OKAY..you all know I have a tendency to write way too much (and for those that know me- talk too much) and ain’t nobody got time to read long chunks of copy these days- so I am going to try to keep this post as short and concise as possible, so you can skip to the points of my trip that interest you.
I absolutely loved Tuscany. I have been before (on my honeymoon) but we did it so much better this time as I researched where to stay and what to do and we hired a car (which we didn’t do last time) and it was a lot easier being able to travel around and go to different towns etc, rather than rely on drivers etc.
There are so many websites where you can look online to book- and let me tell you it can get confusing.
I booked our villa via Luxury Retreats– we used Luxury Retreats a couple of times on our holiday and found them amazing. They are similar to booking with AirBNB but offer a little more with your stay, similar to a hotel, so the pantry is packed with goodies and they offer the service to clean your villa etc. Definitely check them out if you haven’t used them, we were so impressed.
Here is a link to the villa we booked- Villa Federico there are so many other options. You just pop in your preferred dates, number of people, price range etc and you get a good list of options.
Our villa was located in San Casciano dei Bagni region, it was such a beautiful region, with barely anyone speaking English which we loved as it was very authentic, with hardly any tourists around. We loved going to the local deli and fruit shop and stocking up for the day and then heading back to our villa cooking up a storm and relaxing by the pool etc.
THINGS TO DO IN TUSCANY
Cinque Terre- I have done this before, but this time we had a our own tour guide just for our family and we visited all the five towns in our own time. I found this better than going with a big tour group as you need to stick to their time frame.
You can also do this by boat, which is so good option if you don’t want to deal with all the crowds. We took a boat back from the Monterosso town to where our car was parked, but some people decide to do all the towns by boat instead of walking or taking the train. It is really beautiful looking back on the towns from the water.
We didn’t stay the night in one of the towns, we only did a day trip. My favourite towns in Cinque Terre were:
Monterosso: that’s where I took that beach/umbrella shot on my Instagram It’s the only town with a sandy beach and a big playground- so good if you are travelling with kids. It is the biggest town and has the most hotels if you wanted to stay in the area.
Vernazza: has a beautiful port and great restaurants. The Main Street from the train station has lots of shops and cafes, it is so cute but can get very busy. So we loved going to the harbour area as there are incredible seafood restaurants and this area is less busy
Manarola: this town has the pretty colourful buildings that you have probably seen all over Instagram and great for taking amazing photos. There are some nice walking trails that look back on the town and the water etc. You can also take a drip in the sea from the rocks on the harbour
RESTAURANTS/WINERIES IN TUSCANY (NOTE: most of these were in relative close proximity to where we stayed in the San Casciano dei Bagni region)
Chianti Road– beautiful scenic route of all the vineyards, rolling hills, cute villages and olive groves
OTHER TOWNS/ THINGS NEARBY TO VISIT
Monteriggioni- It has these amazing castle walls which offer views of the surrounding Chianti region
Siena and Piazza del Campo
THINGS TO DO IN FLORENCE
We didn’t do Florence this time as we have done it before, but to give a quick overview here are some of the biggest landmarks (you could easily google this too, but here are some favourites)
Piazzale Michelangelo– Renowned for its panoramic views of Florence and the Arno valley.
Santa Maria del Fiore- is the third largest church in the world and was the largest church in Europe when it was completed in the 15th century and the Museum of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore houses the second most extensive collection of sacred art in the world,
San Miniato Al Monte– It is one of the most incredible examples of Florentine Romanesque architecture, characterized by its bicoloured (white and green) marble façade.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE – I did some research on hotels in Florence- as we were going to stay there for a few days but instead we decided to head straight to Positano, so I thought I would list my top list here for you all:
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Relais Santa Croce
Villa San Michele
The St Regis Florence
The Westin ExcelsIor Florence
K. Place Firenze
Villa La Massa
We stayed just out of Positano (about 15 to 20 min from the centre) on the Amalfi Coast for our first three nights. We booked this accommodation through Luxury Retreats. We LOVED where we stayed, we booked it last minute and didn’t have high expectations, it looked a lot better in person than the images online.
It was called Villa Elizabeth and was located on a cliff top, with over three levels and two seperate cottages. We counted over 250 steps going up and down from the bottom where we had our own pool to the top. It was great as water taxi’s would also come to bottom and pick us up and take us into Positano so it was very convenient. It was also nice being a away from all the hustle and bustle of Positano. Positano is amazing, but soo busy.
Our view from Villa Elizabeth- this was from the steps that ran up the property
At the bottom of our villa waiting for our water taxi- so much fun!
We then moved into Positano. The hotel we stayed at was Le Agavi
We booked our trip in January for a June/July holiday (which we discovered was very last minute for Italy) as we really struggled to find available accomodation- we also had a big group which made this more difficult.
We loved Le Agavi as the rooms were a decent size and they had great beach area at the bottom of the hotel which was so beautiful and also a great pool. The only negative was it was 2.9km’s (so about 10 minutes) from the centre of Positano, which can take a while with all the traffic. So we had to take water taxi’s, or transfers into the main centre. Le Agavi also offered a free shuttle bus that left every 30 minutes which was handy, but it still would have been nice to be located closer to the main area so we could walk everywhere.
WHERE TO STAY IN POSITANO
Hotel Marincanto This was also the hotel that my girlfriend had her wedding and it is so beautiful and authentic. Great spot, right next to Francos
View from Hotel Marincanto from their restaurant area where my girlfriend has her wedding set up
Le Sirenuse Now this has to be my favourite hotel! This is the hotel that has that amazing champagne bar and the renowned restaurants La Sponda- out of this worldview and décor. And is also the home to Franco’s bar which you must check out.
Villa Tre Ville- This one is a very top end and luxurious but if you want to go all out it’s a good one to look out- even for just a day or so and then you can move to somewhere cheaper.
Hotel Poseidon– Great location and gorgeous hotel
L’Ancora– this one is situated in a great location (right next to Franco’s) but doesn’t have a pool
Villa Rosa is also great as another cheaper option (again great location, right opposite Franco’s) but no pool
RESTAURANTS -there are so many amazing options in Positano and I am just disappointed I couldn’t go to them all- here are my favourites:
La Sponda– we couldn’t get in here, it books out for months and months in advance, so as soon as you book your flights and know you are going book here.
I took this little snap at La Sponda, when they were setting up, as we were having drinks at their pool bar which is right next to it
Champagne Bar In Le Sirenuse- this one is great to go to if you can’t get into La Sponda as you can experience that view and the food was great
Our little nook at The Champagne Bar- we later found out that children ain’t even allowed at Le Serienuse- oops! No one said anything to us, and luckily Aston was well behaved that night.
Pool Bar at Le Serienuse- this is a great spot for photos and the same food that you get at the champagne bar, we got our hotel to book and once again got to experience that amazing view La Sponda feel
Jim and I on the first night he arrived. It is so pretty in the Le Sirenuse pool bar.
Max’s – we went here twice. Try to book as early as you can and get a table outside (pic below) it’s so stunning. The pasta and service are out of this world!! The view inside is pretty amazing too as it’s decked in artwork from floor to ceiling
Chez Black– can be a little touristy, as it’s right on the beach (and everyone knows about it now) but still good to check out and the food is amazing.
Bruno’s- cheaper option and great food.
Da Adolfo– is great for lunch. It can be hard to get in over the summer months and peak season, but usually fine if your hotel books in advance.
La Tagliata– We also headed to this one twice, it is located right on the top of a hill and is amazing, especially for families. There are no menus and they bring out so much food. Don’t go there on an empty stomach, it smelt exactly like my Nonnas cooking as soon as you walk in. It is still family run and all the food is authentic Italian. It is such an experience. It’s open for dinner, but we loved it at lunch so you can enjoy that view. I think it’s only 40 euros per person (that includes drinks)
Il San Pietro Di Positano The restaurant is renowned, with such a gorgeous view up on hill and the food is out of this world. It is a beautiful romantic spot- we didn’t have time to check this out but I know many friends that have been there.
Aston and I enjoying the food at Max’s
One Fire Beach Club You have probably seen so many photos from this beach club- the music was pumping and out of all the beach clubs we went to, it has the best vibe. We had the recovery for my girlfriends wedding there the day after the wedding, the food at the restaurant up the top is amazing. Great customer service too!
Bagni d’Arienzo We loved this beach club, it had a great vibe with a really gorgeous little restaurant, that they also bring out drinks to you from when you are laying on the chairs. It is a very rocky beach – so you need to walk in shoes.
Pirata in Positano I didnt get a chance to head to this one, but lots of my friends and it’s on the list for next time.
Treville Beach Club – right next to Da Adolfo restaurant and a good option to lay out if you are having lunch there.
We did a day trip and loved it!! It is pretty hectic during the day as there are so many day trips coming and going and can be very touristy, but I had friends that stayed there for a few days and they said it is really lovely and romantic at night as everyone leaves. So I would love to stay there next time.
We did a day trip with Capri Precious as we wanted a boat that we could do as we please, instead of sticking to certain tour group times. We could pick our hours and where we wanted to go, and do it just with out family. We went to check out some of the grottos which was amazing- that water really is out of this world! We didn’t go to the most famous one as it super packed with so many boats, but the other grottos were just as beautiful.
It was a small-ish boat but it was perfect for what we wanted. The driver was so sweet too, he brought along home-made limoncello and peaches from his mums garden.
BEACH CLUBS IN CAPRI
La Fontelina– OUT OF THIS WORLD! Check out pics. If you follow Tash Oakley- she was also there this summer, as gives you a good idea what it looks like. You must book this months in advance.
SARDINIA (or as the Italians say Sardenga)
I researched Sardinia (A LOT) before heading there, and I was so torn, do we head to the North or South?!
So after a few google searches, the North is noted to be more luxurious and high-end with nicer hotels and home to the glitzy Costa Smeralda and the south is cited online to be more low key, so I thought, we might not get the opportunity to head to Sardinia for a little while again, let’s go all out and do it in style.
We stayed at a very cool hotel, Cala Di Volpe– it was amazing, but we almost felt out of place as everyone was decked out in designer wear, high heels from morning to night and carrying around their little dogs in their handbags. You all know I love to dress up (probably more than your average gal) but even I felt out of place. Most of the guests had their own private boats and yachts that they would dock at the hotel.
Even though it was a high end hotel and area, even to eat at the hotel was very expensive (eeeeew) It was great for kids as there was a massive kids pool and also the option to put children in daily activities, our hotel also had its own private beach, and boats would leave the hotel every 30 minutes.
I would love to go to the south next time, as I have heard it is more chilled than the North, with a very similar vibe to Sicily, with amazing food, but still with all those amazing Sardinia beaches that the North has.
THINGS TO DO IN NORTH SARDINIA
Budelli Islands- we hired a boat from our hotel and went to some beautiful beaches. We anchored around the budelli islands and then swam to shore, the water absoloutely stunning,
Isola Maddalena for lunch/ gelato – we didn’t get to head here but it looks amazing (check it out here- such an insane view!)
Spiaggia Rose– pink beach
Shopping in Porto Cervo- very up market but cool to check out.
Restaurant Tanit – very romantic and stunning sunset
Phi Beach Club for sunset drinks
Thats about it! I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations too! So leave a comment below, and I can add it to my list for next time x