Planning Our Italian Vacation

Friday, September 9, 2016

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Many people choose spur of the moment vacations and plan them a month or two (or less) out. For me, I like to plan my vacations far in advance and make sure I am getting the best deals. Plus, planning and getting excited for a trip is half the fun!

This past January, the Hubs, my Parents and I decided we wanted to make Italy our next vacation in October.  We hate crowds, so although the weather may be a bit colder in some areas, it was worth it to visit during the start of the low season.  We searched for airline tickets and found Turkish Airlines had the best value and times available for our itinerary.  A bonus, we could schedule a long layover in Istanbul, Turkey!

My parents are huge AAA fans and felt more at ease booking our flight and Istanbul hotel through them, so I agreed and it turned out we got an even better deal on the airline ticket and an amazing hotel right in the center of Old City Istanbul. 

We were repulsed by the hotel prices for most of our stops in Italy- so I decided to check out AirBnBs to save some money. OMG people! Absolutely amazing places at killer prices. I will give you some examples in a minute.  This will be my first time using AirBnB but from what I have read and heard from friends it is the best way to save money, travel with a group and get more of a local experience. Why get a hotel room when you can have an entire house/apartment!?

What is one our itinerary? Well we are still in the planning stages (we better hurry- less than a month to go!) but have a pretty good handle on what we want to do while we are there:

Venice:

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We will be flying into Marco Polo airport- after a medium sized layover in Istanbul-super late at night (like so late the public water taxi stops running) and will be meeting our Airbnb host at St. Mark’s Square to check in. (thank goodness for 24 hour check in) 

Once we get some much needed shut eye we have 3 full days of exploring. 

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On our must have list are: Dodge’s Palace, Piazza San Marco, Basilica San Marco, Basilica de Santa Maria, Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Sighs, a visit to Murano Island (known for their beautiful blown glass), a visit to Burano Island (known for their handmade intricate lace), exploring all the beautiful canals, a gondola ride (I know they are expensive and so cliche but we have to!) 

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As far as food goes, I am so looking forward to eating a ton of seafood pasta in Venice!

Florence:

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After taking the train from Venice we will arrive in Florence!

Florence was a place I wasn’t originally super thrilled about visiting. However, after doing some reading- I am pumped for our visit!  In addition to eating a ton of gelato and panzanella here is what is on the agenda:

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Galleria dell Accademia (home to The David), Galleria dell Uffizi, Pitti Palace, Baboli Gardens, Piazza San Lorenzo, Piazza Della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio,  Piazzale Michelangeo, Santa Croce Church,  Santa Maria Del Fiore (the Duomo), Officina Profumo Farmaceutica, Bargello Museum, San Minato al Monte, San Spirito, and Exploring Oltrarno!

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Tuscan Countryside:tuscan-countryside-mick-house

We have a short 2 night stay in Montefollocino, so we are turning our drive from Florence into a chance to see some different areas of Tuscany along the way! 

After taking in some amazing views at a winery or two (thinking Vignamaggio in Chanti region is a must stop!) we will stop for lunch and exploring in the city of Siena.  Our Tuscan AirBnB is to die for- an old medieval fortress with some amazing views and after our long drive it will be so great to check in and relax the rest of the night.. maybe wander down into the town of Montefollocino for a nice dinner.

10888628_1381677805468470_8257515426832937453_nThe next morning will be an early one. After some coffee with a view, we will hop in the car and head to the nearby town of Montalcino for some exploring. After lunch, it is off to the beautiful Castiglion del Bosco (one of the oldest and best preserved estates in Tuscany) to explore the grounds & Il Borgo and possibly visit their winery. Castiglion del Bosco is apart of Rosewood Resorts… so you know it is going to be amazing.castiglion-del-bosco-9

The rest of the night will be spent exploring the town of Montefollonico and relaxing. I so wish we added another day here. Next morning, we will check out and head south to Rome. About 20 minutes into our trip, we will make a few hours pit stop into the town of  Montepulciano for some exploring and lunch before dropping the car off in Rome and checking into our Roma AirBnB. 

Rome:

colosseumRome is the location on our trip I am most excited about. Maybe it is because I will finally get to say my favorite saying- “When in Rome”. Not only am I excited for the Trevi fountain at night and wandering around the Colosseum and Vatican City- I cannot wait for the Geltao and PIZZA!

Here is what on the agenda in no particular order:trevi-fountain-1Colosseum (which is right outside of our AirBnb), Pantheon, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Sistine Chapel,  the Catacombs, Basilica of San Clemente, and the Trastevere Neighborhood. 30065801

We have an awesome tour of Vatican city planned our first full day in Rome with Walks of Italy. (Pristine Sistine Tour Option) This page from the Walks of Italy website gave us a ton of information!

I know there is a ton of other places to visit but the above are our top choices thus far. 

Amalfi Coast:

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From Rome, In about an hour and a half by train we will arrive in Naples to pick up our rental car to head south for the Amalfi Coast.  Our hub will be in Priora just above the city of Sorrento. Our AirBnB here is also amazing and I am looking forward to relaxing on the balcony with some wine!

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While we wait to check in we plan to explore the town of Sorrento then relax the rest of the night- maybe with a trip back down into town for a nice dinner.

The next day we plan to spend the entire day in Positano and surrounding areas. One thing I am really hoping we have time to do is eat and relax at the Da Adolfo

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Our final full day we will head to the Island of Capri and making the Blue Grotto a must see!

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We will finish our time in Italy driving back North to Naples and stopping at the Ancient City of Pompeii before hoping on our plan to Istanbul, Turkey!pompeiiI am so excited for this trip! I would love to hear your recommendations on where to eat and if there are any other must see sites I am missing.

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