If you love art, architecture, and food – Italy is an obvious place to visit in Europe. In 2015, Calin wanted me to meet some of his family, cousins, in Italy so we decided to go with his mom and then Suzie was about to graduate so we bought her a ticket and four-wheeled it into Italy. There I also ended up meeting his dad and step-mom for the first time in Florence – they drove from Romania! It was a packed trip full of good food and even better company.
* I hurriedly made a few videos of our time in each city – they’re embedded into the city titles*
We landed in Milan and stayed there for one night so we only got to see the touristy sights like the Cathedral, the Galleria, and surrounding area. What struck me most there is how well-dressed everyone was! We didn’t stay long but it was clear that Milan was a city brimming with a sophistication and a richness that are hard to describe. Interesting fact: it has the highest number of Michelin stars in Italy so if you’re a foodie you’ll love it there.
Ah, likely my favourite place in Italy. Cinque Terre literally translates into “five villages” which is what it is… these fishing villages are set against a very dramatic coastal backdrop; colourful homes dot the cliffsides and it honestly looks like something out of a postcard – it’s so beautiful. We stayed here for 5 days.
The five villages are:
- Corniglia: This is where we stayed mostly because it’s the least touristy of all five. It’s in the middle of the five villages and you have to climb about 400 steps in order to get it to it (or you could take the shuttle which we didn’t know about – ha). I really loved staying here because of the dramatic views it offered and because it had a quieter feel than the other villages in the area.
- Riomaggiore: This is the largest of the five villages and seems to be where everyone goes! But to be honest, I can see why… the sunsets are extra dreamy here.
- Manarola: All I remember is the wine – try the sweet Sciacchetrà wine.
- Vernazza: This is the steepest of all the villages. If you love to hike narrow cobbled streets with amazing views at every little turn then this is the one for you.
- Monterosso: Of the five, this is the only one with a proper stretch of beach. I also remember really enjoying the fried mixed seafood with lemon wedges here 🙂
Firenze! What’s not to love? It’s a quintessential Italian city with its beautiful art and amazing wines. We didn’t venture out into the countryside because of tight timing but what we saw of the city itself was charming despite its touristy vibes. Of course, we did all the touristy things like the Uffizi Gallery (which out of all the other galleries I’ve been to struck me as the most impressive) and the Ponte Vecchio (oldest bridge with gold shops along it), etc. However, if you want to do something a bit more unique (my goal if I find myself there next time) I would follow this guide which is far more interesting than what we did there!
Of course I had to make a stop here. I remember as a child dad was sent on his first and only business trip to Italy and while he was gone I made it my mission to go to my local bookstore (Internet wasn’t common in Syria at the time) to see if there were any books on Italy I could read prior to his return so I can impress him with my knowledge. Sadly all I could find was a notebook with the picture of the leaning tower of Pisa on it so for the duration of my dad’s trip I thought that’s what Italy was known for. My father would later shower me with stories about his trip.
Anyway, Pisa was fun. I would recommend getting tickets to the Camposanto Monumentale after you see the tower because it has some interesting frescos and it’s also got some very pretty grounds. Although rumour has it that the soil for this cemetery was brought back from the Crusades and the crazy part of this rumour is that a body will rot within 24 hours of being buried there – so maybe don’t take a nap in there no matter how pretty, hah. I think given how many people nap around the tower grounds they probably started that rumour so people don’t take naps in a cemetery – just my silly rationalization – hahaha.
This is a beautiful coastal city in Italy. Honestly, here we spent the most time with family and just really relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t do touristy stuff – we kind of just lived there for a week. Calin’s family was very generous and gifted us a belated honeymoon suite right next to the harbour – it was probably the best gift we’ve received as a couple. We drove through the mountains to nearby towns like Sanremo. I highly recommend driving in that area – their highways are amazing! Not to mention the views.