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Travel Recommendations

September is one of the best times to be in Italy.  The heat of the summer has cooled down and the masses of tourists have all gone home.  Below we have consolidated some our favorite places. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions if you plan to extend your trip.  Who knows maybe we'll bump into you drinking spritzes in the Piazza.



  • Food & Wine Tour - Bologna is the heart of the Emilia Romagna region also known as "Italy's Kitchen". Bologna can be your home base but a day trip to Parma and Modena are a must.  There are plenty of tours that hit a Parmigiana Reggiano factory in the morning, then a Balsamic Vinegar tasting and finally a Prosciutto factory. Tours always include food and wine! We did the "Italian Days Bologna Food and Wine Tour" and it was spectacular.

  • Mercato di Mezzo - This is a small covered food market in the city center.

  • Enzo Ferrari Museum - For the car lovers out there, the is right in Modena is well.

  • Piazza Maggiore - This houses the falling tower (which literally might fall now).  Great picture here.


  • Trattoria da Me - If you can get a reservation here go! We wish we could eat here everyday.  You can eat here for lunch or dinner.  The must eat items are the gelato al formaggi trio, the cotoletta and the tortellini in brodo.

  • Zerocinquantino - This is the perfect place to order a large meats and cheese platter and sit outside in the piazza and watch the people go by.  We loved this place. There are 10+ places just like this one on the same street, any will do for the perfect apertivo.

  • Cremeria Cavour - It's a bit outside the main strip but the gelato here is some of the best we had in Italy. 

  • Osteria Francescana - If you can get a reservation here... GO! And make sure you make room for us.  This is a 3 Michelin star restaurant by Massimo Bottura.  We are DYING to try this place.

Cinque Terre

Attractions: Nestled along the rugged Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre captivates every visitor with its enchanting charm, colorful cliffside villages, and breathtaking coastal landscapes.

  • We recommend staying in Monterosso, Riomaggiore or Vernazza for the easiest travel experience.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is how far your walk is from the train station.  There are two options when traveling from town to town.  You can hike or you can train.  The train is very easy to navigate and fairly inexpensive.


  • Ristorante Belforte - In Vernazza, this place is spectacular! It's literally in a castle tower.  In order to get here you'll need to hike through stairs and all little cobblestone streets until you hit almost the top of the hill.  (I suggest you just follow google maps to help you get there.) The views here are absolutely breathtaking and the food is amazing! We highly recommend getting the trofie with pesto and some seafood.  Try to make a reservation because it fills up quickly.

  • Ristorante La Torre - This restaurant is in Vernazza as well and similar to Belforte it's a little higher up off the city center.  They have absolutely incredible views of Vernazza and the sea.  They also have trofie pesto pasta and incredible seafood. Recommend getting a reservation quickly for this one.

  • Il Gambero Rosso Vernazza - In Vernazza, this place is perfect for an aperitivo or dinner after walking around the 5 cities of cinque terre.  You can sit in the piazza and listen to the live music at night or just stop by for a spritz.  We spent many nights here just soaking in the little town. We recommend the mussels, and linguine alle vongole.

  • La Bottega del Fritto - In Vernazza, you do not need to go to this specific fish and chips place but while you are walking around the towns you should get a cono.  A cono contains different fried seafoods and fish, with a little squeeze of lemon. 

  • Gelaterias - there are many many different gelato places.  We recommend enjoying one a day!



  • The Duomo - The most famous church in Florence, you can absolutely do a tour here but you'll need to make these reservations far in advanced as it books up quickly.

  • Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace- These are gardens are an enchanting Renaissance masterpiece in the middle of  Florence, with its lush greenery, sculptures, and intricate landscaping.

  • The Leather Market - there are tons of places to buy leather in Florence but the market will likely be your cheapest option. Here you can find bags, purses, belts, wallets, literally anything and everything made of leather.  Definitely negotiate - opening price is just a suggestion.  Greg almost got us ran out of town for his great negotiating skills.  There are also a ton of tents around the city selling leather.  You want to go to the one near Via Panicale and Via dell'Ariento streets and the Mercato Centrale.

  • Il Porcellino - It's customary to find the golden Cinghale and rub it's nose for good luck before leaving Florence.

  • Pontevecchio - This is the bridge that goes over the River Arno, here you will find a ton of jewelry stores.  If you want to buy gold, there's stores right off the bridge that will give you a better price.  Go here for the views and the pictures only.

  • Piazzale Michelangelo - This is a piazza on the top of a hill that overlooks all of Florence.  It's absolutely gorgeous.  We recommend bringing up a few beers or a bottle of wine and watching the sunset, it's definitely the best views of Florence.

  • Uffizi Gallery and L'Accademia - these are the two museums you would want to visit while here. Uffizi is huge, so if short on time we recommend L'Accademia instead.  L'Accademia also houses the famous David statue.  Both of these museums we recommend getting tickets beforehand.

  • Wine Windows - In the 1600s the bubonic plague hit Florence hard, killing 12% of the city's population. These little windows were a safe way for shopkeepers to sell wine and food with minimal contact, and thus they came to be known as buchette di vino - wine windows. There are a few that were revived throughout covid but our favorite is next to restaurant Babae.  Ring the bell inside the window to place your order. 

  • Cooking Class - We had a phenomenal cooking class here in Florence where we learned how to make incredible pasta sauces, tiramisu and an appetizer.  We highly recommend spending a morning taking a cooking class here.

  • Basilica of Santa Crocce - this is our favorite church in Florence, the people who are buried here are incredible (Michaelangelo and Galileo to name a few).  The frescos and history in this church are unmatched.


  • Trattoria da Guido - This is just a classic Italian restaurant on the main street in Florence.  We recommend the pear and walnut ravioli and the tiramisu.  This was one of our favorite tiramisus in Florence but they do not take reservations.

  • Osteria Vecchio Cancello - This place is absolutely amazing.  Be warned there's 2 of them, both of them are fantastic but make sure you check the address before heading there.  Here the go to order is the Fiorentina Steak.  If you're going to go to Florence, you must get Fiorentina Steak and if you're going to get that steak you pretty much need to come here... yes, it's that good.

Paninos: While you are in Florence, one day for lunch you must grab a sandwich and eat it while marveling the city, in the piazza or walking through the streets

  • La Proscuitteria - This is Danielle's favorite sandwich shop in Florence

  • SandwiChic - This is the local shop for most of Florence's students

  • Pino's Sandwiches

  • All'Antico Vinaio - This is the most famous sandwich shop, but truly not worth the wait.


  • Gelateria Edoardo - one of our favorite gelato places in Florence it is steps from the Duomo

  • Perche no!... 

  • Gelateria dei Neri

  • GROM

  • Cono Gelato - lovely old man runs this shop, perfect place after dinner at Trattoria da Guido

Cocktail Bars:

  • Manifattura

  • La Menagere

Lake Como


  • The quintessential day in Lake Como is on the water. There are plenty of options for private/group boat tours that can take you up and down the lake, while pointing out famous villas. There is also the option of the water taxi which is much cheaper and also allows you to see the villas, albeit no tour - but you can still look out for George Clooney's villa!

  • A.Picci - In the city of Como. This store makes authentic Lake Como silk scarves.  The owner is in there everyday to help you pick out the different colors and sizes.  Of all the silk shops we liked this one the best.

  • Nicoletta srl - Prodotti caseari - This is a meat and cheese shop in the city of Como.  We stumbled in here walking around one day admiring all the amazing food.  The owner talked with us for 30 minutes about all the different kinds of meats and cheeses and then started slicing us tastings.  As we're tasting the samples he pours us a glass of wine.  We ended up buying amazing mortadella and sheeps milk cheese from his farm.  Highly recommend stopping by.


  • Grand Hotel Tremezzo - In Tremezzo, accessible by boat or by car, this is one of our favorite stops in Lake Como. Da Giacomo al Lago is a casual restaurant lakeside serving up some of the best pasta dishes and spritz's we've ever had. No trip to Como is complete without the Cacio Pepe tortellini with red prawns and the Linguine alle Vongole!  There are many other upscale restaurants at this hotel but we truly think the best one is on the lake.

  • Osteria La Tana dei Pescatori - In the city of Como. If you love seafood this place is for you.  There's a ton of different crustaceans and fish options here and the pasta is fabulous too.

  • Osteria del Beuc - In Cernobbio, this is a smaller mom and pop restaurant with tons of local cuisine and a great wine list.  We highly recommend the gnocco fritto with fresh proscuitto and incredible veal milanese.

  • Il Gatto Nero - In Cernobbio. We happened to stay at the top of Cernobbio one time and we hiked up the side of the mountain to get to this restaurant.  Was it worth it?  YES! This was some of the freshest mozzarella we've ever had and the pasta was to die for.  This is a super super small local restaurant.  Pretty sure they hadn't seen a tourist in a year when we walked in but they were amazing.

  • Rovelli Ristorante e Bistrot - In the city of Como, we stopped here for a late lunch and ended up ordering a ton of pizzas and appetizers.  This was some of the best pizza we had all trip, a ton of different options.

  • Gelab Gelateria - This gelato is outrageously delicious.  Especially on a very hot day! We recommend the Fior de Latte and the Cioccolato. 



  • Roma Pass - If you're going to see all the museums and archeological sites when in Rome, the Roma Pass can save you some time and money.  It gives you access to all transportation around Rome.  You get entry to 2 museums and archeological sites and discounted access to any other attraction.  They will also help with reserving your museum tours.  You also get the Hop on Hop off bus which will take you to all the main attractions of Rome. Good option if you want to bundle everything together.

  • Vatican - We did the Vatican Museum tour at night and it was amazing.  Less people tend to make the night reservations thinking they'll miss the gardens but everything is beautifully lit up.  highly recommend scheduling a night tour.

  • Colosseum - If you want to get a tour of the Colosseum you need to schedule that far in advanced.  It fills up quickly and you'll be waiting in a long line if you don't have one previously scheduled.


  • Il Duca - In Trastevere, we still dream about the lasagna and the spaghetti alla gricia at this restaurant.  Honestly all the pastas here are fantastic, we highly highly recommend going here. 

  • Rivendita Libri "Teatro e Cioccolata"- Across the street from Il Duca.  This is a chocolate shot bar, we strolled in here on accident so we of course ended up taking some shots! It's a funny little place.

  • Roscioli - This place is known for really creating the pasta dish carbonara, but they have so much more than carbonara.  It's really amazing, we highly recommend.



  • Wineries:  There are more wineries than you can ever imagine in this area but we have a few that are our favorites. If you're spending a few days in Tuscany it's a good idea to try a few from different regions. 

    • For Chianti Classico and Riserva wines we like Badia a Coltibuono, La Masse di Lamole, Volpaia, and of course Castello di Meleto.  Most of these vineyards also have Vin Santo which is a sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes.  You can also likely find olive oil and red wine vinegar.

    • For Montalpulciano di Abbruzzo we like Tenuta La Braccesca (Owned by Antinori).

    • For Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino we love Castello Tricerchi and Tornesi.  ​​

  • Radda in Chianti is an amazing village on the top of a hill.  It's completely walkable so best to park the car where you can, get out and visit the shops and cafes.

  • Volpaia is a very small village where everyone that lives there works for the winery or one of the 3 cafes.  The winery makes amazing Chianti Classico, Vermentino and Red Wine Vinegar. 

  • Truffle Hunting is a great activity, although we have yet to do this but have heard great things from friends.  There are plenty of tours you can book where they'll take you foraging, find truffles and then go to a cooking class where you'll enjoy your findings.

  • Other Small Towns to visit:

    • Volpaia​, San Gimingnano , Siena, Montalpulciano, Montalcino, Greve in Chianti and Cortona (yes, this is the town from Under the Tuscan Sun).


  • Officina Della Bistecca or Antica Macelleria Cecchini - Dario Ceccini's butcher shop and restaurants are in Panzano.  This is about a 20 minute drive from Gaiole. We cannot recommend this place enough. Dario is a masterful butcher and for 40 euros it's all you can eat meats, veggies and chianti classico. If you're interested in his story watch Netflixs' Chef's Table Season 6 Episode 2.

  • Osteria al Ponte - This osteria is in the small village of Gaiole in Chianti.  They serve incredble pastas, wines and of course Fiorentina Steak.  Everything we've ever eaten here is fantastic.  Highly recommend.

  • Osteria di Meleto - This is a small outdoor restaurant operated by the Castello di Meleto castle.  It's at the very bottom of the hill when you first arrive at Meleto.  You must try pappa al pomodoro and the wild boar (chingale) ragu here.

  • Il Pievano - This is a Michelin starred restaurant in the beautiful courtyard of Castello di Spaltenna.  But be prepared for a crazy dining experience, the chef here loves to have fun...

  • Le Forchette del Chianti - In Radda in Chianti, this is a great little restaurant for lunch or dinner.  There is a small menu of specialty pastas and appetizers.  We recommend the ravioli here.

  • Osteria Volpaia - In Volpaia, we recommend taking the tour of the winery next door, then coming here for lunch or dinner.  We had a set menu since we went here with a tour but everything we ate was amazing! When in tuscany you must try the wild boar ragu.

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