Alright alright, I know what you're thinking: "They take off for 3 weeks in the middle of wedding season, and then they don't even show us pics?" I agree, that's totally wrong. So without further adieu...
Here we are waiting for our bus in the middle of nowhere, en route to Sperlonga, Italy! They told us it would arrive every hour on the hour, but then changed their mind and only came once every 5 hours. They serve prosecco at the bus stop so we didn't mind.
I chose Sperlonga as our first stop because we had 2 weddings the weekend before we left and after a 4 hour drive, 8 hour flight and an hour train ride, I knew we should just go somewhere pretty and relax. A little gem called Hotel Aurora fit the bill.
We upgraded to a room with a giant terrace overlooking the ocean, thanks to our clients Laura and Will. Thank you so much!
Sperlonga is an incredible place for a holiday or honeymoon - so many charming things to explore within walking distance, all set on a gorgeous beach.
After 3 beautiful days in this amazing town, it was on to Rome to meet up with our friends who were about to fly in from LA. We arrived and immediately checked into our Airbnb. This view was not so bad. The morning after this photo was taken, we awoke to the sounds of a church choir singing outside this window. Straight out of a movie.
Of course, the first thing I had to do was head to the flower market.
This is hands down my favorite part of Italy - the way people decorate homes and buildings is just so inspiring. Here is a hotel we stumbled upon. Who needs a living wall when you can have a living building?
and perfectly patina'd turquoise doors...
and doors framed with jasmine. WHAT?
But hands down, our absolute favorite part of our trip to Rome was finding this place. It was about to rain so we ducked into an alley ristorante for lunch. We had several courses, including complimentary tiramisu and limoncello from the owner. There was even an accordion player and an Italian guy who looked like Kenny G. One of the best dining experiences of my life for $40.
Sometimes, some of the best memories are the ones that aren't planned (or perfect). Here we are on a subway with a bazillion of our closest friends. ;)
I'm officially starting to sigh as I write this. Just wonderful all around. Here's our rooftop deck. We knew that half of us sleeping on a couch for this would be worth it, and it was.
And then before you knew it, we were on to Florence! We did our research, bought our tickets in advance, and were able to get first class tickets with prosecco at no extra charge. Salud!
Our good friends and travel buddies are the owners and makers for MFEO, so staying somewhere inspiring was just as important to them as it is to us. Claire and I literally stalked Airbnb for 3 months trying to find the perfect place to stay in each city - this place was designed out of voting boxes, and was only $75 a night per couple.
Time to eat!
Ladies, if you can swing hanging with your best friend in Italy at least once in your life, I highly recommend it.
Next it was time to head up to Piazzale Michelangelo, grabbing the best bottle of Sangiovese on the way (for $8), and witnessing the sunset fall over the city. WOW.
Having your teeth be stained purple from wine in Italy is a very good thing.
Time to rent bikes and explore the rest of the city!
Ok listen, whoever thinks it's a good idea (cough Claire and Alison cough) to rent a car in Florence and road trip it to Tuscany is either the smartest or the craziest ever. Regardless, here we are with the keys!
Anyone know how to start this thing? It is a dual automatic and manual and it only goes backwards as of this photo.
We figured it out and are on our way. HOORAY!
After driving up and down a mountain with a road only wide enough for one lane (whew! They don't tell you about that in 'Under the Tuscan Sun'), we arrived. And it was worth it...
This is Donatella and Guiliano, our hosts. They welcomed us into their home and Donatella made us breakfast every morning.
Really funny story about this next photo. Aaron asked the homeowners if the sketch on the wall was of their daughter. No, they told him, that's Leonardo DiCaprio. HAHAHA.
Staying with a local family gave us the quintessential Italian experience, not to mention it was the perfect location in which to explore the amazing Cinque Terre!
And also to experience panigacci, a flatbread specific to the Lunigiana region along the Tosco-Ligurian border.
After Tuscany, we headed to Venice...
...and then hopped a plane and headed to France. It's hard to sum up the entire trip in one post, so stay tuned for part 2. Italy was truly one of the best experiences of our lives, one we were fortunate enough to share with good friends. Thank you so much, C & A!
Chin chin, Italia.