Today, I am talking about our recent international trip.....where we decided to take out 6 month old on a 12 hour plane ride, 5 hour train ride, and halfway across the world. Are we crazy? A little. ;)
This was a trip of a LIFETIME and I wanted to do it right, but also be budget friendly. We were traveling with 9 other family members and so it needed to cost effective for all of us.
With good planning and a budget, you can stroll the romantic streets along with us! At the end of this blog, there's a link to my itinerary. It's only $14.99 for my 42 page travel guide. And it will basically take care of all the details for you!
So let's go on an adventure.....
We flew in October, which was honestly the PERFECT temperature. It was breezy and warm.
Doing a 12 hour flight with 9 people wasn't easy, but we were all SO excited for what was to come. We landed in Rome in the morning and immediately headed to our train. We grabbed some croissants (the first of WAY too many) and coffees, and hopped on.
What ensued was the MOST romantic train ride ever. Picture riding through Rome, seeing glimpses of ruins through the sun soaked buildings, and then observing everyday life, children walking to school on cobblestones, laundry hanging out on ivy-wrung balconies.
It was a long train ride, so the morning sun turned to afternoon light, highlighting sun-dappled tuscan buildings and fields of wheat, vineyards and mountains. We napped and took photos and laughed at how surreal it was. I'm pretty sure it gave the Hogwarts Express a run for it's money.
When we finally arrived in Venice, it was evening. We came out of the train station on the grand canal, and were greeted by the sound of water and boats and fairy lights from twinkling bridges and buildings. We walked to our Airbnb over a glass bridge and then hopped on a vaporetto (a water taxi). Seeing Venice by night was magical and I felt like Angelina Jole in 'the Tourist,' albeit, a little greasier and gross from the plane. Eek!
We finally arrived at our stop and had to walk under stone tunnels to get to our Airbnbs courtyard. I vaguely remember one of my siblings saying "is this for real?" and "this feels like we went back in time and are in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie."
Our Airbnb's beds greeted us, but not before we enjoyed the ancient building, built in the 500s. Like whatttt?? It was perfectly outfitted with cute little bedrooms and a vintage kitchen. (See the exact Airbnb in my travel guide!)
The next few days were a blur of activity. The Airbnb I chose was close to everything, St. Marks Square, the vaporatto stop, etc. So we walked everywhere. I carried Amelia, but my stroller did fine too. We visited the square, we ate gelato, we took a thousand photos, we rode on boats, we visited the islands. Venice is definitely more touristy, but it is just so darn unique that you can't miss out on it.
I loved Burano, because it was so colorful and vibrant. We'd eat lunch in, and then every night, we'd find a new restaurant to visit. Check out my travel guide for the restaurants we loved!
Before you know it, it was time to leave the City of Water and head to Florence. We stopped at a bakery on the way out and enjoyed the narrow streets and the friendliness of the people one last time.
Then, we jumped on our train. And Florence did not disappoint! It is the perfectly sized city, bustling with real life and history around every corner.
Once we got off our train, we walked to our Airbnb about a half a mile away. It was in the historic centre, which means half of our bags broke from carrying them over cobblestones. Whoops! It was worth it.
Our Airbnb was HUGE and perfectly located for our family. It was a Florentine palace built in the early twentieth century. It had a long hallway with grand beds in each room and beautiful balconies. (see us smooching on one below ;)
Everyday we walked to the duomo, or the Ponte Vecchio, or the little coffee shop lined streets. It never got old. I loved the very real feeling of Florence and how much we had to do.....there was something for everyone. (Food, history, culture!). We even took a Hop on Hop Off tour at the end and though it seems touristy, it was actually a blast to spend the last rainy day learning more about the city. (and gave my baby carrying hips a break).
To see links to our Florentine palace Airbnb and my FAVORITE coffee shop of all time, see my travel guide here.
I had been to Italy before and I knew that this time, I needed some time in the country. I LOVE cities, but there is something about a few days spent in nature that refreshes me. Italy has such a connection to the earth and I didn't want to miss experiencing that.
So on our last morning in Florence, we walked to a Hertz and picked up our car that we rented. Driving in Italy seemed really nerve wracking, but it ended up being WAY easier than we thought.
We zoomed right out of Florence with no problems and started making our way to the inland area of Perugia. Situated in hills and vineyards, we arrived at our Bed and Breakfast at sunset, and I was in heaven. This was my FAVORITE stop.
Our Bed and Breakfast was made up of little tuscan-style villas amidst olive gardens and vineyards. There was one main house and lots of little ones sprinkled over the hill. Ours was under a big oak tree and situated right by the beautiful pool. (also, it had an AMAZING bathroom and shower. Which was a big plus for me. haha)
Each morning, we enjoyed walking up the hill to eat breakfast. Eggs and bacon and croissants on croissants. We'd sit outside with Amelia and talk to people who came to visit from all over the world. One day, we explored the whole property and went to a nearby nature reserve where we found an abandoned farmhouse. Another day, we drove down the hill to visit the lake. And the last day, we visited a vineyard and winery....and learned how to make wine!
If I were to go anywhere again, this was it! Ryan and I had so many relaxing talks about our future on the balcony, overlooking the sun setting on the hills and and chirping birds. It was literally HEAVEN.
But alas, time had come to a close in our quiet, reflective time in the country. It was time to head back to the hustle of a city. And what city to end your trip than in ROME! Full of life and excitement.
We arrived at our inner-city Airbnb after a long day. There was no place to park in the city, so we dropped our rental car off outside and taxi-ed in.
Our Airbnb was 4 bedrooms....which was unheard of in downtown Rome. It was a mile or less to the Colosseum, Piazza Novena, the Pantheon and EVERYTHING we wanted to see. And it was so easy to run back to the apartment for a nap or for a quick lunch.
Rome was all the hustle and bustle. The day we arrived, we freshened up and quickly walked over to the Colosseum for a tour. (See my travel guide for links!). And the days to come, we all split up and saw different sites. From wandering the suburb of Trastivere, to eating outside the Pantheon, to making a wish with Amelia in the Trevi Fountain....it was dreamy on dreamy. Mostly my Lizzie McGuire what-dreams-are-made of kind of dreams. ;)
We spent a couple full days here and it was the perfect city to end our trip. The last night, we ate out under the stars and the ruins...and it felt magical and ancient, all at once.
Now it's your turn....
Our time in Italy was SO perfect. And I LOVED planning it. If you want to do a similar trip, but maybe don't love planning, check out my Sun-Soaked Italy: Travel Guide below. It is only $14.99 for 42 pages detailing EVERYTHING we did. I take care of all the details for ya! <3
Happy traveling, friend!
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3