If you’ve ever been, it’s no surprise… we fell in love with Italy and can’t wait to go back. We saw amazing things everywhere and wished we had a few more days in each place. The food. The drinks. The walkability of the cities, the rolling countryside and coastal villages. The style, beauty, art, the focus on quality, simple, local, family… the language!
We took the high speed train from Milan to Florence and despite some jet lag, we enjoyed two full days there. Amazing long walks through the city, over the bridges, in the gardens, soaking in the architecture and statues, markets and street life in the piazzas. Our hotel was amazing and they upgraded us to a beautiful room with vaulted ceilings, and giant windows that opened up to overlook the city streets – just a block from the river, and a few blocks from the Duomo.
Aperitivos, with little potatoes chips and peanuts, pistachio and hazelnut and vanilla chocolate chip gelato, espresso normale and macchiato, negroni, spritz! All amazing!
Tuscany we stayed in an amazing air bnb in Regello and took a cooking class from the host, Matteo, who was an Italian version of Matt. Over 4 hours, we cooked a rustic Italian meal- wild boar, home made pasta, Amatriciana sauce, artichokes, and tiramisu for dessert! All the while drinking local wine and dipping bread in olive oil made from the bounty of the olive trees surrounding us. Grounding and nourishing – so nice to connect and talk and spend time with real Italians!
We took a day trip, Matt tapped into his inner Mario Andretti as we drove through Chianti, saw a peacocks full plumage at a monastery and had the most amazing lemon ricotta ravioli of our lives on the way to San Gimignano and Siena.
Off to the Cinque Terre, we drove out to the coast, and waved longingly as we drove by Lucca (next time!) but we had a car to return and a train to catch and some cousins to see! Dropped the car of in La Spezia, train to Bonassola, and met those kids at a sweet little agriturismo spot tucked up in a complex in the hillside with an amazing view of the Ligurian sea.
We lounged at the beach, ate focaccia and gelato, and then hopped on bikes to cruise out to Levanta. We had some serious pinch me moments along the way, with the sea out to the west, and gorgeous hillside and medieval villages to the east… stopped for a sunset aperitivo (amazing) on the way back to Bonassola and then we sweet talked our way into a restaurant right before closing for dinner.
The next day was our day of the Cinque Terre and though it was crowded and touristy, it was spectacular. The hikes from Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, train ride to Manorola… all amazing. In addition to the stunning views, there were delightful surprises along the way- pop-up lemonade stands, a cat sanctuary, vegetable gardens, and Christmas decorations that are tucked up into the hillside and illuminated for a spectacle in December. We soaked up all the sunshine the day had for us before catching the last train back to Bonassola. More seafood that night because you eat regionally in Italy, and Danny had some serious cravings for seafood.
The next day, Becca and I enjoyed a leisurely morning walk and life talk on the hidden trails and back roads of Bonassola before meeting the boys and packing up, and taking the train north to Genoa and then to Turin. Another time we will visit Genoa and Asti and explore the birthplace of the slow food movement…
Turin had so many lovely and amazing surprises for us. Hazelnut chocolate! Stunning architecture with arches covering the walkways. Trattoria! Pizza! Car museum! Walk along the river! Cinema museum, auto mobile museum! More pizza! Meloncello! Market! Aperitivo! Spa! The rooftop of their building, with panoramic views of the snow capped alps surrounding the city. And no American tourists! English was not spoken as much, and when we didn’t have Becca and Dani there to help guide us (grazie mille!), we used the amazing google translator to help us order and shop.
Full in the heart and the belly, we were sad to leave this amazing place, but grateful we made it in the first place. We took the train back to Milan- which we saved for another trip, too, and made our way back to the states.
Traveling is a great teacher, and in addition to learning about passport requirements, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other on this trip. I like to plan and do and shop and see, Matt likes to chill and wander and eat and drink. We both like the big cities and wish we’d had more time for shopping, but also really love walking and stumbling upon things and having extra time to go back to that place we found the other day… and prefer to connect with locals, eat high quality home cooked meals, and be in the less touristy spots. Once the wedding celebrations are over, we are excited to begin planning our next trip!