Italy | 2016

One of my proudest accomplishments (to date) is going on a week long tour of Italy with one of my best friends this year. It was fairly spontaneous, ridiculous and outrageous in all the best ways.

We flew to Rome initially and looking back, if we had taken more time to plan and didn't get caught up in the excitement we shouldn't have gone there first but never mind; our journey began in the capital! We spent 2 days running around Rome trying to fit everything we could possibly think of in, we went to the Trevi Fountain, into the Vatican, looked at some nice old bricks at the Colosseum, did the Spanish Steps, wandered around the old streets and naturally ate pizza and pasta for each meal.

After the quickest tour of Rome ever, we hopped on one of many trains to Pisa to look at a leaning tower everyone was talking about. We briefly could not work out how to get to the square where the tower was located but once we did (and one lost purse later) we busted out our best tourist poses and snapped away. One quick pizza later, we hopped back on a train to take us to a place I had been dreaming about for years; Venice.

As timing would have it, we arrived just before sunset and walking to our Airbnb through impossibly small winding streets while golden hour lighted the way was a moment I will cherish forever. The rest of the evening was spent drinking wine and relishing in the laid back lifestyle that the Europeans have completely mastered long into the darkness and it didn't matter one bit that we got lost walking back to our apartment. From finding little squares that seemed to appear from nowhere with a man playing the violin to turning a corner to discover a gelato shop still open with a line out of the door; Venice lived up to the hype.

Bright and early we made our way over to St Marks Square before the rest of the tourists descended and I loved that at 8am there was a live band playing soft jazz music while we enjoyed a coffee. Naturally no morning would be complete with another lot of gelato and we didn't have much of a plan than to just wander around the streets until we had to go to the station once more. As we walked there with heavy hearts, but heavier backpacks, I wished we had been able to have more time there. My enthusiasm picked back up however when we got on our train; next stop, Verona.

See, the entire reason we were in Italy in the first place was to see the band 5 Seconds of Summer perform live. Not once, but twice. The first show was to be in Verona Arena, a live music space that I salivated over once I saw the pictures. A mini looking colosseum, I couldn't believe artists performed in such a space. Once we arrived in Verona, checked into another Airbnb and found some food it was time to get ready and grab our tickets. Making a quick detour to see Juliet's balcony, sign our names on the wall and remark on how lovely Verona was we headed to the venue and after many garbled attempts at Italian later, tickets firmly in hand we made our way in.

Two very strong disaronno and cokes later, we got there just in time for the support act Don Broco to begin. I kept asking my friend to pinch me as I could not believe that we were actually there. Don Broco were amazing and such a good choice for a warm up before the main attraction that I could have left there and then and been happy. Of course we didn't and instead befriended the family in front of us which was made up of a son, daughter and the dad. They had all bonded over 5sos' music and it was such a heartwarming moment for me. They handed us some paper which was part of a fan project and then suddenly they were on stage. Now, to say Italian fans are passionate would be underplaying it somewhat and I loved it. I loved how they let go and just threw themselves into the experience so we followed suit. The hours passed by far too quickly and the band kept remarking on what an incredible venue it was and how lucky they felt which I could not have agreed with more; I just felt so lucky to be there.

Sadly, when it was over we wandered the long way home down the river and revelled in the last few hours. I knew right then and there that this would be a night I would remember forever.

The next day morning, with sore heads, we had to be up and about at around 6am. Lazily making our way through the town to the station I felt a familiar pang of not wanting to leave so soon after arriving. Verona, in my opinion, is a massively underrated city and I hope to return soon so I can go and explore properly. Our next destination was to Florence (for a matter of hours) before heading back down to Rome. The 3 hours we spent in Florence were lovely and personally enough time to see the sites, grabbing a quick bite and then heading off. I have heard lovely things about Florence though so I think I would return to have at least a full day there in the future.

In what I can only relate to a formula one pit stop, we arrived in Rome, checked into our hotel, got ready and walked as quickly as possible to the arena. Tonight we would be in the pit (i.e the closest to the stage possible) and had been told that we had to go in via a special entrance. Again, through many attempts at Italian we finally were escorted by a security guard through the shadiest looking entrance into the venue. We both squealed when we saw just how close we would be and as the security guard clocked we couldn't speak Italian very well, he offered to go and get drinks for us which was a super nice gesture. A couple of beers later, Don Broco took to the stage again and it was even better than the night before. Again, 5sos took to the stage and while it was amazing to see them so close, it did lack a little bit of magic compared to the night before (which I base entirely on the venue being so phenomenal the night before and nothing to do with their performance).

As we did the night before, we wandered slowly and a longer way back to the hotel just so we could soak up being in Italy before going home the next day. It gave us the perfect time to reflect on the past week and already reminisce on memories that were barely days old. The next day started early once more and after flying back to London this would be where we parted. I had an exam the next day at university and was just going to make it back in time whilst my friend was going home. I will admit as soon as we said goodbye and I got on my train, I shed a few tears. It had been such a fast paced, amazing time that it seemed like I had blinked and missed it.

I cannot fully express just how incredible the week was and I am so proud of us for doing it. Here is to more last minute adventures where we go to Europe to see gigs.

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