Show Us Your Life Favorite Vacations: ITALY!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Before I start this, I have to acknowledge all of the devastation across the South, especially in Tuscaloosa.  It’s just unspeakable.  My great friend Christie, the one who was just married three weeks ago, was one of those who lost everything in the storm.  We’ve only talked through texts, but I know she’s beyond thankful for the safety of herself, her family, and friends.  My heart still breaks for such sadness to follow such great joy.  We both rejoice in a Mighty God, but please pray for her and those that have lost so much.

Second, after spending way too much time writing this, I realized I have the wrong date for Show Us Your Life Vacations!  It’s scheduled for next Friday, but I already have posts planned for next week and that will throw everything off, so I’m bucking the palace system today and posting it early.  I’ll post it today and just link up next week!

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I’ve been meaning to do this for the last, oh, eight months or so, so when I saw today’s topic on SUYL, I knew I had to join in.  In case you missed it, TGrass and I took a two and a half week trip to Italy last August—the first European trip for both of us.  After a brief stay in Paris, we headed to Venice and worked our way south until we made it to the Amalfi Coast.  It was an incredible trip and there are few days in our home where it doesn’t come up in some form or fashion…

I wrote lengthy recaps of each city along the way, which are linked in each city title below {they’re also linked on the travel page}.  We lived and died by Fromer’s in planning the trip and tried to keep our hotel prices reasonable, so all of our recommendations are smaller hotels, but were clean, in great locations, and usually came with great freebies (free breakfast, wifi, etc…).  We travel by Euro Rail from city to city, with the exception of driving from Rome to Sorrento, a fun way to shake up the end of the trip.

Anyway, without further adieu, our recommendations on where to wine, dine, and sleep while you gallivant through Italy…

Venice

  • Hotel Galleria
    If you want a great hotel for a good price in a great part of Venice, here it is!  The hotel is located right next to the Ponte dell'Accademia {i.e. You don't have to haul your suitcase over a thousand bridges after you get off the water taxi}. We were able to fling open our windows for a great view of the Grand Canal.  You aren't going to find any five-star Westins in Venice, but this place wasn't bad.  It's older {of course}, a smaller B&B type with high ceilings and antique furniture.  It was super clean, they have a fridge stocked with free drinks for you to grab on the way out, and the owners know you by name.  Oh, and right outside the door of the hotel is a great pizza place - Accadema Foscarina - located in the shadow of the Accademia Bridge on the canal.  I think we paid 100-120 euro per night.

Cinque TerreVernazza Cinque Terre

  • Cinque Terre is along the Italian Riviera and a hidden gem of Italy.  It is comprised of five small fishing villages along the coast, each about a mile apart.  You don't want to stay where we stayed, so I won't even tell you! {We stayed in La Spezia, which is the central transportation hub for Cinque Terre, but our hotel was very far from the train station.}  You will want to stay in one of the small villages—Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, or Monterosso.  We met some people along the way who stayed in Manarola and loved it, which is where we will stay whenever we go back.  Monterosso is the last "land" and the most established, so if you're looking for a nicer hotel in a {small} resort town, you should also look there. 
  • Another piece of advice: the towns really are small and not commercialized, so you need to plan your initial arrival time during "regular" hours {i.e. not 11pm}.  If you're traveling by EuroRail, you will take a train to La Spezia and then get on a regional train that will take you to the smaller towns.  We had a hard time planning this segment of the trip and we felt like we couldn't find a lot of info online, but it is 100% worth your time to visit so please ask if you have questions about Cinque Terre.  You will have a GREAT time—it is so beautiful.  Here’s one website you might find helpful.

Florence

  • Hotel Lungarno
    We LOVED Florence!  I think one of the reasons we loved it so much was because of Hotel Lungarno.  It is located in a great area of town - right on the Arno, just steps from the Ponte Vecchio, within a mile of the train station, and we walked everywhere.  It is a beautiful hotel, and the only reason it was in our price range is because they offered a "pay for two, stay for three" deal, so check their site for deals.  You will not be disappointed with this hotel—they will take great care of you.

Three Florence restaurant recommendations:

  • Bucca Mario-  a very old, traditional restaurant; an institution in Florence; make a reservation
  • Acqua Al 2- Ah-mazing! You wont be disappointed in the blueberry steak or the fussili lunghi al mascarpone e funghi. Warning: the menu is not in English
  • Il Latini-  We actually didn't make it here because they were closed in August, but were told by many people we should eat here.

Rome

  • Hotel Modigliani
    The hotel is great, but the rooms are so-so... but when you’re in Rome how much time are you actually spending in your room?  Hotel Modigliani is located by the Spanish Steps and just up the street from the Piazza Barberini {close to two metro stations}.  A great breakfast comes with your stay and the overall price is pretty good - I think we paid 95 euro a night.  The staff is wonderful, helpful, and will make you feel very welcome.

Sorrento

  • La Minervetta Maison
    If you ever make it to the Amalfi Coast or Sorrento, you must stay at La Minervetta Maison.  There are only 12 rooms, so you will feel like you own the place.  The views are amazing and the rooms look like they came straight out of a magazine {And they offer the most amazing breakfast spread each morning…Actually, amazing doesn’t even cover it.} 

This place was pricey, but we wanted to splurge on our last hotel in Italy—totally worth every penny and we were able to make it work since the other hotels weren't as grand.

  • Great restaurant recommendation in Sorrento—Inn Bufalito.  This is a great locally owned restaurant and the menu changes daily.  We had two of our three dinners in Sorrento here—I still dream of their mozzerella.  If you go, be sure to ask for the owner Franco... he will treat you right!!

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And just to show you how much fun we had...



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And that’s it!  Oh, that made me ache for Italy.  We watched The Tourist last weekend and it had the same effect…  If you’re heading to Italy soon, I’m officially jealous.  If you have any questions feel to free to comment or email—I’d love to help!

Thanks for stopping by—Happy Friday Royal Wedding Day!

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