My Two Weeks in Italy: Capri

Aug 8, 2022

I am finally sharing my favorite place in Italy...Capri! We've been here before, and I was wondering if it would be as wonderful on our second trip. The answer is absolutely yes!

We had to take a train to Naples, get a driver to the port and then take a ferry for about 30 minutes to the island of Capri. It sounds like a lot, and it kind of is a lot for most people. It's worth it, but there are definitely different types of people on a ferry. My husband went to the bar. Our friends went on their phones. I fell asleep the minute the waves started rocking. I'm nervous to ever take a cruise because I would literally sleep like a baby.

We stayed at the Hotel Weber Ambassador this trip. There were positives and negatives about it, but I'll  go through why and you can decide if it's worth it. A positive is that there was a shuttle bus to meet us when we docked from the ferry. The negative is we had to call when we docked to be picked up, and then walk way past the taxi stand to the other side of the port to be picked up. I would have taken a taxi if I knew how far it was. 

Then we had to experience Italian driving at it's worst. We were inches from a stone wall on one side (that we scraped several times) and inches from a two foot wall on the other side with a sheer drop to the sea below. I had to close my eyes many times so I didn't have an anxiety attack. The worst is that the one lane road only fits a car and a half. We had to squeeze by and the driver had to pull the rearview mirrors in to make it past the other cars.

However, this hotel has the most amazing view I've ever seen! Our room had an enormous patio with this view. There's the beach, beach club and all of the yachts in the background. My favorite activity was to google the names of the boats so I could figure out who was out there. FYI, there are lots of billionaires and celebrities! 

The worst part of our trip is when they didn't have our reservation. Um, what?! It turns out they cancelled it the day before because our credit card didn't go through. We had our card cancelled because of a fraud alert the month before, and a new one issued. It was an easy process to update it with the other hotels, but we didn't with this one because we had no idea they were going to run it when they did. We had never even gotten a confirmation when we booked directly. I had reached out and asked for a confirmation. All they said was yes, we have you booked. I had no idea they were going to run our card the day before we arrived. The manager reprimanded me for not updating it. I was so close to raising my voice to tell him that I was never notified that it would be run before our stay, but I held it in so I could possibly get a room. The assistant manager had previously assured me they still had one room left, and it turns out that it was the exact one we booked so I let it slide. He was also horrible to her so I didn't want to make it worse for her when I left. I felt like he was equally awful to the entire staff by the time we left. Honestly, the staff could be amazing or amazingly bad depending on who you get.

The rooms were adequate and decent sized, but definitely nothing fancy. I have found this to be the case at almost all of the hotels in Capri. However, the view and the price definitely made up for it! Another positive of the hotel is that there are always food and drinks available. We ordered the best sangria we've ever had twice on our trip to enjoy with this view. Breakfast is available for an extra 13 euros per day. I had it twice, and my husband had it all four days.

Our first evening there we went into town via the shuttle bus. It's kind of a pain because it is a 15 minute drive, but you can only get this view away from town. When we stayed at the Regina Cristina five years ago we had just a sliver of an ocean view, but we could walk right out our door and be in the middle of everything. I can't say which is better to be honest. The hotel with the billion dollar view (literally) and full-service restaurant or the boutique hotel right in town? Argh, I don't know!

Here are some photos when we got there. We ended up having an early dinner at a restaurant on Via Camerelle where we had eaten five years ago. The tables have bamboo canopies over the tables on the sidewalk, which is great for people watching. We noticed two gorgeous girls and a guy slowly walking by that just looked other worldly. My husband immediately recognized that they were paid models. I didn't believe it until he pointed out that they each had a tote bag that advertised Capri. Well, my imagination (and our friends too) thought that they were vampires lol. They just had an odd cadence to their walk in addition to being amazingly beautiful. Capri is like a living fashion show!

Aquazurra is one of my favorite shoe brands! Isn't their store in Capri so cute? 

The next two days we had rented a boat to tour around the island!

Sometimes I feel so old, but looking at this photo I realize we will one day say,"Look at how young we were!"

We went to the famous Blue Grotto for the first time. The last time we were here the captain said to skip it. Honestly, I agree. It isn't worth the hype, but I had to see it for myself. You have to pay 12.50 euros per person and wait until a boat comes to get you. You have to pay at another boat before you are allowed to go through the cave. You have to lay flat in the boat to go through the entrance, but it's not that big of a deal as they make it out to be on the YouTube videos we watched. It was okay, but definitely not worth the price or the wait. The water is an electric blue in the cave, but not all that much different from the photo of us above. We only had to wait 20 minutes, but I've heard the wait can be hours! FYI, the water is extremely salty! It's also very cool, but perfect for a hot summer day.

I mentioned before that googling the owners of these boats were fun. I saw one guy with big headphones on what looked to be a conference call as he paced the decks. It turns out it was Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana. His boat is worth $60 million dollars! Mariah Carey was also there. Most were Russian businessmen. Who runs the world?! Fashion, music and Russians obviously. The pictures don't do these boats justice. They are literally the size of my small neighborhood.

I had many must-sees on this trip! One of them was what I call the Lemon Restaurant aka Paolino Capri. I have saved so many photos of this restaurant with the enormous lemons hanging over the tables. One actually dropped on a table while we were there! Is there lemon insurance? Anyway, I had the perfect outfit for it. I was so excited to wear my yellow linen two-piece skirt set here. Okay, it was a bit literal and I felt somewhat silly, but I was so happy to finally be here. 

They are wearing different shirts FYI. 

I need hand painted plates of my backyard now. 

My husband just sent me a video from Instagram of P. Diddy singing That's Amore here a couple of days ago. It inspires all of us! Well, Mary J. Blige didn't look impressed. Maybe she just needed some limoncello?

I'll be 100% honest. I'm writing this for me as much as you. I read blogs like this when I go on vacation so I hope it helps you plan your trip. Also, I want to have this archived as I forget details. I go back to my old trip blogs because I forget things.

The third day of our trip we went to Positano for the day! This was my last must-see of the trip. I have also saved so many photos of the hotel Villa Treville's restaurant. I will say the views from Positano are the best!

I could not stop taking photos!

The trip to get to Villa Treville from the port was kind of a mess, but completely our own fault. I'll just leave it at that. But, we got there even if we were about to die of heat exhaustion. 

It was so beautiful that my husband got irritated I didn't book a room here. I told him it was too expensive and he kind of scoffed at me. He looked it up and at the height of summer that we were there it was $4000 night. Ha! That's why I booked a restaurant reservation. Honestly, I love it here but Capri is still my favorite even if there isn't a hotel that compares to Villa Treville. 

Another thing that I love about this place is that they said we could take their boat back to the port!

And the next day we were off to fly back home! However, we did make an amazing stop on the way. Stay tuned...

My Two Weeks in Italy: Rome

Aug 6, 2022

When you've been to Rome before, what do you do when you return? Shop, eat and drink on a rooftop. Oh, and throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make sure you return if you believe the myth. I actually forgot to do this! 

You can easily find the top sights in Rome with a quick google search so I won't go through all of them. I will tell you my favorite things to do instead. Our friends aren't really interested in touring historic sights, thank goodness since we've seen them all. We did a quick walk-by of them to take a photo outside. It took all of one morning and our first evening there. It's a good thing since we only were there two nights. 

Spanish Steps

Vatican City 

View of Spanish Steps from the shopping area

Honestly, I considered this a brief stop on our way to the Amalfi coast. I didn't enjoy Rome that much when I went last time, but I liked it better once I planned the trip for things I like to do instead of what is expected of me as a tourist. 

This was the nicest hotel in Italy that we booked. It also happens to be across the street from where I really wanted to stay. We had to watch our budget since we were in Italy for two weeks. I did the next best thing and booked a restaurant reservation at my favorite hotel. You can also go to the bar at the fancy hotels without staying there. 

Our hotel had an amazing rooftop bar. You will need reservations if you go at popular times. We went before dinner two nights in a row. It really was one of our top experiences in Rome. 

Terrazza Nainer - Rooftop bar in Rome | The Rooftop Guide

Terrazza Nainer - Rooftop bar in Rome | The Rooftop Guide

Since we saw all of the top tourist attractions by late morning on our first and only full day in Rome, it was time to enjoy a nice lunch and then shop! I didn't really need anything so I really thought it would just be window shopping unless something just grabbed me. I found lots of beautiful things that I would never wear or just didn't need. We also have most of the stores in Houston, albeit at more expensive prices because they are imported. I did get excited that there was a Pucci store, which I have never seen. I have always admired Pucci swimsuits, but never bought one because I feel like it's something I need to try on first. I happened to find one at the store I just loved, and it was almost half the price in Italy. I felt a little guilty buying the matching pareo, but I had to buy it because it matched. Plus, I never get rid of my swimwear so I knew I would regret not buying it.

I wore it the first day we were on the water in Capri. I folded it in half to make it short since it was so hot, but I like that I can wear it longer too in case I get too much sun on a trip. I'm not usually a fan of triangle tops, but this one is so comfortable.

That night we had dinner across the street at Hotel de Russie. The great thing about the location is that we were able to wear heels for the first time on the trip. 

The hotel's photo

My photo. They win. 

Can you believe my outfit is from Express? It reminded me of Dolce and Gabbana so much that I thought it would be perfect for a more formal dinner.

Another beautiful plate from Ginori!

Heavily edited photo due to shadows. I'm not going to let shadows ruin my photo! 

The next morning we went on a walk before we left for Capri. 

Piazzo Popolo-We had to roll our suitcases through here on the way to our hotel because there was a taxi strike for two days. I can't say I look upon this piazza fondly.

Borghese Gardens-We missed this last time and I was excited to see it, but honestly it was a bust. Most of it isn't taken care of well. These were the only picture worthy shots. 

I took a photo of the door of our hotel as we left that morning. Almost all of the doors have these studs on the bottom. I wonder if this is where Valentino got his inspiration for rockstuds?

We actually had a good time in Rome, which I wasn't expecting. I think the nice hotel with it's rooftop, the shopping experience and the dinner at a restaurant I've always wanted to visit made the difference. It may not be the top things to do as a tourist, but it is what all of us wanted to experience. Thankfully, we have traveling companions that have the same interests as us. Well, they didn't want to go to the Borghese Gardens so we split off that morning. That's also okay. Actually, they made the best decision because it wasn't that great!

Our next leg of the trip is my favorite, the Amalfi Coast!

My Two Weeks in Italy: Under the Tuscan Sun

Tuscany! The land of wine, T-bone steaks, scenery, history and sunshine.

This wasn't our first trip to Tuscany, but for some reason it felt different. Do you ever return to a place and have a completely different experience? That is how we felt on this trip. We stayed in Florence for only one night in August five years ago, and toured the gardens and museums. It was absolutely beautiful, but we were about to have a heat stroke. The odd thing is it is ten degrees cooler than Houston, but feels just as hot. Skip the summer months if you can!

Knowing how hot it could be in the summer we stayed near the Ponte Vecchio Bridge near all of the main sights. Our hotel had an amazing view of the Arno river, too. 

Instead of staying in the Tuscan countryside for the majority of our trip, we did a one day tour of three wineries instead. In retrospect, I wish we had stayed in the country. Florence is amazing, but I think once you've seen the sights one time you can relax and do the fun stuff aka wine tasting. My reasoning to stay in Florence is that the countryside is very sleepy. Make sure you book a resort that has a restaurant and bar. A pool is a must too if you go in the summer. 

We arrived in the afternoon and walked our friends to the Duomo. I mean, you can't go to Florence without seeing the Duomo or the Ponte Vecchio Bridge! 

Our friends then did some shopping while I had my daily gelato, and then we went back to our hotel to get ready for our dinner reservation at Natalino. I saw it recommended by a fancy hotel online, and noticed it had the Florentine steaks my husband had requested. I booked it with that in mind. I had no idea what I would eat, but ended up with the most most amazing lasagna ever. It was one of our least expensive meals as well. My husband shows off his steak to everyone. He cannot get it out of his head!

We walked around after dinner to the historic Piazza Signoria where an orchestra was playing, and then along the Arno River at sunset. It was absolutely magical! I take back what I said earlier. Stay in Florence as long as you do this in the evening. I almost get teary eyed thinking about her perfect it was. The beautiful architecture, the fountains, the people and the music all came together at sunset to create a spectacular evening. Maybe even a romantic one?

Imagine this sight with the fountain running and an orchestra playing in the background...

Then we went back to enjoy the rooftop at our hotel. There isn't a bar so we took the wine we bought earlier in Lake Como upstairs. If your hotel doesn't have a rooftop overlooking the river, definitely reserve a table at rooftop bar to watch the sunset.

The next day we headed out at 9am with a driver to make it to our first winery, Castello di Verrazzano. We stopped here five years ago for a quick wine tasting in the restaurant. We always said we would go back and do the full tour because it was so beautiful. 

However, I have to admit I was really bored on the tours this trip. They last way too long compared to American ones. I just want a brief overview and to taste the wine. Opt for a meal at the restaurant instead where you can pair the wine. After an hour we finally got to sit down and taste the wine, and the balsamic vinegar. We bought a way too expensive bottle of balsamic, but when in Tuscany...wear white. Just kidding! It does look like we're at a white party here.

Then we were off to our favorite, Tenuta Torciano! If you've followed me for a while you know that we not only visited this winery five years ago, but we had them do a wine party at our house the next year. It sounds super fancy, but it's free and they provide the wine. They just ask that you invite at least 12 people. We had a little over 20. We had it catered by a local Italian restaurant, and rented some tables to place by the pool, but the cost was minimal. It does look like Tuscany with the cypress trees in our backyard so it was the perfect setting. My guests weren't required to buy anything, but they broke sales records that night! I'm not surprised because Texans are known from Napa to Italy for their love of wine. So of course we had to go back!

One of the reasons I love this Tenuta Torciano is because they have wineries all over Tuscany so you can visit their main one in San Gimignano, but sample all of the varieties. I also love that there isn't a wine tour. We sat down and had an amazing lunch paired with so many wines that I couldn't even count them. 

My husband of course immediately drops red sauce on his white shirt. Thankfully, I always carry Shout wipes in my purse for this reason. 

Most of the people working there are part of the family that owns the winery. I absolutely love all of them! One even jumped in to help clean his shirt. 

We walked around the historic town of San Gimignano after this tasting. I wanted our friends to experience it. Montalcino and Montepulciano are very similar so you need to experience only one if you are short on time. I do wish we would have had time to visit Siena. We went on our last trip, and it is definitely worth it. I also regret not having enough to time to visit some of the wineries in Montalcino, especially Banfi

I heard San Gimignano is home to the best gelato in the world. I had to try it out of course. I will say it was the best we had on the trip. I should have taken a photo, but my brain wasn't working right because of the heat and crowds. 

Then we were off to our last winery, Antinori. I was excited about this one because I heard it was the best. However, between the sun, wine and food we were exhausted. I kept falling asleep in the van on the way. I did perk up when we got there a little because it's a beautiful modern winery. I wish we would have skipped the tour and just went right to the tasting area instead. The tour was so long that it was absolutely brutal to get through for everyone. I think out of the 15 or so people there was only one person that didn't seem to want to run out of there. We had three wines at the end of the tour, but they weren't that great. We ordered Antinori bottles twice at restaurants and they were really good. I'm not sure why they chose the wines they did for the tasting. 

There's also a restaurant that has a beautiful view. The menu wasn't our favorite so we opted to have dinner in Florence that night. One thing I realized is that Americans don't eat just enjoy one cuisine. We are probably the only people in the world that have a variety daily. It makes it hard to travel to one country for so many days, and have the same cuisine even if it is amazing. My husband was craving Tex-Mex and happened to find a place in Florence that served it. Well, it is more Baja, but close enough!

The next morning we had time to walk around the city before we left for Rome on our train. We stayed in the shopping area, but I hadn't been really interested yet in going in any stores until I saw Ginori! I absolutely love their dishes. I have always had my eye on these, but I found some that I even like better. I haven't looked online yet to see if I can find them here. I have an art piece coming in for my dining room that is between blue and green in color so I want to see how it looks before buying them. 

So then we were off to Rome!