Ciao! Eight months later, we just got back from our honeymoon in Italy and it was amazing.
We spent 10 days in Italy, split between Rome, Florence and Positano. We flew out of Philly on Wednesday night, landed in Rome on Thursday morning and hit the ground running. One of the best things about Italy is the convenient, clean and easy public transportation that makes traveling from city to city a breeze. We took the train from Rome to Florence and Florence to Naples, where we picked up a rental car and drove down the coast to Positano.
I'm going to recap each city separately so first up - Rome!
Nick and I split up planning and he planned the activities while I planned our shopping and food must-do's. I have to give him a LOT of credit because he picked some great companies for our tours and we both loved everything we did in Rome.
Friday morning, we walked over to Vatican City for a tour of the Vatican. If you have any interest at all in touring, I can't recommend buying skip the line passes enough. We paid about $20 more per person and were able to go right in once the Vatican opened, had a wonderful tour guide and learned a LOT. Our guide told us that some people will stand in line for hours to get in, so the extra money is totally worth it. It was pretty surreal to be inside the Vatican and see so many famous things that we both grew up learning about. Another benefit of our tour was that we were done by 12, which left us the rest of the day to explore Rome...aka shop. ;)
We also did a bike tour around Rome, which was a great way to see a lot of the famous sites without having to spend hours at each stop. We started in "Ancient Rome" and learned a bit about Roman history before biking all over the city. Notable stops on our tour include the Colosseum, Pantheon, Jewish Ghetto, market at Campo de Fiori, and Trevi Fountain. We also made a few stops along the way for espresso, pizza and gelato. Our tour guide was so friendly and knowledgable about Rome and its history, and both Nick and I agreed that the bike tour was something we would 100% do again.
It's true. There is literally a pizza, pasta, coffee or gelato shop everywhere you turn in Rome. The good news is that you will never go hungry or be under caffeinated while you're out and about.
However, while Italians do love their coffee, they love it differently. We learned quickly to ask for an Americano or a cappuccino depending on whether we wanted black coffee or a more latte-esque drink. Even when we ordered Americanos, they were so much smaller than what we are used to - I'm talking like a tall Starbucks drink - so often times Nick would order several coffees, or a coffee and espresso.
Santa Lucia Ristorante
This was my favorite restaurant in Rome. If you've watched Eat, Pray, Love then you may recognize it from the scene where Julia Roberts masters Italian and orders everything on the menu perfectly. The restaurant opens at 7 (which is typical of many restaurants in Italy) so we walked over early to have drinks at the bar. We had THE best white wine we've ever had and were amazed to learn that it was just the house wine. Italy just does wine really, really well. It's also pretty typical for restaurants to give you a complimentary spread of snacks, and I was so excited when the snacks our bartender gave us included peanuts because I couldn't find peanut butter ANYWHERE in Italy. Once the restaurant opened, we headed outside for dinner and had one of our favorite dinners of the entire trip. Santa Lucia is famous for their lobster pasta so that's what we both ordered - and I totally get it now. I can't recommend this restaurant for a romantic dinner enough!
Mimi e Coco
I stumbled upon Mimi e Coco when I was searching for a wine bar close to our Airbnb and am so happy I found it. We had dinner at this small restaurant with some friends of ours that happened to be in Italy at the same time as us and it was a wonderful night. We spent over two hours here enjoying dinner and drinks and despite the fact that the restaurant is TINY and you are literally on top of each other, we never felt super crammed and the food was delicious. This was one of the only restaurants where I could find a large, fresh salad and it was great to be able to eat some greens after a few days of pizza and gelato. :) Nick and I both ordered pizza here, which was a little different and served on a rosemary foccacia flatbread. SO good!
You know how much I love my smoothies and smoothie bowls, so when I found Ginger .1 miles from our Airbnb, I told Nick we had to try it. It was AMAZING! Not only did they have a ton of smoothie and smoothie bowl options, but they also had both a lunch and dinner menu full of delicious salads, sandwiches and more. This was a perfect lunch spot for Nick and me because I could enjoy a smoothie bowl and he could enjoy his favorite Italian sandwiches. Ginger was the only place we found in Rome that served iced coffee similar to what we are used to here in America. Highly recommend stopping here even if it's just for an iced coffee or a smoothie!
When in Rome, you MUST eat gelato daily. I did a fair amount of research for gelato spots and Grom consistently topped lists across TripAdvisor, Yelp and many travel blogs. And for good reason! One thing we learned in Italy is that the best gelato is kept in small metal tins that sit under the counter. The massive, colorful mounds of gelato that you see in a lot of display cases tend to be chock full of preservatives and chemicals, which is what allows it to stay that way all day. Grom's gelato was unreal. I got the chocolate and hazelnut flavors (yes, basically Nutella) and it's amazing how such a small amount of gelato can be so satisfying.
When we booked our trip, Nick and I agreed that we wanted to go the Airbnb route. Not only was it affordable, but it was really fun to stay in a true Italian apartment and feel completely immersed in the city. We had so much more space than we would have had in a hotel with multiple bathrooms, bedrooms, a tiny kitchen and a really nice outside patio area where we were able to sit and drink wine before heading to dinner each night. The location was also incredible and since we were pretty centrally located, we were able to walk everywhere. The only time we got in a car was when we left for the train station!
Shoes. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes! We averaged about 20,000 steps a day so a good pair of shoes is non-negotiable. I wore my Adidas Superstars and Tory Burch Miller sandals on days where we walked all around the city, and saved my heels and booties for dinners where we didn't have to walk too far.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of places are cash-only. If you're planning on walking around and stopping by markets and shops, make sure to have some Euros on hand.
You could definitely spend days or weeks there and never even get close to experiencing everything the city has to offer. Rome was the perfect start to our honeymoon and our three and a half days there were nothing short of incredible!