Admittedly, this was my favorite leg of the trip. Exploring new cities is fun and all, but for a Type-A with little experience traveling the world — and who doesn't speak a lick of Italian — it becomes a tad overwhelming.
As soon as we left the car rental office... wait. Let me tell you about this: We went to the airport because that's where you get a rental car, right? And that's where our confirmation told us to go. After lugging our bags up and down two levels of the airport, the company we rented the car with was nowhere to be found. We had to call a shuttle to come take us to the remote location. Also, we were already a little sketched out because the car was going to cost us $19 for three days.
So then we got to the office, and we had to sign a contract. But the contract is only in Italian, and we were basically promising to pay something like $1,000 if we even slightly scratched the tiny Fiat.
Finally, we loaded our luggage into the stick-shift vehicle and sped down the interstate. We weren't so sure about speed limits, and we relied on Google Maps to talk us through the turns. But eventually we were out of the city and into the mountains.
I rolled down the window and took a deep breath. Ryan Hurd's throaty music played from the stereo, which paired oddly with the old colorful towns we quickly passed through.
Jacob and I became giddy, and, after settling into our Airbnb, we started dreaming of a life amongst the Italian Alps. I could picture little Josie hanging out on the balcony, soaking up the sunshine — probably eating the flowers. I could see myself freelancing from the couch — staring out at Lake Maggiore and its surrounding mountains. The windows would always be open, letting in drifts of air. Jacob would probably work in town, maybe on the ferry that toted passengers across the lake...
OK. Don't worry. We're not moving to a small town in the Italian mountains. Not yet at least. But you'll see why we fell in love with this place — and why we plan to go back one of these days.
Two days later, we were onto our final leg of the trip: Alexa and Lorenzo's wedding. It took place outside of Verona. I didn't have much time to explore the area, but that was OK because I got to spend more time with my sweet friend.
On the day of the wedding, some of the girls piled into yet another Fiat (the bigger version this time). The bride was shotgun, her mom driving, and her sister and friends from different parts of her life cozied up in the back.
It was time to get our hair done.
Sitting in the warm salon, we sipped cold water and watched, mesmerized, as the hairstylist straightened Alexa's naturally curly hair — then filled it with big, round curls. Her sister, Emma, was in the chair next to her, getting her straight hair curled and placed perfectly on top of her head.
At one point, I took a moment to look around. There was her mom, her sister, Alexa's childhood friend and her friend from college, then me, a friend from grad school. We all had different relationships with Alexa and treasured different memories with her. But we all shared the same love, and it was so evident as we looked on with big grins across our faces.
Needless to say, I cried at the ceremony and again when the festivities wrapped up around 1 a.m. And now. As I write this.
Celebrating Alexa and Lorenzo's love was the perfect ending to our trip, and I wish them so much happiness.