Toscana | Personal

If I had to choose between Venice and Tuscany, I don't think I could. They were both so different and so incredibly beautiful. And both places have you thinking, "How is this a real place and how am I actually here?!?"

We stayed about 20 minutes outside of Firenze (Florence), in a villa nestled right in the hills of Tuscany. If it sounds idyllic, well... it was. The villa itself was charming and we were so warmly welcomed by the owners that by the end we felt like part of the family. We had the villa to ourselves but the owners' parents live on the same property and they come up nearly every day to check on things. 

We spent this leg of our trip relaxing, driving around the Chianti region, feasting our eyes on the incredible scenery, and exploring the darlingest little towns. And eating. Ohhh, eating very, very well. We absolutely loved our time here and can't wait to go back. :-)

Such a view!

Olive grove dreaminess. More portraits from this evening to come. :-)

An obliging rock took our picture...

Off to explore! Niccolo, our host, driver, and tour guide, knew all the best places to stop for pictures and entertained us endlessly with stories both historical and personal. :-)

One of the castles we visited.

My personal favorite town - Montefioralle.
Now I know where all those Pinterest pictures come from.

The charming little square in Greve where we took our lunch break.

Our lunch spot! And the signature black rooster that you'll find on everything due to local history.

Gelato. Of course.
It was a special flavor, only available in the Florence area, named after the inventor of gelato, called Buon Talenti. Double cream. Heaven.

More pussy encounters!

Volpaia, a tiny town that makes wine. All the buildings are old, but inside they house modern wine-making facilities.

Awesome little tunneled street!

And our last stop, Radda.

Radda has a cool underground street.

Best cappuccino ever.

Barbara (Niccolo's wife) cooks authentic Tuscan dinners and offers cooking classes at the villa. We had dinner our first night in town and it was amazing... we were so stuffed but it was absolutely one of the best meals we've ever eaten. So a couple of days later, we learned how to create a few of the dishes.

Tiramisu in the works

Crostini with tomato and garlic

All the herbs were fresh from the garden, of course.

Crostini with walnut cream, and involtini prior to cooking

Leek and saffron risotto!

Visiting with the horses...

Niccolo's antique Vespa that he's hoping to restore!

Into Firenze for the day! It was a very cloudy day so I took limited photos.

Loved this adorable purse in a leather shop! 

Such a cute baby car!

The restaurant where we had dinner... Ravioli with sage butter sauce... I nearly licked the plate.

Italy was an amazing, beautiful experience; there aren't words for the wonderful time we had. Thanks for following along in my (prolonged) retelling of my travels! Ciao!

(P.S. If you missed Rome and Venice, click here and here). 

Venezia | Personal

Ahh, Venice... where to begin?! After our first two days in Rome we hopped on a train for the second leg of our trip. I was squealing before we were even out of the Venezia train station. Rome was amazing, but didn't hold a candle to this. :-)

We stayed in a tiny bed and breakfast somewhere in the heart of the city, that you would never know was there unless you were a guest. It was fun to go "home" each night to just a regular door on a regular street and feel like a native Venetian!

We had basically no agenda in Venice. All we wanted to do was wander around and get lost, and that's what we did. It's impossibly charming. Every bridge and canal you cross is cuter than the last one - hence why this post is way too long and I'll congratulate you if you make it to the end. I couldn't decide which darling canal view to eliminate so I pretty much just posted them all. You're welcome.

So, without further ado, here's my take on one of the most unique and delightful cities on earth. Hold on to your hats...
Stepping out on the grand canal from the train station. And falling immediately in love.

That door. #obsessed

Shimmering at night.

Aside from being adorable, Venice boasts the most amazing paper and pen shops.
I was swooning.

Piazza San Marco at night. A favorite Venice memory...

We listened to the various quintets taking turns performing in the cafes (all of them invariably with an accordion!) and Tara & I waltzed on the piazza to the Blue Danube.

Gelato. Of course.

Next morning we were off exploring!

Itty bitty streets...

Very talented glass musician!

We had cat encounters in all three of our Italy destinations. :-)

Pizze for lunch... again.

And a gondola ride!

The daily gelato!

That morning we saw a poster hanging in our B&B advertising a Vivaldi concert.
At a church where Vivaldi performed.
We went.

It was incredible! Insanely gifted musicians.

The next morning Tara & I got up at the crack of dawn to take some portraits. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get a sunrise. But I'm still not complaining about this light!

She took a few for me as well. :-)

Here she's laughing because some Italian fellows boated by on the canal, exclaiming, "Bellissima!"
Apparently that really does happen in real life, not just in the movies.

On the previous day I had noticed so. many. awesome. mail slots. I made it my goal to start taking pictures of them, and then of course only passed one cool one for the remainder of the trip. -_-
Going back for the mail slot tour next time.

Getting a picture of me mailing my postcards.
Sometimes I'm just shamelessly touristy.

Back to the Piazza San Marco

We stumbled on a tiny Vivaldi instrument museum, which was a fun little find!

Congratulations! You made it! :-) Thanks so much for following along with my travels - I've got a couple more Italy posts still coming, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Lots of blogging to catch up on after a crazy last month!

When in Rome | Personal

Well, this post is long overdue. :-) If you're following me on Instagram you'll know that in October we took a family vacation to Italy! I have been slow getting my pictures finished from the trip since I've had a lot of client work taking priority, but here is part 1 of the Italian adventure! We traveled to Rome, Venice, and Florence (which, if you're a native, are actually Roma, Venezia, and Firenze... I wonder who decided to modify the names of Italian locations...).

Similar to my trip to France, Rome was the start and end of our trip. It was an amazing city and mind-boggling to think how old everything is. While I did not love it as much as Paris, it was an incredible experience and holds a special place in my Roman-Holiday-loving heart. ;-) I could say more but I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...

We stayed in an apartment within a 5 minute walk of the Colosseum.

Jet-lagged but happy to be there! :-)

We decided since we were all SO tired that it would be a bit of a waste to actually pay to go in anywhere the first day, so we just explored and saw things from the outside.

Our first of many pizze lunches. :-)

They put arugula on everything. So yummy!

Ruins everywhere you look!

Tired and windswept but still smiling...

Love this fence!

This was my sister's first time out of the country - she was pretty excited. :-)

Castel Sant'Angelo - where Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck dance on the barge in Roman Holiday. :-D

Saint Peter's Basilica

Colosseum lit up for the night

It was my goal to spot as many Vespas as possible on this trip.
And that's our fun apartment door!

Day two: sight-seeing! First up we headed to Palatine Hill, which I think was my favorite of the three ruin sites (PH, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum).

I now have an olive tree obsession.

Great views of the city from the top!

My cute parents :-)

After exploring Palatine Hill, we decided a gelato stop was necessary before hitting the Colosseum. In our gelato search, we stumbled across this tiny Vespa museum and shop!

I kind of get excited about Vespas, if you couldn't tell...

Clearly couldn't pass this up.

A favorite photo from the trip. The most perfect little cafe with ivy and twinkle lights.
We didn't eat there, but it was just too darling.

Dessert that night!

Day three found us visiting the Roman Forum and then catching our train to Venice.
Can I just say how I adore windows in Europe?

An obliging tourist took our picture on the stairs (hence the graduated heights...)

The detail... so incredible.

You'll have to wait to see the middle of the trip, since this post is only Rome... so here we are the end of the trip in a charming top floor apartment...

... complete with darling rooftop terrace!

And an awesome vintage elevator that barely fit all four of us. :-)

You can see our terrace on the second building in the picture on the left.

Off to the Spanish Steps...

... which were unfortunately closed off for construction. :-(

The Mouth of Truth!
We both made it out with our fingers intact. ;-)

This was funny... it's a ruin site that is home to a ton of cats!

"Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live."
- Princess Ann, Roman Holiday