Italy Part II - Cinque Terre, Tuscany & Florence

Excited to bring you part II of our Italy travels!

CINQUE TERRE

We took the train from Rome to La Spezia and from La Spezia to Manarola (Cinque Terre) which was a four and a half hour train ride total with beautiful scenery and to be honest, our feet needed the break anyways! We bought affordable train tickets on raileurope.com.

Once we got on the train to Manarola we saw the warm sun reflecting on the bright blue water and that was so exciting!

Our hotel was on top of the hill in Manarola and I was exhausted by the time I made it to the top, little did I know it would be an up and down affair for our entire stay in Cinque Terre! We spent the first day in Manarola completely in awe of the picturesque views of the pastel colored stacked houses in the fisherman village, ate at Nessun Dorma which I found on Instagram because of it’s beautiful and perfect view of the village.

We watched the sun delicately set over the town over a bottle of wine and it was both peaceful and romantic. I can’t imagine what the town is like during the summer!

We had intentions of hiking to the other little towns of Cinque Terre the next morning but the connecting trails from Manarola were closed so we took the train instead. We stopped in Monterosso first which was directly on the water and super cute. We had intentions of stopping in Vernazza (and would still highly recommend) but the train doors refused to open at our stop (total fluke) so we decided to head to Corniglia first and walked the 50 flights of stairs to the top of the town and spent so much time envying this little village. Gelato at Alberto Gelateria was highly recommended and did not disappoint. I had chocolate pistachio and it was so yummy! We had dinner at Il Porticciolo which is family owned and felt really special in addition to their selection of incredibly fresh seafood made it a delicious and wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it!

TUSCANY

Next we headed into the tuscan hills and to be honest, I didn’t book our hotel until the day of because I couldn’t decide how far we would feel like traveling. My vision of Tuscany was super duper relaxing in the beautiful, serene hills surrounded by olive and cyprus trees so that exactly what we did at Villa Vignmaggio. A place I’d love to go again… especially to photograph a wedding! I felt like my heart was living on the outside of my body in Tuscany…. with my deepest feelings surfacing. I cannot imagine saying “I do” in such a place and I’m still blown away at the magic and capability such peaceful and serene places have on the human body. We were one of very few guests a the Villa (many were still closed and preparing to open for the season). We ate dinner in a very private atmosphere which ended up being our favorite meal of the entire trip. The pasta, meats, cheeses, olive oil, and bread were all made from their own land right on the property and it completely blew us away. I’d go back to Tuscany ever year (and specifically this Villa) for a relaxing vacation filled with the most amazing food selections. YUM!

FLORENCE

We worked a lot in Florence (and I can’t wait to share that with you soon!!!) but we also had a little bit of time to explore and my favorite places to visit were the Ponte Vecchio (viewing it from the first bridge over) which was only a few minutes walking from our Airbnb and the Duomo. We had a shoot at sunrise one morning and seeing the city at sunrise without the flocks of tourists was a real treat! I also really enjoyed walking around Florence at night, it felt so lively and fun! Just like in Rome, my absolutely favorite thing to do in Florence was to just get lost in the little streets and shops!

This concludes our travel photos from Italy. Seeing all of God’s beauty in new places is truly a special experience and I’m beyond thankful for this trip to Italy.<3

Hannah, Alex & baby S

Hannah & Alex are two of the most light-hearted souls and I could not be more excited for the two of them as they prepare to welcome their baby boy into the world at the beginning of May!

H&A also have hearts of gold and met white serving as EMT’s (I know this bc I had the honor of second shooting their wedding, cue all of the tears). Alex is in grad school and I’d never be able to tell you in a million years what it’s for because its way over my head. The footprint they’ve laid down for the son, is a big one to fill, but I have without a doubt, he’ll shine bright, just like his parents do!<3 I can’t wait to meet you little one!

Hannah’s incredible hair and makeup by the ever-so-lovely and talented See Jane Blush!

Italy Part I - Rome

I was going to do one big blog post until I realized I had a million photos of Rome (in addition to the other places we visited as well) so I decided to do Italy Part I and Part II.

I’m writing these blog posts in response to a ton of DM’s (legitimately) I received on Instagram with fellow brides (and more!) traveling to Italy this summer (wahoo)!! I could not be more excited for you — and if that’s not you, just keep this in your back pocket because if you haven’t been, I recommend adding it to your bucket list of places to visit!

We flew in/out of Rome and we ended up spending the most time in Rome as a whole compared to all of the other places we visited. I was really excited about the entire trip in general but I have to be honest, Rome took my by surprise. I knew Rome was going to be beautiful but I’m so glad we had time there to explore, see all of the beauty, and see things more than once with a couple of afternoon naps in between because #JETLAG.

My top recommendations in Rome include: all of the “BIG” things; Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps (were a little underwhelming for me because tourists covered the steps), Vatican City, Colosseum (at sunrise is a HUGE bonus and a friend of mine told me night is pretty too!). Be prepared to be swarmed by TONS of tourists in these locations but still worth seeing. Rome has uber which was a bonus when we were racing to the Colosseum at sunrise, but other than that we walked everywhere which was super easy and really fun!

One of my all time favorite things to do in Rome was to just get lost in the side streets (you’ll see below!), walk into cute little shops, and eat gelato as much as possible. My friend told me the best advice ever; the more brown the pistachio looks, the better (less green)!

My favorite neighborhood was Trastevere. The streets are so so cute and the vibe is so lively. We stumbled upon Trattoria Il Ponentino with hungry bellies and enjoyed the pear pizza among many things which were all incredible. We capped off each meal with espresso like true Italians.

Other food recommendations include Pierluigi and Giulia (nothing fancy but felt like the best homemade Italian meal and service). I swear we didn’t have one bad meal in Rome but my biggest piece of advice for eating is not eating in the touristy areas where there are tons of restaurants! You’ll get more authentic food outside of those areas!

On our last day, we stopped at the Pittsburgh Steelers Bar and felt right at home. The owner knows so much about PIttsburgh which made conversation easy and was a cool place to meet fellow travelers from home!

We stayed at Little Queen Navona and Little Queen Pantheon and would highly recommend both places and would rate 10/10 for safety, location, comfort, cleanliness and service and would easily stay there again!

Fair warning — there are about 100 pics (99 to be exact). The last photo was the VERY last photo left on my last film roll of the trip at St. Peter’s Basilica and one of my favs!