After traveling through Orvieto and Siena we continued to head north along the West Coast of Italy. Our next stops were: San Gimignano, the town of towers, Greve, for wine tasting and Lucca, for an amazing dinner! Every one of these cities had its own charm and incredible history. We witnessed some of the most breathtaking views during this part of our trip and I am so excited to share more from our trip to Italy!
San Gimignano, Italy
San Gimignano, also known as the “city of beautiful towers.” At one point in time the town had 72 towers but now only 14 remain. The towers rise above Tuscany’s Elsa Valley and make the town look like a medieval dreamscape.
The views from the edges of this town were amazing! Thanks again for these portraits, Alexa Sedge! Andrew climbed up the 177-foot Torre Grossa and captured these amazing views! He actually captured me in the photo below—I’m the white spec with the hat in the bottom right corner! 😉 Then it was time for some amazing gelato! Coconut + dark chocolate. Colors of Tuscany–breathtaking. This walkway along the edge of the town gave an incredible panoramic view! We often forgot to grab food during our free time in every city… So as we would be running to get back to our meet up point in time, we would grab a quick slice of pizza!
Cheese + Prosciutto. Delicious.
After visiting San Gimignano and its magnificent towers we made our way to Greve in Chianti for a tour of the Castello Vicchiomaggio winery! We learned how they craft and store their famous wine—The Chianti Classico. Afterward, we had a delicious wine tasting while overlooking a breathtaking panoramic view of Tuscany.
I really wanted to stop for a photo in that field of yellow flowers! This is where their wine is kept. Sneaking off for a second to get this shot was totally worth it! Then it was time for some VINO! Amazing wine! While everyone stayed inside sipping their wine, I immediately took mine outside for this view!! Then I dragged Andrew out for some portraits of course! Thank you for these shots, Ange Sedgwick!
We stayed in a lively town called Montecatini Terme for two nights while we explored the surrounding cities of Tuscany. Montecatini Terme is a more modern town established in the early 1900’s. It is known for its Thermal Waters which have been known to help relieve arthritis, rheumatism, digestive problems, and a few other ailments.
We stayed at the Hotel Settentrionale Esplanade! It was a gorgeous hotel! Tuscany was filled with these extremely fragrant purple flowers! I want these here in Florida! And look at that rosemary!! If only my rosemary plant would grow like that! All ready for a yummy dinner!
After a fun-filled day in San Gimignano, Greve and Montecatini, we headed to Lucca for a farm-to-table dinner at Fattoria il Poggio! We learned that, Lucca is actually the town that the movie Pinocchio was based on. It’s a quaint little town filled with some gorgeous scenes!
Fattoria il Poggio is a Farmhouse in Montecarlo in the province of Lucca. The grounds are gorgeous! First, we had an informative tour of their vineyard. It was almost golden hour and the field seemed to glow! Needless to say, all I wanted to do is get some photos taken! Alexa Sedge offered to take some photos of us again! We were and still are so thankful for her willingness to document so many sweet moments in Italy! Then they showed us where they made their cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil! Their olive oil was so good that I brought some home! Then it was time for dinner! Four courses of deliciousness. I was so busy enjoying the food that I forgot to capture the other two! Tiramisu, my favorite!!
We finished the night walking around Montecatini Terme! It is a very lively and beautiful town at night!
More from our trip to Italy will be posted soon!
See more from our trip to Italy by clicking the names of the cities below!
After a few days in Rome (Click here if you missed Part I: Rome), we began to travel North along the West coast of Italy. The next four days that we spent traveling through Tuscany were my favorite parts of the whole trip! I felt so at home in Tuscany. I really loved everything about Italy but Tuscany, in particular, was a dream. The way the birds chirped in the morning dawn, the smells of the fresh air, the scenic views that seemed straight out of a movie and the delightful food!! It was all heavenly.
Orvieto and Siena were the first towns we visited while traveling through Tuscany. Both of these places were magical. Orvieto was first and it set the bar high! I fell in love with this place. It felt straight out of a fairytale and was so peaceful. After lunch in Orvieto, we headed to Siena! Siena was a much larger city with lots of shops and amazing architecture.
Our first stop was in this little town built on a steep bluff of volcanic rock called Orvieto. From the moment I stepped foot in this charming little town that felt straight out of a fairytale, I was in LOVE. Visiting Orvieto was my favorite part of the entire trip. I have a goal to retire there one day.
Orvieto was annexed by Rome in the third century BC. Because of its high site on a steep bluff of volcanic rock, the city was virtually impregnable. It was the last conquered by Julius Caesar. I bought an awesome olive wood cutting board here! Thanks Andrew for taking so many portraits of me that day! 😉 This view was amazing!
I spy a Vintage FIAT! Then we had a quick and amazing lunch at L’Oste del Re! We had a wild boar pasta dish and it was the best dish we had in all of Italy! Highly recommend this place!
After spending the morning in Orvieto, we traveled to Siena where we spent the rest of the day. Siena was another breathtaking town, it was a lot bigger than Orvieto but still so charming! We had our first group dinner in Siena and it was INCREDIBLE!! We stayed in Siena for the night in a gorgeous hotel that was surrounded by Olive trees. Their soap was even made with olive oil and was amazing. This whole second day of the tour was my favorite! From beginning to end it was perfection.
Siena Cathedral is a medieval church and if you noticed looks very similar to the cathedral in Orvieto! Some of my favorite portraits from the entire trip! Thank you so much, Alexa Sedge for these amazing photos!
Molly (red scarf) was notorious for losing track of time… and her whereabouts! She was almost always the last one to our meeting points. This time Molly was only a few minutes late, so we applauded as she joined us again! Miss you Molly! Then we had a delicious 4-course dinner at Gallo Nero! This restaurant was amazing! The dining area was surrounded by brick and dimly lit. The food was incredible too! Thanks for this photo too Alexa! Vino! Salut!Look at that pasta!
Then it was time to rest after a long day. We checked into the Degli Ulivi Hotel in Siena, Italy. This was our favorite hotel and we wish we were able to stay there longer than one night. It was a beautiful hotel, surrounded by olive trees!
More from our trip to Italy will be posted soon! If you missed our post about Rome be sure to click here!
My dream trip to Italy finally happened! It has been the number one thing on my bucket list since I was a little girl. Rome was the first stop on our tour of Italy and there was so much joy in my heart. Dreams of tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, seeing the grand Colosseum, and walking hand-in-hand down the cobblestone streets with the man of my dreams: they all came true and then some. This was my first trip out of the country and, boy, was it one for the books!!
After talking about taking our trip to Italy for many years, it finally felt like the right time to take some much needed time for us. 2016 ended with a lot of stress, loss, and sadness. In October, we found out we were pregnant. We were thrilled, even though I was terribly sick all day due to morning sickness! Everything looked fine until it wasn’t.
We found out right before Thanksgiving that there wasn’t going to be a baby and two weeks before Christmas I miscarried. It was the worst thing I have ever been through. Though I am now able to talk about it, it still brings a sadness to my heart that I have never known before.
I’m sure you are thinking, “Well, this is not the story I was expecting to read.” I decided to share this because if we hadn’t been through that terrible time we may have never stopped to do something for us. As we had mourned our loss, we decided to take the next year to refresh, refocus, and travel.
Christmas 2016 was SO HARD. We were going to announce to the rest of our families that we were pregnant. While that didn’t happen, Andrew did surprise me with the BEST Christmas presents EVER. Books. Not just any books though, books about ITALY. A giant coffee table lookbook of Italy and a travel book! He gave me the gift of dreaming about the trip I had always imagined but never thought would happen. Little did I know it was about to!
We began to read all about Italy and where we wanted to go. It was the best distraction. We quickly became overwhelmed with the options. Finally, after a month of trying to figure it out on our own, we gave up and called Phyllis Horodner of Eileen’sTravel. Within one phone call, she figured out what we wanted before we even knew and recommended a guided tour with Cosmos.
I was skeptical at first but the more she described it the better it sounded. We would stay in a hotel every night, travel by motor coach with wifi (which was actually like a Tour BUS! It was AWESOME!), most meals were included and we would travel to the most popular destinations in Italy in 9 days. It was perfect!
We booked the trip and the anticipation began! It was finally happening! When the day finally came we left with so much excitement. We got to the Miami airport way too early and ended up sitting around for over 4 hours.
While we were there I called my best friend, Emily, who lives in Texas. We had tried to talk the night before but couldn’t so I called her one more time before I left. Well, I then found out that she was in labor! It was April 8th, her due date and she was in LABOR! I couldn’t believe she was on time with her first baby.
After screaming for joy in the terminal a bit and talking to my other best friend, Brooke, who lives in West Palm Beach (who was also pregnant) about the news, I boarded my first plane to Atlanta, GA.
When I arrived in Atlanta I looked at my phone to see if we had a baby in Texas yet only to see a text from Brooke informing me that she was also in labor! Now I was freaking out even more and called her immediately.
Here I was, getting ready to board a 10-hour flight to Rome, Italy that would not have wifi and both of my best friends were in labor! I was pacing back and forth. I could not believe the chances. Brooke wasn’t due for another 3 weeks! The fact that I was supposed to be there and couldn’t was heartbreaking. There were so many emotions!
But then a very good friend, Alex, spoke some important wisdom back into my head. “Remember why you are going to Italy. This is a time for you and Andrew. Everyone will be here when you get back and you need to get away and get a breather.” With those words and sobbing eyes, I boarded the plane.
The flight to Rome was the BEST flight we had ever been on. Delta rocked! When we arrived, the first thing I did was check my phone while running to catch the 11:00 a.m. shuttle to our hotel with only 5 minutes to spare. They waited for us and we were so thankful we didn’t have to wait 3 hours for the next one! That was the first sign that our Cosmos tour was going to be a good one!
When we arrived at the hotel it was noon in Rome. Back in West Palm Beach, the sun was rising on the birthday of my godson, Clayton James. Out in Texas, Emily had given birth to Owen Hitchcock while I was in the air, the night before. The little guys were born on different days but only hours apart. I became Tia Crystal to precious Owen Hitchcock on April 8th at 8:37 p.m. and Godmother to sweet C.J. Carter on April 9th at 1:47 a.m.!
Everything that led up to our Italy trip was out of our control and everything that happened the day we left to Italy was out of our control. But choosing to see God’s grace in every moment of our trip was in our control. And boy, did we see it! We felt so loved on and blessed every moment we were in Italy. It was one of the best things we could have done for our marriage and ourselves. This trip was so much more than a dream. It was a blessing.
The first day in Italy was filled with so much excitement! After arriving at our hotel, the first thing I did was FaceTime Brooke in WPB. I wanted to meet my godson C.J. and even over a screen, he was so cute! After organizing my luggage (total type A) and freshening up we decided three hours would be enough time to peek at Rome before our meeting with our tour guide! Boy, did I wish we were right! The bus system isn’t the easiest to figure out when you don’t have an international cell phone plan… Oh well!
We got our feet wet just exploring Roma! The Spanish Steps! Fresh pasta being made! If you know me you know I have a thing for vintage cars… Especially red ones! Italy had so many! Be prepared to see a handful of them in every blog post!
Then we finally made it to the Trevi Fountain! I was so in awe that I barely took any photos. Oops. There were also a million people there… it was Holy Week.
Then we made our way to the Pantheon! What do you do to pass the time as you wait for your bus? Get some portraits done, of course!
Our bus finally came!! We were SO late! Then we found out it was the wrong bus, we got out and walked for a while. After several blocks, by the grace of God, we found a taxi that was able to take us back to our hotel! We were only 30 minutes late for our meeting! Lol. After our meeting, we grabbed a quick bite and went straight to sleep! We had been up for around 38 hours and we had a very early morning wake up call!
While at the Vatican City, we had a break for lunch. We had our first slice of Italian pizza and it was amazing!! Then we just had to have our first taste of Italian Gelato!! It was life changing. Then we arrived at the Colosseum! Thanks for this photo Alexa Sedge!! View of the Roman Forum from the Colosseum. The Colosseum used to be completely covered in white marble! Almost all of it was taken but a few pieces still remain. I got excited when I found a remaining piece! This lower part is where they used to hold the animals. Then we visited the Roman Forum! This is where Julius Caesar was cremated. As we left the Roman Forum, I captured the Colosseum one more time from this angle!
Back to Roma!
Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to have a bit of a siesta, but we weren’t done. We grabbed another bus and headed back to Roma! I needed to see the Trevi Fountain again!
We were also able to visit the Pantheon again! This time the line wasn’t a mile long so we were able to see the inside!
Then we made it back to the Trevi Fountain! This time there weren’t a million people and the lighting was so dreamy! And this time we got up front and remembered to bring a few coins to toss in! Strolling through Roma at night is magical. The faces you make after finally finding a bus that could take you back to your hotel! It was super late and we were the only ones on the bus! 😀 The Grand Hotel Fleming in Roma, Italy. Last night at our first hotel!
Thank you for following along our adventure to Rome, Italy! More from our travels through Tuscany and Venice, Italy will be posted soon!