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The tunnel from the Uffizi to the Medici family’s palace over the Ponte Vecchio.

Florence

My husband said he went for the upgrade to first class on our high speed train from Rome to Florence because it seemed like a good idea at the time. That time was around midnight the night after our wedding and hours before we’d fly to Italy. He had to book four separate trips from more than one rail company, and the user interfaces, not designed for Kentucky hotel wifi users (or, potentially, anyone else), caused the whole process to take more than two hours. We had complimentary wine from our hotel to help pass the time that night, and we had it again on our high speed train with almost the entire car to ourselves. First class seemed like a good idea all of the time, and when done right, it can pay for itself.

We stepped out of the train station and into Florence around midday with the rose-colored lenses that complimentary morning Prosecco so perfectly produces, until my husband realized he’d left his camera bag containing a top-of-the-line Canon 5D Mark III with professional lenses under his train seat. He dropped everything on the curb at the taxi stand and, without saying a word, took off at full speed toward our train, which the conductor told him was set to depart in exactly one minute whether he was on it or not. I didn’t even know what my husband had gone back for, so I just prayed hard enough for smoke to come out of my ears until I finally saw him emerge from the station with the camera bag strapped over his chest. The rose-colored lenses resumed.

Our cab driver had to give us a scenic route around the famous Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile of the Florence Cathedral, or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, to get around labor strikes, and I was in total awe. I loved the tiny cobblestone streets and seemingly ancient homes. I felt like there was a castle on every block. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Forum.

My husband and I got married on October 18 in Louisville, Kentucky at St. Boniface Catholic Church, followed by dinner and dancing at 21C Museum Hotel. It was everything I could have hoped for. I just wanted to carry my gorgeous Technicolor autumn bouquet and eat endless canapes with bison tartare, quail eggs, and truffle oil, surrounded by art, with my husband, forever and ever.

But this series of posts is about my honeymoon in Italy, which turned out to be a natural extension of what we loved about our wedding. We enjoyed fall foliage in Piemonte and unfamiliar flowers and trees in Rome. At wine bars in Florence and Venice, we helped ourselves to aperitivi and cicchetti, buffets of complimentary appetizers. We ate steak tartare and eggy pastas all over Northern Italy. We visited Alba at the height of its short white truffle season. We saw so much art. And we took part in the Catholic ceremony of all Catholic ceremonies.

Almost a year has passed since the trip, but all of the details I abbreviated to a word or a couple of words in my daily log of the trip — written around 6:00 in the morning each day because I was sick for the duration and never recovered from jet lag — I still remember in full. So without further ado, the story of how I fell in love with Italy.

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21C.

I’ve often thought it would be nice to get married in Louisville, Kentucky. My dream guy and I would say “I do” in a small chapel in the blue hills in front of our families and closest friends, then we’d all go back downtown to the 21C Museum Hotel and party the night away in the company of red penguins and modern art. I discovered the hotel as a business traveler in early 2007, soon after it opened, and I eagerly returned several times to continue to enjoy its rotating art exhibits, menus, and acrylic red penguins with their enviable posture in the guest room hallways. (When you return to your room in the evening, they’re rarely standing where they were when you left in the morning.)

Last fall, as my then-boyfriend and I started to talk about a future wedding, he admitted he had reservations about marrying in Louisville. It had meaning mostly to me, really, and neither of us were from there. But we did have a good memory of it, together. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to close the gap on our long-distance relationship, my guy joined me for the drive, and I requested that Louisville be our first overnight stop (and he requested that Las Vegas be our last).

We arrived in time for the end of the dinner hour and had a wonderful meal at Proof on Main, but by the time we were finished the galleries were either dark or locked. We went to the concierge and asked if there was any way to see them, since we had to leave early to get on the road, and a docent was summoned to come out. She turned on the lights and unlocked the doors to the galleries for us. And then she left us. We absorbed the art, kissed once or twice since no one was looking (except for security cameras), and went to bed.

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