June was so crazy I finally just got around to going through our Italy photos! This past May, we got to travel to Italy to photograph Amber & Everett's wedding, and took the opportunity to travel the beautiful country for two weeks! We've both been to Italy a few times before (I also studied abroad in Milan in college), but this was probably my favorite trip there so far! We traveled to all new places, which proves there is just SO much to see (and eat!)...it was the epitome of la dolce vita! Our itinerary consisted of Lake Como, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany before heading to Florence to photograph the wedding. We ate pasta and gelato every single day. It was perfect! The weather was strangely variable in all three places we visited, some moments very sunny, others very ominous...it was so beautiful to see the same sights in all different lights (literally!).
We stayed in the town of Bellagio at Borgo Le Terazze, which was about a 5 minute shuttle ride from the main city & ferry dock, but the hotel was up on a hill that had the most insanely gorgeous view! The whole area of Lake Como was so relaxing an beautiful with its lakes and mountains...we are really considering buying a vacation home here! We just took our time strolling through the towns of Bellagio and Varenna, and visited the beautiful Villa Monastero for a day. Definitely the place to go for some nature, beauty and relaxing!
I'm not going to lie, I was a little shocked when I saw the amount of tourists the second we stepped off the train station in Vernazza. I had visited Vernazza for a day trip back in 2007, and I could have sworn it was still very much untouched. It's now a UNESCO heritage site, and seems to have drawn lots more crowds (we travel like retired people and love places off the beaten path that are quiet and relaxing)! I absolutely LOVED the Airbnb we found though, which was about 500m from the train station (all uphill) tucked away on the blue trail...bless Art for carrying all of our luggage up many many steep steps! Our Airbnb was called L'eremo Sul Mare, which means "hermitage by the sea" - a lawyer from Genova built it 20 years ago when he wanted to get out of the hustle of the city life. It's edged on a cliff, and takes lots of effort to maintain (so it doesn't slide into the ocean!). They had fresh hot chocolate every day for breakfast (aka. straight melted chocolate) which was perfection.
We did a 5 hour hike from Vernazza to Corgniglia (gelato stop) to Manarola. It was a beautiful hike, along all the vineyard terraces looking out into the ocean. Stopped at Il Porticciolo for the best squid ink pasta at the end and took the ferry back from Manarola to Vernazza!
We did a very quick stop in Lucca to pick up our rental car (moment of panic when Art thought he forgot his license), and then headed to the countryside of Tuscany.
Wow, Tuscany. You took our breaths away! Before we went, I kept researching "where can you see the rolling hills of Tuscany" and rows of Italian cypress trees but there is no real answer because they are literally EVERYWHERE. We stayed in a quaint restored monastery Sant'Anna in Camprena (where they filmed The English Patient!), with a gorgeous courtyard filled with lemon trees. On the last day, there was a British classical choir rehearsing in the garden, and my heart could not have been fuller. The food, the beauty, the wine...Tuscany was seriously a place I will always dream of! We visited the towns of Pienza, Montalcino, and Montecchielo which were everything you imagine a cute Italian hilltop town to be. Definitely on our list to come back here!