custom itinerary italy

Trip Inspiration: A Winter Escape to Italy

Dreaming of an Italian getaway without the crowds? Try a winter escape.

How to Eat Gluten-Free in Italy

Could you imagine anything worse than a two week trip in Italy without being able to eat pizza and pasta?! I have a hard time wrapping my brain around such a concept, and an even harder time knowing why someone would consider a trip to the land of “BEST. FOOD. EVER.”, if they couldn’t eat most of it.  

Such was almost the case of a recent trip to Italy that I planned. I believe that food is an integral part of any vacation, and I knew that some research and planning needed to be done so that this trip to Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome could be vegetarian and sans gluten— yet still amazing in the foodie department.

Going off the beaten path near Rome

I was contacted by a lovely couple a few months ago to plan a trip in Italy.  This was going to be a personal vacation that went along with a destination wedding they were attending in Tuscany.  Never having been to Italy before, the door was pretty much wide open as to where they could stay and what they could do.

If someone has never been to Italy, the first inclination is to do the obvious.  Either Rome or Florence would have been incredibly convenient places to visit and then make your way to the Chianti region in Tuscany. However, after speaking to them in depth about the type of experience they wanted to have, what they really hoped for was an opportunity to spend some peace and quiet time with each other, and yet somehow manage to see a few of the sites in Rome… without having to be in Rome during the height of busy season. 

Enter Nettuno. 

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This small, quaint beachside town is about an hour outside of Rome, easily reached by train from the city. There are not many tourists here, your English won’t get as much use, and this is certainly not the place to go for nonstop action and sightseeing. It is peaceful, quiet, and wholly authentic.  It also allowed them to take a day trip into the city and meet up with a wonderful guide to experience historical Rome, walk the streets, throw a penny in Trevi Fountain, and make their way back to serenity. 

When I checked in with them near the end of their stay last week, they shared the following sentiments with me.

Oh my gosh we are having an amazing time!! We are so happy we chose to stay in Nettuno! This town is so rich in history it's crazy! We had no idea! We met an amazing American family who runs the WWII US memorial cemetery here and they are just awesome. They have taken us to great restaurants! Definitely met life long friends. The Astura has been great. Literally right across the street from the beach.

Your directions for the train and subway were amazing and a life saver! We have not gotten lost once. Amazing!! The coliseum yesterday was breath taking! We ate at propaganda. Today we plan to just explore Nettuno some more.

We cannot thank you enough for planning this trip! We have already decided you are it from now on!!!

Friends, to me this is what travel is all about!!! It’s having the ability to go off the beaten path, have authentic experiences, and meet random strangers that become life long friends.

Yes, they got to see the Colosseum, and walk the streets of Rome. But they also had a truly unique experience by trusting their gut and trusting me! When I suggested not doing your typical Rome vacation, which is what they were originally considering, it was up to me to find something that fit the bill as to what type of experience they said they wanted. I think we did just that, and it brings me so much joy when I get to see that experience come to life and lived out. 

If you are the type of traveler that likes your travel a little more off the beaten path, but with options to hop on the path if you’d like, know that working with me will help you accomplish that effortlessly. I work very hard to give you just the experience you’re after. Feel free to contact me and discuss your ideas!

2 week Italy Itinerary

I love Italy. Like, loooooooove.  And I am speaking broadly here, because as well all know, there are many different destinations within Italy that you can visit and they all will afford you a different experience.  But since I have yet to find a region I didn’t like, I am using the blanket for the entire country. 

As such, for the past few months I have been blogging about different destinations within Italy, and sharing amazing places to stay, things to see and do, and even some detailed itineraries for some of the more popular destinations. Because there is so much to see, do, and fall in love with in this country, many people choose to include multiple destinations when they visit.

I would like to share with you my perfect two weeks in Italy itinerary, if I was headed there today. Of course, different stages of my life might produce a different itinerary, but for now, this would probably be it. It’s some of my favorite cities, in a logical and easily followed itinerary, that allows you to travel the country by train. (Have I mentioned yet how much I love good public transportation when I travel? I do.)

The energy of the Eternal City with a visit to Rome

The essence of Tuscany and incomparable charm with a stay in Florence

The quaintness and beauty by the sea in Cinque Terre

The romanticism and beautiful spirit of Venice

Take a look at the outline of my perfect two weeks in Italy and let it inspire you. 

TWO WEEK ITALY ITINERARY

But as always, what’s most important is figuring out what your perfect two weeks looks like, and making that come to life. If you are planning a trip for anywhere in Italy, I'd love for you to contact me to start planning the trip of YOUR dreams. 

Postcard Perfection in Tuscany

 

Yes, the scenery really is that gorgeous. The food really is that delectable. The wine really is that wonderful. The art really is that exquisite. All of it is true.  There are so many things to love about Tuscany, that it can be a little overwhelming when you try and wrap your head around it all and start to consider what might be best to put on your itinerary. 

My advice is this: Think about about who YOU are.  Then go from there. 

If you have an obsession with food and wine, you will be in heaven pretty much anywhere. Three of Italy’s greatest wine’s are produced here in this region, and the food is simply prepared, locally sourced, and out of this world amazing. Head up and down the region to taste each area’s specialties and fall in love with what is known as Slow Food.

If you are hoping to experience the artistic masterpieces that you’ve dreamed of seeing in person one day, make sure you include Florence.  This is a city like no other, and will surprise you time and time again, no matter how many times you visit. For such a small place, it is packed to the brim with treasures you love discovering.

Central Tuscany is where you will find the medieval hilltop fortresses, hillsides covered in vines, and rows upon rows of cypress trees. This is classic Tuscan countryside at it’s finest. The most well-known and visited part of this area is  the gothic town of Siena, which can give Florence a run for her money in terms of popularity.

If your intention is to slow down and not get caught up with all that you “must do” while you’re in one of the most exquisite destinations in the world, you probably want to spend some time in Northwestern Tuscany. Here you can really unwind and not feel the need to do much except relax and meander around hilltop villages and enjoy the regional cuisine.  This is the place to linger, but while you’re here you might as well take your picture hoisting up that famous tower.

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I cannot think of a type of traveler that could not find their own perfection in Tuscany. Whether you are looking for relaxation at it’s finest, adventures of a lifetime, an epicurean delight, cultural wonders, natural beauty, authentic city life, or anything in between… you can find it here.

Figure out what your perfect postcard looks like, and we can make it come to life.

The Beauty of Cinque Terre

Dreamy Cinque Terre is a stretch of five towns across the enchanting Italian riviera. I have planned two trips that have included this picturesque part of Italy, and the more and more I learn about it, it is easily becoming one my top recommended Italian stops.  There is just so much to love about this area of pastel colored buildings, perched precariously on the cliffside and gazing out onto the sea. 

What are you looking for when you visit this part of Northern Italy? Well, if sun, sea, wine, hiking, and beautiful sunsets sound like your idea of la dolce vita, Cinque Terre just might be how you spell perfection in Italian.

First you must choose one of the five fishing villages that best suits your tastes.

Riomaggiore is the largest of the five, and is comprised of a tangle of homes that lead down a ravine to a small harbor. The view of this is postcard perfection.

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Manarola is the next tiny town, and is best known for it’s grapevines. As with Riomaggiore, it can be heavily trafficked. 

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Corniglia can be considered the quiet middle village, and is the only one of the bunch not directly on the sea. It is surrounded by vineyards and you can take steep steps that will lead you down to a rocky cove.

Monterosso is considered the resort town of the area, and is the only one to have a tourist beach, and is the village that is most accessible by car. This is the place for crowds and a late-night scene, but it still possesses a charming old world charm in the historic center.

My favorite of the bunch- and I’m sure I’m not alone- is Vernazza. This small, quintessential village is the quaintest of the five, and is lined with cafes along it’s cobbled main street, and a bar hanging off the edge of the castle.

 

Are you thinking of a trip to Italy soon? If so, consider which one of these little towns is really speaking to you. It's an amazing place to spend some time, and is an easy trip from some of your other favorite Italian cities. Contact me if you'd like to be my next trip here and help me live vicariously through your travels.

Rome 3 Day Itinerary

During the last few weeks, I have been showcasing sample daily itineraries for a visit to Rome, Italy’s capital city. In Day 1 of the Rome itinerary, we explored the historical sites and took in some of the most famous ancient monuments. In Day 2 of the Rome itinerary, we headed over to Vatican City to experience the splendor that exists there. The following Rome daily itinerary will be the last in this series, and would be what I would consider my personal favorite. It has less to do with seeing, and is more to do with simply experiencing.

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Day 3: The Sweet Life

For your third day in Rome, it’s time to slow down… just a little. This is the day for soaking up Rome. To take in it’s beauty, to appreciate it’s specialness, and to understand what it means to live la dolce vita. 

  • Begin the day with a visit to Villa Borghese, the largest public park in Rome. It is a pleasant reprise from the noise and heat of the city, and is home to a lake, temples, fountains, statues, and several museums. 
    • Consider renting a bike to leisurely get around the park.
    • The must-see museum here is Borghese Gallery, which you must reserve beforehand for a 2 hour visit. You will be mesmerized by painting and ceiling frescoes, along with beautiful sculptures by Bernini, amongst others.
  • Next, head down a long flight of stairs to Piazza del Popolo. Consider dining outside at Osteria St. Ana. This is the perfect place to grab lunch, have a drink, and do some first-class people watching. 
    • If shopping is your thing, you are now properly fueled to turn your attention to the several pedestrian-only shopping streets surrounding you.
  • Continue your stroll by heading down via Babuino for a visit to one of the world’s most famous squares, Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square), which sits at the base of the Spanish Steps. 
  • From there, make your way to the Trevi Fountain, one of Rome’s most dramatic monuments, where you must toss a coin in to assure your next visit to the eternal city. This is also a great place to grab a gelato. (Suggestions: Gelateria Valentino or II Gelato di San Crispino)
  • From the Trevi Fountain, continue on to Piazza Navona, via the Pantheon. If you followed my Day 1 Itinerary, you’ve already spent some time at the Pantheon, but it’s worth walking past again on your way towards what could be considered Rome’s most beautiful square, Piazza Navona. The large and lively square features three magnificent fountains. You've now concluded your stroll through what is considered the very heart of Rome. 
  • For dinner, why not make your own delicious meal, with some help from a professional. Taking a cooking class in Rome will allow you to return home with some skills to replicate (or at least try) some of the amazing dishes you had while on vacation.
  • End your night with a perfectly made cocktail in a chic and trendy atmosphere at Hotel Russie’s Stravinskij Bar. They have a lovely hidden garden in the center of Rome and one of the cities most extraordinary cocktail lists.

Now that you've read Day 3, make sure you read Day 1 and Day 2 to get an idea of how you can make the most out of your time and have a good starting point for creating a Rome itinerary for 3 days. In addition, check out my post on where to stay in Rome for a great boutique hotel option in the heart of the city.

This concludes my overview of what I hope looks like an amazing Rome 3 day itinerary map for you to consider. Now, here is where the tough decision making comes. Do you stay longer to see and experience more of the eternal city? Do you head on to another part of Italy and continue your exploration of this beautiful country? Or do you set your sights on a different part of Europe and make this trip a multi-country exploration? Wherever your wanderlust is leading you, I hope you let Milk and Honey Travels help get you there!

To download an easy to follow PDF snapshot of the whole 3 Day Rome Itinerary, click here.

If you are interested in planning a vacation to Italy, it is one of my favorite destinations to create tailor-made itineraries for. Let's chat about what a perfect trip to Italy looks like for you.

Rome daily itinerary: Day 2

Last week I blogged about how most visits to Italy include a stopover in the capital, and how you should allocate a full 3 days minimum in order to experience the city. This blog series will share a detailed Rome itinerary for 3 days, and all the attractions you should make sure are part of your travels. To read more in depth about my Rome Day 1 itinerary, make sure to read my blog about travel tips for visiting the historic sites in Rome.

This post is for Day 2 in Rome, and will provide you with a Vatican City itinerary, and the attractions and activities I believe are not to be missed, especially if this is your first time to the eternal city.

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Day 2: The Spiritual

Vatican City is an independent city-state surrounded by Rome, and is the ecclesiastical home of Roman Catholicism. The main sites here are the Vatican grounds and Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s Square.

  • Consider visiting the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel first, either first thing in the morning, or early afternoon when the morning crowds have died down a bit. Make a reservation on the Vatican Museum’s website beforehand. 
    • If you are mainly interested in looking at the artwork, a tour isn’t really necessary. If you are fascinated by the history and learning more about the artwork, consider a tour. On an individual tour, the guide can show you parts of the museum not normally visited by the standard tours. Consider an exclusive, private visit to the Sistine Chapel for a truly unique and emotional experience. This type of tour must be reserved far in advanced, but is worthwhile.
    • The Sistine Chapel is certainly one of the world’s greatest masterpieces, and Michelangelo outdid himself with the painting of the ceiling that will take your breath away and render you speechless…which is a good thing because noise in here is frowned upon.
  • Lunch Break. All the walking around and effort it takes to gaze at past priceless splendors is enough to build up quite the appetite. Consider a quick lunch in the Piatti neighborhood before heading on over to St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • The first building you will see from Bernini’s colonnaded St. Peter’s square is the largest church in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica. Highlights inside include many works by Bernini, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the oldest statue of St. Peter in existence.
  • Next, make your way to Michelangelo’s other masterpiece, St. Peter’s dome. When you find your way to the top, you are greeted with a breathtaking panorama of Rome, and if you time it right, the sun beginning to set over the eternal city and covering it in a rose-gold light. 
  • For dinner, chose an establishment simply known for their good food and where you can dine alongside the locals, such as Da Enzo. Here, the superstar will be the food and your meal will certainly be memorable. During the summer months, make sure to have a reservation, as it is a very small restaurant. 
  • After dinner, take the short stroll to the Spanish Steps, which will provide the perfect people-watching perch.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR VISITING ROME:

Where to stay: See my post on a great boutique hotel in Rome here.

Where to go next: Consider a Rome and Amalfi Coast itinerary and this beautiful resort I highlighted here.

To put this Vatican city itinerary together with another detailed itinerary for visiting the Roman historical sites, click here.

If you like these Rome daily itineraries, check back next week for Day 3!

Feature Friday: Where to stay in Rome

Roma. Italy's capital is truly one of the world's most epic and thrilling cities. A journey here will leave you smitten by its artistic masterpieces and iconic monuments.  Deciding on the perfect place to choose as your home base and where you will rest and rejuvenate as you recover from days spent exploring all the city has to offer is of utmost importance.  I'd like to showcase an amazing property that would certainly be an ideal starting point to experience the elegance of Rome and continue this Feature Friday series exploring some of the great accommodations  in one of my favorite countries.  

Hotel Raphael is a magnificent residence that is a small museum itself, with works of art including sculptures, paintings, lithographs, antiques, and collections of Picasso ceramics and Mayan art. Staying at this charming hotel puts you within a stones throw of must-see destinations and is ideally located right next to the lively Piazza Novana, where both locals and tourists flock to. The fascade is covered in Ivy and the rooftop terrace gives you an amazing view of the eternal city.

As mentioned in last weeks Feature Friday post, Rome makes an excellent pairing with a visit to the Amalfi Coast. Because of it's central location, it also makes it easily accessible from other highly desirable destinations in Italy that we will continue to explore and highlight during this series on some of my favorite hotels in this beautiful country.

Contact me to start designing your next vacation and if you are interested in detailed and custom itineraries for Rome and beyond!

Feature Friday: Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is magnificent. Absolutely breathtaking. When traveling to Italy, one of the most difficult decisions to make is where in the country you are going to decide to visit.  My recommendation is to definitely choose more than one, and if you desire a luxury beach hotel while in Italy, I have just the place. One of the most beautiful properties I have found on this coast is the stunning Hotel Santa Caterina.  It has an understated luxury that attracts the discerning traveler who appreciates hospitality and refined luxury. 

The hotel boast some of the most incredible views and vibrant accommodations, and the breadth of facilities available ensure that if you chose not to leave the property, you would be more than taken care of. 

The closest airport for visiting the Amalfi Coast would be Naples, which is approximately 1 hour and 30 min by either car or train. It's also about 3 hours and 30 min from Rome, which makes it a nice companion destination for travelers looking to visit two distinct areas while in Italy, by choosing to split time in both locations. Traveling through Italy by train and seeing the countryside while you move from destination to destination is something I highly recommend. However you fit the Amalfi Coast in your travel plans, my only suggestion is that you absolutely do it!