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Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

We explored Albuquerque, New Mexico in April 2015 during spring break. I was excited to take on the many National Parks and Monuments that dot the area surrounding both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Our trip to New Mexico came out to be one of the least expensive we have had thus far, grand totaling at just under $700 for a whole week of exploration for our family of five (includes flight, hotel and rental car). Feel free to check out our family travel budget tips and budget friendly tips - New Mexico!

Rome (Roma), Lazio, Italy

Rome – where to start? Rome has so many attractions to cover, it was overwhelming to plan. Piazza Navona was our first stop, since our apartment was closeby. It sits on a 1st century AD racetrack, which is why the piazza is an oval in shape. Entrance to the piazza is free and it’s a cool place to come to enjoy the Italian evening stroll with hundreds of your fellow travelers.

Matera, Basilicata, Italy

Matera boasts a history of some 9000 years.  Some consider it the second oldest town in the world, after Jerusalem.  The oldest part is known as the Sassi.  There are 2 sassi – Sassi Barisano and Sassi Caveoso.  The sassi consists of homes and churches carved into tufa rock and alleyways connecting them.  Look for the alleys and roads that sometimes went over top of the cave homes and cave homes built right on top of one another.  The Sassi dwellers also had a method of collecting rainwater through a system of pipes and cisterns, all dug into rock.  Under Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the main piazza of modern Matera, there is a large cistern that collected rainwater for the townspeople up until the 19th century. 

Pompeii and Nearby Excavations, Campania, Italy

Pompei, the Modern Town

Florence (Firenze), Tuscana, Italy

In Florence, we stayed in a 15th century palace centrally located in the middle of Florence. It is somewhat mind boggling to think that this palace was being built when Christopher Columbus was making his first steps onto the Americas. The room itself was part of a palace, with access to a large living and dining area. Unfortunately, the room faced the street, so though it was 3 floors up, the echos from the 4 floor building across the street and the cobblestone street below, amplified each and every sound that came along. Lesson learned? Try to get a room NOT facing the street.