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!

Tuscan Countryside…Castiglion del Bosco

tuscan countryside

Rome to Tuscany, what a difference! Rome was chaotic (and fun) but our stay in the Tuscan countryside was all about relaxation. Our hotel was in the middle of a 4,000 acre estate, tucked away for no one to find!

After our pit stop in Todi we kept on heading to the countryside of Tuscany. An hour uphill on a windy road led us to the most breathtaking view & hotel of our trip thus far! Castiglion del Bosco made us feel welcomed upon arrival with warm smiles, fresh mint water (yes, please!) & a tour of the estate. Bocce court, outside gym, infinity pool, church, organic garden, a ‘street’ that housed the restaurants. Finally, we were shown to our suite which was immaculate!

With all the wonderful amenities at our fingertips my hub & I knew that no day trips away from this place were in the cards for us – we took full advantage of the hotel and the activities they had to offer.  Just as the amenities were amazing, the activities were out of this world…below are the activities we participated in (these are just a few they offered, the list to pick from was expansive for both kids & adults):

  • “Boot camp” training session with a MMA fighter in the hills
  • Archery lessons with a national champion
  • Painting in the vineyards with an established artist (she was in books!)
  • Night safari in a Land Rover
  • Photography lesson with a local well-known photographer
  • Market night on their ‘street’ with vendors, food & drinks flowing
  • Wine tasting with a sommelier that ended in a case of wine purchased (hello hangover)

I do not think I could be anymore positive about this leg of our adventure. It was just what the doctor ordered after full days of tours and sightseeing in multiple cities. We will come back here without a doubt, can’t wait to bring family and future kids back to this amazing place!

Miss you already Castiglion del Bosco!

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!

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