Italy, Day 1: Follonica

On Friday, June 14th my wonderful co-worker, Carrie, took me to the airport to begin my journey to Italy!  So excited!  Italy is the one place I have always wanted to visit, and getting to see it with my boyfriend was going to be even more wonderful. My trip took me from Denver to Dulles, Dulles to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Florence.  The layover in Dulles to catch my international flight was something like 47 minutes.  Then, for some unknown reason, although my flight from Denver left on time, it arrived 20 some minutes late.  I had to haul butt to get to the Frankfurt connection, but I just made it.

Flying overnight into Saturday, I was getting more and more excited as we got closer.  I sat next to several very nice people on the various stages of my flight, and chatting with them made the time fly (no pun intended).  I got a prescription for some sleeping pills for the international flight-but it ended up being too short and I didn’t want to take the pills and feel groggy, so I just did the best I could to sleep on the plane sans medication.

The last leg into Italy I sat next to a lady from Norway who was very nervous about flying on such a small plane.  She was headed to Tuscany to get married, and I swear half the airplane was filled with her family (it was a very small plane!).  Chatting with her really made the last part of this trip go by so quickly, which was good-because I was getting antsy to finally see Italy!!

DSC00862The very first view out of the airplane window.  It’s stunningly beautiful! Eek!

Luke and his friend Cristiano met me at the airport.  It was so tiny, especially compared to the Frankfurt airport!  The airport reminded me a lot of the San Juan airport from back in the day–when my aunts and cousins would greet us in the baggage claim area and help us unload our bags. I had to get my own bag, but was thankful that the checked bag arrived, since the layover in Washington had been so brief!

From Florence, we drove off to Follonica.  Follonica is a beach town on the western coast of Italy, and it happens to be where Cristiano’s girlfriend, Sara, lives. We were going to spend the weekend there, hanging out and going to the beach.  Great way to start this vacation!

Follonica, ItalyFollonica is where the “A” is on this GoogleMap.

Driving through the country side was absolutely breathtaking.  You can see small villages clustered together, large estates surrounded by grapevines or olive orchards, and green everywhere! I tried to take pictures, but the car was going quickly and my camera isn’t the best quality.  After a while, I just decided to sit back and take it all in.

Once we arrived in Follonica, we settled in at Sara’s apartment. Her apartment was ADORABLE!  Exactly what you would picture an apartment by the sea in Italy to be…tall ceilings, lots of windows with shutters to let the breezes in and keep the heat of the sun out.  Considering all I can really say in Italian is Io no parlo italiano, però si tu parlare più lento, io capisco (I don’t speak Italian, but if you speak slowly, I understand), along with scusi (excuse me…I said this A LOT) and grazie (thank you…gotta stay polite!), I found it sweet that she was concerned about her English.  She spoke very well, and did a good job speaking in Italian slowly so I could follow those conversations too.

After a quick shower, we went out to dinner with some friends of theirs.  Guilio and Guilia (Julio and Julia) were a riot!  He’s an engineer and she’s a book editor.  He spoke little, mainly because she spoke so much—and so fast!  But she also spoke really excellent English and made a point of including me in the conversation.

1008897_10103384400441264_1503158205_o(1)l-r: Guilia, Guilio (this face!), me, Luke, Cristiano, Sara

The food was delicious!  The wine was really good!  The company was excellent!  Over all, a really great first night.  BTW, I made a conscious choice not to take pictures of every little thing we ate.  I’ll share some pictures of the more impressive dishes, but trust me when I say that not a morsel that passed my lips left anything to be desired!

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Luke and I made sure to order different dishes, so we could try twice as much food. 

After dinner, we took a walking tour of Follonica.  Giulia was an excellent tour guide.  She’s kind of like me, full of fun little factoids that made the tour that much more interesting.  My camera doesn’t have flash, so nighttime shots don’t turn out too well.  I will share this picture:

DSC00869This pretty church is actually embellished with elements made out of cast iron.  This area used to (still does?) have a lot of factories to produce goods and cast iron products.  This is the first church to use cast iron for decorations.  It made for a really pretty–and long lasting–effect.

The moon was a gorgeous red this night.  We stayed up very late just wandering around and chatting, and I was extremely happy.  Plans for the next day included sleeping in late and going to the beach.  Ah, vacation!

Ciao for now!

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