Top 5 Favorite Trips – #3 Tour of Italy
#3 on the countdown of our personal favorite vacations is our Mento family vacation to Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice in 2012. My father’s side of the family is Italian and we talked about taking a trip to Italy together for years. After some hesitation, my parents finally committed after seeing the amazing itinerary Brian put together for us. They also felt an added layer of comfort knowing their son-in-law would be taking care of all the logistical details personally while we were there. So off we went!
The very first day in Rome my dad felt right at home when a local walked up to him in the street and started talking to him in Italian, assuming he was one of them. Right then and there, we knew we were in for an amazing trip!
Every night before we went out to dinner, we uncorked a couple bottles of red wine and sat around talking about the day. Some nights we stayed in at the hotel, but one night we took our bottles and sat on a bridge. Another local stopped while we were sitting on a enjoying our wine and insisted on taking a picture of us. It’s one of our favorite photos of the entire trip!
Brian took care of all the must-see sights and tours, including Palentine Hill, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and a hop-on hop-off tour to help us get from place to place without endless miles of walking.
The location of our hotel in Rome is pretty perfect, and it’s a hotel Brian uses for almost everyone we send to Rome. Centrally located just a 10-15 min walk to many major sites, and on a quiet side street that barely fits a taxi cab.
Our rooms in Florence were located right next to one another, and both rooms were upgrade to 2-story suites with incredible 15+ft high floor to ceiling windows. Simply amazing! The extra hotel space was perfect for our nightly wine tastings before dinner.
Friends of ours told us about the restaurant Acqua al 2, it was one of our favorite dinners of the trip. This was probably the only dinner where we weren’t seated right away, but the owner brought wine to us outside as we waited. Fast forward and the pasta sampler and blueberry steak were our most memorable plates from that night.
A climb to the top of il Duomo, seeing The David in person were also highlights from Florence.
From Florence we headed for our last stop, Venice! Brian has sent many people to Venice and by far the easiest way in and out is to book a private water taxi ahead of time. Our guide was there to pick us up right at the train station and ushered us through the chaos straight to our water taxi. And it wasn’t just a taxi to our hotel, it was like our own private tour along the way!
The last few days in Venice were spent walking, window shopping, eating and drinking. My parent’s planned an afternoon private boat ride throughout the city, it was so fun to take in all the views from the water! Brian was also excited to find a restaurant he read about that was pretty far off the tourist path, Paolos, and it did not disappoint. I can’t quite remember what we ordered, but I’m 99% sure it was pasta.
Of course we went on gondola rides, but we found it more entertaining to watch them go by from our hotel windows. Venice is a people-watchers’ dream! The city itself is so beautiful we found ourselves walking around for hours taking picture after picture of the city’s beauty.
Overall, the food in Italy is probably our favorite of any trip we’ve taken. We never got tired of fresh homemade pasta and wine. I came home and immediately started working on perfecting homemade gnocchi and carbonara. Between the simplicity of olive oil and bread with every dinner, deli sandwiches for lunch and whatever appetizer looked appealing each night, I don’t think there was a single meal that disappointed us. After all, so much of vacation is about the food, and in Italy it’s almost impossible to go wrong.
Check out our other Top 5 Favorite Trips!
Contact us today to book your own trip which is sure to make it to your top 5 favorite vacation list!