Road tripping through Italy 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

-Virginia Wolf

We took a road trip through Italy for 2 weeks and here’s a play by play of what we saw, the coolest things we did and of course, what we ate.

Day 1: Milan

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Il Duomo

Event: The train arrived in at Mussolini’s pride and joy, Il Stazione di Milano Centrale, of course. The coolest thing we did in Milan had to be walking to Il Duomo (pictured above). It’s sheer size, beauty and detailed façade was worth the day trip to the fashion capital of Europe.

Food: After our window shopping, we ventured to the Navigli, a quaint neighborhood completely surrounded by canals, to meet a friend for happy hour. We had a traditional Italian happy hour there, which consists of all you can eat Italian buffet and a Aperol Spritz for €10.

Day 2: Florence

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Florence Cathedral de Santa Maria

Event: The best thing we did on day 1 was take a free walking tour around Florence specifically about the Medici family.  The family really loved art and infrastructure, so much so they commissioned much of the breathtaking artwork we are able to see nowadays. So I guess, big thanks Medici family.

Food: Found an amazing spot, Za Za Trattoria, where everything was truffled. So instead of getting a full course truffled meal we settled on an antipasti of “truffle carpaccio with artichoke and buffalo cheese”. Honestly, it was unbelievable.

Day 3: Florence

Event: Climbing to the highest point in Florence on the biggest dome in the world, was not an easy feat. Climbed enough tiny, steep and claustrophobic stairways to last us a lifetime, but the view from the top was quite spectacular.

Food: For dinner we stopped at a traditional Italian/Tuscan restaurant to find ourselves with a menu, all in Italian. We didn’t order anything but thank god our waiter ordered our entire meal for us. We ended up getting the best things on the menu without having to eat pork intestine by mistake.

Day 4: Florence -> Rome

Event: Step 1: Rent the smallest and brightest car possible, enter Green Mario. Step 2: Know how to drive stick. Step 3: Meet a cool travel agent that gives you a map of the smallest and quaintest towns you should visit in Italy. Step 4: Get out of the minuscule streets of Florence. Step 5: Enjoy the amazing Tuscan scenery and picturesque towns while driving through Tuscany.

Food: Stopped at Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano for the World Champion Gelato Winner. Think tiny town, all cobblestone, but with the BEST GELATO in the world…. how they found this place to taste the gelato… no one knows, but boy are we glad that they did.

Day 5: Rome

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Event: Can’t go to Rome and not go to the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s rooms as one of the first thing you do. Found out Daniel’s not that interested in statues…. but after taking a look at Raphael and Michelangelo’s masterpieces, with the help of Audioguide, now we understand the meaning of the phrase “a picture tells a thousand words”. Michelangelo and Raphael… kudos.

Food: Melissa’s new pasta of choice, Cacio e Pepe, founded in Rome… It is as plain (and delicious) as it looks… macaroni with cheese and pepper.

Day 6: Rome

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Event: I (Daniel) understand cathedrals, forums and markets being massive but it’s impressive to see a place of entertainment being even bigger. The Coliseum even just from the outside was worth the hype.

Food: Frozen Espresso at Tazza d’oro (Granita caffe con panna) and a delicious artichoke heavy meal at Nonna Betta in the Jewish Quarter. We started with an antipasti of grilled artichoke (Jewish Style, not sure what that means but it was delicious), moved to our first/second course, an artichoke lasagna, meatballs and codfish then finished with a ricotta cheesecake. And all of that food with fantastic and friendly Italian service.

Day 7: Rome

Event: A lazy but sunny day for us, we walked around our neighborhood Trastevere and revisited the Vatican to see it in all its glory.

Food: A porchetta sandwich from a sandwich shop in the lovely neighborhood that we stayed in called Trastevere. We honestly don’t know what porchetta is… some mix of roast beef is what it taste like… but it’s on a list of what to eat in Rome… so we did it, and it was delicious.

Day 8: Rome-> Naples ->Salerno, Amalfi Coast

Event: Surprising arrival to Salerno when we were wonderfully greeted by our AirBnB host! We stepped out to a restaurant/bar down the street to watch the local Napoli vs Real Madrid Champions League game. The next best thing to actually going to the game would have to be watching it alongside old Napolitano supporters screaming, in Italian, in a bar.

Food: On our way to Salerno, we had to stop in Naples if only to try some world renown pizza. We stopped at Starita Pizzeria the famous pizzeria from the movie/book Eat, Pray, Love. Again pleasantly surprised that Naples is definitely known for their pizza for a reason and the hype again… is well deserved.

Day 9: Salerno -> Pompeii -> Positano -> Salerno

Event: We’ve been to many ruins before but Pompeii was by far the coolest we’ve seen because it is still so intact that it makes you feel as if you are walking the Roman streets 2,000 years ago. Definitely a surreal experience to walk through the city streets and see so many buildings, infrastructures, theaters and even mummified bodies… as they were when people were living here, many years ago.

Food: We had some high quality gelato while overlooking the Amalfi coast which was pretty epic.

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Day 10: Salerno -> Catania, Sicily

Event: Drove, drove, drove, drove and took a ferry! But once we finally arrived into Catania and after a couple of recommendations by our host, we went to grab some wine at a bar that was actually an underground cave with a river running through it. We lucked out and ended up being the only two people down here for most of the night and had an extremely cool and relaxing time.

Food: After the same recommendation from three different people we went to the restaurant Savia close to our house to taste an arancini. Pretty much a fried rice ball with lots of yummy stuff mixed in.

Day 11: Catania, Sicily

Event: We woke up this morning and decided to go explore the famous fishmarket here in Catania, “La Pescheria”. However, a block from our house we ended up in an even more vivacious street market that was amazing and started our day off the right way, with Italians, delicious smells and food and some sunshine.

Food: We ate Pistachio Granita (slushy version of gelato) with Brioche (sweet bread/roll) and Brioche with Gelato (pistachio and coffee flavor) for breakfast. Farm fresh strawberries from the market for lunch and Pasta all Norma, Gnocchi, codfish and mussels from an Italian mama for dinner. Can we stay here forever please.

Day 12: Catania -> Castelbuono -> Palermo, Sicily

Event: Today we drove 2 1/2 hours to Castelbuono to go horseback riding in the northern hills. The whole 3 hour ride we were surrounded by vineyards, rolling hills, and an assortment of yellow and white flowers. It was absolutely breathtaking.

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Food: We were a little hungry when we arrived into Palermo after our horseback riding so we stopped in at a local cafe and the waiter helped us pick out beer and two antipasti’s which were “traditional Sicilian dishes” according to him. We ordered the meatball made with swordfish and he ordered the eggplant dish for us as a present. The people here are amazing.

Day 13: Palermo, Sicily

IMG_5807Event: Today, we just walked to streets of Palermo trying to get a feel of the city. We love the friendly people here, the bustling streets and exciting
atmosphere Palermo gives out.

Food: We had two panini’s in the last 12 hours and we are almost full to the brim on Italian food….cue the perfect time to head back to España!!

Day 14: Palermo, Sicily, Italy -> Barcelona, Spain

And off to our next adventure through southern Spain and Portugal with mi familia!

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