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The Best Places to Stay on Your Next Romantic Trip or Honeymoon!
We are on our way back to Rome after our fabulous getaway and perfect Italy itinerary. It’s always a little hard to get back to real-life isn’t it? Even when you are traveling the world with your kids :). We loved our little getaway and find them completely necessary to keep our marriage strong and healthy. Couple time is much cheaper than divorce (and much, much more pleasant!!) in case you worry about the investment. Of course, we never recommend going into debt for travel (even though we have in the past), but investing in memories and relationships if our favorite way to spend our money.
We didn’t use a tour company or really do much planning at all, but LOVED our little getaway and our self-made Italy itinerary. We have sort of moved past the need for a planned tour (except in China, where we would still do it again) and now enjoy going at our own pace. We are comfortable getting around and found Italy to be the easiest yet! So in case you are a little nervous, don’t be. You will nail this.
Italy Itinerary Day 1:
Depart Rome to Amalfi Coast
Getting around Rome is easy peasy. In case you aren’t familiar with public transportation or haven’t done it in a foreign city, I will be doing a separate post about finding your way. In Rome, we loved the app FreeNow for taxis. Note: Uber is illegal in Rome, so plan to hail a taxi directly or use the FreeNow app. Of course, you can always walk or take the bus as well.
Get yourself to the Roma Termini Station. This is the main train station in Rome (there is a smaller one, but it is more on the outskirts of town, so chances are the Termini station is the one for you).
We debated buying train tickets online before we went and even tried to do so, but our internet in our Airbnb is absolutely terrible. So, we just went last minute and did not regret this decision in the least!
- Once you get to Termini, if you arrived by metro, simply follow the signs for “Treni” and walk upstairs to the train station. This is common in many places to have the train station on top of the metro station below. You’ll be following the crowd, so just go with the flow.
- Once you are in the train station, look for “Bigleitti” on the signs to find your tickets. Don’t bother with a counter, head straight to the self-service kiosks for Trenitalia. It’s red and white and you’ll find them no problem. Be sure to read my post about the two different train companies in Italy.
- At the kiosk, change the language to English (in Europe, always pick the British Flag). Follow the prompts to pick your destination, round trip or one-way, how many passengers, and which class of service you’d like. We had a little trouble using our credit card the first time and used cash, however, the next three times we could use our card no problem. I’m thinking I didn’t push our card in hard enough to the terminal the first time.
- You may need to look up your final city destination in Italian. For instance, Florence is Firenze Santa Maria, or Firenze SMN, and Naples is Napoli.
- There are trains leaving every 30 min from Rome going all over, so you’ll be able to find last-minute tickets and seats without a problem.
- We booked our tickets for Napoli C.le, which is Naples. Once you have your printed ticket, look for your train number and head to the large display signs with “Departures”. Find your train number and look for your platform. This is like finding your departing gate at an airport. Also, note your coach or car number (maybe called Carrozza). You’ll head to your platform to find your train and then need to walk down the train to your car or cabin. We had to run for our first train and hop on the first opening as it was leaving in just a couple of mixtures. We literally bought the tickets 5 minutes before departure! We then just walked down the train, cabin by cabin, until we reached ours.
Once in Naples, we THOUGHT it would be best to take the metro to Sorrento. This was easy to find with just a bit of sign reading. The metro station was under the train station and you can ask an employee (of any store or train company) for where to go if you can’t figure it out by the signs. We bought tickets on the metro to Sorrento and waited about 10 min for that train to come. Then we rode the metro to Sorrento.
However, if I’d done a little more research, I would have gotten off the metro about half-way to Sorrento to get to our actual destination of Vico Equense.
The Amalfi Coast is actually made up of a few little towns, 13 to be exact, that stretch along the coastline. Amalfi is one of them, but not necessarily the best. You have to get around by car and the roads are crowded and tricky. I would NOT recommend driving yourself. It is a certain skill set we don’t possess to drive these micro roads and sharing traffic with big tour buses and taxis. It’s no problem finding a taxi, especially from the various bus and train stations.
We put this location on our Italy itinerary solely upon the hotel. We knew we would want 1-2 days to simply unwind and do almost nothing. This is our pattern when we get away from our kids, so we tend to book a really luxurious hotel to enjoy. We found the Capo La Gala hotel in our searches on Booking.com and were sold by the private jacuzzi overlooking the ocean.
- Metro ride to Roma Termini: 5 Euro
- Train Tickets in Business Class: 160 Euro
Italy Itinerary Days 1-3:
Relaxation on the Amalfi Coast
When we arrived, we were incredibly happy with the hotel and the service. The check-in was seamless and so kind. They offered to make a reservation at their restaurant if we wanted, or suggested we could also eat at the bar (which we did the first night). They took us to our room, brought our luggage and left us in peace.
The food was incredible every time. We ate at the bar the first night (fabulous service), had room service for lunch the next day and then ate at their Michelin start restaurant, Maxi, our last night.
Maxi FAR exceeded our expectations. We were a bit nervous for the cost at this incredible place, but it was worth the splurge. We’ve eaten at some very swanky restaurants and had delicious food around the world, but this was one of the top. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
We tried one of the tasting menus, which was eight courses of deliciousness. Each portion is quite small and you might wonder if you will get full. However, by dessert your tummy is aching and you are fitting in the best part of the meal. Because it is spaced out over a couple of hours, at least, you will NOT walk away hungry, I promise!
Dessert was the pinnacle and just blew me away with how artistic AND delicious it was. With each course, they clear everything away except your drinks, so you are getting fresh silverware seven times! Your drink is NEVER empty as you have multiple servers watching your table and constantly serving you. It’s quite the experience and was a fabulous celebratory dinner.
While we didn’t make it to the spa, I would have loved to. We were too lazy to get around to scheduling it. However, prices were quite reasonable with a couples massage around 170 Euro. For such a nice hotel, this is a wonderful price. We’ve stayed at other 5 star hotels and couples massages can set you back $500 or more.
- Hotel: Around 500 Euro per night
- Maxi Tasting Dinner Experience: 140 Euro per person plus tip
- Extra charges to our room (room service and dinner at the bar the first night): 200 Euro
Italy Itinerary Days 3-5:
We wanted to be in Florence by about 4 pm for Chris to work, so we looked briefly at Google and knew a train was leaving Naples around 12:30. We got our taxi at 11 am, arranged by the front desk (this adds a premium for sure, but is the most seamless way to get a taxi).
We made it to the Naples Station in about 50 min and secured our train tickets without a problem to Firenze, or Florence. After a quick bite to eat at a cafe, we were off.
Note: for Italian cafes, you have to purchase what you want BEFORE you order. The guys taking orders only work off receipts and won’t even acknowledge you half the time without one. So hop in line at the cash register before anything else. You stand and eat your food or drink your coffee at the counter itself and just leave your dishes, or you can find yourself a table if available. However, many people just get a quick lunch this way by eating right at the counter, like a bar.
The train to Florence lasted two hours. We got a taxi right outside the station but didn’t really need one. Our hotel was fabulously located right at the center of town and only about a 15 min walk. Heading back to the train station, we just walked with our luggage.
We stayed at Calimala, which we found with a quick search on Booking.com. The reviews said it was a great location and fairly new. We loved it. It was NOT the luxurious experience of Capo La Gala, but we expected that. No restaurant, no room service, no help with your luggage. However, it is quite affordable, functional, and fabulous location for walking around the city.
Florence really took us by surprise! We have loved Rome, but to be honest, it is quite a dirty city. Our apartment and all the streets around it are very close to the Vatican, so location is great. However, the big dumpsters are right on the street and are all overflowing with trash and recycling. Downtown is also not the cleanest place we’ve been to.
We LOVE the history and sites to see, but it wasn’t all I was picturing for Italy. When we got to Florence, all my Italian daydreams came true! It looks just like all the gorgeous city pictures of Italy and is SO much cleaner.
Our first night, we wandered a bit and found a cute little family restaurant. Being gluten-free is quite easy in Italy, in general, and very easy in Florence. Most restaurants have gluten-free pasta and pizza options. We even found a fabulous GF bakery with sweets and savory items. Chris tried the GF apple streusel and swears it is the best streusel he has EVER had, GF or not. If you are on the GF train, be SURE to visit Starbene bakery. It’s right downtown.
The next day, we explored the main church, Santa Maria del Fiore. Note that you’ll need tickets for the different parts of this church. We were able to get a combo ticket for most of it, but the dome itself sells out and we could not see it that same day. We loved the bell tower the most, but it is a good little workout to get to the top!
We also tried to see, but went to late, to see the Basilica of Santa Croce. My mom recommended it and said it was really, really neat. Many famous Italians are there for you to see, so she nicknamed it “The Church of the Dead People.” We will have to explore it next time!
We did decide to visit the Uffizi Museum and booked tickets for the next day. Florence is famous for the David statue by Michelangelo. However, per my mom’s recommendation, we skipped it and went for the Uffizi museum instead. According to what I’ve heard, you have to buy tickets to see the David and it is just this with a few other statues. It is, of course, always packed and maybe not worth it.
The Uffizi museum is MASSIVE and quite impressive. It has dozens of incredible statues along with rooms and rooms of art. Davinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello… the list goes on and on. It was quite impressive and your could easily spend a day here, if you wanted that in your Italy itinerary. We spent about 2.5 hours and were tired of walking by then, so we skipped out.
Florence hosts some incredible shopping and we had some fun! Leather goods are EVERYWHERE and are super nice. We splurged on new leather jackets as we head into our first winter in two years. We are a bit nervous! There is also a ton of jewelry, clothing, and classic shopping options.
Be sure to try LOTS of gelatos, which you can find every few steps. We also came to love the hot chocolate! As non-coffee drinkers, we opted for hot chocolate on a brisk morning and it was some of the best of my life. Massive fresh whipped cream and thick, creamy hot chocolate. Yum. Pair it with a pastry and you’ve got a fabulous snack.
While in line for the cathedral of Santa Maria, we were given a flyer for a classical concert in Florence that evening. Since I love to take advantage of all things without the kids that are not kid-friendly, we went! It was 1.5 hours of some beautiful classics like Mozart and Bach. It was held in the Davinci Museum in the cathedral above and was a magical experience.
For dinner, we opted for a bistecca. Italian food is not very protein-rich. Every menu has pasta, pizza and bread. We were craving some meat and had some delicious steak.
Note: one of our guides in Italy told us a service charge is usually included so not to tip. We did tip at Maxi, but most other places do not even have that as an option on the bill, so we didn’t tip at any other restaurant. I don’t think it is standard in Italy.
- Train Tickets to Florence from Naples: 150 euro for business class
- Hotel: About 125 Euro per night
- Family restaurant: 60 Euro
- Bakery and Cafes: 50 Euro
- Gelato: 25 Euro
- Steak Dinner: 90 Euro
- Santa Maria Church: 18 Euro per person
- Uffizi Tickets: 24 Euro per person
- Classical concert: 25-50 Euro per person (the cheapest section was sold out when we arrived, at starting time, so we went for the 35 euro section)
Italy Itinerary Day 5-7:
Off to Venice, the next stop on our fun Italy itinerary! My dream city come true.
Once again, we simply walked to the train station in Florence in the late afternoon with no tickets purchased. When we arrived and found the ticket kiosk, the next train left in three minutes! I booked it and we ran to our train, catching it no problem. The next one was 2 hours later, so I’m glad we made it as Chris had some calls to do.
There are two stations in Venice: Venice Metre and Venice Santa Lucia. If you are staying in the classical part of Venice with the canals and islands, be sure to go to Venice Santa Lucia. It ends right on the Grand Canal and is super convenient.
We got off and decided to get tickets for our return to Rome in two days, on Saturday. I’m glad we did this as many seats were already sold out. Upon leaving, the train was nearly empty in Venice, but filled to capacity as we went city by city. Italy Itinerary Tip: for longer train rides, such as Venice to Rome, a little more preparation is probably a good idea 🙂
We walked to our hotel, but you can take the public water taxi for about 8 euro per person or get a private water taxi for anywhere form 50-80 euros. Walking with luggage is NOT fun in Venice, but totally doable for the two of us. I wouldn’t do it with the kids. It was hard enough walking around with kids on our previous stop in Venice on our 10-day road trip. Having young kids and luggage would be challenging.
We stayed in two different hotels as we had one of our nights in collaboration with the Ca’sagredo Hotel. Fabulously located right on the Grand Canal and near the Rialto Bridge, we loved the location. Our room had a very fun perk of having a private rooftop terrace. It was like a loft and overlooked the Grand Canal, which is so beautiful.
After sleeping in (through the included breakfast), we checked out and took our bags to our second hotel, Al Reali. This cute hotel is located off a smaller canal, but still has a water taxi drop off. It has FABULOUS decor and we loved our gold-gilded room. There was a bit of street noise through the night, but we sleep with a white noise app and were not bothered by this.
We had to leave early for our train back to Rome, but when I snatched some food from the included breakfast, it looked wonderful. They had GF options (always a win!) and I was able to take a yogurt and GF chocolate muffin to-go. Service was top-notch at this 4.5 star hotel and they also have a Michelin star restaurant, spa, and room service.
Note: You will pay a big premium to stay in the islands part of Venice, which we knew and accepted. With the kids, we actually stayed outside in the main part of Venice for MUCH cheaper (around $100 per night). You can easily take the train, bus, or taxi into the canal section, so if you are on a budget, this is a great option!!
We spent our only day in Venice getting lost and it was quite magical. Venice is a labyrinth of tiny allies, fun shops, delicious food and lots of tourists. We had a wonderful lunch at a cute restaurant we just stumbled on.. I love the outside eating in Europe and people watching. We did some pretty major souvenir shopping, bought gifts for the kids and grandparents watching the kids (thank you!) and found a lot more we would like to buy :).
Note on shopping international: Many countries will offer you to buy things tax-free, or VAT free. This comes with a few requirements, however, that you need to understand.
- You have to have your passport (some shops will let you get away with just a picture, so at least have pictures of your passport) and they actually give you documentation that you must get stamped at the airport when leaving BEFORE you check your luggage.
- We’ve never actually been successful at doing this… in Bangkok we could have gotten about $300 back in taxes we had paid, but forgot upon arriving at the airport and then ran out of time anyway.
- In Bali, because we stayed for five weeks, the VAT refund had actually expired 2 days previously. So frustrating.
- You also need to know that technically you aren’t supposed to use the product in the country if you are getting a tax refund or tax-free. Our jackets were put into cloth bags, which we will need to show at the airport and get a customs stamp. We then will drop the paperwork into the mailbox (no stamp required). So if you are going to buy something and wear it right then, don’t bother with the VAT refund or going tax-free 🙂
After dinner, we took the traditional gondola ride. I have always wanted to. We never did the one in Vegas because I wanted to hold out for the real thing! It is fairly short, but I’d still recommend it for your romantic Italy itinerary. It’s incredibly romantic and beautiful.
We learned the tide takes the water level in the canals up and down by two feet! I guess I didn’t realize this. We went at dinner time, around 5:30 pm, and it was a perfect time. The “golden hour” of the day and not busy at all! Everyone else must have been at dinner.
We were kind of done with fancy dinners, so both nights in Venice we opted for cheap, quick food. We went to two different pizza and kebab places (why these go together, I’m not quite sure). We loved both! In both places, I asked for the kebab meat to be put on a salad, basically a gyro without the bread. Chris had the traditional gyro (however, they don’t use pita bread, but more a sandwich bun) and some delicious pizza. We also found a Magnum Ice Cream STORE, where you could customize your own Magnum bar. This was a fun find and super yummy addition to our Italy itinerary.
For our ride back to the train station, we booked a private water taxi. We had to leave early, at sunrise, and it was a treat to see the canal nearly empty. The taxi was pricy, but came right to the door of the hotel and was much more pleasant overall.
Our train ride back to Rome was about four hours long and uneventful. The final part of our Italy itinerary– We were excited to see the kids again feeling refreshed!
- Train tickets to Venice from Florence: 150 euro for business class
- Hotel: 1st night collab, second night about 450 euro
- Pizza and kabak: 25-35 euro
- Magnum store: 9 euro
- Gondola ride: 80-100 euro (I’m not sure on the price difference, but it is listed out on the sign. We got the 80 euro one, so it may be based on how many people)
- Lunch in Venice: 90 euro (we both got drinks and appetizers, which we nearly always do, so our bills tend to be high for two)
- Shopping: TBD!
- Water taxi from hotel direct to train station: 75 euro (quite expensive, but with all our new shopping we loved the convenience. It was also so early in the morning we got to see the sunrise on the Grand Canal without all the tourists. Beautiful!)
- Train tickets back to Rome: 190 euro (1st class)
Happy anniversary or whatever you are celebrating. I hope this Italy Itinerary inspires a dreamy couple’s trip fo you!