Italy | Rome+Tuscany
I like to think that we went to Italy for my half-birthday. In reality it just happened to fall perfectly on that week, which is the same week that marked our 6 month anniversary. Much to celebrate in my opinion! We split our time between Rome and Tuscany, and although the countryside is more my jam, I'm glad we did both. We met up with Mike's cousin and his wife and two little girls in Tuscany which was super fun! Especially since they knew the area really well.
I got a lot of advice from people before we went, on what to see and how to travel well, and it definitely paid off. I wanted to share my own 5 favorite things about Italy with you guys, so here goes!
1. The Colosseum: Doing super-touristy things is not normally my thing, but I'm SO glad we toured the Colosseum. We paid way too much for a guided tour underground, and it was worth it. This was my favorite site in Rome for sure. To stand in the middle of thousands of years of history was incredibly impactful, as well as wandering around the Roman Forum just outside.
2. The Food: Pasta. One word, so many feelings. My biggest tip is to avoid anything in 'tourist trap' areas, and wander down random side-streets until you find tiny restaurants where locals are eating. These are the places you want to be at. Our two fav dishes were tonnarelli cacio e pepe (thick noodle pasta w/pecorino cheese and pepper) and pici al cinghiale (hand-rolled pasta w/wild boar).
3. The Vineyards: Even if you don't like drinking wine, go to the vineyards in Tuscany. It's like stepping into a story-book. People love telling you about the wine process, it's such a way of life there. We went to Montalcino (staying at the cutest B&B, Porta Castellana) and toured the vineyards there. Their local wine, brunello di Montalcino, will blow your mind.
4. The Gelato: This goes without saying, but we ate gelato at least once a day. There is a gelateria on every street corner, everywhere we went in Italy. Do not hold back, eat it all the time. The end.
5. The People: No one is in a rush, and people are NICE. One of the most memorable nights was when a winemaker and his wife had us over for dinner at their house and we hung out for hours, talking and sipping wine. Relationships are valued highly, and people want to share their lifestyle with you. Be friendly and get to know them!
To leave you with a few practical travel tips: watch out for pick-pockets in the cities, especially Rome. Don't get hungry between 3-7pm because all the restaurants will be closed. Drink your cappuccino at the counter, they charge you extra for sitting at a table. Order the table wine because it's cheap and incredibly delicious. Go to the countryside. And eat gelato every day :)