No doubt, the allure of Italy is well-earned. With spectacular scenery, architecture, art, history, and food & wine – plus friendly people who inspire visitors to embrace “la dolce vita” – it’s no wonder Italy draws visitors from around the globe. One of our travelers, Justine, recently returned from a trip and we’re happy to share her highlights, observations and recommendations:
Italy is one of the most fantastic places on the planet! I loved every minute of it and was very sad to say Ciao at the end! The people are so kind and friendly to Americans and tourists in general. The landscape is breathtaking whether you are in Florence, Tuscany, Rome or Positano. It’s a must-see country that you’ll miss when you leave!
Florence – Art, Shopping, History…. And Food!
Florence is beautiful with its quaint streets, museums, churches, wonderful leather goods, and restaurants. The iconic Ponte Vecchio was a great starting point and enjoyable for its shops, views and wealth of history. The expansive Uffizi Gallery can easily fill a day or more; planning ahead is key to seeing the works of Leonardo DaVinci, Botticelli and other masterpieces.
The Hotel Minerva is in a great location near fantastic shopping, restaurants and sights. The stunning rooftop pool area gets busy on hot Italian afternoons, so we learned to arrive early to get a spot. The rooms are impeccably kept and beautifully modern.
We frequented Restaurante Buca Mario, for the incredible steaks, Caprese Salad, and pasta dishes. It’s pricey but well worth it for the excellent quality meal and service.
The private walking tour with Giovanni was a major highlight of the trip. He’s extremely knowledgeable and will happily recite the entire history of the Medici family, Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s most famous works of art. It was interesting to learn about the bankers and merchants who helped found Florence.
Tuscany – Vineyards, Rolling Hills, Relaxed Pace… And Food!
Abundant olive trees and wineries, vineyards set amongst beautiful landscapes and charming centuries-old towns make Tuscany a must-see for wine enthusiasts and anyone who loves the countryside. The mountains are breathtakingly beautiful as the sun rises on the valley. Definitely worth a few nights stay and the food, again, is incredible. Just poke around the area, relax and enjoy!
Positano – Cliffs, Vistas, the Sea… And Food!
Stunningly-beautiful, Positano is known for views of colorful houses built into the mountainside set against a backdrop of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Spending time wandering around the island, relaxing at the beach, and just soaking in the atmosphere is an excellent way to spend time here! . For yet another special treat on a trip full of wonders, take a private boat to an alcove off the beaten path.
The kind staff at the Hotel Posa Posa took good care of us, including arranging dining reservations and taxi rides. The patio view was incredible. Lovely to just have a coffee or a few drinks while admiring the incredible sun shining down on the pastel buildings or the bright lights illuminating the town.
Rome – Grandeur, the Roman Empire, Urbane… And Food!
Rome has so many breathtaking sites, it’s hard to choose which stand out the most! Regardless of your religious beliefs, don’t miss The Vatican. It’s essential to book a tour in advance (ie, through Viator), otherwise be prepared to stand in line for up to 3 hours to visit the museum, Sistine Chapel and Basilica. All three sections of the tour are incredible and separately beautiful in their own right. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and explained the panels of the Sistine Chapel in advance so we could focus on the important elements during our limited time there.
The Coliseum (aka Colosseum) and Trevi Fountain are also a must. The Coliseum is another place best visited via a pre-booked guided tour in order to avoid a long wait to enter. Plus, as you explore these ancient ruins you’ll hear the history of the Roman Gladiators, and no doubt be reminded of how good it is to live in present times!
For some off-the-beaten-track activities, you can explore residential neighborhoods and see the beautiful brownstone buildings with French doors and patios. Of course, the shopping in Rome is exquisite and you can browse high-end stores like Gucci and Prada. There is also an abundance of leather shops, especially by Trevi fountain.
The Marriott was very nice, with all the usual amenities, and close to many good restaurants and shops. As was the case throughout our trip, the staff members were extremely friendly and helpful.
A truly memorable experience all in all. Italy, you are forever in my heart!
Thank you Justine, we are thrilled your trip was so wonderful!
Read about another traveler’s journey: Yes, Italy is Everything You Dreamed It Could Be!
Pictured above from left to right: Positano, The Basilica, and Piazza Santa Maria Novella