Montepulciano, Italy {Italian Honeymoon: under the Tuscan sun}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Five – Montepulciano, Tuscany

We took a train from Vernazza to La Spezia and then another train from La Spezia to Chiusi (Tuscany). Once we arrived in Chiusi we needed took a bus to  Montepulciano. Hopping on the bus was the easy part. There was a bus stop right outside the train station. However, once we got on the bus, we had no idea how far we needed to go. After a long and winding ride, we finally decided it was probably time to get off the bus. We ended up getting off a few stops early and had to walk uphill to our B&B. The walk really wasn’t that bad, carrying out backpacks is what seemed to make it most difficult–that and watching out for dodging traffic.

Montlepulicano, Italy

We stayed at Locanda San Francesco in a king size suite with a panoramic view on Valdichiana for 225 euros per night. It’s a small and quaint place with only 4 rooms available. It is run by a sweet lady named Cinzia. She was so wonderful. She would make reservations, book taxi’s, and help you with any questions.

There is also a restaurant and bar on the lower level. So, naturally, upon arrival we were invited in for a glass of complementary wine and cheese. It was such a warm welcome. It was so perfect!

Montepulciano, Tuscany
Montepulciano, Tuscany – View from Locanda San Francesco

It was WELL worth every penny!

Locanda San Francesco

This is a picture from our suite. As you can see, my cute hubby peaking his head out from the ‘loft’ area at the top of the stairs.

Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)
Our upstairs loft at Locanda San Francesco. (Montepulciano, Italy)

This was the restaurant / bar area at Locanda San Francesco


The “window seat” in our room.


After we got all settled in we decided to head out and check out the town. It worked out really nice because Locanda San Francesco was centrally located within the city walls and was a short walk to everything!

Montepulciano, Tuscany

The views were amazing! We had a blast.


There were so many shops! We ended up shopping the whole day. Everything was so cheap, too! Not because it was cheaply made, but because it was all made in Montepulciano. We made many purchases. I ended up buying a few scarves, perfect for fall! And of course, we bought new leather shoes!! I got two pairs of boots and Chad got a pair of everyday shoes.


Chad and I each bought a new hat. These weren’t the ones we bought, but we had SO MUCH FUN trying them on. 🙂


After our long day of shopping we headed back to Locanda San Francesco for a wine flight and a cheese platter. The best discovery we made, peccorino cheese dipped in honey. They served that everywhere in Montepulciano. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! Who would have thought?

Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
Our Wine Flight at Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

We loved the wine so much we ended up buying and entire case and having it shipped back to The States!!


This was one of my favorite wines!


After cocktail hour we headed to a restaurant {Osteria del Conte} that had wine and gluten free options!

We had to make reservations earlier in the day to assure our seats. 🙂


We were so happy we could scream!!


On our second day, we had breakfast with another awesome view. Breakfast was compliments of our B&B.


After breakfast we headed to a winery for a tour and wine tasting.

{Cinzia made the reservations for our wine tasting / tour AND called to reserve a taxi for us.}


We had a delicious lunch with an amazing view at Ristorante II Poliziano.

You can’t see from this picture, but shortly after this picture was taken they moved us up on the balcony…it was gorgeous!


{Peccorino cheese with honey and salmon!}

Montepulciano, Italy

{Veal Kabobs with salad.}


Drinking in style on the streets of Montepulciano with our wedding Koozies!



I had to get my picture in front of this building that was featured in Twilight: New Moon.

Montepulciano, Italy


Montepulciano, Italy

We had so much fun and enjoyed our stay SO much we decided to stay an extra night because one night wasn’t enough!! I’m so glad that we did.

We were sad to say our goodbyes!

Montepulciano was BY FAR my favorite place!!


Adios Montepulciano.


Locanda San Francesca was a Trip Advisor winner.

This was one of the places we found via Trip Advisor and not through a Rick Steves Travel book.

We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.
We highly recommend Locanda San Francesco in Montepulciano, Italy.

Next Stop: Rome, Italy.

Cinque Terre {Italian Honeymoon}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Four –  Cinque Terre

After we left Florence we headed to the Cinque Terre by train, of course.


Not many people know about the Cinque Terre, but it has become very popular in recent years. Cinque means 5 in Italian, and is made up of 5 tiny villages on the coast. The villages from north to south are: MonterossoVernazzaCornigliaManarola, and Riomaggiore. The five villages are all linked by a walking trail high above the coast overlooking the Adriatic sea. I’ve heard it’s absolutely GORGEOUS. You can hike the trail in about 5 hours if you go at a leisurely pace. The trail was actually closed when we were visiting, so we weren’t able to walk from each town, but we did utilize the train system–which made it a very short trip from town to town.

The towns are very rustic and the only way to get into the area is by train.

In addition to the beautiful hikes, there are beaches, snorkeling, boat rides, etc. You basically choose a town to stay in as your home base, and can either hike or take a train to the other towns.

We decided to stay in Monterosso the first night in the Cinque Terre and Vernazza the second night because by the time we had booked, there was only one night available at each B&B. It fills up very quickly during ‘tourist season’.

It was raining upon our arrival to Monterosso. Once we got off the train we had a short {10 minute} walk to our hotel, La Colonnia.  We were greeted with complementary lemonade upon arrival.

La Colonnia was 165 euros a night and we had a double bed with a terrace. It was so nice to be able to relax on the terrace for cocktail hour before we headed out on the town. {my beverage of choice: wine, of course} & {Chad’s beverage of choice: limoncello!}

La Colonnia

After a few cocktails, we decided to stop at a wine bar for another drink before dinner. 🙂 Luckily, the wine bar was located close to our B&B, so it was a short walk. It stopped raining as soon as we got there!

We decided to talk a walk around the cute village.

Monterosso, Cinque Terre
Monterosso, Cinque Terre

It was breathtaking in when the sun went down.


Monterosso sure set the bar high. We loved it there.

The next day we headed to Vernazza. When we got there it was crowded and most of the village was under construction–but it was beautiful!

Vernazza, Italy (Cinque Terre)
Vernazza, Italy (Cinque Terre)

We finally got to our B&B to check in and it was very sketchy. We stayed at Tonino Basso which was 120 euros a night for a double room, private bathroom, and air conditioning. Alessandra was the lady who ran the B&B and she was never around and we couldn’t ever find her if we needed to.

Needless to say, shortly after checking in, we headed straight for a day trip to Manarola.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola was amazing.


Everyone was so friendly and even offered to take our pictures 🙂


After walking around the village we decided to check out a ‘hidden’ restaurant {Dal Billy Trattoria} on the top of a mountain, which had amazing views.

It was well worth the walk up there.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

{Can you believe this was our view from our table?!}

Manarola, Cinque Terre

The food was delicious and we got the best seat in the house!!

We started with a seafood sampler platter: Norwegian fish with potatoes, anchovies with salt {my first experience, and not a bad one}, anchovies with lemon, tuna with cabbage, white fish with mayo, small cabbage with fish, octopus with red sauce, crab pockets, mashed chickpea dumplings, herring with beans and cherry tomatoes, dumplings with pesto, and white fish with cabbage! Needless today, we were full before our entrees even came out. 🙂


we each had a pasta dish for lunch {they had gluten free!}


and ended with homemade limoncello for dessert!

After lunch, we walked back down the mountain to where all the cute little shops were at. We stopped at one place that had handmade pottery! We ended up getting 2 coffee mugs and 2 shooters to bring back to the states with us! We love them and will cherish them forever!


After a few hours of shopping we decided to stop for some gelato before heading to Monterosso for the evening {since we loved it so much, especially at night!}.

Adios Manarola!


Back in Monterosso.


We spent the evening in Moterosso and had another delicious seafood / pasta dinner! It was well worth the wait.




The next morning we got up early to catch a train from La Spezia to head to our next destination: Montepulicano, Tuscany.

Cinque Terre

Florence, Italy {Italian Honeymoon}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Three – Florence

We traveled from Castelrotto to Bolzano by bus and from there we took a train down to Florence (Firenze).

For us, Florence was a place that we needed to visit while we were in Italy, however, it’s a place we will most likey, never visit again.

This is the reason, it was crowded and there were tourists everywhere!!

I’d recommend getting reservations in advance to avoid huge lines and excessive wait times (you can purchase tickets and reserve a time online). Even with a reservation we still found ourselves waiting for quite some time.


If you are into art, as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a must. Florence is home to both the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Museum. The Accademia holds Michelangelo’s David sculpture, and the Uffizi has countless works of art by Rafael, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Giotto, etc… {basically all the ninja turtle artists}

Some of the more famous pieces are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Springtime (La Primavera).

The whole time we were in Florence it felt like we were living in a piece of art.

Florence, Italy

The architecture was phenomenal!!

Florence, Italy

It was a photographers dream!

Florence, Italy

I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Florence, Italy

The city seemed alive, even at night! Glowing, and magnificent.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Florence also has the Duomo Cathedral, which I definitely recommend climbing.

The inside of the Duomo:


The gelato in Florence is also excellent.

Gelato in Florence

Gianinnos was my favorite place to eat!!

Florence, Italy

 They had a gluten free menu, so I couldn’t help but order two different entrees! 🙂

Gluten Free Ravioli:

Gluten Free Ravioli

AND Gluten Free Pizza:

Gluten Free Pizza

The service was great and the food was delicious!! I would highly recommend it!

However, there are so many cute little restuarants in the area around the duomo. you really can’t go wrong!!

Make sure to save room for some Gelato though!!

We went to Trattoria Za-Za for lunch. It was such a fun atmosphere!

Trattoria Za-Za

These were in the bathroom guarding the toilet paper…it made me laugh!


..and of course, some more guarding the toilets…haha!


Pisa is a great side trip from Florence (20 min train ride). Most people just stop briefly in Pisa to snap a picture at the leaning tower, and move on. We didn’t have time to stop by Pisa. I would have loved to, though. Maybe someday! 🙂

Florence, Italy

Until we meet again, Ciao!

Next Stop: Cinque Terre

The Dolomites: Castelrotto {Italy}

Italian Honeymoon: Part Two – Castelrotto {the Dolomites}

We traveled by train from Varenna to Milan, from Milan to Verona, and Verona to Bolzano. When we arrived in Bolzano everyone was speaking German. Chad had to give me the brief history lesson: that prior to WWI Northern Italy was part of the Austrian Empire, after losing the war, Austria lost that region to Italy which redefined the Austrian/Italian boarder. Hence, why they were all speaking German in Bolzano. When we got to Castelrotto (Italian) aka  Kastelruth (German) everything was written in Italian and German but the primary language spoken seemed to be German.

Luckily, my hubby was able to learn German on the bus ride there. 🙂

When we got off the bus, we were immediately impressed. The scenery was jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Castelrotto, Italy

Castelrotto, Italy
Those were the first two pictures we took when we got off the bus.

We eventually made it to our Bed & Breakfast. We stayed at Hotel Cavallino. It was 114 euros a night and worth every penny!!
Hotel Cavallino
Our room had a balcony and a view of the mountains! {As you can tell, Chad was super excited!}
Hotel Cavallino

We took a walk around the town to get a feel for it.
Castelrotto, Italy
I swear this place was a photographers dream!!
Castelrotto, Italy
The architecture was so unique
Castelrotto, Italy
Chad looked up a ‘romantic stroll’ for us to take upon arrival and this was the view:
Castelrotto, Italy
The next morning we got up early to take a lift up to Alpe Marinzen Alm.

The Dolomites, Italy

This was the view from the lift.
Castelrotto, Italy

Heading up.

The Dolomites

There was so much to see and do along our hike
Castelrotto, Italy

Hiking up to Compatsch.
Castelrotto, Italy

Stairway to Heaven?

Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites

Enjoying the views along the way.

The Dolomites, Italy

We ran into some baby goats….they were adorable
Castelrotto, Italy

We even saw a slide along the way!
Schlern Mountain

The views along our hike were so amazing…
Castelrotto, Italy

We had so much fun! Here is another beautiful view on the way up.

The Dolomites

We were so lucky to run into another hiker who could take our picture 🙂

The Dolomites, Italy

We snapped a few more 🙂

The Dolomites, Italy

a favorite of mine…

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

A view on our way up to the panorama from Compatsch.

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

We did a lot of hiking and we had to stop for plenty of awesome photo ops!

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

we couldn’t get enough…

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

Mt. Schlern

The Dolomites, Italy

Finally reached another lift that was going to take us closer to the panorama

Panorama View - Italy

…and here we are on the lift! It had been a long morning with a lot of hiking. We had to take a ‘Kinder Break’. 🙂
The Dolomites

On the lift up to the panorama look out at Alpe di Siusi.

The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

The Panorama view

Panorama View - Italy

We felt like we were on top of the world!

Panorama View - Italy

A great view of Sasso Plato.



Everything was more beautiful than we could have imagined!

The Dolomites, Italy

After looking at the panorama we took a lift back down and saw some more amazing views.

The Dolomites, Italy

View of Siusi on our way back down.

The Dolomites

Another awesome view.

The Dolomites
After we got back down we went to Unterlanzin to go horseback riding.

{This was Chad’s first time horseback riding. It was so adorable}



We couldn’t have picked a better place to go horseback riding. The views were amazing; I felt like I was dreaming!



We had so much fun in The Dolomites. I would recommend it to everyone!! This trip definitely inspired us to take our next vacation to AustriaGermany, and Switzerland.


Lake Como {Varenna, Italy}

Italian Honeymoon: Part one – Varenna, Lake Como

We flew into Milan and from there we were able to take a train to Lake Como.

Everyone was so nice and helpful, and luckily my super awesome husband was able to learn Italian on the flight over 🙂

We started our 12 day honeymoon in Lago di Como (Lake Como).

This was the view from our  villa in Varenna.
This was the view from our villa in Varenna.

We stayed at Hotel Villa Cipressi. They were so nice and friendly.

This was the first place we stayed on our trip to Italy. It definitely set the bar high!
This was the first place we stayed on our trip. It definitely set the bar high!

Hotel Villa Cipressi sits right on Lake Como.

At Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna.
At Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna.

…and the views were amazing!!

View from Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna, Italy. (Lake Como)
View from Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna, Italy. (Lake Como)

We had the only room with a balcony & it was well worth the 175 euros per night.

Our Room
Our Room

We took advantage of the balcony for cocktail hour!

Eating some Pecorino cheese for cocktail hour!
Eating some Pecorino cheese for cocktail hour!

Restaurante La Contrada was part of Hotel Villa Cipressi and we had dinner there our first night. They served us complimentary champagne and the house wine we ordered was amazing!

Note: Contrary to The States, in Italy house wine is the best (it’s made at local vineyards)

Dinner at Restaurante La Contra.
Dinner at Restaurante La Contrada.
We took a ferry to day trip to Lenno. It was so beautiful!!

Ferry ride to Lenno on Lake Como.
Ferry ride to Lenno on Lake Como.
View from the famous villa used in Star Wars 2 and Casino Royale.
View from the famous villa used in Star Wars II and Casino Royale.

This was at the famous VILLA BALBIANELLO featured in the James Bond film “Casino Royale” and also “Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones”.

Villa Balbianello in Lenno, Lake Como
Villa Balbianello in Lenno, Lake Como

I would highly recommend visiting Villa Balbianello in Lenno. The villa was built in the 1500’s and was absolutely breathtaking. It sat right on Lake Como with the most amazing views!

View  of Lake Como from VILLA BALBIANELLO
View of Lake Como from VILLA BALBIANELLO

When we got back to Varenna we stopped for some Gelato! I had the fresh lemon & strawberry and Chad had Pistachio Mousse & Nutella.

Gelato from a local Gelateria.
Gelato from a local Gelateria.

After we finished our delicious gelato, we decided to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Relaxing on a bench in Varenna.
Relaxing on a bench in Varenna.
We had to get another shot of Varenna during the day. The buildings were always so colorful!
Daytime in Varenna, Lake Como
Daytime in Varenna, Lake Como
We had dinner at Restaurante La Vista. We had our own private table out on the balcony. 
Eating Dinner at Restaurante La Vista in Varenna.
This was our view when the sun started to go down at Restaurante La Vista in Varenna.
Our view from Dinner at Restaurante La Vista when the sun started to go down.
Our view from Dinner at Restaurante La Vista.
After drinking a bottle of wine with EVERY meal we had, I decided to spice it up a bit and splurge on a Sangria. It was well worth it!!
Stopped off at the Nilus Bar for a Sangria. One of the best I've ever had!
Stopped off at the Nilus Bar for a Sangria. One of the best I’ve ever had!
We had dinner reservations at Ristorante il Caminetto. The restaurant owners actually came into town to pick us up (and everyone else who had dinner reservations at the same time as us) because their restaurant was up on the mountain top! Talk about excellent customer service! {and experiencing Italian driving at it’s finest}. 
Dinner at Cavillino
Dinner at Ristorante il Caminetto
Chad tried to order a cappuccino (coffee with frothed milk) with dinner. The restaurante owner/chef, Chef Moreno, told Chad that would be an insult to him as the chef. Needless to say, we ordered a bottle of wine instead. They also gave us complementary lemoncello after our meal. It was delicious!!
Dinner at Cavillino in Varenna.
Overall, our stay in Lake Como was relaxing and extremely enjoyable! I would highly recommend it 🙂
Lake Como

Lake Como
Villa Cipressi
Lake Como