Travelogue: Cinque Terre, Italy 2016

This little stretch along the Italian Riviera is stunning. Cinque terre means “five villages.” Which is exactly what it is. Mountains and ocean come together for amazing scenery. It’s dramatic cliff-side villages, ocean views, hiking, swimming, charming little streets, and awesome seafood and pesto. We had just 2 nights here and it left us wanting more. We’d definitely come back here some day! The 5 villages are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. No cars are allowed in the villages and they are connected by a train that comes every 30 minutes. Just past Monterosso is a less touristy town called Levanto, but the best views are on the 5 villages. We visited 4 of the 5 during our stay.

Cinque Terre Italy Travelogue by The Nutty PearCinque Terre Italy Sunset on Riomaggiore - Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

Cinque Terre, Italy Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

 

Cinque Terre, Italy - Corniglia Travelogue by The Nutty PearThese are some of our photos from our hike from Corniglia to Vernazza, sunset in Riomaggiore, seafood and pasta meals, charming streets in Vernazza and cliff-side buildings in Manarola. I don’t have much to say because the photos speak for themselves! Until next time Cinque Terre <3

Next stop: London

 

Travelogue: Florence, Italy 2016

He said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live”

-Dalai Lama

 

TRIP ITINERARY  (15 days total)

Prague, Czech Republic – 3 nights

Rome, Italy – 3 nights

Florence, Italy – 3 nights

Cinque Terre, Italy – 2 nights

London, England – 3 nights

Florence, Italy Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

Florence, Italy Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

We arrived in Firenze (as the Italians call Florence) by train. The train station isn’t too far from where we stayed in San Lorenzo. Our airbnb was an adorable little apartment with a rooftop terrace overlooking the Duomo. The photo just above this is our view from the terrace! There are quite a bit of tourists in Florence but the vibe is already different than in Rome. Much less crazy, even though we’re right in the heart of the city.

Florence, Italy Travelogue - Mercato Centrale by The Nutty Pear

It’s lunch time and we’re getting hungry so our first stop is the Mercato Centrale. Hands down the coolest, most colorful and interesting market we’ve ever been in. I always like looking through the seafood since we don’t have much of that in Minnesota. I’m looking at the underside of a fish trying to figure out what it is and the Italian man behind the counter sees me. He flips that huge fish over and it’s staring me down!

Florence, Italy Travelogue - duomo by The Nutty PearFlorence’s Duomo is the center of the city. Once again the detail of the architecture is beautiful. Inside the actual dome part is painted all the up to the point and I have to say I thought it was maybe even more impressive than the sistine chapel. We climbed the 465 tiny, steep, spirally stairs to the top of the Duomo for an amazing view of Firenze.

Florence, Italy Foodie Travelogue - Steak by The Nutty Pear

Lovin’ the food scene in Florence. It was much easier for us to find good, non-touristy restaurants than in Rome. Cute little wine bars, lunch cafes, bakeries, and trattorias are everywhere. Most have adorable outdoor patios with fresh flower baskets and even if they don’t, the people drink their wine outside lining the cobblestone streets in front of the bar.

Florence is known for their Tuscan cattle which produces awesome steaks and leather goods. We popped into a little family owned restaurant called Pandemonio for a bistecca Florentina. We have a 9pm reservation and good thing, because the place is packed! We can tell a lot of locals like this spot, a good sign! The owner is a little 73 yr old Italian woman. I called her signora and she instantly corrected me saying “No no no, I am Mama.” Love it!! I hear other guests calling her Mama. The food here was the best we had in Italy. We ordered a tortellacci filled with fresh ricotta and pesto and covered in a red meat sauce…to die for! When you order your steak, they bring it out raw to show you the cut and tell you the weight (ours was 1.3 kg)! It’s always cooked medium rare and it would be a sin to ask for it medium-well. We almost finished the entire thing!

Florence, Italy - Tuscany vineyards by The Nutty Pear

Florence, Italy Travelogue -Tuscany rainbow by The Nutty Pear

The few hours we got to spend in Tuscany were HEAVENLY. Like, literally. Take a look at that rainbow! It was a rainy day and while we were inside doing our wine tasting, it down poured. We came outside to see the most amazing rainbow we have EVER seen. The rain and wet landscape in the hills and vineyards was beautiful. The photos don’t do it justice. Within the first few minutes we decided we’d definitely be spending more time here on our next trip to Italy.

Next stop: Cinque Terre

Travelogue: Rome, Italy 2016

 

“I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it”

 

TRIP ITINERARY  (15 days total)

Prague, Czech Republic – 3 nights

Rome, Italy – 3 nights

Florence, Italy – 3 nights

Cinque Terre, Italy – 2 nights

London, England – 3 nights

Rome Travelogue - The Vatican by The Nutty Pear

Rome Travelogue - Trevi Fountain by The Nutty Pear

Italia! At first sight, it’s even more magical than we imagined. The huge building columns, statues and fountains left us awe-struck. It’s just mind-blowing to imagine the ancient Romans building all of it thousands of years ago. Right away there’s definitely a different vibe than in Prague. A steady hustle and bustle, passionate people, plenty of pasta and wine, and all surrounded by a backdrop of scenes we’d only seen in school books before a few weeks ago!

The streets of Rome are so charming I can’t even stand it! Every corner we turned, cafe we passed and adorable doorway we walked through I was whipping out my phone to snap photo after photo. Outdoor cafes, fresh flowers, cobblestone streets, old rustic doors, pasta, cheese, wine…it’s pretty obvious why I was instantly in love with the city.

 

A food tour in Rome was a necessity. We definitely did a lot of exploring on our own but the help of an expert was nice, especially when there are so many touristy restaurants to get caught in. This tour was in the neighborhood Trastevere, which literally means “across the river.” It’s much less touristy and full of Trattorias (family-run restaurants). We visited something like 8 different restaurants for a little taste of something in each. From left to right and down:

1. Burrata is a super fresh creamy mozzarella cheese that is usually paired with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil on bread. Delightful!

2. Gnocchi with mussels and a Roman classic: carbonara. Some of the best pasta we had.

3 & 4. Porchetta Sandwich. Porchetta is a savory pork roast paired with fresh gorgonzola on bread. This was one of my favorites!

5. It was hard to get a good photo of this dark wine cellar, but definitely one of the coolest things on the tour. This cellar is below a restaurant and was discovered to have been built in 80 AD! We had an appetizer inside with a local red wine.

6. Veal with bacon on top (!) and potatoes in a delicious sauce.

7. Roman style pizza has a very thin crispy crust. This is a Pizza Rosso with sausage and mushrooms.

8. Can’t forget about the gelato! Stracciatella was my go-to flavor. A creamy white with specs of chocolate.

9. The funny (and awesome) thing about Italians, is that they structure everything around eating and figure out how to maximize how much they can eat! Aperitivo is a pre-dinner cocktail the Italians have to “open the stomach” and get the juices flowing so that you can really enjoy the upcoming meal. That cocktail is typically an Aperol Spritz, which is this orange drink pictured. It has prosecco, aperol and a spritz of soda water, although the Italians make it pretty strong!

10. After dinner, the Italians have a cocktail like Limoncello or Grappa in order to help digest the meal you’ve just eaten. It really works!

I’d definitely recommend a food tour while traveling. Finding the non-touristy places off the beaten path is a must for a great food experience. Eating Europe does a great job!

Next stop: Florence!

Travelogue: Prague, Czech Republic 2016

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”

 

Ahh Europe!!!

This has been one of our dream vacation destinations for a while. Neither of us had ever been, making it all the more exciting to experience together. There is so much history to see, new cultures to immerse ourselves in and of course, AMAZING food! This post is all about Prague, our first stop.

TRIP ITINERARY  (15 days total)

Prague, Czech Republic – 3 nights

Rome, Italy – 3 nights

Florence, Italy – 3 nights

Cinque Terre, Italy – 2 nights

London, England – 3 nights

Italy was top of our list so we decided to spend an entire week of the two there. We’d heard so many people say that Prague is one of their favorite European cities so we made that a priority as well. Lastly, London was appealing because of the diversity, English-speakers and ease of location for flying out of Europe back home.

Planning started in February when we decided to take the trip. Fall is a great time to go because the weather is more comfortable than summer, but still very nice. It’s also a bit less touristy than during the Summer, when a lot of Europeans are taking their holidays, as they call it.

Take a look at these photos, which highlight our favorite experiences in each location with descriptions and useful tidbits in case you are planning a trip of your own. We hope you enjoy these little snippets of our travel adventure together!

Prague Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

Prague Travelogue by The Nutty Pear

The Prague skyline along the Vltava river is stunning. We enjoyed its views walking along the river and across the Charles bridge and by taking a night boat-ride along the Vltava.

The St. Vitus Cathedral is our favorite architectural piece of Prague. This gothic church is located within the Prague Castle. The detail is absolutely amazing!

The Kampa island on the Vltava river has these charming little canals that they nickname, “Prague’s Venice.” There are some restaurants along the canal so we popped in for a “take away” beer to enjoy outdoors :)

In order to really experience the food of the Czechs, we booked a food tour through “Eating Europe Tours.” Traditional Czech food is very heavy and they don’t use a lot of fresh vegetables, making it not the most appealing to me. The food tour was a great way to learn about and try their traditional Czech foods, but also get into some of their modern, fresher takes on meals.

1. Maso (meats) from a local butcher shop were awesome! Some of the best sausages and hams.

2. Chlebicky (open-faced sandwiches) with a gourmet twist. Trav’s favorite.

3. Classic bohemian/Eastern European soup made with fermented sauerkraut, potato and mushrooms in a venison sausage broth. This was my favorite!

4. Svickova (beef sirloin in a cream sauce with dumplings). This is a very typical Czech meal. And yes that is whipped cream on top!

Of course Czechs are famous for their beer, so we had a local beer with every meal, which were super fresh!

We stayed in the Vinorhady neighborhood near a metro station. It was perfect location. Lots of cute pubs and cafes in the neighborhood and easy access to transportation for getting around. We would stay there again.

Next stop is Rome!