Its been exactly one week since I’ve been back & I’m finally getting over the jet lag. I write a little bit of this post and close up the laptop and knockout halfway through. So, with delay, I’ve collected all my recommendations! I visited Venice & Florence last year for a day each (which definitely is not enough) but it was my first trip to Rome. I’ll have you know, it was my husbands first time out of the country, so I was more excited for him than me! I’m SO happy he did this and even happier that we did it together. Safe to say, we are absolutely in LOVE with Italy and were already planning our next trip while we were there. If you’re reading this, you’ve either been to Italy or are planning on going. So if you’ve been, please feel free to comment and leave your recommendations. If you haven’t been, take notes! Although there is SO much to see and so many places to experience in each city, my references are based on local recommendations and personal experiences. So here we go, City by City...
Falling for Florence
There hasn’t been a person I’ve met whose visited Florence and hasn’t fell in love with the city. I don’t know what it is about it, but just simply an amazing place to be. Florence is more that casual small city vibe; beautiful river, old almost gothic looking buildings, amazing food, super friendly people and not too many tourists. We stayed here for 2 nights, 3 days and it was just perfect. You want to do all the touristy stuff (museums, site seeing) one day and just enjoy the city the next. There was actually a women sitting behind us at dinner in Venice, explaining to her 3 young kids her first experience at Florence and how the first time she was there, she was emotional and teary eyed - I totally understood her. I felt that way about Rome.
Hotel: Montebello Splendid - Extremely beautiful, walking distance from the river. I would recommend staying at a hotel facing the river - it’s gorgeous! However, not cheap. If you don’t care much about a view or fanciness, there’s MANY hotels there, just judge based on reviews. Someone there told us AirBNB does well there.
Trattoria Gargani - This cute little restaurant was a local referral. Very artsy, super friendly people and delicioussss good! I got the fresh pasta spicy tomato sauce - mm mm!
13 Gobbi - This was a friends recommendaton. Place was super packed on a Thursday night and we were lucky enough to get squeezed in. You MUST get the rigatoni and a bottle of their chianti. You’ve never had rigatoni like that.
4 Leon - I found this restaurant last year based on a local recommendation from our concierge. This restaurant is not easy to find! You have to go through several little streets and eventually, in the middle of apartments, you’ll see it. Their pear ravioli is what they’re known for (amazingly good) but this last time, I had their lasagna - I’ve never had lasagna like that in my life. Melts in your mouth!
Gusto Pizza - they’ve been there over 40 years and have a recipe from their father from Napoli. SO GOOD! A friend of mine recommended taking the pizza to go and eating it at the Piazza MichaelAngelo where you have a view of the entire city.
Don nino - You need to go in here and have a cannoli when you go to see the Duomo. They make it fresh right jn front of you. Best cannoli. I know I’m saying that to all of this - but really!
To see: Uffizi Gallery - Insane artwork! (make sure you go to the cafe and eat a prosciutto sandwhich. It’s just prosciutto and bread. We dreamt about it for weeks)
Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) - The bridge is now a walking street with shopping, cafe’s and gelato! This is also where you can buy a lock and hang it on around the metal gates.
Galleria dell Academia - It’s a nice museum but we just went to see the Statue of David specifically. You must.
Boboli gardens - We didn’t get a chance to go here because it was chilly, windy and rained a bit; but locals told us it’s a beautiful garden! If you have the time, take a stroll.
Piazzale Michaelangelo - It’s just a plaza that’s high up enough to have a view of the entire city
Piazza del Duomo - Also known as the Cathedeal Square. Iconic.
Venice is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’ve traveled a lot through Europe and each city will catch your heart in a different way; but Venice is MIRACULOUS! We stayed in Venice 3 nights and left for Rome on the 4th morning. You can easily do 2 nights if you’re in a rush and you’ll still see plenty. When we went it was kind of chilly so St. Marks square was a bit quieter. However, if you go in warmer weather, St. Marks square is full of people with all the restaurants setting up outdoor dining with bands and music all over the place. Pictures do absolutely no justice!
Hotel: The Gritti Palace - Dates back to 1475! A palace turned hotel. This was one of thee best hotels in Venice, facing the Grand Canal. The restaurant at this hotel is amazing as well. If you’re not staying there, go have lunch or dinner - right in front of the water on the deck.
OR Ca’ Sagredo Hotel - Stayed here last year. Again, facing the Grand canal, with a setup right in front of the water, to dine. I wouldn’t say the food was amazing though. If you’re not set on spending so much on a room, there’s many inside that don’t particularly face the water but are close in distance still.
Restaurant da Raffaele - We came across this restaurant just walking through one of the allys. It was a more local area and not on a busy shopping street. I had pasta and David had a fresh branzino which he devoured. Most importantly, you can dine right on the deck of a little canal.
Bar Longhi - Our hotel bar. It’s gorgeous at night!
Piazza San Marco - A huge square surrounded by museums, church, restaurants and shopping.
Includes: Saint Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s palace
San Lazzaro Degli Armeni - A small Armenian owned island! Whether you’re Armenian or not, the museum is so interesting with so much history! You can take a tour boat there or take a private boat. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
Cippriani - We didn’t get a chance to go because it was off-season; but it was highly recommended by a few people. There is a hotel (very pricey) but just go have lunch there! Oh and fun fact: George Clooney got married there!
Roaming in Rome
We stayed 3 nights in Rome and you absolutely NEED 3 nights in Rome. There’s so much to see in this city! We hired a private tour guide for 3 hours each day: one day was the Colloseum & Roman Forum and the second day was Vatican City. I HIGHLY recommend getting a tour guide, if not a private one, there’s many group ones. Your hotel can help set you up with a tour or you can search for one on Trip Advisor. Our tour guide was a historian and archeologist, so she knew every detail of the city and we learned so much! My husband is obsessed with history, so these tours were really important to him and in turn, me. But once you’re done with your tours, just Roam the City! There is so much to do! One of the most lively cities I’ve ever been in.
Hotel: Palazzo Manfredi - One of the hottest spots to stay in. Specifically because your dining spot has the most beautiful view of the Coloseum. But to say that it was one of the best hotels I stayed in, I’d be lying. Just go have lunch or dinner there and get that experience.
La Carbonara - We found this spot as we walked through the little streets and noticed a line outside the door. Place opens 12:30 and as soon as it opened, the place got packed in 15 minutes. They’re obviously known for their Carbonara and rightfully so!
Primocafe - We had pizza and pasta at this restaurant on a Sunday, which was right in front of a bazaar. True Italian experience and delicious food!
Hosteria pantheon - When you go to the Pantheon, have some food or wine and just chill here! Ambiance and Food, both A+! There are bands and solo musicians in and out.
Tartufi & Friends - An actual truffle bar! Truffle everything. Appetizers, entre, salads all with truffle. All that and their best bottle of Italian Champagne was a total of $140! What? A truffle bar in LA with that type of spread would be at least $400!
Giolitti - One of the oldest standing Gelato bars! Super old, classic looking ice cream and desert shop.
Traverna Trillusa - Another delicious local referral. Try to make reservations because it gets packed pretty quickly. Have the spaghetti in the iron pan - I don’t know what it’s called (see attached photo). Trestevere is such a cool spot - spend some time there!
Colosseaum - We had a tour guide for this, 3 hours including the Roman Forum
Vatican museum - Dedicate at least half the day here! We took a tour guide here too, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Sistine Chapel - If you’re not going to get a tour guide, read about this before you go so you can understand what you’re seeing.
St. Peter’s Basilica - The most beautiful church on the planet. I think that may be a fact. We went all the way to the top at the end of our tour. Fair warning, 300 narrow steps; in other words, if you easily have panic attacks, anxiety or claustrophobia, don’t do it lol.
Spanish Steps - Shopping in this area is endless and insane.
Altare della patria