I went to Italy a year and a half ago with two of my best girl friends. It was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back one day with my husband. Seeing the most breathtaking scenery in person, rich history and good food & wine was an unforgettable experience. Here’s a recap of our journey:
Our journey started on October 5th when we boarded our 8-hour red eye flight to Germany. We took advantage of our 5-hour layover in Munich and were able to get out and explore a bit. A quick 20-minute bus ride took us to the closest town called Fleising. We enjoyed walking the streets, small neighborhoods and couldn’t resist trying the local food as well. After getting back onto our plane, we arrived in Venice a little over an hour later. There, we were greeted by our English speaking shuttle driver who took us to our water taxi (Side note: everyone should have a travel agent arrange pick-up/drop offs at the airport and train station. Best money spent!) After transferring to boat, we arrived at our hotel about 15 minutes later. The boat ride was breathtaking and we were overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery. We stayed in a small, but quaint hotel that was tucked away behind all the shops and about 5-minute walk from the water. The following day, we joined a Walking Tour of Venice and were given all kinds of interesting facts and history on the city. Most notably, the cities experiences “Acqua alta or ‘high water’ during the mid morning. Temporary walkways or “passerelle” are set up around the city for people to walk on until the water subsides. Venice was probably the cleanest, most vibrant and unique city we visited.
The following 5 days were spent in Florence, about a 2-hour train ride from Venice. In Florence, we stayed at a spectacular hotel directly across from the Arno River between Santa Croce and Piazzale Michelangelo. While there, we visited the Uffizi Gallery where we saw several pieces of artwork by Michelango, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and several other famous artists. We also visited the Accadamia, which houses the famous 10′ tall David. The last day in Florence was spent in various museums and churches. We climbed 463 steps to the very top of the Duomo which had the best views of Florence. The food was fantastic wherever we went and surprisingly accommodating to a gluten free diet (lots of big salads, prosciutto + mozzarella, chicken, chicken and more chicken..and maybe a little wine). Our day wasn’t complete until we had a cup of gelato (top favorites – raspberry and saffron).
Florence was also our launching pad for other regions and cities. The highlight of my trip was San Gimignano, a sleepy Renaissance town within the city of Siena. While there, we visited a local and completely organic farm. They had gluten free pasta, biscotti, and crackers. I especially enjoyed the fresh, extra virgin olive oil and pasta sauce. We tasted 4 different wines and toured the vineyard, barn and olive tree grove. We also made another stop in Siena and explored the square that hosts the famous horse races called “Palio di Siena”. These races are the single most important event that happens in Siena. It’s held twice a year on July 2 and August 16. Ten horses are ridden bareback and represent ten of the seventeen of the “city wards” in Siena. If you have a few minutes, visit Wikipedia for more info on the races. It’s actually quite interesting.
We also visited Cinque Terre (a part of the Italian Riveria), comprised of five breathtaking villages. We took a boat ride to three of the five. The deep, teal Mediterranean sea is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s offset by tons of brightly colored houses all crammed together into the steep vertical hills. Everyone has a small garden either on their side-yard or rooftop. Although it was pretty cold and windy while we were there, I’m sure it’s an amazing spot in the summer. Cinque Terre is also known for their pesto and fresh, readily available seafood. Everything there was delicious! The Leaning Tower of Pisa was also a highlight of our Tuscan tour. We got plenty of cheesy pictures. We also passed a town called Volterra where a few scenes from the famous “New Moon/Twilight” series was filmed.
The last two days were spent in Rome where we visited the Colosseum, The Pantheon, The Appian Way, The Catacombs, The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain and several other well-known sites. We spent the least amount of time there and could have stayed an additional 3-4 days to covers things we missed. Rome is rich in history and full of amazing architecture. Arguably the busiest and most difficult city to get around, it felt very similar to New York City (but much, much better).
We landed safely in the states on October 16th. It was such a good feeling to be home again. Although, I’m pretty eager to go back and finish exploring Italy. That’s just a quick recap of everything we were able to accomplish on our 11 day trip. Hope you enjoy the pictures!
The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
On our way to Cinque Terre
The Three Amigos