Last year in July we went to a beautiful Tuscan destination wedding so we took this as an opportunity to explore more of Italy. Here is what we discovered.
We started off in Venice, an area I had always wanted to explore. We arrived in the early
afternoon and had been recommended to splash out on a private water taxi from the airport to our hotel, mainly for the experience rather than the shared water bus. This was great advice and we really enjoyed the 20 minute journey, taking in all the amazing views along the canals. We booked this in advance to save waiting time on the day.
Once on the island we checked into our beautiful B&B 'Cima Rosa'. The feel of this property was exquisite and somewhere I would highly recommend for anyone looking to visit Venice who prefers a Boutique and intimate vibe. A lovely lady called Valentina checked us in and couldn't have been more helpful and warming during our stay. She gave us great recommendations of local places to dine and visit which made our stay magical. After all, locals know best!
Enoteca Mascareta - A really authentic, cosy restaurant hidden down a side street. Tasty
food and a huge choice of wine. We had a sharing platter of cheeses and meats which was perfect for a first night wind down.
Il Refolo - This is a lovely little restaurant by a quiet canal. We sat outside which created a lovely, romantic atmosphere, with the occasional gondola gliding by. We both had a fish meal here, which was beautiful. This place is full of locals due to it being away from the main tourist area.
Cantine Del Vino gia Schiavi - A great little lunch place across from the gondola repair dock. Here you can get Cicchetti (a mini open sandwich) with different toppings. It's worth getting 4 or 5 along with a lunchtime wine. Stand outside near the bridge area with your paper plate whilst catching some rays.
Naranzaria - A great little place to stop for an Aperol Spritz sundowner to watch the world go by. It's surprisingly quiet despite it being just around the corner from Rialto bridge.
If you want good views of the whole of Venice including St Marks square and don't want to queue for hours, then it's really worth getting the ferry across to 'San Giorgio' which takes around 10 minutes and then climb the bell tower. It was much quieter here, which gave us priceless time to soak in the views.
Apart from that we walked, walked and walked. Visit the Grand Canal, Giudecca, the University area and San Vio. Every backstreet has it's own feel and it's amazing how you can stumble across local and authentic areas in what can be a famously touristic Venice.
We got the train from Venice directly to Florence which took around 2 hours. Once we
arrived we checked in to Hotel Glance and spent an hour chilling by the rooftop pool.
We spent our time here walking around and visiting the sites such as the Florence Duomo, Ponte Vecchio & Giardino Bardini. I recommend to book tickets beforehand for the Duomo to save time queuing and it's not for those who don't like small spaces as you have to walk up some really narrow stairs on the way up.
Mercato Centrale - A great lunch spot for those who aren't quite sure what they fancy to eat. This place has pizza, pasta, arancini & lots of other mouth watering items.
All’Antico Ristoro di Cambi - This restaurant came highly recommended to us. It's a must for those who want to experience the infamous Florentine Steak. They even bring your steak to the table for inspection before cooking it!
Gelateria la carraia - Ok, big statement coming up but probably the best gelato I've experienced in Italy and trust me I've had many. Only a five minutes walk from the restaurant above and worth joining the back of the queue.
We caught the bus from Florence to Siena which took 1 hour and 20 minutes as the train station in Siena is a little out of town. When we arrived we were met by Alberto at his lovely B&B called 'Il Corso'. Again, Alberto couldn't of been more helpful, he sat down with us to recommend where to go, what to see and where to eat. We were also visiting around the time of 'The Palio' which is a famous horse race that takes place twice a year. around the Piazza del Campo. During the days we visited the local farmers market, the Duomo of Siena, Museo dell'opera incredible views of the city & Fontebranda.
Salefino Wine and Cuisine - One of my favourite meals on our trip away. This restaurant was quirky and cosy. The staff were very knowledgeable of the menu which you chose from a chalkboard, the wine was excellent and the service was fantastic.
Now for the amazing wedding of our friends Valentina & Matt and the reason we organised this trip in the first place. Valentina (also known on Instagram as @thepathofthehalfitalian) is of course half Italian so it was important for her to get married in Italy and be surrounded by good food and her family & friends in one special place. They found their dream venue which is one of Tuscany's oldest farming estates and vineyards - Vignamaggio. It was a dreamy, charming place with Terracotta walls beautifully placed in the rolling hills of the Chianti region. They held their ceremony in front of the main terracotta house and held their canapé reception on the terrace next door. We enjoyed a naturally themed al fresco dining reception and moved the after party into a wine cellar, with a DJ and live sax, which was great use of the entire estate.
We stayed in Empoli for our last night due to it being a half way point between the
wedding venue and Pisa. The stylish Hall Hotel was perfect for what we needed with its chic, white interior. We went out in the evening with our friends for a lovely Italian dinner and of course finished it off with Gelato. The next day we went to the leaning tower of Pisa on our way to the airport. It made for a fun filled end to the holiday!
I hope you enjoyed the read and if you have any questions about visiting Italy or planning your wedding there then I'd love to hear from you.