July Book Club

dbinferno

Dan Brown’s Inferno was screaming my name for July book club! It’s a mystery that begins in Florence, so how could I resist after the trip we just took!

Side note…has anyone ever read a book in sync with anyone? The hub & I typically do this when traveling, during the summer months or when we find a killer book that we both want to read.

Inferno here we come! Click here to buy Inferno & read with us!

Venice

venice

A 2 hour train ride from Florence led us to a whimsical town that seems to be ‘floating’ on water. From our train we jumped on a taxi boat that docked up right to our hotel, Hotel Danieli. No cars or scooters allowed, just boats in Venice! I quickly realized that Venice was going to be an easy place to fall in love with!

With our room not ready to check in we decided to grab a quick bite to eat at our hotel’s rooftop spot – Terrazza Danieli. We had clear views for days & food that was beyond yum – especially good was the seared tofu with olive oil sorbet (yes, you read that right)! The light lunch gave us enough pep in our step to throw our bags in our room & get lost in the city!

Curves, turns & tiny alleys send you in every which way. You go up & down over countless bridges that bring you to a new spots around every corner – shops, food & gondola’s everywhere you look. No need to fret if you get a tad bit lost, there are signs directing you to the major landmarks & friendly Venetian’s that will help you if you need.

The day of casualness led us to a planned dinner with a family that we met in the Tuscan countryside – they were staying at Castiglion del Bosco, we all clicked & our schedules overlapped in Venice, so we penciled in a time to meet (how fun)! The drinks, food & company was perfecto! The restaurant, A Beccafico, is not on the water, but that is okay with tasty food like this – Mussels baked in broth with a filo top, fresh made pasta, scallops served on shells & sea bream marinated in orange!

As we parted ways with our new found friends the hub & I walked through Piazza San Marco. Hundreds of people & multiple bands playing at once with wine being poured & dessert being served – how could you not want a night cap? The bands were battling & the people were cheering along, such a fun way to end a great night!

A workout along The Grand Canal was needed after a few to many glasses of wine the night before. Afterwards we freshened up, we jumped on the public transportation (a boat bus) and headed to Murano & Burano. Two unique towns that are too cute to be missed. Murano is known for their glass blowing skills – so try to get a private tour of one of the facilities. However, don’t feel pressured to buy a piece, they are crazy expensive! Burano is another quick boat bus stop away. The cute shops, good food & colorful houses make it worth a visit!

The last day in Venice we were planning on hitting up all the museums & churches, however we opted on another relaxing day! Hey, Venice was so beautiful that we did not want to be inside! We walked around the city aimlessly for hours, had some sorbet, took a private boat ride & ended up having dinner right on The Grand Canal at one of the many spots you can pick from! To me, it was the perfect way to spend my last day in Venezia!

Venice offers so much, and I am sure I will make it back here!

Goodbye Venice, goodbye Italy!

Florence

florenceGoodbye Tuscan countryside, hello Florence!

The drive to Florence was another peaceful drive, and with a quick stop in Siena we knocked out another place to visit! Siena is a quaint town with only a few attractions which we navigated our way around easily. Some italian lunch in our belly & scoops of sorbet to distract from the pounding sun made it fun to walk around the endless curvy roads.

After a few hours in Siena we kept on trucking to our hotel in Fiesole (town right outside of Florence with insane views looking over the main city)! We arrived to a 600+ year old mansion called Villa San Michele that Michelangelo designed (yes, Michelangelo!)!  The views were crazy insane from every window! We stayed at the hotel for the first night & dined at their terrace restaurant – the food was impeccable! Baby lobster, shrimp, fresh grilled veggies & homemade sorbet!

The following day we were in over our heads! We met our guide & then packed in a full day of tours & site-seeing. Check out our itinerary below:

  • Galleria dell’ Academia – This is where my boy ‘David’ resides. A statute that you always hear & see in books & life, so this is a must! No pictures allowed so make sure to turn your camera on silent (hehe)!
  • Procellino Market – If you want to shop for a real leather bag or some cute adornments this is a good market to catch! Make sure to rub the bronze wild boar statute’s foot for good luck, it is housed at one side of the market!
  • The Uffizi Gallery – Countless number of famous works are under this roof. It surely be on your list to accomplish before you leave Florence. Be warned that no pictures are allowed to be taken & no AC – yes NO AC! So we swiftly went through the museum in record time, but with our private guide we we were certain to not miss a thing! (also…I set the alarm off getting to close to a painting, so no need to be alarmed if you do too!)
  • The Pitti Palace – Another spot that should not be missed. We really crammed this one in!
  • Piazza della Signoria – Holds the fake ‘David’ and other sculptures that you must check out!
  • Piazza della Repubblica –  The heart of expensive shopping, find all your brand names here – as well as a merry go round! We happened to be in Florence during their fashion week, so it was a bit more chaotic than the norm.
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – Green, pink & white marble construct the outside of the cathedral! Worth a look inside, but the outside is what really grabbed me!
  • Ponte Vecchio – The oldest & cutest bridge in Florence with great shops & good views! The water, not so blue, but hey at least you have some rowers in the river getting a workout in!
  • San Lorenzo Market – Keep on shopping at this destination or if your feet hurt buy a new pair of kicks, that is what it is known for here!
  • Vasari Cooridor – Make sure to look up when you walk! There a private walkway for a pretty powerful person from way back when – he didn’t want to walk with the common folk so he created a private path for himself (pretty money, eh?)!

Lastly, make sure to pop in to get some gelato at Gelateria Perché No. The soya hazulneut gelato had me at hello & within the 12 hours we were in the city I had stopped at this place for breakfast and lunch, so clearly you must try!

Anywho…our days in Florence were amazing & I can only recommend staying longer if you have the time! We would have loved to roam the streets for a few more days but our schedule was too tight, next time Firenze!

Lunch in Todi (pit stop on our way to Tuscany)

todi

The drive from Rome to Tuscany was less than three hours, simple! However, we took a short detour  & popped on over to a small town called Todi. My hub spent a few months studying abroad in Todi years ago, so we surely had to say hello to the family & I had to see the town he always chats about! The family was pure – living on a chicken farm, harvesting grapes & living life, to me, seems like paradise. We were welcomed with open arms, one of the sons poured us homemade wine straight from the barrel & asked us to stay for lunch as soon as we arrived. When he mentioned that lunch was going to include wild asparagus I knew we had to stay! The dish is called Bosciaolo, and is a traditional pasta dish in the region. It includes fresh farm eggs, pig cheek, freshly pressed EVOO, wild asparagus, chili flakes & pasta. This was by far one of our best dishes in Italy to date!

If you are intrigued to whip up this dish then follow the directions below…

  1. Cut up 1C wild asparagus, sauté in 2T EVOO – lower heat & let simmer
  2. Dice up 1/4C pig cheek (is that in our grocery stores?) and sauté – add to asparagus when crisp (in place of pig cheek you could use thick slices of bacon)
  3. Cook pasta for four people, drain when ready & add back into the pot (leave a little of the pasta water at the bottom)
  4. Stir in the asparagus, pig cheek (or bacon), 3 fresh eggs, 1t chili red pepper flakes & salt/pepper – continuously stir till eggs cook

To serve, top with fresh parmesan cheese & presto – this is a traditional Italian meal that will leave you wanting more!

Nutritional Info Per Serving (Serves 4): Calories do not count when in Italy! 

What a charming city Todi was & THANK YOU to Emanuele for letting us crash your day & making us feel welcomed!

Rome

ROME1Where do I begin? I could have spent months, or even years in Rome learning the city’s history! Every street housed at least one site to see & it was the norm to pop around a corner and randomly run into a 1,000 year old church, statue or fountain!  Being in the midst of all of this made me feel a tad overwhelmed – such a short period of time in Rome (3 days) & so much to see and take in.

If your next adventure brings you to Rome do not worry about what to eat or do – there are countless activities &  an unlimited amount of restaurants to pick from. With that said, I am listing out the main sites we saw, a few places that got our taste buds going & a gem that we found that should surely make your to-do list if you trek to Rome!

Continue on reading to get my best of Roma!

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