 230

Towns / Cities Visited: 148

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 18,047

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,787,263

Rising at a reasonable time, we headed down to indulge in one of the rare buffet breakfasts we had access to on our trip. Despite arriving around an hour before the buffet closed, the pickings were a little slim, with some items no longer available. Although we were not destined to have pancakes, there was an almost comical amount of cakes on offer. I’m all for cake, I mean I made it my career, but cramming slice after slice into my face and calling it breakfast seemed like an irresponsible move, so I settled for one slice and a few pastries alongside some fruit, yoghurt, and cereal. …

Day: 229

Towns / Cities Visited: 147

Countries Visited: 26

Steps Taken Today: 10,098

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,769,216

We awoke to a dreary morning, but bad weather was yet to put a damper on our adventures, and today would be no different. A quick breakfast and with bags packed, we bundled ourselves into the car, bid farewell to Bologna, and headed south. With a little spare time today, we decided to take the back roads, to try and avoid the somewhat exorbitant toll roads, and to get a little more of a scenic view of the countryside. This decision would prove to be mildly terrifying with some of the rural roads barely wide enough for a car. It was like Ireland all over again except that we were in a bigger car and still adjusting to driving on the opposite side. …

Day: 228

Towns / Cities Visited: 145

Countries Visited: 25

Steps Taken Today: 13,840

Steps Taken Around the World: 3,759,118

We rose to what we would soon discover is a public holiday in Italy. Having read in multiple places that parking in the centre of Bologna was nigh on impossible, we opted to take advantage of public transport; however, a rudimentary online search the previous night had offered little information about how to go about such an endeavour. In fact, if nothing else, we learnt that the public transport websites of this region were likely built in the early 90’s and had simply been left alone since then: hard to navigate and incredibly outdated. Still, my partner managed to find what looked to be a bus route in. Despite sounding like tickets could be bought on board, we stepped on to discover that the outer suburb buses do not, only the inner-city ones do. We would, of course, have bought a ticket at a nearby retailer, but, as I said, it was a public holiday, and everything was shut this far out of town. Our bus driver spoke zero English, but we hand gestured through understanding he’d let us on and, as the bus trundled off, a kind fellow passenger translated the rest to us. He would take us to the first stop of the inner buses onto which we could change, buy tickets on board, and complete our trip that way. …

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