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Livin' la Vida Lacy - I'm ready for Italy's wonders

So far, I’ve only traveled out of the country a few times – Japan, Saba and Honduras. My trip to Japan was through the Sister Cities Exchange program back in high school while Saba and Honduras were mission trip efforts during college.

I’m excited to share Ross and I will be traveling internationally for the first time together next month. Where you ask? To the country shaped like a boot – that’s right, we’re checking Italy off our bucket list!

Actually, to say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement … more like deliriously happy. Some days my anticipation seems uncontrollable and I have to actively repress my daydreaming. (… a gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a walk past the Colosseum, delicious and fresh gelato in Florence) I’ve yearned to visit Italy since fourth grade.

What makes this trip even more special is we’re not going alone. We’re going with two of our favorite people – Dwight and Nicole. Both are experienced international travelers and have been to Europe before.

So, we booked our trip months ago and renewed our passports. Since then, I’ve been scouring “Frommer's EasyGuide to Rome, Florence and Venice 2018” (Yes, I’m that girl.) while also researching online. I’m not a super planner when it comes to vacations, but I do like to feel semi-knowledgeable beforehand.

Supposedly, traveling to Rome, Florence and Venice during the winter means less tourists and tolerable temperatures (around 50 degrees). Still, there are notable differences that I’ve highlighted. For one, the official currency of Italy is the euro (1 euro = $ 1.13 dollars).

Business hours are slightly different too. Most shops open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. Smaller shops close for one or two hours at lunch, and may remain closed Monday morning and Saturday afternoon. Most restaurants are closed for riposo (rest) one day per week, usually Sunday or Monday.

So what am I looking forward to? Obviously, we can’t do everything. It would take months to fully explore these three cities. Still, I’ve earmarked several pages and have begun reserving tickets.

Since our first stop is Rome, here’s two must-see destinations we’ve decided on.

• Sistine Chapel – I’ve got to pay homage to artistic hero Michelangelo and view the beauty of the ceiling. It’s divided into nine central panels. I’m particularly looking forward to “The Creation of Adam,” which shows the figure of God touching the fingertip of Adam in order to bring him to life.

• Ancient Catacombs – The catacombs of the Appian Way are essentially the graveyards of early Christians in Rome, who had to bury their dead outside of the city. Burials were forbidden within the city walls as early as the 5th century B.C. and below the ground, there are miles of tunnels with tens of thousands of now mostly empty burial niches.

If you’ve been before, feel free to email me your recommendations.

Buona giornata! (Enjoy your day!)

Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.