3 Days In Cinque Terre

cinque terre

After we left our 6-week apartment in Rome, we jumped on three trains and made our way to Cinque Terre. I honestly hadn’t heard of these five little villages until my Italy-obsessed mother mentioned them to me recently. I’m so glad she did. I’m so glad we went.

Cinque Terre was definitely one of the most beautiful places we visited in Italy.

cinque terre

Cinque Terre: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English. And that’s exactly what it is – five small villages right next to each other. They are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
  • The train will take you back and forth between the towns or you can actually hike in between them too. Many hikers come from all over the world to walk the seaside trails in-between the five villages.
  • The trails between the villages are actually a national park!
  • Cinque Terre’s local wine is typically white and always delicious

cinque terre

We decided to stay in Vernazza each night for the most romantic reason of all: it was the cheapest on Airbnb. We did visit all the other villages other than Monterosso. Vernazza, in the end, was by far my favorite. But each and every one of them is adorable, charming, and breathtaking.

And each one is a killer butt workout. I’m not joking. Stairs upon stairs upon stairs upon stairs.

The food was a bit more expensive than Rome, and though we had some killer meals, there were a few mediocre meals too. Mediocre is an extreme rarity in Italy. So take that for what it’s worth. The views from restaurants were incredible though.

cinque terre

We hiked between Vernazza and Corniglia. It was an easy-to-moderate walk, and we loved it. There was endless picture taking opportunities. We then took a train to Manarola, and one to Riomaggiore. (The trains are a rip off. 4 euros between each of the villages each time – no matter how close you are.)

cinque terre

Kyle painted a lot while we were staying here. We didn’t have wi-fi, so I wrote in my journal and read quite a bit. It was a lovely, relaxing stay.

One night we did a wine tasting of three white local wines. We ended up meeting an Australian couple and visited with them while sipping. It was a lovely evening!

cinque terre wine

Real Cinque Terre Conversation:

Me: Babe! Italy is my favorite country ever. Do you think they’d make me an honorary citizen because of all the wine I drink?

Kyle: Definitely because of that.

Me: That’s what I thought.

cinque terre

3 Days On The Amalfi Coast: Sorrento, Amalfi & Capri

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The most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen are along the Amalfi Coast. Some of the favorite days of my life were spent along the Amalfi Coast area. This was my favorite trip in Italy! It was also the most expensive trip we took in Italy. The prices for everything were much higher.

Worth it!

On the first day, Kyle rented a litte Fiat 500 to drive us along the Amalfi Coast. It was the only car we used during the 2 months in Italy. It was the perfect afternoon. We listened to music, we stopped in Positano for a seafood lunch, we drove through the windy roads and soaked up every fabulous sight our eyes could see.

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I can never depict the beauty we saw on this drive. No picture will capture it either. It truly is heaven on earth.

We stayed in Sorrento each night. We entitled Sorrento: “Little America.” It is definitely geared toward rich English-speaking tourists, and that’s normally NOT our cup of tea. But we still loved the area. It’s beautiful. Our favorite night was sitting out by the water eating the best muscles of our lives.

sorrento

sorrento

On day 2, we took a ferry to Capri. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. I got sick as a dog on the ferry ride around the entire island. Other than the waves of nausea, it was a lovely day. I’ll just leave some pictures to attempt to capture it all for you.

capri

capri

capri

The last day we explored Sorrento some more, took a train back to Naples, then a train back to Rome. It was one of the best trips of my entire life. SO happy we went!

3 Days in Naples & Pompeii

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Naples is gritty. Where much of Italy feels like an idyllic dream pulled right out of a movie, Naples has some rough edges. It’s a bit dirty, a bit rougher. Yet its authenticity is so charming, you cannot help but stare in pure joy.

You see mothers hanging laundry from three floors up as men sell fish underneath at the street market. You see kids playing ball in the busy streets while dogs try to beg for a bit of gelato cone.

naples

We only had a brief stay in Naples (with an Airbnb, of course!), but we enjoyed the experience. Of course, since it’s only a short commuter train ride away (30 minutes maybe), we visited Pompeii as well.

Naples: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The locals of Naples are called Neapolitans.
  • Naples has a straight main street going through a large portion of the area: Spaccanapoli. It’s incredibly narrow, so cars don’t go through most of it. If you get a picture of what Naples looks like in your head, you’re probably picturing Spaccanapoli.
  • Naples was the most bombed Italian city in WWII.

The #1 thing we loved about Napes: the pizza. Holy carbs, batman, Naples is a pizza god. We didn’t expect much less from the original creator of the pizza pie. Both Kyle and I agreed it was the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives. (Mine, gluten-free, of course). Starita was our favorite pizzeria.

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We also loved its proximity to the water. We ended up climbing Castel dell’Ovo and then finding some nice tables for an afternoon spritz. We got a kick out of watching everyone bath on the rocks.

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naples
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naplesPompeii: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Pompeii was a thriving city until Mount Vesuvius blew in 79 A.D. The volcano’s eruption ended up burying the entire city. Nobody in the immediate area was left alive.
  • The city wasn’t discovered again until the 1700s.

pompeii

The ruins of Pompeii are amazing – but honestly, not as impressive as some other ruins we’d already seen in Italy. In fact, we visited Tivoli for a day and enjoyed the ruins at Villa Adriana much more than we did Pompeii.

pompeii

That being said, it was still an incredible and humbling thing to see. I splurged and got the audio guide to learn about as much as I could while we walked around.

pompeii

Ready for the biggest surprise in the world? The best meal I ate in Italy was found in a little side restaurant in the town of Pompeii – about a 15 minute walk from the ruins. I kid you not. The owner’s son apparently has celiac, so he has mastered the art of gluten-free food. We adored it. The restaurant is called Osteria Da Peppino

Overall, our stay in Naples and visit to Pompeii were both great. They can’t qualify as my favorites, but definitely another lovely look at Italy.

When In Rome: The Colosseum, Palentine Hill & Roman Forum

palentine hill

You cannot go to Rome and not go to the Colosseum. I think it’s a travel law. Here is our experience and a few tips to make your ancient Roman experience just as nice as ours!

What I didn’t realize until a few days before we went is that a ticket to the Colosseum also gives you entry to the Roman Forum and the Palentine Hill, and you can do all three in one day. All three are located in the same archeological area.

If you’re like me, you may not have even heard of these other two spots. Either we are normal or super uneducated. Just roll with it. That’s what we do. Roll with it and rock it.

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**When in Rome, the best way is to see all this is to start at the Palentine Hill, move on to the Roman Forum, and then use the Roman Forum’s exit gate which leads you to the Colosseum. Not only is this the best way to walk less, you also save significant time by buying your ticket at the Palentine Hill where there are no lines instead of the Colosseum with hour-long lines.**

The Palentine Hill: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The Palentine Hill is supposedly where Remus and Romulus were saved by the she-wolf. According to the legend, Romulus came back to build a city on that very hill.
  • This was the home to the rich and famous of Rome.

We didn’t take a tour, nor did we read much about these sites before we went. We relied on our eyes to see what surrounded us as well as the plaques that offer great historical information. We like to be free birds as much as possible and not get tied to a tour group. At no point were we disappointed with this choice.

We roamed and roamed (get it? When in Rome… roam.). Trust me, there is SO MUCH LAND FOR ROAMING. We felt like we got a workout in while beefing up our historical prowess.

palentine hill when in rome

roman forum

There’s a really nice museum at the Palentine Hill full of art and artifacts. Not only was it interesting, but it was also a nice air-conditioned step away from the heat of summer Rome.

palentine hill

The Roman Forum: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • This sprawl of ruins used to be a grand spot of temples, hang out spots, and living quarters starting in the 7th century BC.
  • The Roman Forum wasn’t discovered until excavations in the early 1800s, and the process took over 100 years.

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Beautiful ruins after beautiful ruins after beautiful ruins. That’s the Roman Forum.

when in rome

The Colosseum: Quick and Interesing Facts

  • The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD. It was a 10-year project.
  • 36 trap doors provided old school special effects.
  • The Colosseum held approximately 50,000 spectators.
  • As a sign in the Colosseum explains, the idea of this amphitheater being a place of Christian martyrdom isn’t actually verified at all. Nonetheless, it was a gruesome killing house.
  • It opens to the public at 9am and closes one hour before sunset.
  • Admission is 12€ (again, this also includes the Roman Forum and the Palentine Hill). This is unlike ancient times, when admission was entirely free!
  • The lines are exceedingly long. It is best to buy your ticket at either the Palentine Hill or Roman Forum and hit up the Colosseum last. This way you will only have to wait through the entry line, not the purchasing line.

The truth is when you walk into the Colosseum, you are standing in a beautiful, stunning, awe-inspiring structure…. built by 60,000 slaves and used to murder around 500,000 people and one million animals. It’s a mixed feeling sort of place, as you can imagine.

By the time we made it to the Colosseum, the sun was hot, and we were thrilled that we had already purchased the ticket. We still ended up waiting about a half hour to get in, but the wait was well worth it.

the colosseum

The first thing we noticed was how much smaller it felt in real life compared the visions you get from watching The Gladiator. That did not take away from the feelings of awe. This is an incredible and brilliant feat of architecture.

the colosseum

You are able to see the Colosseum from two different heights. You can go underneath for more money, which we opted not to do (after all, we do travel on a budget). We didn’t feel like we missed out. There were hoards of tourists. You could think of it as frustrating, but considering the Colosseum held 50,000 people, it’s honestly a more authentic experience.

In the shaded walkway areas, they have artifacts, diagrams, and informational signs. They were all extremely interesting and informative. Since we chose to go guide-free, so all this information helped us feel more knowledgeable while we were exploring.

the colosseum

Overall, we spent a little under an hour roaming and taking photos in the Colosseum. It was truly an incredible experienced we enjoyed. It’s always humbling to stand in such ancient history.

when in rome

When In Rome: The Pantheon

the pantheon

On our Rome sightseeing bucket list was the Pantheon. Though not nearly as exciting and/or overwhelming as some of the other sights we have seen (including the incredible Vatican), it was still a wonderful experience. The weather was beautiful and the sky was overcast; we had a lovely adventure!

pantheon

The Pantheon: Quick & Interesting Facts:

  • Entrance to The Pantheon is free!
  • The first Pantheon was said to be built in 27 BC. It burned in the great fire of 80 AD. Then it was rebuilt and burned again in 110 AD. Then it was rebuilt in 120 AD. Talk about determination.
  • The Corinthian columns weigh 60 tons each.
  • The Pantheon was originally created for all the Roman gods. Later on it was converted into a Christian house of worship.
  • There is a real Egyptian Pharaoh’s obelisk in front of the Pantheon.

pantheonMy sexy man. 

We took a 30 minute stroll from our apartment in Trastevere to the Pantheon. At least, it was supposed to be 30 minutes. We got distracted by cappuccinos. Can you blame us? Then we got distracted by a delicious gluten-free pastry shop. But you know what they say… “when in Rome, eat and drink until you’re a glutton!”

room gluten-free foodThis, my friends, is called a foodgasm.

We finally made our way to the Pantheon and were super happy that the admission was free. The outside structure was seriously impressive. It’s humbling to stand next to such large buildings that have stood the test of time. We were both in awe and did lots of “wide-eyed amazement” stares.

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The inside was equally gorgeous. You could opt to buy an audio guide headset, but since it is such a small building, we decided to rely on our eyes and the information signs. I’m perfectly satisfied with that experience and would recommend it.

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The whole visit took us about a half hour. The Pantheon is located nearby to both the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain if you want to catch a few sites in one morning.

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Attempting to get a cool selfie without people in awkward positions behind us was quite the challenge in the busy Pantheon. I’m pretty sure this was photo attempt #241.