Do any of you have bucket lists? As someone who loves lists and all things organization, you better bet I have a bucket list 3000 items long. However, the number one item on this list is (well, was) traveling to Italy. As many of you know, I just got back from two weeks in Italy, where I ate my heart out, saw amazing culture, and lived a completely different life verses the one I have at home. I shared everything I could on my Instagram stories, but in case you missed it (or wanted more detail), this post is for you!
If you didn’t notice, I didn’t post on the blog for almost two weeks. I had posts scheduled to go out, but it didn’t seem right to be still trying to work while on vacation. Most days were filled with exploring and living in the moment, and I’ll be honest- I didn’t want to be bogged down by having to make sure content was good to go. It felt great to take a break, and I’m ready to get back in the groove! Anyways, lets get onto why you’re really here: Italy.
Be warned: I’m currently staring at a gigantic word doc titled “ITALY LIST” (all caps = very important in my book), and this bad boy pretty much goes into detail about everything. It’s fairly long, but I hope you enjoy reading the recap and get inspired to take a trip to Italy! I’m also sharing my tips for staying healthy on vacation while experiencing everything, because I know that many of you requested that as well!
This trip was considered my graduation present; my family is not into spending loads of money on lavish trips, so this trip has been in the works for years. I’m incredibly blessed to have gotten to go on this trip, and I’m even more grateful that I got to experience it with my mom, who is my favorite travel partner.
We started off the trip with three days in Sorrento! Sorrento is on the coast of Italy and it’s ABSOLUTLY GORGEOUS. Our hotel was in the cutest side street that was right in the middle of everything, but was quiet at the same time. The best part about our hotel was the courtyard- so cute and quiet! My mom and I made sure to find hotels that had cozy courtyards to eat breakfast. We spent our first day there walking around, exploring the city, and in the afternoon we went to Pompeii. Sadly, we didn’t do a tour or anything and we both agreeded that going to something that historic without knowing much about it leaves you confused and wanting more.
The first night we got to Sorrento, my mom wasn’t feeling too good and we were both so worn out from traveling that we opted for an easy pizza dish. We ate at Blu Water, which was a restaurant connected to our hotel, and split the veggie pizza. Verdict: delicious and a great way to start the trip! Not the best pizza we had all trip (as you’ll see), but it was light and easy on our bodies.
Now, I must say that I ate THE BEST MEAL OF MY ENTIRE LIFE in Sorrento. We ate twice at Bangi Delfino, which is this GORGEOUS seaside restaurant that is worth every penny. They gave us complementary bruschetta, which was to die for. But, that’s not even the best part. The first night we ate there, I had their smoked salmon pasta, which was homemade pasta in a creamy sauce with smoked salmon. This was by far the best entrée I’ve ever had. I savored every bite, and cannot recommend it enough. The second night, I got their grilled seafood and while that was no where near the salmon pasta, it was still delicious! Oh, and they have excellent red wine- 10/10. Bangi Delfino was one of two restaurants we really splurged on, and it was worth every penny!
And because I had to have gelato every night, I ventured to Davide every night, which was right across from our hotel! They have delicious gelato and everything tasted so natural. My two favorite flavors: pistachio and bacio!
As for breakfast, we ate every breakfast at the hotel because it was complementary. Italian food is very natural and mostly free of artificial sweeteners, and you can really tell the difference! For our hotel in Sorrento, I opted for the homemade muesli, a container of plain yogurt, some fresh fruit, and a cappuccino.
The next day, we took a boat over to the island of Capri! I LOVED Capri, because we did tons of hiking and again, it was on the coast, so the views were incredible! We hiked 800+ steps to get to the top of Anacapri, where we walked around for a bit. Afterwards, we hiked to Villa Jovis, which are some GORGEOUS ancient ruins. From there, we did another hike (well, long walk) to the Natural Arch, which is pretty self explanatory but still beautiful!
Our last day in Sorrento was spent on the Amalfi Coast. We went to Possetano for a bit, but honestly, I don’t recommend going. The Amalfi Coast is way prettier, less crowded (which is saying something because the Amalfi Coast is a huge tourist destination), and overall bigger. We hiked up to Pontrone, which gave us a STUNNING view of the island. This hike was the hardest one by far, but we got the best views out of it. If you’re going to either Capri and/or the Amalfi Coast, I cannot recommend these hikes enough.
AMALFI COAST EATS
While we only had one meal here, my mom and I both agreed it was in our top five! We went to Silver Moon and got this incredible white pizza with lemon zest, mozzarella, and zucchini. It sounds so simple, but trust me, it was AMAZING. The crust was light and airy, but still packed tons of flavor. I’m a total crust person, so if the crust isn’t amazing, then the entire pizza is thrown off.
After three days in Sorrento, we took a train to Rome, and as you can guess, did alllllllll the touristy things. Yup- walking tours of the Colosseum, ruins, and Pantheon (highly recommend!) We also went to the Vatican Museum, and even though I’m not much of a museam person, I loved this! I cannot stress this enough: BUY YOUR TICKETS FOR THE VATICAN IN ADVANCE AND SAVE YOURSELF HOURS WAITING IN LINE. After the Vatican, we walked up to the top of St. Peters and saw some incredible views of the city.
We also did other touristy things like going to the Trevie Fountain and the Spanish steps, where I got to live out my Lizzie McGuire dream 😉
By the time we got to Rome, my mom and I had developed a consistent eating schedule: medium sized breakfast, lighter lunch (we usually split a sandwich with some fruit on the side), big dinner, even bigger gelato.
Once again, I ate a breakfast similar to the one in Sorrento, but I was able to find some great places for lunch! We stopped by Pizzeria Romana, which is near the Pantheon. It’s a natural, healthy restaurant where I got the quinoa Buddha bowl (size of pizza bread on the side DUH), and my mom got their AMAZING caprese pizza. It was delicious and had tons of vegan/vegetarian options! It’s a hole in the wall place, but cannot recommend enough.
Another hole in the wall place is Pinsa ‘Mpo, which is located near the Vatican. They have creative personal pizzas with a DELICIOUS crust. I got the white pizza (duh) with anchovies, mozzarella, pumpkin flowers, cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil. The crust was perfect and the flavor combo was SO GOOD. Fun fact: my mom turned me into a total anchovies lover on this trip 😉
I’m not going to go into detail about every place we ate at, because some meals were quite frankly disappointing. We also discovered that most nights we were craving pizza, so we’d usually go split a pizza and save room (and money) for gelato.
There was a vegan gelato place located two minutes from my hotel, so I had to try it out one night. The place is called Fridgidarium, and it was delicious! I got the passionfruit (seeds in it!!!!) and dark chocolate hazelnut. Since I’m not vegan, I much prefer real, creamier gelato, but if you’re a vegan going to Rome, this is the place for you!
After Rome, my mom and I rented a car and drove through the countryside, which I cannot recommend enough. We did the same thing for France and both agreeded that the countryside was our favorite part. Assisi is a small hillside town with spectacular views, but more importantly… it’s truffle country! That can only mean one thing 😉
We only spent one night there, but the town was SO CUTE. We basically walked around everywhere and explored the side streets. By the time we were ready for dinner, we wanted one thing… truffle pizza. For dinner, we went to La Lanterna, and split their mushroom truffle pizza. OH.MY.GOD. The truffle/mushroom/white pizza combo WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD, and the crust was absolutely amazing.
I don’t remember the name of the gelato place we ate at that night, nor do I remember the flavors I got- sorry!
When traveling to Assisi, I recommend arriving around 6 PM (when most of the tourists have left) and spend the night, which is what we did, or arrive in the morning and make it a one day trip. It’s not that big of a town, and you can see the entire thing in a few hours. If you go at night time, climb to the castle at sunset, because the views are legendary.
Next up on our country side trip was San Gimigano, which was more of a “medieval” town, if that makes any sense. It felt like stepping back in time, because all the buildings looked like castles, there were flags hanging everywhere, and we were surrounded by ancient towers. San Gimigano was way too touristy for me, and I’ll be honest, there’s not much to see. However, it’s a cute town and I’d say it’s a half day trip!
SAN GIMIGANO EATS
San Gimigano is in Tuscany, which is known for their incredible views (duh). So, we decided to splurge on dinner that night and go to Le Vecchie Mura, which had delicious homemade pasta and even better views! I got the homemade pasta with gorgonzola cheese and crushed walnuts, while my mom got the homemade gnocchi with a truffle sauce. I liked my dish better because of it’s simplicity (and the fact that I love gorgonzola cheese), but overall, a delicious dinner worth every penny.
For gelato that night, we went to the number one rated place in the town, Gelateria Dondoli (it was the best gelato we had had yet, but as you’ll see, that opinion changed). The consistency was SO THICK and CREAMY, and they had so many flavor options! I got the sour cherry and Nutella (on the left), which sounds like a weird combination, but it was delicious (how many times can I say delicious in this post?????)
Oh yes, Florence! By far my favorite city, and way better then Rome. It’s so much cleaner, less touristy, and it was way easier to feel immersed in the culture there. The first day we got to Florence, we explored the city and scopped out all the places we wanted to eat. Pretty simple day, but we got to see so much.
Our first full day there was Monday, and we decided to hike to Fiesole, a small town on the outskirts of Florence. It was roughly a ~9 mile hike there and back along the road (mostly uphill), but the views were SO WORTH IT. We hiked up there and then went into the old churches where people lived over 2000 years ago. The best part? Little tourists! By this point, my mom and I were so sick of tourists and big crowds, so this was a big plus for us. We spent the rest of the day once we got back exploring more of the city.
Our last full day involved another long walk to Galluzzo, which is an even smaller town on the outskirts. This was by far my favorite day in Florence, because the town felt practically deserted compared to the city itself. As we started to walk back, we stumbled upon a market in the town center and did some shopping, where I found some great clothing for incredible prices. I found that shopping at the street stands in small towns (aka no tourists) was so much more fun then going into shops, because everything was unique and not overpriced.
Oh, and we also went into this adorable pastry shop and got some cookies for the walk back- best fuel 😉 I had the homemade lemon almond cookie which was absolutely amazing- light, crumbly, and perfect.
Okay Florence, you win for best eats. First off, the hotel we stayed at was very small and old. Like, 5 rooms, separated bathrooms, and 5 flights of stairs. I think it was an old house that was renovated into a hotel, but either way, we loved it! They served us a smaller breakfast of homemade orange juice, espresso, and the best part- WARM BUTTERY CROSSIANTS. Now, I’ve been to France before, and I will say that these croissants may have been better then the ones I had there. It was light, fluffy, not too sweet, and warm. The BEST way to start the day, in my opinion.
Okay, now… let’s get onto the pizza. We went to Gusta Pizza everynight and let me tell you- it’s worth the hype. You get a full pizza for ~5-7 euros, and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. You have to wait about 30-45 minutes for the pizza and you cannot call ahead, but trust me, it’s worth every second. The crust is fluffy, bready, and overall amazing (I don’t think this picture can do it justice, but you get the idea). As my mom and I watched people throw away the crust, we questioned our sanity and thought about asking people if we could take it from them- YUP. We ate this pizza every night in Florence with zero regrets.
Oh, and now let’s get onto the gelato. Warning: the following paragraph will be in all caps to represent my excitement about the gelato, because it was the best of the entire trip.
We went to Gelataria Santa Trinta for THE BEST GELATO IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. The first and third night, I got the Austrian Dark Chocolate flavor, which was dark chocolate with chunks of dark chocolate swirled inside. The first night, I got the “Santa Trinta” flavor, which was like vanilla/dark chocolate and delicious! The second night, I got Santa Trinta + cookies, which was basically chocolate mixed with cookie and brownie crumbs. YUP. Oh, and the third night- big a$$ scoop of Austrian dark chocolate + dark chocolate peanut butter that had peanuts in it. OH MY GOD- I HAVE NO WORDS. The third night was my favorite combo, but this gelato was actually the best dessert/thing I’ve ever eaten (along with the salmon pasta). If you are in Florence, you MUST go to Gelataria Santa Trinta and order the Austrian Dark Chocolate + dark chocolate peanut butter. Get it in a cone, duh. The scoops are MASSIVE, yet only 1.90 euros!! Huge scoops, great price, to die for flavor- what more could you ask for?
(in both photos, my gelato is on the life, and please notice how much bigger my scoops are 😉 )
We spent our last full day in Venice, and to be honest, I didn’t really like it. Sure, it was pretty and all, but once you’ve crossed one bridge… you’ve seen em all. Plus, every store is practically the same and very, very, VERY touristy. Oh, and it started pouring rain while we were there, so we spent the afternoon in the hotel room. BUT, it is cute and I recommend a day trip, but nothing more! Oh, and note: don’t think you can map anything out. One wrong turn on a side street and you’re screwed. Trust me on this one- it happened to us everytime.
Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the pizza place we ate at that night, BUT I do remember that we had the four cheese flavor (white pizza, of course) and it was FABULOUS. For gelato that night, we scouted out Suso Gelato. It was the top rated gelato place in Venice, and for good reason! I got the Opera flavor, which was hazelnut/vanilla/chocolate & a big scoop of VERY DARK dark chocolate. Not as good as Santa Trinta (that one will never be beaten), but still DELICIOUS.
Below are some of my tips for traveling, which I know was highly requested! Overall, Italy was the best trip of my entire life, and I cannot wait to go back. If you’re considering going there, I cannot recommend it enough. Honestly, I’d do the same itinerary again- we saw so much and had a blast doing everything.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING IN ITALY AND STAYING HEALTHY-ISH:
- See if your hotel serves breakfast, and if so, stick to that (my go-to was their fresh muesli, plan yogurt, and some sort of protein (cheese, hardboiled eggs) and coffee with Vital Proteins collagen)
- We ate medium sized breakfasts, light lunches, big dinners, and big desserts- what worked for us
- In Italy, they’re really big on oil, and we learned that the hard way. Don’t order a side of vegetables unless you can see it, because chances are, they’re drenched in oil. Ask for dressing on the side. Remember, oil is GOOD for you, but we found that we had some meals that were just drenched in oil and it took away all the flavor.
- It’s okay to split!! My mom and I split every pizza we ate, every sandwich, and really, the only thing we didn’t split was our gelato and pasta dishes (well, we sometimes split gelato is we were extremely full from dinner, but we always needed our sweet fix of the day) Splitting is good cause you get the taste and satisfaction without being filled up.
- WALK EVERYWHERE. My mom and I never once took the subway or bus (unless it was something like Pompeii or traveling to a different city where you needed too). Walking was my only form of exercise on the trip and you’d be surprised how much more you see of the city!!
- Find fun hikes! The hikes were some of our favorite days because it allowed us to see different sights and get away from all the tourists.
- Go on morning walks- sense a theme? We did that everyday to stretch our legs and start out on a good note, as well as see things we may not be able to see any other time!
- I did little hotel ab exercises in the morning to start the day, but other than that- just walking J
- Honestly, don’t stress about not working out or what you’re eating. I ate gelato every night, pizza almost everyday, and tons and TONS of carbs. I look the same as I did before the trip because I know about portion control and my bodies signals for hunger. Also, we walked 10+ miles everyday probably, so it all worked out
- Don’t restrict or worry too much. It can be hard because you’re out of your routine so much and you normally don’t eat all this type of food, but that’s the point. Italian pizza is 20000x better then anything in America because it’s lighter, not drenched in oil or cheese
- Have gelato everynight, and have no regrets. At the same time, if you’re full from dinner but you still want the taste, SPLIT! We did that a few times and it worked out perfectly
- If you’re hungry in-between meals, buy some fresh fruit from the markets- they’re 400x better there any ways
- DON’T STRESS AND ENJOY THE FOOD- IT’S A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPERTUNITY
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