Travel | Paradise Found in the Amalfi Coast

At last, we have reached the last portion of our 3 part honeymoon in Italy! We’ve experienced the art, cuisine and wine of Florence + Tuscany and made our way down to Rome – the beautiful and historic old city. But now…we’ve saved the best for last (and it happened to be the last place we stayed prior to heading back to the U.S.).

Let’s be honest, you probably cannot go wrong with anywhere you visit in Italy. It all depends on the experience you wish to have. But if you know Sean and me, we do not like to do anything in moderation and wanted to have it all…is that really so wrong? When deciding on a final location, we wanted it to be somewhere that was not only relaxing but ridiculously breathtaking as well. Going into this, we knew that we were going to be exhausted from traveling and bouncing around from city to city. Not to mention, everyone else typically chooses somewhere calm and serene for a honeymoon destination and we did not want to miss out on that aspect. We saved the peaceful and “real honeymoon” portion of our vacation in Italy for the end – and I have to say, I am so glad we did because had we started with this place, I would have never wanted to leave…and the feeling was quite mutual. To put it bluntly, Sean and i fell madly in love here and even began brainstorming ways to relocate permanently. From a surf shop to a bar…we exhausted all options. Before you ask – no, I am not joking – if there was a place that I would describe as “perfection”, this place nailed it.

The location I speak of? Positano which is a village in the Amalfi Coast. Now, I’ve heard people rant and rave about the Amalfi Coast all of my life. It’s one of those places you have to see before you die from a bucket list perspective. There were several areas within the Amalfi Coast that were appealing and I do not think you can go wrong with any. However, I did quite a bit of research before booking our trip and Positano was always described as the most picturesque town in the Amalfi Coast where the rich and famous vacation. This was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities and we just couldn’t pass it up.

Before you scroll down to see some of our highlights of our 3 day stay in Positano, I am going to go ahead and warn you: after seeing this, you will want to move there. Like, tonight. You will also probably dislike your current place of residence – even if you live in the most beautiful of cities. So there’s your notice – now let’s keep it moving.

We took a train from Rome (business class again, of course) to Naples. We were told that we would then need a driver to take us about 45 minutes from the train station to the Amalfi Coast – which is basically the only way to get there. We called our resort while we were in Rome and they set us up with a private driver. We heard this was the way to go because a.) Naples isn’t exactly the safest place and tourists can be easy targets and b.) it was much better to get a driver that provided an up front cost versus a cab driver who could end up taking advantage of us financially.

We budgeted appropriately for our hotels in Florence and Rome but definitely splurged here. We stayed at Hotel Marincanto, which was ranked #7 of all of the Positano hotels on Trip Advisor. It was more than I could have ever imagined – wow, just wow.

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{ The lobby of our hotel. }

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{ We were greeted with prosecco + treats while we waited on our room. }

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{ Lemons are a big deal in Positano – the resort had lemon trees everywhere. }

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{ Anddd this was our view from our hotel terrace as we waited on our room. }

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{ Fresh squeezed lemon juice from the hotel’s lemon trees. }

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{ The view from our room – ahhhmazing. }

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{ And the sun goes down on our first day in Positano. }

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{ This sunset: unreal. }

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{ A gourmet breakfast with the best view in the world. }

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{ Forgive me – but did I mention how amazing the view was? }

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{ Beauty. }

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{ Exploring Positano. }

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{ Our hotel sat high on a cliff. }

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{The best part: you can sunbathe and look out into the ocean. }

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{ Dinner out at a lovely restaurant that sat on a cliff – our view was ridiculous. }

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{ Fresh seafood – oh ya know, caught just moments before. }

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{ Homemade panna cotta drizzled with chocolate sauce. }

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{ Beautiful passageway during one of our walks. }

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{ *Le sigh* }

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{ I can never get enough of this. }

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{ The freshest bruschetta we’ve ever had. }

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{ Nomzzz for days – fresh orange juice + fresh seafood = match made in heaven. }

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{ Our last sunset in Positano – but not forever! We will be back one day soon! }

This was the most unbelievably surreal experience I’ve ever had. Not one complaint. All I can do is rant and rave about how perfect Positano was. If you ever have the opportunity to go, do not, I repeat, do not hesitate. If you are planning a trip to Italy – this is not a place you want to miss out on.

Overall, our honeymoon was more than I could have ever possibly imagined. It was the perfect mix of art, culture, history, cuisine and serenity. This country will forever have a piece of me. Arrivederci, Italy. We will meet again one day soon.

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Travel | When in Rome…

So my very first travel post was about Florence which was Part 1 of 3 of our honeymoon back in October. As mentioned, Sean and I had decided to take on Italy for our first adventure as a married couple. Since there were so many places to choose between, we each picked a city that we were dying to visit and then one that we agreed on together. There was a method to our madness regarding our itinerary – we started up north and worked our way down south. Florence was our first stop (my choice) and next was Sean’s choice – Rome! I have to be completely honest here, I was very skeptical about Rome. Not that I didn’t think it would be fabulous, but there were other cities in Italy that were further up on my list of places to see. However, we made a deal and if Rome was where Sean wanted to go, that’s where we would go!

After two incredible days in Florence, we caught a train and traveled down to Rome. Prior to leaving for our honeymoon, I remember my dear friend, Amy, telling me how amazing the train experience alone is. In fact, one of her most vivid memories while traveling in Italy was looking out the windows of the train and taking in all of the beauty around her as all five senses were ignited. Ever since she described this to me, I longed for that same experience. Sean and I booked two “business class” tickets to Rome which provided us with comfortable leather seats and some extra room. The pungent aroma of coffee beans lingered throughout the cabin and the train attendants came around to pour us a fresh cup of joe while serving up delicious, crisp biscuits (a fancy term for cookies).

As I sipped my warm cup of coffee in my cozy leather chair, I gazed out the window of the train as beautiful Italian hillsides passed us by. I remember looking across the little table that Sean and I shared and took a few minutes to take this moment in. Here I was, someone who was constantly wrapped up in my own world back at home – between my career, school, social life, bills, pleasing people…all of these things began to seem so insignificant. Sure, it’s a part of our every day lives and how can we not get immersed in the monotonous day-to-day rituals and responsibilities we have? But having this moment to breath, collect myself, see the beauty of the world around us and actually look at this man sitting across from me, my new husband whom I was sharing this adventure with as I enjoyed my delicious cup of coffee, I was suddenly reminded of why I work so hard in life. It was to enjoy moments like these. It sounds cliché but it’s the little things I live for. And I knew at this very instant that this would be an irreplaceable memory forever engrained in my mind.

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{ An adventure in itself – the train ride on the way to Rome. }

We arrived in Rome in the early afternoon. We took a cab to our adorable little Bed and Breakfast, Navona Governo Vecchio, which was centrally located in the city and in an apartment building. This was a really neat concept because we were able to immerse ourselves in the life of a local. Rome was the longest leg of our trip (5 days) and goodness did they fly by! However, we were able to do a great deal of exploring (especially our first evening there when we decided to get lost on purpose and wander around with no map). I have to admit, I was extremely impressed and enjoyed it so much more than I had initially anticipated. I mean…wow.

First and foremost, Rome is an incredibly lively place. It had the hustle and bustle of NYC but in a very historic and beautiful old city. There was a hodgepodge of people – all ages, shapes and sizes, ethnicities, backgrounds – truly a melting pot of cultural wonder.

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{ A man at one of the piazzas playing the violin. }

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{ An endless assortment of fresh flowers for sale at a piazza. }

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{ Our first dinner in Rome at a vibrant hookah bar and lounge in one of the piazzas. Our appetizer: fresh prosciutto + buffalo mozzarella. }

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{ A fresh seafood pizza pie. }

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{ Enjoying some vino + brown butter/sage ravioli. }

Our next few days we did so much exploring (and walking). The best part about this was that we were able to work off everything we ate! So many incredible sites to see and take in. Since we photographed so many moments, below are just some highlights from our 5 day stay in Rome.

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{ The door to our room at the Bed & Breakfast – so very Rome. }

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{ This is what we woke up to every morning – fresh croissants and bread, cappuccino, tea, orange juice and yogurt. }

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{ We decided to visit the Jewish Ghetto – and the hubs had to point out the “accident” a few birds had that flew over him. He doesn’t have the best of luck but it made for a good laugh! }

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{ Walking around the Jewish Ghetto. }

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{ Doing some exploring! }

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{ So ornate and beautiful – the picture doesn’t do it justice. }

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{ Absolutely incredible – ancient ruins. }

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{ The Roman Forum – it’s hard to believe things like this still exist in the world. }

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{ Antipasto pit stop – someone was happy. }

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{ Oh, the interesting things you will see in Rome – all while eating at a street cafe! }

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{ Colosseum | Take I }

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{ Colosseum | Take II }

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{ Roman aqueducts }

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{ *le sigh* – this sunset + the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius }

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{ The famous Trevi Fountain }

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{ The Pantheon }

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{ We made it to Vatican City! }

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{ Amazing to see in person – there are no words. }

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{ You will never realize how small you are until you visit the Vatican. }

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{ Wowza! }

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{ One of the immense statues inside of the Vatican. }

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{ This incredible pergola. }

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{ We were able to witness the changing of the guards. }

What an enriching experience this was. We enjoyed every moment of our time in this incredible place. From the lively people, to the adorable piazzas, to the boisterous markets and quaint street cafes, to the delicious gelato and cuisine and of course, the refreshing vino…we had the time of our lives. Beyond all of this, being able to walk the old city with my new husband made it that much more beautiful. I will forever hold a place in my heart for Rome. Our last stop in Italy is coming up on the blog next and it was hands down our favorite place we’ve ever visited (ever). Stay tuned! Ciao!

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Travel | Cooking, Art + Wine – Florence, Italy

When choosing a honeymoon destination last year, my husband and I decided that we wanted to go in a different direction than most which is your typical tropical vacation. Not knocking it at all – if anyone loves relaxing by the ocean with their toes in the sand, it’s us. However, we wanted to go somewhere ridiculously enchanting. Somewhere lively with incredible food and a unique atmosphere. In other words, we wanted an adventure. I like to consider myself pretty worldly – I’m open to any experience and am more than willing to try anything at least once. Sean is even more worldly – he’s been to many different places and felt that I needed to experience Europe. He had been to London before and although he was open to visiting again, I wanted us to go somewhere that we would both be experiencing for the first time. After all, a honeymoon is a very special thing two people share – right?

We had originally decided on Paris and a few stops in Italy and we had 10 days allocated for our honeymoon (including travel). But after doing quite a bit of research, we discovered that it would require more traveling than what we had initially anticipated. We didn’t mind moving from city to city, however, we wanted to at least have a few days in each place so we could actually take it all in and enjoy. I mean really…I didn’t want to live out of my suitcase the entire trip. We agreed that we should make Paris it’s own vacation as there is a lot to see and do there and we decided to zero in on Italy…check! Now the next tough decision to make – where do we go? After all, Italy is rather large and there are so many beautiful places to visit. How could we possibly narrow it down? We decided the fairest way to figure this out was to each choose a city that we had been dying to go to and then a third city that we could both agree on. Now, when I say it was really difficult to make this choice – I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I have a hard enough time picking out what I’m going to wear each day much less, choosing an international destination.

Finally we hammered it down – we would start north and move our way down south. First stop: Florence (my choice), second stop: Rome (Sean’s choice) and third stop: The Amalfi Coast (our choice).

I wanted to visit Florence because I am an art nut. Not to mention we both love love love (did I mention love?) food and wine. We decided to throw in Tuscany into the mix as it’s always been on the top of my bucket list.

After several plane rides – we arrived on Wednesday, October 23rd just a few days after our wedding (October 19th – best. day. ever.). We took a bus from the Florence airport to a stop near our hotel. We lugged our suitcases for a few blocks (aye yi yi). But wow…what a culture shock. I could barely focus on walking because all I wanted to do was look around and take in all of the hustle and bustle of the city. So many beautiful people, so much architecture, so many little street cafes, gelaterias, boutiques…you name it. After settling into our hotel, we decided to start exploring immediately.

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{ We went to a little street cafe and shared a bottle of delicious red wine. NOM! }

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{ Happy hubby }

After enjoying some vino and fresh pasta, we called it a night because we were exhausted from traveling (dang time zone change) and had a very busy itinerary the following day. We booked a really incredible day that included a cooking class followed by a wine tasting in Tuscany which entailed getting picked up by a private van from the cooking school and transferred to wine country. I had done a substantial amount of research to find the perfect excursion and had decided on the cooking class/wine tasting combination with an organization called Vanarium. We were able to choose a menu from an assortment that Vanarium provided and decided on the seafood option. 

The following morning we woke up very early to meet our chef at a local market. Her name was Ingrid and she was just the sweetest woman with a wealth of knowledge. Originally from Switzerland, she moved to Italy and met her husband, an Italian man who was actually our wine tour guide. He would be picking us up later that day. Ingrid took us around the local market that was never really visited by tourists as it was off the beaten path. It was such an experience to be immersed in the day-to-day life of a local.

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{ Fresh fruit from the local market. }

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{ Forget grocery stores, fresh vegetables and fruit at the local market is the place to go. }

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{ Our chef, Ingrid, picking out our seafood from the local fish market. }

After we gathered all of our fresh ingredients, Ingrid took us to the local cooking school where we would be preparing our decadent four course meal.

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{ Our menu for the day – mussel balls, a cuttlefish soup, black ink risotto and cuttlefish and a panna cotta with chocolate sauce. }

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{ Prep station and a little table where we dined after we cooked our meal. }

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{ Fresh, traditional, Tuscan bread – it was delicious and crusty but had no salt in it because you salt the olive oil that you dip it in. }

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{ Sean cooking up a storm – Ingrid taught him well. }

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{ Oh ya know, just stirring some risotto! }

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{ Finished product #1 | Mussel Balls }

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{ Finished product #2 | English Pea Soup with Cuttlefish }

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{ Finished product #3 | Black Ink Risotto with Cuttlefish }

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{ Finished product #4 | Panna Cotta with Chocolate Sauce }

What an experience! I truly learned so much from Ingrid and the food was absolutely incredible. Everything was so fresh and tasty. I definitely learned how labor intensive a four course meal was but was excited to find out how easy homemade panna cotta is! I was super intimidated but it turned out remarkably.

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{ Cheers to our first homemade meal as husband + wife. }

After our extremely filling meal, our wine tour guide picked us up in a private van. He told us about a part of Florence that you could look out from a very high point and see the entire city. He asked us if we wanted to check it out before we drove 40 minutes to Tuscany and of course, we were ecstatic and accepted his offer.

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{ NO words. Completely in awe over this view. }

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{ It was even more incredible in person. }

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{ At the lookout point was an exact replica of Michelangelo’s Statue of David – apparently this was where the original was located before being moved to the Accademia Gallery. It was replaced with this one. }

After our pit stop, we drove through beautiful hillsides to get to our final destination. Our first stop was Casaloste in Chianti Classico. We tried several different wines, learned about them and the entire wine making process as well as the vineyard’s history.

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{ This view: ridiculously amazing. }

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{ Tuscany is truly a dream. }

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{ Grapes growing in the vineyard. }

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{ Delicious wine tasting at Casaloste. }

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{ A few of the different wines we tasted. }

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{ Learning about all of the different wines Casaloste cultivates. }

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{ The hubby enjoying some vino with our new Canadian friends we made in the background. }

After Casaloste, our guide drove us to another winery and vineyard called Montagliari.

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{ Outside of Montagliari. )

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{ Beautiful weather, beautiful place. }

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( Sean exploring the winery. }

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{ The beautiful outdoor area where you enjoy the wine + view. }

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{ Newlyweds }

After we left Montagliari, our guide drove us to a little part of town in Tuscany that was truly a hidden gem. It was an area that was transformed into little apartments. It was indescribable and the views were surreal.

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*Le sigh*. What magical places Florence and Tuscany were. The views…magnificent. The people…warm and friendly. The food and wine…rich and delectable. If I could have a second home anywhere, it would be between here and the Amalfi Coast. I could not imagine being anywhere as naturally serene and interesting as this. Perfection. It was a wonderful adventure but it was time for the next leg of our trip: Rome. So for now, arrivederci, Florence and Tuscany! I’ll be writing about our travels to Rome next. Ciao!

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