10 days half way across the world in italy -- another country so close to my heart. the first time i went there was with my church the summer after my freshman year of high school. it was my first big trip without my parents. i loved it! but i didn't know when i would go back. little did i know... 

although i've really missed blogging while i was gone, i promise not to overwhelm you with our daily itinerary & details of each thing we did from the past 10 days, but i want to share a little bit about our trip! 

if you follow me on instagram, you probably noticed the 57 grams i shared throughout the week. 57 is way too many, but who cares. i gram for the lovers, not the haters. also, i feel like insta is our own little personal photo blogs, which is fun. to look back & see how many weeks ago you were doing this or that is so special! anyways, i'm sorry for the overload if you follow me. it was obnoxious! but it will definitely happen again & i'm not the least bit sorry about it.

here's a quick overview of our trip (if you don't care, skip to the bottom!):

1. land in milan wednesday morning (italy time) 

2. drive to verona for lunch & a day of free time

3. head to our hotel located just outside of venice

4. get up thursday morning & drive to our water taxi that would take us to a glass blowing demonstration 

5. after the demonstration, hop on another water taxi that took us into the heart of venice

6. eat lunch & explore for almost the whole morning

7. walking tour around venice & end with a gondola ride (definitely worth the 20 euro)

8. head back to our hotel outside of venice & have dinner at the hotel

9. packed up & headed to florence friday morning

10. lunch, walking tour, & tons of exploring in florence

11. head to pisa saturday morning -- walking tour, lunch, & holding the entire leaning tower up with my own two hands (pretty cool, if i do say so myself)

12. spend the rest of the day in florence, an afternoon date at a cafe with A, dinner at a restaurant there with our whole group, & a special little night out for the senior girls (amy & i) with miss keenan & miss gullifer

13. pack our things for the last time & drive to rome sunday morning

14. a short stop in assisi to break up the 6 hour car ride. (ASSISI WAS SO BEAUTIFUL!) for sure a favorite. i would go back to italy and spend my time only there. we had tons of free time which led to getting lost, the most incredible views, lunch, gelato, the best panini/calzone/inside-out pizza i've ever had, a walking tour, and flowers everywhere

15. dinner just outside of rome then head to the hotel

16. rome for the whole day on monday, & i mean the. whole. day. tour the colosseum at 9 a.m. & a night tour that startig at 10:30 p.m. don't do rome in a day -- it deserves way more of your time!

17. drive over to mt. vesuvius to hike up & gaze for miles at city, sea, & ruin. my heart was full that day.

18. walking tour in pompeii & the best margarita pizza for lunch

19. pack up for the final time to head home. our gentlemen friends (dustin & A) got us girls gelato so we didn't have to leave the hotel again. we partied all night! (not)

20. head to the airport to start a 20 hour day of being awake

21. come home & head straight to sebastian joe's with big bowl waiting for me in the car

our trip was so much more than 21 bullet points, but that's just a quick overview. it was incredible & new & exciting & relaxing & life-giving. 

i did learn something big on this trip, though. traveling can't fulfill your life. it can bring new perspective, incredible memories & invaluable experiences. but it won't complete your life. 

for awhile now, as i've counted down the days until each new city or historical monument, i've had the expectation that right when i got there or saw that somehow i would feel differently. i was a little disappointed each time that this feeling was never felt. i was pretty bummed to be honest, that all of a sudden my life didn't do a 180. i'm realizing that traveling is so precious & can teach us so many things, but if we expect it to complete our lives, we will leave each excursion with a disappointed heart. 

please hear me when i say these things, i love to travel. i love to see the world & the people in the world, but i have come to realize that this ah-ha moment of seeing the leaning tower of pisa & suddenly changing dramatically is not reality. when i focus on the things rather than the Creator of the things, that's when i miss it. when i remember that God's handiwork is carved out in each & every piece of this world... that's when i leave feeling fulfilled. 

also, my phone broke during the middle of the trip & i fried both my curler & straightener. i think those were all God's ways of asking me to be more present. at the end of the trip while i was packing, my phone miraculously turned on again! it was a great reminder to be exactly where i was & nowhere else. i'm so grateful for the ways God quietly asks me to obey & listen. 

we ate amazing food, met wonderful people, saw ancient structures & soaked in each moment. i am so thankful for my parents that each summer of high school they have created the opportunity for me to go. to see. i hope to see so much more of this giant world & to never stop seeing for all of my life. God created so many wonders -- discovered & not. i don't want to miss any!




| i was so busy being in love with florence that i hardly took my camera out to capture it |




| these photos in no way show the true beauty of rome! |

here is the long awaited (for me anyways) italia video!!! i'm so excited about it.