Maybe it’s my insane love of pasta, Parmesan and the perfect slice of crusty bread rubbed with garlic and topped with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and the sweetest of tomatoes or all those repeat viewings of Roman Holiday, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Under the Tuscan Sun over the years, but I’ve always dreamed of vacationing in Italy.

And unlike some experiences that can’t possibly live up to your lofty expectations, well, Rome was even better (!!!) than I’d imagined. In fact, I’ve always said that London is, hands down, my favorite city on the planet. But after visiting Rome, I gotta say that London has officially dropped down a spot.

Sorry, London.

Continuing our whole planes, trains and automobiles experience, we traveled from Paris to Rome via an overnight sleeper train. Considering I’d never slept on a train before, let alone overnight, I learned quite a bit about myself on the 20-hour journey—namely that I wouldn’t do very well as a prisoner.

Aside from my general disdain for camping, (yeah, me and the Great Outdoors aren’t exactly the best of friends), I’ve always thought of myself as fairly low-maintenance when adapting to new sleeping situations. But that definitely all changed with this trip.

At first, I was sure the bottom bunk was my ticket since I was afraid of falling to my imminent demise from the top, which was much too high for my liking. But once I tried settling in, well, I started getting rather panicky in those close quarters. I couldn’t even read, let alone fathom how I’d actually fall asleep. So being the thoughtful, obliging hubby that he is, Will traded bunks with me.

For the record, there wasn’t much more breathing room on the top either, but at least I didn’t feel like I’d be swallowed up by claustrophobia. So after reading another 100 pages of The Paris Wife, a novel that was nearly impossible to put down once you got started, I tried giving my peepers a break. But the more that I hoped to get lulled into a deep, deep sleep, the more impossible it became. So I watched many, many hours tick by before eventually falling asleep for, oh, 45 minutes.

After our train came to a unexpected and rather jarring stop, however, I woke up again and was a big ol’ mess to boot. In the dark, the already-close quarters felt even closer, and I was sure I was going to start hyperventilating—pronto. As I felt my breathing quicken, I opened the shade and that helped. But since I knew that resting was pretty much out of the question (I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right?) I propped myself up on my elbows and watched the miles and miles of gloriously undeveloped land roll on by.

And then before I knew it, the sun was out, and we were officially in Italy.

In case you’re curious, Italy looks just like the movies—all rolling hills, rustic homes and trees for miles. Unlike the States where there’s a strip mall every few miles, I was overcome by how peaceful it was here. And when I eventually spotted the sign for Parma, I started getting really excited for my first Italian meal since Parma is probably best known for its deliciously salty prosciutto.

With blissful thoughts of antipasto in my head, I drifted off for a couple more hours before finding out that because of several train delays, we’d be getting into Rome even later than I thought.

But a couple of café cremas later, Will and I didn’t even care.

All in all, we were on the train for 20 hours because of the aforementioned delays, so we were more than happy to vacate the premises once we finally rolled in Rome. And once we stepped out from the train station to the taxi queue, Will and I immediately realized that we were truly in another world…