My wife Anna and I recently returned from our honeymoon in Italy (which I have lovingly dubbed our Italymoon).
Our trip was 10 days long. With a trip of this length, we were torn between trying to visit as many places as possible vs. seeing as much in each location as we could. Ultimately, we decided to visit 3 cities, averaging a few days in each. I'm glad we didn't try to cram any more in. As it was, we felt that we didn't get to see enough in each location!
How do I begin to cover a whole 10-day European vacation in the span of one blog post? I think it may be futile, but I think I'll cover a few favorites.
We only had one full day in Cinque Terre due to our train schedule, so we did our best to visit all five towns. Manarola is the 4th town of the 5, and it's gorgeous view yielded my favorite selfie of our trip.
We loved each of the three places we visited, but if I could pick only one to go back to, it would be Florence. Florence has old world charm in the whole city, and it's entirely walkable. We also only saw a fraction of what there is to see in Florence, even though we spent more days here than in either Cinque Terre or Rome.
Based on a recommendation from a coworker of Anna's, we chose to dine for one of our nights at a restaurant in Florence called Acqua al Due. The best part about it is that you can order samplers and try a variety of foods. We chose to order the pasta sampler, the meat sampler, and the dessert sampler. Below is a picture of our meat sampler. All were amazing, but the balsamic steak at the top of the plate was to die for!
Also, we love the placemats at Acqua al 2, which translate to "The love that is born in the theater continues." Anna and I met doing theater together, so we love this little detail!
Favorite Historical Site
On our first full day in Florence, we took a tour through Dark Rome tours out into the Tuscan countryside to see some castles and enjoy some wine tastings at their wineries. One of the two castles was Castello di Brolio. This castle has been in the same family for 900 years, which blows my mind! It was critical to Florence's defense of the Chianti region in the wars between Siena and Florence. It was also occupied by German troops during world war two, and still shows signs of damage from Allied troop fire.
We saw lots of wonderful art on our trip at the Uffizi and Capitoline museum, but given that I'm a science and technology nerd, my favorite museum was the Museo Galileo in Florence. It was filled with Rennaissance-era scientific instruments, and followed the development of technology from globe and map-making, to telescopes and imaging, into the discovery of electricity.
We stayed in four different locations during our trip (Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, then back to Rome), and my favorite was a small bed and breakfast just outside of Cinque Terre, in the small town of Bonnassola. The bed and breakfast was called Ca du Ferra. It's an active cliff-side farm, and we stayed in a small building, which could only be reached by a bridge across the stream that ran out front. It was very peaceful to listen to the stream as we drifted off to sleep.
I had no idea how many lizards there would be! I don't remember them from last time I was in Italy, because we spent most of our time in Rome, but when we got to Cinque Terre we were so amused at how many lizards there are scurrying around! The internet tells me that this is an Italian wall lizard. Here it is pictured on a wall.
Throughout the trip, I took several panorama shots of the gorgeous views we saw, and this one is my favorite. This is taken in Riomaggiore, which is the 5th out of 5 towns in Cinque Terre. Most of the day had been hot and sunny, but the weather told us it would run out eventually. The rain came down pretty hard on us when we got to Riomaggiore, and the drama of the rain clouds over the hill compared to the bright sunny skies over the Mediterranean are what makes this photo so unique.
For the entire trip, Anna had to listen to me say that I wanted to try to get some long exposure sunset and blue hour photos. Due to late dinner times in Europe and summertime sunset times, it happened nearly every day that our dinner coincided with the sunset and blue hour. But finally on the final night in Rome, we ate a bit earlier, and made our way to the Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum for a few shots. My favorite night shot is a long exposure one of the Collisseum from afar, with some light trails from the cars.
Just for fun, here's a comparison shot from the last time I was in Rome to this time - 8 1/2 year difference! The 2010 trip was with the MIT history department. The Roman Forum is still one of my favorite places.