When I was just 14 years old, I went on a class trip to Rome, Italy. We only spent a few days there, but I knew that someday I would return, especially since I tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain wishing to return with someone special.
Once I came home from that trip, I ended up meeting David. We went to high school together and immediately became best friends. We even remained best friends through college, despite being nine hours apart. From the moment we met, all the way up until our senior year of college, David and I had strictly been friends and nothing more. However, once David revealed that he had feelings for me, things sure changed! Two years later, and 10 years after traveling to Italy where I made my wish to return, David and I were engaged! I knew immediately that we had to go to back to Rome so that I could share with him all of the sights and delectable cuisine that I had enjoyed once years before.
However, since David and I love to travel and are a pair of “foodies", we knew that we had to go beyond the city of Rome for our honeymoon. Therefore, we spent just over two weeks traversing the roads of Italy, Monaco, and Southern France!
Two days after our wedding, on November 19th, we hopped on an Alitalia flight (which has some of the best airplane food going) and arrived in Rome. We stayed in a Boscolo hotel right near the Spanish steps. Despite being sucked into paying a man dressed as a Roman soldier to take photos with us, David and I ended up spending a couple of days just walking around the Spanish steps and taking in the sites. We even went to the Trevi Fountain together, sat around the edge eating our second helping of gelato, and threw our coins in the water. Once we were done lounging by the fountain, we just continued to walk around the city more, and we came across an adorable cat! Sorry, I mean gate! I took a few photos of the cat, and funny enough, a few blocks down, a painter was selling a portrait that he had done of the cat! I think I like my free photo better though...
Since we were only spending three days in Rome, we did a lot of walking to get all of the sights in. We walked from the Spanish steps, to the Trevi Fountain, to the Pantheon, and then to the Vatican, all in one day! Therefore, we decided on our last night to take it easy and just relax. Rather than sightseeing all day, we ate. A lot! We were in Italy, after all.
The café and gelato were definitely my downfalls, while the pizza was David’s. On our last night though, we ended up eating dinner at an amazing restaurant just outside of the Pantheon – Antica Trattoria da Pietro al Pantheon. This restaurant was very small and quaint with limited seating and very dim lighting, which we loved! The atmosphere was perfect for a romantic meal. Their food and wine was some of the best that we had throughout our entire stay in Italy, and ironically enough, they ended up being one the cheapest restaurants that we ate at.
After a couple bottles of wine, David and I headed back to our hotel since we knew we were going to wake up early to head to the beautiful countryside of Tuscany! After a two-hour drive, we ended up in Casole d’Elsa, Toscana. We chose to stay in Casole d’Elsa because a friend had recommended the B&B to us, and it was central to all of the various sites and cities in Tuscany that we wanted to see. So, after trekking through windy rounds and hilltop town after hilltop town, we arrived at the farm/B&B – Il Colombaio.
Il Colombaio was so beautiful and it was perfect because we had our own kitchen and view of the Tuscan landscape. The only “problem” we had, was that the owner did not speak a word of English, so my Italian skills were really put to the test! Thankfully, after what was probably an entertaining conversation for David to listen to, I was able to communicate with the owner as she welcomed us and told us about Casole d’Elsa and her farm.
Words cannot truly explain the beauty that Tuscany embodies. Although we had seen plenty of photos and paintings of Tuscany before, the images just did not do the real sites justice. Although our photos will also not do it justice, we highly recommend everyone to travel to Tuscany someday to just take in the beauty. It is so peaceful and serene, and it is just amazing to think that people actually get to live there!
Since David and I were spending some more time in Tuscany, we relaxed a bit more, and planned to visit a different site each day. On the first day, we visited San Gimignano, since it was only about 15 minutes away from Casole d’Elsa. Like Tuscany itself, words cannot describe he beauty that is San Gimignano. As you are driving through the windy Tuscan roads, San Gimignano appears out of nowhere, like a grand castle perched on top of a hill. Many of the streets are all cobblestoned, and there is even a large portion of the town where cars cannot drive, and pedestrians are free to roam about the shops and cafes. In fact, this is exactly what David and I did, and it was in San Gimignano where we stalked up on wine and had to buy an extra suitcase to bring it all home!
We also discovered a small restaurant off of the beaten path, called Trattoria Chiribiri. Like the restaurant near the Pantheon, this restaurant was quite quaint, with only about 8-10 tables, and you have to walk down a set of stairs from the street in order to get inside. This ended up being one of our favorite restaurants! In fact, we loved it so much, that we went back there again on our last night in Tuscany. This restaurant was also the cheapest, which is ironic since it was the best! It just goes to show that price is not necessarily an indicator of quality, and that you can avoid tourist traps.
In addition to seeing San Gimignano, David and I traveled to Pisa, Florence, and Volterra. Although we knew Pisa was not the best of towns, we also knew that we could not be that close and not go visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa! After trying to take a photo of David kicking down the tower versus the usual holding the tower up photo, we headed off to Florence. Florence was by far one of our most favorite city stops and it was bustling with Christmas shoppers! We had an amazing dinner at a restaurant called Aqua al 2 that is apparently famous for many celebrities to visit since the entire restaurant was decorated with plates that various celebrities had signed. The plate that was hung up behind me was signed by John Cusack!
To end our journey through Tuscany, David and I decided to just stay in for the night, and cook dinner in our room at the B&B. Using some homemade pasta that we had purchased, I made a pasta carbonara. It was the first dish that I made for David as a married couple!
The next morning, David and I repacked our bags, said goodbye to the owner of Il Colombaio in broken Italian, and headed to Venice. After leaving our car in a garage, we were able to take the water taxi to our hotel in Venice. Now, Venice had been experiencing some very high floodwaters, so we knew ahead of time that we might be getting wet! Rather then let it inhibit us though, we laughed it off and joked about how it would be our first true test as a married couple! Thankfully, when we arrived with our luggage, it was low tide so we were able to keep our feet dry.
Once we arrived at our hotel, we checked in and were greeted with a surprise! The man knew our names before we even said anything, escorted us to our room, and gave us a free bottle of champagne to congratulate us on our marriage. After getting some dinner and dessert brought to the room, David and I sat back and enjoyed the champagne. Then, all of a sudden, while we were sipping on our champagne, we heard what sounded like splashing noises. So we opened our window, looked outside, and low and behold, Venice was flooded! The tide had come in and people were wading through the streets in rain boots. The water came up to people’s thighs – it was so cool and interesting to witness! As cool as it was though, David and I were glad to be warm and dry in our room.
After surviving the floods of Venice, David and I headed to Southern France, stopping in Monaco on the way. We did not stay in Monaco long, because although it is absolutely beautiful, it is also absolutely expensive! We ended up spending $40 on a burger and then gambling some money away in Monte Carlo – but it was worth it for such a fun experience!
Once we arrived at our B&B in Nice – Vista Azzura – we were greeted by a wonderful couple and their dog, Sushi! They were so welcoming and their house was beautiful! Our room had two balconies and a Jacuzzi tub – perfect for relaxation. The owners even had an orange tree that was in full bloom in their backyard.
After David and I settled into our room, we went to the promenade in Nice. The promenade was a beautiful section of town that is blocked off to cars (similar to San Gimignano, only much larger) where people can just stroll about and enjoy the many restaurants that are there. We sampled quite a few places and ate way too many crepes, but our favorite restaurant was La Maison de Marie. In fact, like a few of the other restaurants we found along the way, we went back to La Maison de Marie for our final meal on our honeymoon. We splurged on a large three-course meal, a bottle of wine, and one more bottle of wine! It was not easy leaving the next morning, but our hosts sent us off with a filling breakfast, and David and I knew, that we had had the absolute perfect honeymoon!
No honeymoon would be complete though without being carried over the threshold into your home upon arrival, and that is exactly what David did with me. All in all, our honeymoon cost a little over $7,000, with the additional freebie of being carried home, and we would absolutely recommend that any future honeymooners enjoy the time they have, and visit some of the sites and restaurants that we fell in love with!