Bella Italia... Is there anything better? To us, no. If we ever have vaults of gold coins that we can swim through like Scrooge McDuck, I'm buying a villa in a beautiful setting with lots of olive trees and vineyards. And I'm never coming back.
Until then, we'll be scraping up and saving hard to get back to these gems as often as we can.
ALLA RAMPA: Just off to the side of the Spanish Steps, in a surprising quiet little inlet of buildings, you’ll find the Alla Rampa. This is a great spot for classic Roman dishes like bucatini all’Amatriciana or spaghetti alla carbonara. The waitstaff speaks good English and is ready for tourists, but you’ll feel like- despite the prime location and the friendly waitstaff- you’re not in a tourist trap. Prices aren’t crazy and the food is really delicious. I’d recommend making a reservation in advance via the website here.
Piazza Mignanelli, 18, 00187 Roma RM | +39 06 678 2621
ROME4KIDS TOURS: If you’re wanting a way to see Rome with kids, I can’t recommend doing a tour with Katja enough. She was so easy to work with, had everything ready for us and made what could have been a very difficult day as painless as possible. We visited on the first of August and the high temperatures were pretty brutal with little kids, and I won’t be able to tell you how grateful we were to have the air-conditioned bus to take us from site to site. Worth the splurge in every possible way.
Via dei Savorelli, 38, 00165 Roma RM | +39 327 870 5610
Find more Rome tips here.
Find more Florence tips here.
Find more Venice tips here.
Find more Cinque Terre tips here.
Find more San Gimignano tips here.
Find more Montepulciano tips here.
CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO
Find more Civita de Bagnoregio tips here.
As the subcategory for the "I want to move to Italy" topic, this specific place wins the award. Lucca has stolen our hearts in a big way. I almost hate to talk about it in fear of it ever becoming over-popular, so I won't... except I will give you a few hints to the making of a great day. Read my "Pack Your Bags" post here.
Trattoria Da Giulio: I found this recommendation in a Travel & Liesure article that I tore out years ago. When we finally go a chance to go to it, it didn't disappoint. It was complete with gorgeous Tortelli Luchesse and locals. Its absolutely one of our favorite places to eat- but don't expect fancy.
Via delle Conce, 45, 55100 Lucca LU | +39 0583 55948
Bike Riding: Rent bikes and cruise along the city's medieval walls for an experience that will stay with you forever. With the hills of Tuscany surrounding the city and the tall tree lined paths, you'll feel like you've found yourself in a movie. There are various shops offering rentals, so don't fret. Just head towards the walls and you'll most likely find a spot to rent bikes for a few hours.
Puccini Concert: Even if you don't know who in the world Puccini is, you've heard a lot of his songs. As Lucca is his birthplace, most of the year you can find daily concerts for a small price. You'll hear gorgeous perfomances and hit all the highlights like O Mia Babbino and Nessun Dorma.
I'll be honest: driving the Amalfi Coast is one of the more stressful moments of travel we have ever encountered. From renting a car in the chaos of Naples to the hours spent in fear of probability of the approaching tour bus will knock you off the one-lane cliff you're driving- it's not exactly relaxing. However, it's hard to think of a more beautiful place on earth.
Next time, I think we'll train in to Sorrento and day trip from there.
We stayed at the Hotel Raito. A great hotel, but would be almost impossible to stay here without a car.
Via Nuova Raito, 9, 84019 Vietri Sul Mare SA | +39 089 763 4111
THE ITALIAN LAKES
Each trip I've taken to the lakes, I can only call "perfect." I love the culture of the Lakes. Whether it's flashy Como or the charming Guarda- this is the place for me. And hey, the hotels aren't half bad either. Fly into Milan, rent a car and take the scenic drive. It will take you a couple of hours, but the views and freedom of having a car once you're there make it more than worth it.
Villa D'Este: If you're up for a splurge, stay at crown jewel of Lake Como. With it's legendary floating pool and luscious gardens, it will make for a trip you'll never forget. Keep an eye out for Clooney.
Via Regina, 40, 22012 Cernobbio CO | +39 031 3481
Grand Hotel Majestic: A scale down from Como's Villa D'Este is Guarda's Grand Hotel Majestic. We stayed here in April and got fantastic rates. The town has easy access to boats that can zip you across to Stresa and Isola Madre for fun days out. We bought a package through Luxury Link that gave us spa treatments, breakfast and a three course meal for around $600 for 3 nights. Read more about our stay here.
Via Vittorio Veneto, 32, 28922 Verbania VB | +39 0323 509711