{A Honeymoon in Italy} Gelato and Pesto, Here We Come

{Photos courtesy Hotel Artemide}

Our honeymoon has officially been booked and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ll be departing the day after our wedding to head to Rome, an eight and a half hour journey from Philadelphia. For the first leg of our trip, we’ll be staying at Hotel Artemide in Rome for two nights (the photo above is an example of the room we’ll be staying in). We’re total TripAdvisor stalkers, so the 4 1/2 star rating (out of 1,822 reviews) definitely made it a stand-out hotel with a convenient location.

For those of you who have been to Rome before, what lesser known sites should we scout out? I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to a tourist-y night walk to the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum (preferably while eating loads of gelato).

{Photos courtesy Grand Tour in Florence}

After we explore Rome for a couple of days, we’ll take the train an hour and a half to the Grand Tour in Florence, a five-star B&B I’ve been smitten with for years. The original structure was an 18th century garden theatre, which the owners brought back to light during its restoration and converted into nine suites. All of the doors open onto a courtyard garden with a fountain, which sounds all sorts of dreamy. I fully expect for there to be cartoon birds hanging our clean laundry on a clothesline when we wake up in the morning, that’s how good it sounds.

The Actor Suite, which we’re staying in (above), has a large bathroom with a private sauna…yes please. The shower has handmade majolicas (decorative earthenware tiles), that are so, so lovely. I love the old marble sink that is featured in the bedroom, along with the headboard that has some really pretty details.

{Photos courtesy Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival}

Florence is a great central location for day trips, so we’ll be spending 4 nights in Florence, with excursions to Venice (Peggy Guggenheim Collection!) and Siena. I’m really excited about the Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival, an evening parade through the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, with children carrying paper lanterns lit with candles, while the older kids try to set the lanterns ablaze with pea shooters. It’s all in good family fun since it is tied around tradition, plus there’s live music and carnival food, so it shouldn’t be too crazy. Supposedly most of the lanterns end up burning by the end of the night, so it should be interesting to see.

{Photos courtesy La Poesia}

After exhausting ourselves in and around Florence, we’ll be heading to Cinque Terre. I’ve been wanting to go to Cinque Terre forever, but then this happened last year, and it made my heart sink. Alas, the cliffside villages are rebuilding and need the tourists now more than ever, so we will be spending four nights in Monterosso Al Mare, one of two villages extensively damaged in last fall’s flood. Pete really wanted to stay near the beach, so that’s how we landed on Monterosso, however we’ll also be hiking and traveling to the other villages—Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

We’re staying at La Poesia, a charming B&B not far from the train station, with homemade breakfasts served on the outdoor terrace, complete with lemon trees and a breathtaking view of the beach.

{Photos courtesy here, here, and here}

I’m most excited about hiking around Cinque Terre, with a day trip to the port town of Portofino and loads of relaxing. Pete seems to think he can convince me to jump off of a 30-40 foot cliff into the Mediterranean Sea, but I have a feeling I’ll have to jump from the little kiddie spot that is only a few feet above the water.

Have you guys ever been to Italy? What spots should we be sure to add to our agenda (restaurants, museums, anything)?

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Italy Vacation Planning Begins…

Pete and I plan to travel to Italy in September 2011, so I’ve started the initial planning process for a 10-12 day trip. I’m sure we will change our minds a million times, but for now this is a really basic itinerary:


Fly into Venice’s Marco Polo Airport and take the ATVO Venice Express bus for a half hour from the airport in Venice to the Piazzale Roma (around €3). Spend 1 day and 1 night in Venice. Some must-see spots: St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace—walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs. Visit the Rialto Bridge at night and take a cruise along the Grand Canal on the vaporetto #1 water bus. Visit the Guggenheim Museum if there’s time. Take the train from Venice (switch in Milan) to Cinque Terre. Visit Trenitalia for help with train schedules.


Spend 3 days and 2 nights in Cinque Terre in Manarola. Hike the trail that links the five towns in the morning. Hike, enjoy the sights and take photographs like it’s nobody’s business. Head south to La Spezia (the largest city just south of Riomaggiore) and catch a train for Florence. The train (around €12-21 per ticket) is 2.5-3 hours (switch trains in Pisa).


Spend 4 days and 3 nights in Florence. Mission #1: stuff our faces with gelato. Visit the Uffizi and have a Caravaggiogasm. Visit Siena for a day trip by taking the SITA bus (€7-ish one way) for 1.5 hours (depart across from the main train station and go to Siena’s bus stop at Piazza Garibaldi). Take the bus for a day trip to San Gimignano for a dose of Tuscany lifestyle. Depart from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station and head to Rome’s Termini Station (about a 2 hour trip and roughly €56 per person).


Stay in Rome for 2 days and 1 night. Visit the Colosseum at night, the Sistine chapel and the Trevi Fountain. Eat. A lot. Leave from the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport.

Once we finalize the basic itinerary of the cities we want to hit, we can start figuring out the B&B’s or hotels that best fit our budget, as well as restaurants and other spots we won’t want to miss. We aren’t as interested in visiting cathedrals as we are exploring the towns and soaking in the architecture and arts. Any advice from seasoned travelers? This will be my first out-of-country experience (sorry Canadians, I’m not counting Niagara Falls), so I have a lot of research to do. Oh, and I should probably get a passport.