Our trip to Italy was amazing and after spending many man (woman) hours planning it ourselves, I thought I would share our itinerary! So many people have asked about how we did this trip, so hopefully this will help you with any future Italian travel plans. Because we were gone for two full weeks, I broke this up into two parts, with part two coming next week! Enjoy and let me know your thoughts below.
Day 1 \\ Fly into the Milan Malpensa Airport. Rent a car and drive the hour north to Laglio, Lake Como (make sure you have some euros ready for the tolls). Stay at Relais Villa Vittoria in Laglio in the Romantic Lake view room (Joe and I both agree this was the nicest, most stunning hotel we had ever stayed in). Explore the hotel grounds, then take a walk or bike ride around Laglio in the afternoon, exploring the small town and doing everything you can to fight the jet lag. Have an early dinner at La Locanda del Cantiere (the truffle risoto is delicious) which is walking distance from the hotel. Finally, once you make it to at least 8pm, you can go to bed.
Day 2 \\ Wake up feeling refreshed and on Italy time. Have breakfast on the hotel terrace overlooking the lake, then drive the twenty minutes north to Tremezzo to catch the ferry to Bellagio. Spend the late morning and early afternoon exploring Bellagio, having lunch, and walking through the gardens at Villa Melzi d’Eril. Catch the ferry back to Tremezzo and drive back to the hotel for a dip in the swimming pool (yes it is freezing, but also worth it). Head out to Cernobbio for the evening. Walk the main square then stop at L’Onda for some wine while overlooking the lake. Pile back into the car and drive up to Trattoria del Glicine for dinner at the top of the mountain (we made the mistake of thinking you could walk from the main square in Cernobbio, you most definitely cannot).
Day 3 \\ Wedding Day (more on this to come). Obviously if you aren’t getting married in Italy, this is a great day to explore. If we had more time, we would have gone up to Varenna, as it was one of the most recommended places to us!
Day 4 \\ Wake up bright and early to make the three and a half hour drive to Cinque Terre. The earlier the better (don’t forget about rush hour traffic in Milan like we did and make sure you have euros for the tolls). There are plenty of pull offs called Autogrills on the autostrade for bathroom breaks and coffee. Start in Riomaggiore, the southern most city and either find parking in the paid lot run by the park service, or on the free spots along the side of the road 1 km outside of town (just don’t forget unless you catch the bus back, this will be a very long walk at the end of the day). Depending on what time you get there, you can decide how many of the five cities you want to explore. I would recommend two-three so you have enough time to enjoy each one (though it’s do-able to see all five). Explore Riomaggiore and have lunch at one of the many restaurants in town or overlooking the sea. Take the train between cities, but be on the lookout that there are some express trains that do not stop in every city. (We accidentally took the express train to Monterosso al Mare, which is the northern most city. We explored Monterosso al Mare before getting back on track and taking the train back to Manarola, the city next to Riomaggiore). Explore Manarola before taking the train back to Riomaggiore. While in Cinque Terre, stop at one of the many focaccia stands for some delicious bread. Head back to the car around 5pm so you can make the hour and a half drive to Florence while there’s still plenty of light. Drop off the car at the car return at the Florence airport so you can avoid driving in the craziness of the city. Then, take a taxi to Hotel Rapallo, a cute little boutique hotel on the outskirts of city center. Have a late, quiet and relaxing dinner at Ristoarante Cafaggi before calling it quits for the day.
Day 5 \\ Another early morning means you’ll have time to fully explore Florence. Start with breakfast at the hotel before heading to the Accademia. If you plan to go to the Accademia or the Uffizi (or both) reserve your tickets ahead of time. You get in much faster than waiting in the general admission line. Spend about an hour in the Accademia, and make sure you visit the other exhibits BEFORE going to see David – it’s best to leave him for last. After the Accademia, make your way to Il Duomo. You can either wait in line and go inside, or do what we did and enjoy a drink and antipasti in the main piazza, soaking in her beauty from the outside. Afterwards, walk around Florence – there is so much to see and the best way to do so is on foot. Head to the Great Synagogue of Florence, then make your way to the Ponte Vecchio. Walk over to the Piazza della Signoria and watch the mime for a quick laugh then head up towards the leather market on your way back to the hotel. Freshen up and relax before a night out! Stop for a drink at one of the many restaurants on the Piazza della Repubblica, listening to the music and watching the merry-go-round, but do not eat here. You have better things on the agenda. After drinks, walk over to Obica Mozzarella Bar for some delicious buffalo mozzarella and pizza, sitting in the romantic enclosed courtyard.
Montepulciano & Florence
Day 6 \\ Today is the day to enjoy the Tuscan sunshine. Have a taxi take you to the Florence airport where you will pick up your car for the day. Head the hour south to Montepulciano. Stop first at Avignonesi and enjoy a wine tasting on the courtyard overlooking the beautiful Tuscan countryside. You can also arrange a tour of the winery. After you are finished, drive towards Montepulciano, stopping at Poliziano for another tasting if you desire, or just to admire the views of Tuscany with the hilltop town in the distance. Finally, drive into Montepulciano and park just outside of the city. Head up the many hills, admiring the various shops and places for wine tastings, until you make it to Piazza Grande a Montepulciano. Stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants in town (you can’t really go wrong), and then walk it off getting lost in the city. Head back to your car around 4 pm and drive back to Florence to drop off the rental car. Grab another taxi back into town. Head out a little early for dinner and stop at the Ponte Vecchio to watch the sun set. It’s crowded, but it is the most stunning site. Then continue over the bridge to dinner at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco. This was our most favorite meal of the trip. Get the Wild Boar Ragu and whatever you do, you must share the Steak Florentine. Take the waiters recommendation on size and preparation. You will not be disappointed. Enjoy the walk back to the hotel, bellies full!
Coming next week – Rome, Positano, Amalfi, and Capri!