After getting married in the height of the covid-19 pandemic, my husband and I decided to hold off on taking a honeymoon until traveling became a bit less risky. While traveling still had its challenges, we decided after being fully vaccinated and boosted, November would be the right time to take our long overdue honeymoon to Italy.
We decided to go to Italy. Being a planner at my core, I knew we’d want to see a lot of different places whilst on our honeymoon. We are not the “sit my the pool” kind of vacationers and would have regretted the opportunity if we had stayed in one town.
Knowing that, I looked up various travel options to help us decide where, when, and how we’d get from place to place. I researched round trip plane tickets cost vs flying in and out of different airports; the pros and cons of renting a car vs riding the trains; etc. And you better believe I made a sexy spreadsheet with all of my intel.
We finalized out itinerary, booked our tickets (thanks to Delta, we bought our plane tickets with miles), and made all of the travel arrangements one could make in advance. All that was left was to go.
Well…I’d like to say our trip started without a hitch. But I can’t. We had a long layover at JFK and between dinner and boarding the plane to Rome, I had severe food poisoning. Like, pass over several times on the plane and was taken to the ER kind of food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details but I don’t recommend being away from home when this kind of stuff happens.
Luckily, after about 20 hours I felt well enough to try to get on a plane and make the 8 hour trip to Rome. The rest of the trip we had no more issues, but my stomach was not normal throughout our entire trip and I wasn’t able to have as much espresso as I would have liked.
We lost a day in Rome and missed our reservations to the Vatican and The Roman Forum. Knowing we had about 24 hours to be in Rome before our next travel day, we walked and saw most of the main tourist attractions. The Trevi Fountain (which, unfortunately was barricaded that day so we couldn’t get close enough to throw our pennies into it), the Pantheon, The Colosseum, and the outside of the Roman Forum. After grabbing a late lunch, we walked back towards our Airbnb which was next to the Spanish Steps. We took an evening stroll in the Borghese Garden before turning in early.
The next morning, we donned our KN95 masks and hopped a fast train to Florence. We heard so many amazing things about Florence from friends who have traveled there, so this was part of our journey we were most excited about.
We stayed right next to The Duomo which is MASSIVE. The glory of the cathedral is awe-inspiring. Not only because of its size but because of it’s beauty. The multicolored marble used to build the Duomo is the prettiest thing I have ever seen. And that kind of marble-work is seen throughout the Tuscany region – or what we saw of it, at any rate.
We had a total of 3 nights in Florence. With our Rick Steves’ guide book as our guide, we saw SO MANY THINGS. We explored the Uffizi museum, gazed at the grandeur of Michelangelo’s David, climbed the stairs of Giotto’s Bell Tower, spent a day in Pisa, and pet the nose of il porcellino for good luck.
And the food! When in Florence, you get the Florentine steak. Still not being able to eat too much, we found that splitting a starter, having our own primi, and splitting a secondi was just about the right amount of food to feel full but not stuffed. We kept to this dining routine almost the entire trip.
The final morning of our stay in Florence I was getting anxious. Our next part of the trip was actually a work trip for me. I signed up for a photography retreat in Siena and didn’t really know anyone who would be there. The hubs obviously, but during the editorial shoots and educational classes, I’d be on my own. So…naturally I was a bit anxious.
I’ll have a separate post on the retreat but it was AMAZING. Not only because the content and the Villa Cetinale where we stayed were breathtakingly gorgeous, but also because the other photographers who attended the retreat were some of the kindest, most talented individuals I’ve met in a long time.
We spent three nights in Siena and I made new life-long friends.
The morning came to leave the retreat and Venice was our next destination. Venice had been on my bucket list since I was a teen. I always said that I wanted to visit it before it became the next Atlantis. And while I knew I wanted to travel to Venice, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.
Both Matt and I said we wish we had at least one more full day in Venice so we could have taken a ferry to at least one of the islands. As it was, we spent two nights in Venice which really only gave us one full day to see the sights.
While we felt short on time, we did have enough time to do the major touristy things: go into the Doge’s Palace, look at the Bridge of Sighs, visit the Museo Correr, walk around Piazza San Marco, and yes…we even did a gondola ride. We hadn’t planned on doing one, but we met a couple from Nashville on the water boat to our hotel and they asked if we wanted to split the cost of a night-time gondola ride. When in Rome…or Venice in this case.
The hotel we stayed at in Venice was probably one of the highlights of our time there. Since it was the off-season, we didn’t have too many lodging choices but man did we pick the right place! We stayed at Hotel Firenze and if we could have hired the hotel’s concierge to be our tour guide for the day, we would have. He was amazing! If you’re planning a trip to Venice I highly recommend staying at Hotel Firenze.
Up next were the coastal towns of Cinque Terre. There isn’t a direct train from Venice to Cinque Terre and since it would have been a 7 hour venture if we had done it in one shot, we decided to split it up and have an overnight in Milan. So that’s what we did.
Cinque Terre was the only place I wish we could have seen and experienced during peak season. We knew ahead of time that most of the shops and restaurants would be closed for the season but we decided to go anyways. While we didn’t have to contend with crowds, it was strange being in a place that was so quiet. We were the only people staying in our hotel and we ate dinner at the same restaurant twice because their really weren’t other options.
That said, we still got to do the hikes that we wanted to do and didn’t have to compete with other tourists trying to pass us along the hike. So it wasn’t bad by any means at all!
The views along the Monterosso –> Vernazza hike were amazing. The colors, the small waterfalls, and of course the views of the sea. As we hiked, we passed many dwellings that sat along the cliffs. It made me wonder how people live up there and how they settled there before modern machinery. One farm had a compact bulldozer in their yard and I have literally no idea how they got it there.
Our final stop was Milan. Now, I knew Milan was Italy’s fashion capital, but I didn’t expect for it to feel like an actual city. Blindfold someone and drop them in the middle of Milan and they’d think they were in New York City…aside from the language, of course.
By this time on our trip, the hubs and I were tired. It was the end of nearly 2 and a half weeks of “go go go” and it was rainy. November is Italy’s rainy season but somehow we had mostly avoided the rain until now.
So what to two weary travelers do in Milan? They take a day trip to Lake Como, get bombarded by hungry birds, see The Last Supper, and then have supper at a scrumptious restaurant and watch the rain fall all in one day.
I will forever dream of the ragu we had in Milan. It was so good we ordered it twice. If you are in Milan and love fresh pasta, get your booty to Osteria Da Fortunata and order the ragu.
We flew out of the Milan airport, which is actually closer to the Switzerland boarder than the city of Milan. As we flew over the alps, the hubs and I were tired but happy. Two and a half weeks is a long time to be gone – and we missed our puppy something fierce – but we were really glad we packed in as much as we did into our trip.
Italy will forever have my heart. I have been there three times now – the first as a teen (which was the first time I had traveled abroad), the second with my immediate family, and now with my husband. I will always want to travel Italy and welcome any opportunity to do so.
Lauren played such a meaningful role in our wedding, capturing the day in photos that we'll look back on for the rest of our lives. She kept Scott and me calm and sane - Lauren is a miracle worker! She put in 100% effort and gave us her very best, and that means so much to me. Seeing our photographs makes me so excited and so happy that Lauren was with us on this journey.
We just wanted to say thank you again so much for your amazing work. You were seriously incredible to work with and we loved the locations you suggested for both our engagement shoot and the spots in Stillwater. We were very worried about getting professional photos done since we had never done it before, but you made the process so easy and made us feel so comfortable. Thank you!
There was a chunk of time in our wedding planning when we thought we'd go without a professional photographer to save on cost (terrible idea!) but once we met with Lauren, we knew we'd be in good hands. She checked in often and asked questions that got us thinking about other parts of the wedding that we probably would've missed. Lauren captured exactly who we are as a couple!
Lauren and her team are so much fun to work with! She made us feel so comfortable on the day of our wedding, providing both silly and helpful cues to help us relax and be ourselves in our photos. Lauren’s background in dance is super helpful in recognizing simple posture changes that make a big difference, too. Oh, and the photos we got are just stunning!
My husband and I looked FOR MONTHS to find the perfect photographer and after meeting Lauren we knew was the best fit for us. She made our day so much fun and easy. She found little opportunities to make the perfect photo all with a calm ease that comes from someone who has an artistic eye along with experience in understanding the flow of a wedding.
I've been in several weddings and have worked with a multitude of photographers and I never felt as confident as I did with Lauren. I love how professional she is. She helped with the timeline way in advance and we stuck to that timeline the day of. She was also able to professionally and firmly keep unruly family members settled and focused and navigated family drama beautifully!