Andrea definitely wins the prize for the most unusual “souvenir” from her Italian honeymoon!! And I absolutely love all the details she remembered to report back to me. My clients truly are the best 🙂
Eric and I got back last night and had a GREAT time in Italy! We really appreciate all of your help planning and throughout the actual trip. Wanted to share a few highlights with you to let you know how everything went 🙂
Our United flight to Rome was really smooth and comfortable. We paid extra to get the premium economy seats to get the extra leg space and some other perks. We got a row with just two seats in it. So Eric got his window and I had my aisle 🙂 It was a pretty comfortable flight. When we landed we found our driver easily and got settled in the hotel. The hotel (Giulio Cesare) was very nice and comfortable. The first day we just walked around and explored Rome. We found Piazza del Popolo and enjoyed the space and shops. We had dinner at Su e Giu Cucina Romana, which ended up being one of the best Italian meals we had on the trip.
Our Vatican and Colosseum tours were great! The hotel was also close to a lot. If not walking distance, we figured out how to use the metro and used it quite a bit the rest of the time in Rome.
For our next stop, we took a taxi to the Rome train station. When we arrived at the Rome train station we were those confused American tourists, but figured it out. There was a “helpful” stranger or two, but just ignored them. Our train ride to Naples was smooth and comfortable. Our driver in Naples picked us up and we found him easily. There was a car accident near Sorrento, so our car ride to the hotel was about 2 and a half hours. We didn’t mind since we weren’t in a rush anywhere and just enjoyed the view, but to be cautious we bumped up our pick up time when leaving Sorrento just to be sure.
The Sorrento hotel (Grand Hotel Cesare Augusto) was nice, nothing fancy but did the trick! We were a 5 to 10 min walk from shops and the water. The first night we had dinner at Star Pub to get a break from Italian food (the burger there was REALLY good!). For our full day in Sorrento we took the ferry to Capri. The ferry was a little pricey, maybe 80 Euros in total for the both of us, and it was kind of hectic too, since it was so crowded with tourists and the ferry filled up fast. Nonetheless we made it to Capri, and planned on walking around and spending a few hours there. Well, when we got to the island we kind of wished we had planned ahead and booked a day tour because it’s a little confusing to book something once you’re on the island. But we just pulled up Google and read that Villa San Michele/Anacapri
/Scala Fenicia had the best views on the island. Google Maps told us it was a 25 minute walk. No problem. Well, we walked about a 10th of a mile and then there were steps… lots of steps. We realized that Google Maps doesn’t clearly indicate altitude lol. The entire rest of our walk was steep cobblestone steps! Unknowingly, we walked up the famous Phoenician Steps. After our exhausting stair climbing journey we made it to the top of Anacapri, where we unexpectedly found plenty of cafés, shops, and tourists on a walking main street. The people walking around did not appear to have just climbed a thousand steps, so we were baffled on how all of these people got here and why no one was acknowledging that we just climbed these steps! Lol. We later found a plethora of taxis at the end of the main street and realized that this beautiful place was reachable by car lol. While there we enjoyed the view, did some shopping, and refueled with some pizza. The idea of facing the steps again, even though easier to go down, was daunting. So we paid 25 Euros for a cab ride back to the port to catch the ferry back to Sorrento. It was overall a pretty great day at Capri and one of the highlights of our trip.
That night we ate dinner by reservation at Ritorante Fuoro. This was probably our other best Italian dinner in Italy!
The next morning, we headed back to the Naples train station by the driver. The driver was great! We just caught our train in time since we’ve been unlucky with Sorrento traffic and of course it was a rainy morning causing traffic. Our train ride was comfortable, smooth, and pretty easy since we were now experienced Italian train riders 🙂
When we arrived in Florence it was easy to take a taxi to our hotel (River Hotel). We checked in… well then you know the rest from there about check in. lol. After some back and forth with the hotel, the third room was a charm, and we were quite comfortable the rest of the trip, but highly recommend only the renovated modern rooms that you booked for us. The second room they put us in was an unrenovated room (what they call to be “classic”) and was really out of shape and bathroom was beyond outdated. None of the rooms have controllable air so were still advised to use the breaker panel to turn off the air if we got cold. But there’s not too much you can do if you’re hot since there’s no way to lower the temperature.
We did quite a bit of walking in Florence. The hotel was tucked away in a more quiet area, and about 1.5 to 2.0 km from the central restaurants and shops we visited. Bus and taxi didn’t seem very viable since the streets are flooded with tourists, so walking was our mode of transportation (which was our rationale on why we could get extra gelato, lol). The Dan Brown Inferno Walking Tour was really good. Our tour guide was great and we had a small group of only five people. I never saw the movie, but I definitely want to now. The tour only spent about 10% of the time on the movie, the rest was history and was very interesting.
After the tour we had the day to explore – well, we ended up exploring a dentist office. I had an old filling that ended up falling out of my tooth (lovely, I know) and had an urgent dental matter. This was quite an anxious search for a dentist because foreign country dentistry is a world of unknown. We found an English speaking dentist (who had high Google reviews – because what else do I go by for an emergency!) and he ended up being fantastic. The office is Studio Odontoiatrico Firenze Guasti e Massai if you ever need to give a client a dental recommendation, lol. The dentist office was a general dentistry and the doctor spoke well enough English to get me through. The receptionist also spoke decent English. Comfortingly, everything about my dentist visit was comparable to a trip to an American dentist, minus the fluent English speaking. 440 euros later I had a new filling and it’s actually really good! My Florence souvenir was a new filling I’ll cherish forever.
The next day we had nothing officially planned and decided we wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa. We didn’t book a tour, and just took the train as you recommended. It was only 16 Euros round trip per person and we got to see the tower in person and get photos.
The next morning we took a 15 euro taxi ride to the Florence train station to head to Venice. The train ride was easy and comfortable. Once we got out of the train station and ready to head to the hotel we assessed our options. The water bus was about 14 Euros total, while a private water taxi was asking for 70 euros. So the water bus it was. The ferry system from the train station to the island is a bit confusing, but your instructions and map were clear. We didn’t end up taking the water bus number 2 to San Zaccaria, by our own fault. We took bus number 5.1 which also had a stop to San Zaccaria, so it worked out.
The Venice hotel, Hotel Bisanzio, was great. This was our favorite hotel for location, staff, room, etc. from our trip. (Our next favorite hotel was Rome). For our first day in Venice we decided that we needed a break from hotel breakfast (all the hotels’ breakfasts were pretty similar), but there really weren’t many place in Venice for breakfast or brunch. We found a cute café called the Florian. It’s pretty fancy and pricey, but you get what you paid for. They have a cover charge of 6 Euros per person which they call their “music charge”. There’s a live music group with piano, violin, singing, etc. while you eat. Kind of reminded me of high tea in London. There’s lots of little sandwiches, specialty coffees, hot chocolates, teas, etc. while you relax and enjoy the music. After Florian we headed to our tour and gondola ride. There was rain in the forecast so they had us do the gondola ride before the walking tour. It was pretty awesome! The tour afterwards was just about an hour and was nice to hear some history and other information about the city.
For our final meal in Italy, we spent it at the Hard Rock Café of Venice lol. We needed a change from gnocchi and lasagna. Our last night we debated between the Alilaguna Ferry and private water taxi to get back to the airport the next morning. The ferry was cheap (17 Euros per person), while the private water taxi was 120 euros. The ferry would take 1.5 hrs because of all the stops, while the private water taxi takes only 25 minutes. We knew we had a long day ahead of us with flights and a connection, so we splurged and did the private water taxi. They picked us up at the water way right behind our hotel and took us directly to the airport. In my opinion, it was well worth the money… Eric needed a little convincing but I think he’s glad we did it. We had a long day of flying and got to our house by 10:30 pm EST Saturday and went straight to bed.
We had an absolutely fantastic honeymoon! Everything went SO smoothly. We even said multiple times – thank god Ann planned this all out because there is no way we would have figured out any of this! We are both so happy with our trip and will forever remember it for our lifetime!
Andrea & Eric