From the Amalfi Coast, we headed to Rome for two days – via Positano Tony -and then we took the train to Florence where we stayed for two days as well. I’m aware that these cities are heavily traveled, and are staples on pretty much every Italian vacation. In that light, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. However, I do have just one thought before I get into the details of our trip.
Whenever I travel to Italy, I am astounded by the age, enormity, and intricacy of everything. Whether it be the history, the landmarks, the buildings, or the art, I am always left feeling overwhelmed – in the best way possible.
To think that many of the structures we saw in these cities were over a thousand years old, boggled my mind. As we walked through the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and gazed down upon the Circus Maximus, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly humbled – and small. As we moved from building to building in the Vatican, looking at the papal collections, we were stunned by the scale of the tapestries, the height of the ceilings, and the detail of statues. As we stood in front of the Pietà, one of my favorite works of art in the whole world, our tour guide explained that Michelangelo completed this statue at just 23 years of age, and then he went on to complete the David at just 26. I got chills.
Here I was, on the eve of my 29th birthday, and I couldn’t help but think, what would be the Pietà and the David of my life?
I still don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that I left Rome (and Florence too) feeling incredibly inspired. I left feeling inspired to work harder than ever on this blog, to pour my heart and soul into each post, and to turn this dream of Ashley and mine into something bigger – much, much bigger. I left with the feeling that with the right amount of willpower and talent – anything could be possible. We’re getting there, I can see that very clearly, and thank you for being a part of that.
But, I do have to remind myself – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Yes, pun intended.
Where we stayed:
The Duke Hotel – The Duke was a recommendation from Kristin’s mother, and she prefaced it perfectly for us, “It’s not a luxury hotel by any means. It’s cheap, it’s outside of town, but people love it.” She was absolutely correct. The hotel isn’t anything special to look at, but the rooms are large, the shuttle service to town is convenient, and the concierges were fantastic. We knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in our rooms anyway – so The Duke was the perfect hotel for us.
Where we ate:
La Montecarlo: A wonderful authentic Pizzeria alongside the Piazza Navona. We ate there every day for lunch! They also have a beautiful little alley alongside the restaurant that was perfect to walk with William along!
Felice a Testaccio: This was a recommendation from my Aunt Tracey and is in a “Locals” part of town. The meal was outrageous – try the Cacio e Pepe and the Lamb. I am going to try to recreate the pasta sometime soon for the blog, wish me luck!
What we did:
Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain: I don’t know how, but I had forgotten how impressive the Trevi Fountain actually is. William was in awe as well – it’s something you have to do “when in Rome.”
The Vatican Tour – Kristin arranged for an early Thursday Vatican tour so we wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. I would highly recommend doing this, and we used this company > here.
Stroll around the Piazza Navona- I remembered this square from my last trip to Rome. It’s beautiful, easy to navigate with a stroller, and there are restaurants and gelato shops galore.
Pegaso Rome Tour – This tour, to me, was the best part of our time in Rome. I hate crowds, and I hate waiting in lines, so I asked our concierge to arrange a driving tour of Rome for us on our second afternoon. He arranged a tour for us with Allesandro at Pegaso Limousine – and it was absolutely amazing. Allesandro took us to countless landmarks where were were able to drive right up, take a photo, and then move on our way. He told us the history of every part of the city, he drove us around some well known neighborhoods that we otherwise would have missed, and he even gave us some wonderful restaurant recommendations. What’s more… the Mercedes van he drove was equipped with wifi – Score!
Where we stayed:
The Hotel Brunelleschi – The Hotel Brunelleschi is the oldest building in Florence (there is an excavation area and museum underneath the hotel) and it is located only steps away from the Duomo. It has been redone numerous times, and it is absolutely stunning. The interior juxtaposes modern decor against the ancient backdrop of the building, and the result is an absolutely beautiful place to stay when in Florence.
Where we ate:
Trattoria Gargani – This restaurant was casual, calming, and absolutely delicious. I loved my meal, as did Kristin, and the boys split a massive Florentine steak. We pretty much cried from laughter the whole dinner watching them devour it.
Zabibo 2.0 – We loved the ambiance of this restaurant and the duck was absolutely amazing.
What we did:
Boboli Gardens – A beautiful botanical garden across the river that overlooks all of Florence. Give yourself a good 2 hours to get through the full thing – you don’t want to rush.
A day in Tuscany – We asked for our concierge to arrange a wine tasting for us in Tuscany and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We went to a small family owned and operated winery – and we absolutely loved it! The owner showed us the grounds, we tasted their wine, bought way too many bottles and a kilo of cheese <<<oops, and William got to meet his first horse!
The Duomo – As I said before, our hotel was just steps away from the Duomo – so we got to see it every day, but if you’re headed to Florence, it is a must see.
The David – Kristin and I had both traveled to Italy before, so we let the boys brave the Accademia on their own. We opted for wine in a cafe and let William sleep – but as with the Duomo, if you’re going to Florence, you have to go to the Accademia to see the David, and all the other collections as well.
Strolled – One of the nicest parts of Florence is that it is small, flat, and beautiful. My favorite part of our time in Florence, this trip, was just meandering the streets.
Shopped – Florence has some incredible shopping, and I found the cutest little Italian boutiques while I was there.
All in all – Rome and Florence were amazing to us. We relaxed, we saw the sights, we ate, we drank, we laughed until we cried… I can’t wait to return!