Inspiration from Spring in Europe
Friends, who now call themselves expats, are what brought us across the Atlantic. They have two girls who I’m completely fond of and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to spend time with the family, especially in a new, fun place!
Spain was the entrance and exit to our travels while Italy filled the middle. If you’d rather just see what I learned, jump below to the tips!
Along our journey, a few new friends asked us why Italy? Dustin and I wrestled with where for much too long. There’s just too much to see in the world and we’ve only begun. In Europe, we’ve been to Germany and Amsterdam together. I’ve been to France, and we wanted something new. Portugal was almost the selection, but then we realized that Portugal should happen when we can pair it with a stopover in the Azores. So, the most natural next option was Italy. Before we began our research, I didn’t quite realize how much there is to experience there and on this trip, we only touched a beginning.
In Barcelona, we saw some sites, like Park Guell, the Gothic Quarter, Sagrada Familla, and strolled along La Rambla, but mostly, we ate really incredible food. We learned all about what the siesta does to the city and joined in by taking long lunches with tapas and good wine. We also stocked up on wine that literally came from a spout on the wall, which we poured into a plastic jug! Aside from local things, we also hung at home and played games with the kids which involved blindfolded taste testing, UNO, oobleck creating and more!
Italy was broken into three bits: the Amalfi Coast, Rome, and Florence.
The Amalfi Coast
Boy are we glad we didn’t drive! We were so unsure on this one, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have someone bring us to and from Naples. The roads were unbelievably windy as they climbed hundreds of feet. We moved between cities on this peninsula with the public transportation and these bus drivers have NO fear! They honked around corners and didn’t slow down for anything.
Our first stop here was Ravello. We stayed for a night which was the perfect amount of time for us. It’s a village of 2,000 and the charm is everywhere. The stray cats were around every corner we looked, playfully running around. We were so glad to visit and drink the Prosecco and Pomegranate juice “invention” from the gentlemen standing aside his drink truck.
We traveled to Positano next where we stayed for two nights. Best decision here: bus to Amalfi and then boat to Positano. Seeing the coastline from the water was a sight I won’t ever get out of my head. Positano welcomed us with 500 steps up to our hotel. Another great decision: a carry-on suitcase for 12 days of traveling (sure, we had to handwash some clothes, but it made traveling so much easier). Positano had lemon treats in every shop and a lot of gorgeous clothes that forced me to have self control! The sea was wild and so beautiful and we walked throughout in order to find the best viewing spots. We also, accidentally realized that the beach was littered with the most colorful seaglass that we filled our pockets with!
We took a day trip to Sorrento when a rainy day with rough seas kept us from traveling to Capri. Sorrento was the flattest on the peninsula and a city I wouldn’t visit again, mainly because the other locations nearby are so much more simple and welcoming.
This photo of Positano says it all:
A current bride and groom told me to reserve all of our tickets in advance (which was true of most things on our journey) and I’m so glad they filled me in! The crowds were hard for me, but I tried to not let the busy sites get to me. I focused on what I wanted to see and then skipped the busy places and found the quiet streets and fun markets to escape to! Also, because we got photos taken, I learned that waking up early and heading to the busy spots at those waking hours is the way to go… a nap can always help refresh you later. We stayed in Trestevere, which was a great decision (a friend helped us with this one)! I felt like we were living with the locals!
Omg, gelato!! I couldn’t help myself here. The gelato was just so incredible. The flavor, the creaminess… yum!! Gelato aside, I absolutely fell in love with this city or as our AirBnb host called it, a village. The duomo literally took my breath away. More than once I asked if we could walk by again, just to glance at the beauty. I had read about it, but I didn’t fully understand until we saw it in person. Florence felt like a city oozing with romance. I couldn’t get enough of the gardens and views from the parks that are up high along the river.
While we were in Florence, we also took a day trip to Siena. We were debating between Venice or Siena and decided we needed a break for the tourist filled cities. I didn’t want to just snap photos for the sake of it. I wanted to relax and enjoy the scenery that felt so different than what filled our daily lives.
All in all, our Allbirds got their use with an average of 9.5 miles a day. We learned so much about navigating in big cities while having the best sort of patience for one another. The food never disappointed and we ate as much as we wanted, including a lot of baked goods and gelato. Our AirBnb hosts and hotel staff were some of the kindest people we met, along with the others on the journey like our new friends from New Zealand! There’s truly so much to see in the world and I couldn’t have been more amazed by what we were able to experience. Some of it left us with so many more questions and we brought our Italy book along in the backpack everywhere we went so we could fill our brains with more.
Utilize public transport between cities
Don’t drive on the Amalfi Coast unless you’re crazy!
Trust your gut with what you want to see
Buy your sightseeing tickets ahead of time
Pack just a carry-on, no matter the length of your trip
Eat all the good food and walk a lot
For a few dinners, do the research ahead of time and make reservations