Nowhere is quite like Italy. The food, weather, architecture and nature - all so lovely it's hard not to daydream of, because don’t we all aspire to live in a villa wedged atop a Tuscan hill? A trip to Rome, Positano, Siena & Florence is one everyone should try to visit.
Morning @ Aventine Hill Keyhole
Lunch @ Rooftop garden bar, hotel minera
Sightsee Pantheon & trevi fountain
Dinner @ Dar poeta
Roma! - a journey into the historic past. We arrived the night before, so didn't start our adventures until the next day. First day started bright and early, making our way all the way up Aventine Hill to look through the famous keyhole. The idea is standing in Rome, looking through Malta, into the Vatican (3 countries). We decided to stroll through the city towards the Colosseum, around a 20 min walk. The walk was beautiful, Rome is full of history, romance and inspiration, we stopped to look at the Tiber River along Trastevere.
After walking around the city for a while, we stopped by Hotel Minerva. Then headed up to the Rooftop Garden Bar, we grabbed lunch with a beautiful view of the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a gorgeous temple. Free to enter, and the plaza area in front is like you stepped into a movie. We then went to check out the Trevi Fountain. No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Fontana di Trevi, it's even bigger and more over the top than in the pictures online. It is VERY busy with tourists but it's so worth a visit.
Later that night we had dinner at Dar Poeta, suggested by a local and it was amazing. Hidden in Trastevere, Dar Poeta has pasta and pizza with seating indoors and outdoors by the cobblestone narrow street.
Check in @ Hotel Marincanto
Lunch @ TERRAZZA CELÈ
Explore the Beach
Visit Church of Santa Maria Assunta
Dinner @ La Sponda
I'm sure you've seen photos all over instagram photos of the iconic Positano view and it looks just as amazing in person, if not more. It was just me and Abd-Allah, so very romantic for any couples. We stayed at Hotel Marincanto, there are a lot of hotels along the edge of the cliff, each has amazing views. The rooms are elegant, when you walk down, yes down, to the lobby, it's very colorful with polished decor and tile accents. Parking is free, which worked out for us after driving down from Rome. The infinity edge pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the town of Positano is like something from a movie.
Positano is a very relaxing place, from indulging in the pasta & vino to walking along the beach staring at the gorgeous view. For lunch we went to the hotel's restaurant, Terrazza Cele, right on the balcony terrace with gorgeous views from above. Pasta e Vino! - when in Italy, carbs don't count.
Positano is set in a dramatic vertical panorama of colors; the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, and the blue of the sea. When in Positano, enjoy the Mediterranean Sea, shop for gifts, eat pasta, drink wine, visit the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the dome can be seen from every corner of the town.
Spiaggia Grande is the heart of sea edge Positano, the beach is one of the largest on the Amalfi Coast, so of course, there's the option of swimming, sunbathing, boat trips, etc. I really loved our hotel, but I have to say La Sirenuse is another gorgeous hotel, we went to their restaurant La Sponda. Lovely views, great service, delicious food. Be aware, its a bit pricey, but excellent and tasty.
I loved Positano, I wish we could've stayed longer. It's a place I would definitely consider visitng twice.
Explore Tuscany (Chianti, Italy)
Vineyard Lunch @ Azienda Agricola Montechiaro di Alessandro Griccioli
Explore Siena, ITaly
Piazza Del CamPO, Il Campo & Duomo
Drive to Florence
From Positano up to Siena is quite a drive, so we left early morning. Since we had a car, detours on the way up through Tuscany were a lot of fun. On the way to Siena, about 3 hours into our trip, we stopped at a vineyard in Chianti, Azienda Agricola Montechiaro. Montechiaro Estates is located 10 km from Siena. On the road to the vineyard, we found a field of sunflowers by the road. So naturally we had to stop, run through it and take photos.
The vineyard in Chianti is so beautiful, you pull up to tall trees as an entrance, leading you to the parking. The vineyard didn't open until 11am, but they didn't mind us exploring around. The views are extraordinary! All the farmhouses have been restored, centered around a family villa. There are panoramic view of rolling hills with vineyards and olive groves. The wine & cheese tasting is very affordable.
Keep in mind Siena is a historic district so a heads up - you CANNOT drive through the city. Italy has ZTL zones, here's a link that best helped me understand. Park outside the entrance and you're pretty much on foot from there, so wear comfortable shoes. The architecture makes it all worth it. Siena is Italy's medieval city, and a trip worth making even if just for a few hours. Siena's heart is its central piazza known as Il Campo, the Duomo in Siena lies in a piazza above the Piazza del Campo. The Duomo Cathedral is in the form of a cross with a slight projecting dome and bell tower. If you (like me) don't have a lot of time in Siena, you might not even go inside and just enjoy the outside. The exterior is decorated in white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes.
We explored the streets of Siena, until we eventually found ourselves at Via Camollia, a charming street full of restaurants, all serving local dishes. It's located a bit away from the crowded streets, but still within walking distance of Piazza del Campo, we just grabbed some pizzas.
It's a short 1 hour drive from Siena to Florence, we were exhausted so we skipped dinner and went straight to our room.
Visit Piazzale Michelangelo
Breakfast @ Caffe Dell'oro
Visit Uffizi Gallery (€ 15)
Lunch @ Pizza
Visit Piazza del Duomo
dinner @ La Menagere
Day 4 in Florence, we walked around the city. Not going to lie, cramming in all these cities into 5 days is exhausting, but it's Florence, so we explored.
Start at the Piazzale Michelangelo, this place overlooks the city. Avoid the crowd, we got there early morning. It's a beautiful walk through the city streets, around 15-20 minutes till we reached the Uffizi Gallery, Europe's first modern museum from the 16th Century. But we first went to Caffe Dell' Oro for breakfast, 5 minute walk back to the Uffizi Gallery. After about a 2 hour tour of the galleries, we finally had some pizza for lunch, gelato too, of course. On our way to the famous Duomo, we walked through Piazza della Signoria, a free open-air museum.
The Piazza del Duomo is the heart of the city, we were surrounded by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (a.k.a Duomo) and Giotto's Bell Tower.
Dinner had to be at La Menagere, I research everything I put into my itineraries, and I loved their interior decor. It's unique, chic and full of plants. The food was beautifully presented, the main course of salmone, miele, finocchi e limone was good, as well as, the squid ink pasta.
Visit Vatican CIty
Lunch @ Osteria delle Commari
Visit Maxxi Museum
Coffee break @ Typo
Going into this trip I left Day 5 empty, sometimes I leave an "open" day to do things we didn't get a chance to do or I'm hoping to include. So if you're staying in Rome for your full trip, this can be an idea of how to spend one of your days.
First stop was Vatican City (€ 16.00), we still had our rental car but we were able to park it outside the ZTL zone and take the metro. Buy tickets ahead of time! You'll find people outside Vatican City walls trying to sell you marked up tickets to the museum, stating it's "sold out" but I was able to find it on Vatican City's website, using my phone. The only available time was two hours away, which worked out since we needed food. Near Vatican City we found a spot called Osteria delle Commari for lunch. Once inside the museum, I was mesmerized by the ceiling art - and it wasn't even the Sistine Chapel yet. Each room leads you to different artwork, different ceiling and room design.
After walking through the Sistine Chapel, we went to the Vatican Gardens. Going through all the security and crowds is a little tiring, it is nice to get out and enjoy the space and serenity of the gardens, with a view of St. Peter's Basilica (if you looked through the Aventine Hill keyhole - the basilica's dome is what you saw).
Zaha Hadid is one of my favorite architects so I had to see her museum design - MAXXI Museum. Again, this is one of those "open" itinerary ideas, it's not for everyone, but if you love contemporary architecture & art, I highly suggest visiting this museum. So like much of Zaha's work, the concept of de-constructed fluidity is loud and clear, it's an extension to the existing building of neo-classical symmetrical facades juxtaposed by her curved smooth walls.
I did enough architecture blabbing on the actual trip. We stopped by the museum's cafe & bookshop, Typo before heading to the airport. Typo is connected to the museum's restaurant Linea, if you are feeling more food than just coffee. Afterwards, we headed to the airport for our flight and returned the car at the airport.