Let’s Travel to Italy Together!
May 1, 2020
Our Lufthansa flight is set to leave at 4:10pm from terminal 1 in JFK airport.
So much emotions were felt on this day. I was both anxious and excited but mostly excited. This is it. This is the start of my dream coming true, my goal being fulfilled. I’m finally doing it! Now of course, I was anxious because there could always be unexpected things that can happen. You will later on realize that I had all the right to feel that way. For now let me tell you about our travel day.
On this trip I was accompanied by good friend Michelle. Michelle and I were able to meet up at the airport and check any luggage necessary. Thankfully, we made it through security just fine. Carry-on in one hand, phone on the other; we were now on our way to our gate.
On our way, we caught sight of the famous model, Winnie Harlow and had a back and forth of whether we should ask for a picture with her or not. After that whole ordeal, we finally made it to our gate, sat a bit and then looked for food. Finally, it was boarding time.
I love that moment when they call boarding and you get to see which airplane will carry you to your destination and boy was I happy. Not a lot of people know that I am an aircraft geek but if you are of the few that know, you know I was particularly excited to see an Airbus A380 (aka a Double Decker). I was so ready to get on that plane because I made sure I got a seat at the top level!
Do you see that big bird???
As you can imagine, a lot of people were on this flight. Thankfully after first/ business class boarded, those on the top deck could go in. When we went in, we went all the way to the back where there was a spiraling staircase. I found that feature so interesting and actually convenient when you’re not logging luggage. Matter of fact, this was the first occurrence where Michelle misplaced one of her AirPods but we won’t get into that.
As for the food, it was pretty standard. The movies were good, I can’t remember what I watched. A particular memory I have is stargazing through the window. That was such a marvelous sight that unfortunately the camera wasn’t able to capture properly. A lot of sleeping was done afterwards until we finally got word that we were going to land in our layover destination: Germany.
6:05am- Layover in Germany
Boy, was this entertaining! When we arrived in Germany, we only had an hour or so to get to our next flight. Here’s the problem: our airplane was located on the complete outer end of the airport and in the middle of that airport was immigration.
We were sure we were either going to be the last one’s on that plane or miss our flight completely. The fear grew stronger when the line at immigration became super long and slow! Every passing minute, we became so upset we weren’t European because they had a separate line that moved quicker. Finally, after a long time, we got our passport stamps and we ran to the end of the terminal in hopes to catch our flight (which was already boarding). Unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time and the airplane had left us.
In that moment, my anxiety and stress grew because there was no way of knowing if/when we’d get a new flight (complete of charge). Not only that, we were extremely tired from running to the end of the terminal for nothing. We had to now get out of that area and find guest services. This took longer than we hoped but we finally got the help we needed. We were able to get the next flight out to Italy from Frankfurt at 10:40am which meant we’d be getting to Italy at 12:30pm instead of the original time of 9:20am. Thankfully, the lady that helped us gave us a food voucher for us to get free food while we waited for our next flight (it’s the hot dog you see in the second picture above-when in Germany you have to try the famous Weiner).
Flight from Germany to Italy
Circa 10:40 am
It was finally time to set off to Italy! This flight was completely booked, it looked like a lot of people missed the same flight as us. Because of this, they even had to put my carry-ons as checked luggage (which was a relief for me).
Around 10:30am we finally boarded our flight. Michelle and I were in different seats so I would have to go sit next to complete strangers. However, I have such a fond memory of this flight.
I got to sit next to the cutest elderly couple. At first the couple wouldn’t utter a word, they would just look at me. Then, after the plane took off, they both started to make conversation with me. The first thing I remember was the wife asking me “are you an angel?” Yes, just like Anakin asked Padme when he first met her! She was such a sweetheart commenting on how nice my skin was to her. I soon enough became comfortable with them and found out a bit about them. They told me they are Chinese but they live in Australia. When I heard this, it made sense why I found their accent so unique. They also told me that they were going to Italy because of a tour they booked. It was so lovely talking to that couple, I really wish I could check up on them today.
With just a few minutes until our arrival in Italy, the Captain got on the mic and announced we were approaching Italy. As soon as I heard this, I turned immediately to the window and silenced everything around me. This was finally the moment I could see Italy with my own two eyes. Just thinking back on this moment makes me emotional. At this moment, I plugged in my headphones, played my dearest Italian music and took it all in.
(Left): View approaching Italy from my seat (Right): Flying over Italy view from my partner’s seat
It was so beautiful approaching Italy. So much green! So different from New York. I was in so much awe the whole time that I didn’t even feel the turbulence. Unfortunately, my phone died so I couldn’t capture it all. The picture on the right is only a preview. “Più bella cosa non c’è.”
Arrival in Rome Fiumicino Airport circa 1:00pm
Hey look Ma, I made it! The moment has finally arrived, I made it to Italy, yay!
When we landed, our plan was to automatically inform our host since she was going to pick us up from the airport. After telling her, we went to retrieve our luggage. Look, Rome’s airport is complicated to say the least. Retrieving our luggage delayed us even more from meeting up with our host. However, we were sort of glad we were the lost one’s and not our bags. Finally, we met our host, Francesca, in the parking lot. It was a such a relief to finally meet her, to finally leave the airport and to head to our accommodation.
If you haven’t kept up with my previous stories, we were going to be staying in a Villa in the outskirts of the Metropolitan City of Rome. This villa is an accommodation that Francesca’s parents built from the ground up. If you want to fly off after this whole quarantine is over, I definitely recommend you check out Francesca’s Villa.
Since we would be staying in a house equipped with a kitchen (stove and fridge) we made a stop in a supermarket to pick up some goods. This supermarket run actually opened my eyes up on how Italian locals go about their day. On this run, we got essentials such as eggs, ham/cheese, bread, coffee, etc. Fun facts: (1) the eggs are not in the fridge, (2) there is no such thing as sliced cheese and (3) groceries are quality but cheap in price!
After our grocery run, we finally took the path towards the villa. The villa was located deep in the town of Fonte Nuova. After traversing the center of the town, we went into the hills. Later on, we then approached the gate to Francesca’s property. We went from driving over a gravel road to a perfectly paved driveway and that’s when we knew we had arrived. As soon as I stepped out and looked around, I was speechless.
It was cloudy this day. This is where we would be staying in Rome.
Despite it being rainy this day, the property shined through. I wanted to jump around and scream in happiness and gratitude for having found Francesca and being able to stay at this beautiful villa! I remember just standing at the top of the driveway until we were then greeted by the marvelous Ornella and her gray cat. We then proceeded to take out the groceries from the car and meet everyone.
Ornella and Domingo are the parents of Francesca and also the one’s who built that villa from the ground up! I have adopted Ornella and Domingo as my italian grandparents (nonni) so from now on we will refer to them as nonna (grandma) and nonno (grandpa). Then, I met Francesca’s husband Wascar and their adorable baby boy Elias. We all got along immediately and it was pure bliss. Nonna even made me coffee! My heart has been won.
After this, we got a look at our room, which is really a two story loft with a balcony. Perfect for two people. Michelle and I settled down and called our mothers to tell them we were all settled in. After that, we were invited to sit down for dinner with the family. It was going to be my first time trying Italian food in the motherland, this is a big deal! Also, guess what? It wasn’t pasta or pizza (I know you were thinking it might be). Instead, we got served sliced baked potatoes with pork, alongside wine. We even got to try the famous Mozarella di Bufala and Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the olives grown on the property!
After being completely stuffed and getting to know everyone, Michelle and I were ready to hit the hay. If you read through all of this story, then you know we had a long day! Besides, we had a long day planned the next day as well. Stay tuned as I will talk all about our day exploring historic Rome.
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Grazie Mille! RG xx