Travel Guide: Italy

As I am sure you have figured out from my multiple social media posts, we just got back from a trip to Italy.  We actually planned this trip in November so the fact that it is over makes me a little depressed.  For months, I built it up in my head and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  In this post, I hope to share some tips, tricks, restaurants, hotels, etc. for anyone planning to make the journey to Italy soon!

Booking the trip

As much as I love planning, I knew I was going to need some help planning this trip.  When we originally looked at airfare, it was sky high and we couldn’t find anything less than $1,400 per person for the flight alone.  That just didn’t seem feasible, so I started looking into the travel agency route.  I came across go-today and within minutes of being on the phone with them,  I knew this was the way to go.  We had already narrowed down that we wanted to go to Florence, Rome, and the Almafi Coast and we had dates picked out for the trip.  Kristie, my agent at go-today, had a quote for flights, hotels, train tickets, and private transfers within 20 minutes.  Our itinerary was Florence for 3 nights, Rome for 2 nights, and Sorrento for 3 nights.  We ended up staying in Sorrento for 2 nights and Naples for the last night in order to be close to the airport due to a 6am flight.  We ended up booking the trip the next day after I spoke with Kristie.  I cannot praise go-today enough! All of the vouchers came to my email 2 weeks before the trip! It was so organized and I could focus on the fun planning (food, wine, and sight seeing!). I would highly recommend go-today! Our hotels were all wonderful and in prime locations.  When you are not familiar with an area, it can be hard to get a central location.  All of the hotels were close to transportation and main city attractions.

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Where we stayed

Florence– Hotel Arizona
pros
– Very good location! About a 10 minute walk to the Duomo
– Friendly staff! Very helpful!
-Great restaurant across the street

cons
-Tiny and I mean TINY bathrooms and shower
-Dark rooms, not a lot of space

For the amount of time we were in the hotel room during our time in Florence, this hotel was great!  It was clean and served it’s purpose!

Rome – Hotel Alexandra
pros
– Another excellent location! The street that the hotel is located on is gorgeous and there are many restaurant options including a delicious pizza place! The metro was also right across the street.
-Spacious rooms! The shower seemed so large compared to our first stay!
-Very elegant and seemed more ritzy than our first hotel.

Sorrento– Hotel Michelangelo

pros

-A great home base if you are looking to explore the Almafi Coast! The hotel is right across from an adorable lemon farm and about a 3 minute walk to the square of Sorrento! We took a bus for 4 euro round trip to Positano and the ferry was very easy to get to in order to travel to Capri. 

-The amenities of this hotel are really nice. It has a wonderful outdoor pool, a rooftop garden/patio, and a patio outside the hotel.

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What we did

Florence

Day 1: Sightseeing in the city!
Places you don’t want to miss:
-The Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio

Day 2: Wine Tour in Chianti
This is a must do! We used viator.com to book this tour. Be prepared that if the tour says 6 hours, it could run over, so pack some snacks or plan to eat before you go! Depending on what wineries you visit, the sampling of food is not going to fill you up!  We ended up shipping a case of wine home and I am so excited to receive it! This is the exact tour we did: click here.

Day 3: Day Trip to Cinque Terre
I am so happy we ended up doing this day trip.  We wanted to get to Cinque Terre but it isn’t super close to Florence. We also booked this trip through viator.com and it was much more organized than our wine tour! I would highly recommend this excursion trip if you only have one day to explore Cinque Terre.  We traveled in a group to take trains from place to place but during the actual time in Cinque Terre we were not restricted to being with the group which was perfect!   This is the link to the exact tour we did: click here.

Rome

Day 4: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain

These are all must- sees in my book! I LOVED Rome so much! It was so charming and historical but also very HOT.  If you do go in the summer, be prepared to sweat and plan accordingly.  You will be doing a lot of walking (we got over 20,000 steps in one day).  The great thing about Rome is the fresh water fountains everywhere! Make sure you have a giant water bottle so you can keep refilling.

Colosseum- We bought tickets in advance for this at the official website which allowed us to skip the line.  You can get these tickets here.  The website is a little confusing but if you just print out your confirmation and take it to the ticket office at the Colosseum they will print your tickets.  There was a 2 hour line for people who did not have advance tickets, so it was definitely worth it to buy ahead of time!

Trastevere – Don’t worry, I am going to get to food soon, but I wanted to mention the adorable neighborhood of Trastevere.  We got dinner here and it was the most charming neighborhood. In the summer, they also have pop up shops, bars, and restaurants right on the water.  It was so fun to walk this street after dinner and explore the shops and grab a drink!  Don’t miss out on this neighborhood in Rome!

Day 5: Vatican City

Since the metro was right across the street from our hotel, we took it to Vatican City. It was very easy and affordable to do so.   We did not buy tickets in advance for the Vatican Museums. When we got there, the line was wrapped twice around the entire “city.” It would have been a 3 hour wait without a tour guide.  To get the whole experience and to avoid the line, we decided to buy a skip the line tour with a tour guide.  This cost 50 euro per person and general admission was 22 euro.  This was definitely worth it because I feel like we would have missed so much without a tour guide.  The whole experience was breathtaking. The amount of detail put into the chapels and artwork is unbelievable. Make sure you bring a scarf to cover your shoulders and wear a long dress or pants to cover your knees!

Sorrento / Almafi Coast

Day 6: Positano
Positano is hands down my favorite place we visited in Italy. I would even go as far to say it’s my favorite place I’ve ever visited….EVER.  The views are stunning and the vibe of this beach town is so relaxing yet glamorous.  Like I said before, we took the bus from Sorrento which was the most affordable option but not for the faint of heart. Those roads are VERY curvy, but I promise you it’s worth it!


Day 7: Isle of Capri
Another gorgeous day on the coast! Capri took my breath away!  If you’re doing a day trip, I would recommend taking an early ferry. It gets very crowded during the summer months and if you want a chance at seeing the Blue Grotto, you have to get there early.  Unfortunately, the water was too rough for us to get inside, but we enjoyed the boat ride around the island.  A lot of the boat tour companies have options of going directly to the blue grotto or taking a trip around the island.  I would recommend spending the 3 or 4 extra euros per person to do the full island tour.

Day 8: Relaxation & Sorrento
By the last day of our trip, we needed some relaxation.  We spent the day by the pool and ate lunch in the square of Sorrento.  It was the perfect, last day!

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Food & Drink

Florence
 I’Tuscani 3
steak, cheese, and liters of wine….what more could you ask for?

Ristorante Sant’ Ambrogio
great service & delicious menu!

Rome
Suggestum Cafe
amazing pizza!

Cornucopia Ristorante
beautiful atmosphere!

Sorrento
Ristorante Caruso
favorite restaurant of the trip! best food & great vibe!

Positano
Franco’s Bar
great spot for a drink with phenomenal views

Da Vincenzo
great seafood & upscale!

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I’m so happy with the way this trip turned out. I loved each place we visited for a different and unique reason. If you are just looking to go to one spot in Italy, my pick would be Positano. I can’t wait to go back someday!

I’d love to answer any questions that you have in the comments! Thanks for reading and following along on my journey!

Ciao!

Carly

 

stripes & bows

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Dress: Allura Boutique 
Earrings: Francesca’s (similar)

There are few things I love more than stripes and bows, so I fell in love with this dress instantly.  I am all about the off the shoulder look this summer.  I styled this dress for a casual happy hour, but I am definitely taking it to the beach next weekend to dress down for a cover up and also to dress up for a dinner with some wedges and tassel earrings!  It’s hard to believe it’s already nearing the end of July.  I love fall fashion, but I think I will soak in all the summer styles for now! What’s been your favorite summer trend?  Let me know in the comments below!!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Carly