The Joy of Getting Lost - Venice, Italy -

The Joy of Getting Lost

We put a lot of effort into not getting lost in our daily lives. We put even more effort into avoiding it while traveling.  We use the GPS apps on our phones. We take guided tours in foreign cities. We stop and ask for directions at every turn. We make sure to get from one important location to the next, and we take the easiest and the fastest way possible. We don’t even notice the buildings, the scenery, the restaurants, and the people who we’re rushing past. Sometimes, however, we get really, hopelessly lost.

Below, you’ll find two great reasons to enjoy those times when you’re not quite sure where you are and two of our favorite stories about what we’ve discovered when we’ve been lost. We hope they’ll inspire you to be both curious and calm when you can’t find your destination. Maybe they’ll even inspire you to put away the map and get intentionally lost!

Live like a local.

My husband and I honeymooned in Italy, and we were lucky enough to spend 5 days in Venice, far more than the typical tourist schedule of a quick day trip. We had just spent the last week and a half in Florence and Rome, checking off those must-see museums and historic sites. By the time we arrived in Venice, we were ready for a change of pace.

I know what you’re thinking. Venice is full to the brim with tourists! How could we possibly find a change of pace or any peace and quiet?

Once we checked into our darling bed and breakfast, which was wonderfully located away from the crowds on a quiet street and quiet canal, we made our way out into the city. Unlike every other tourist we met, though, we weren’t headed to the Rialto Bridge or the Piazza de San Marco. We weren’t even headed to Lido or the Guggenheim, Murano or Burano. We decided to just wander along through the alleys with no map in hand. We discovered empty streets that ended at canals lined with archways and window boxes overflowing with flowers. We found great bars where we enjoyed an aperol spritz and a gelato. We ate dinner in a great restaurant, and we honest to goodness didn’t hear anyone else speaking English. We watched beautiful boats pass singing gondoliers. We sat along the canal and watched daily life pass us by. We saw Venice, but we saw it without the rest of the summer crowds jostling past us.

Don’t worry. We had more than enough time to see everything that one goes to Venice to see. We even took time for a Vivaldi concert. That first day in Venice, however, was one of the best days of our trip.

Discover some place unexpected.

It’s one thing to set out with the intention of getting lost. Well, as lost as one can get on a small cluster of islands. It’s another thing altogether to have a limited amount of time and not be able to find the destination that you’re most excited about. This is what happened to my husband and I while we were in London.

To add to the stress of not being able to find the British Museum, we were chaperoning nine of his high school students on their first trip abroad. It was not an easy feat. You might be thinking, “How hard can it be to find one of the most popular museums in the world?!?” I would have agreed with you prior to our attempt to get there from whatever random spot we were dropped off at, but we were given wrong directions twice, and someone even said, “I don’t know which museum you’re talking about; they’re all British,” and he MEANT it. Yes, thank you very much. (I should note that we landed a few hours earlier, and neither my husband nor myself were at the top of our travel game because, as I mentioned, we were dragging nine exhausted teenagers behind us.)

This ended up being a great learning lesson for our students. We helped them step out of their comfort zone and ask for directions, and we also talked to them about how to stay optimistic and not get scared when things go wrong. But do you know what the best part of our extra long walk to the museum was? Just when our students said “we have no idea where we are,” we looked up to see a street sign. We were on Drury Lane! Yes, DRURY LANE where the MUFFIN MAN lives! It was the best detour ever!

The Joy of Getting Lost - London, England -

So there you have it: some of our favorite stories from getting lost abroad. Do you have any similar stories? We’d love to hear about them! Tell us your favorite stories about getting lost in the comment section.



Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Secret Rome – Why You Can’t Miss This Secluded Spot

Rome is a top tourist destination in Europe, and it’s one of our favorite cities! It’s hard to imagine that there could be any hidden spots in a city so full of tourists, but I have a favorite place to share with you today – a little secret Rome you probably haven’t heard about. My fellow A Friend Afar blogger, Stephanie, told me about it when I honeymooned in Italy, and she had heard about it from a friend, too. It’s the perfect little secret spot where you can escape from the crowds and get the best view of the city! I hesitate to even show you a photo of what you should expect to see there, but if not, how can I convince you to visit??

A Secret Spot in Rome

The Keyhole at the Knights of Malta

Just a short walk from the Circus Maximus is the Villa del Priorato di Malta, where the ambassadors of the Knights of Malta to Italy and the Holy See are located. You can read more about them here, but I bet you didn’t know there was more than one sovereign territory in Rome!

To get there, make your way up the hill through the rose garden, the Roseto di Roma Capitale, which lies just to the west of the Circus Maximus. You’ll be heading toward the Santa Sabina church with a gorgeous courtyard overlooking the city. Local romantics and families were enjoying their picnics when we walked by in the evening. It’s a great spot to take in the architecture of the city, and I highly recommend it just before sunset!

Rose Garden in Rome

Mosaics mark the path through the rose garden. So very Roman!

Just past the courtyard and on your right, you’ll find a large green, arched door with a large keyhole right in the middle of the handle.  It’s on an ornate building with crosses and shields carved into the facade. There’s an inconspicuous address plate with the number 3 right next to the door, but other than that, there are no indicators to help it stand out. Here it is on the map.

This is the gate for the Knights of Malta! You’ve found it! The most enchanting view in all of Rome is just beyond that door! Take a peek through the keyhole, and you’ll be rewarded with the view below.

Keyhole of the Knights of Malta

On the night we visited, there was a beautiful event, possibly a wedding, going on at sunset. The view of St. Peter’s, along with the candlelit walkway, took my breath away.


Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

A Favorite in Firenze: Shopping for Leather Goods at the Florence Leather School

Florence is famous for so many things to do and see: the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Il Duomo de Firenze), Michelangelo’s David, the masterpieces in the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, red tile roofs, and for those of us searching for a special souvenir, leather.

Il Duomo di Firenze

Il Duomo di Firenze

I could spend all day in the Uffizi (and I have!), but I want to tell you a little about my favorite place to find local artisan leather goods: The Leather School, or Scuola del Cuoio. I love stopping by the Scuola del Cuoio for so many reasons. I love its history, its location, and the variety of artwork being produced inside.


The Scuola del Cuoio was established shortly after World War II. Franciscan friars of the Santa Croce monastery partnered with the Gori and Casini families, prominent leather artisans, in order to assist war orphans by providing training in the leather artisan field. The friars’ old dormitory, donated by the Medici family during the Renaissance, was turned into the classrooms.

The school’s workshops opened for business in 1950, and some of its first customers were the U.S. Air Force and multiple American Embassies in Europe. It’s fascinating thinking about the school’s history and philanthropic goals while visiting the workshops and courtyards!

[Photo Source:

[Photo Source: “Santa Croce (Florence) – Facade” by Diana Ringo – via Wikimedia]


By now you’ve learned that the school is located on the grounds of the Basilica of Santa Croce. It’s a beautiful church, the largest Franciscan church in the world, and it was finished in the mid-15th century. My favorite part of the Santa Croce, however, is not the same detail that I admire in other Italian churches from it’s time period. It’s not how it’s decorated that draws me in every time; it’s who is inside! The Santa Croce is home to elaborate marble tombs to world-famous Italians like Michelangelo Buonarroti and Galileo Galilei! I love a little history with my travels! Ok, I love a LOT of history with my travels, so the Santa Croce always captures my interest!

The tomb of Galileo Galilei in the Santa Croce

The tomb of Galileo Galilei in the Santa Croce

Leather Goods

The handbags created at the Scuola del Cuoio are high quality works of art. If you’re looking for a lifelong handbag, these are a great choice. The leather quality is amazing, and the stitching is  strong. They have a classic look and will age beautifully. A bag like the one below would be the perfect travel companion for many years worth of adventures.

A handmade bag of the highest quality of leather is a pretty expensive “investment piece” for most travelers, especially those that have dedicated their budgets to seeing instead of owning. My favorite affordable options are the passport cases that can be monogrammed and the python bracelets. Whenever I wear my stack of python bangles, I think about my honeymoon.

[Product Photos from Scuola del Cuoio]

Not in the market for a handbag?

Florence’s charm extends far, far beyond the shopping crowd and the art galleries. One of my favorite activities in Florence is to just get lost, mosey around side streets and along the river, and then finally settle in at a cafe where I can watch the city go by.

Ponte Vecchio

The Famous Ponte Vecchio

Take a leisurely stroll from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, through the Piazza della Signoria, and then along the Arno river to the Ponte Vecchio for a beautiful sunset view of the city. Be sure to grab a gelato or a waffle with nutella along the way. You can never go wrong strolling down cobblestone streets in a beautiful city with a delicious snack! And sometimes that steaming hot waffle dripping with nutella makes for the best memories, too!

The author taking her own advice – on her way to the Ponte Vecchio with a nutella-covered waffle in hand. (She may have already eaten it.)

I was serious about that waffle.

I was serious about that waffle. The fist pump proves it.

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.