Oh Italy… It was love at first sight 🙂
There’s no way to describe the incredible feeling of driving through the Swiss Alps, the Italian Alps, and into Genoa… From the crisp mountain air and incredible majestic mountain ranges of Switzerland, we ooohed and ahhhed at every turn. Literally, it was so hard to want to take your eyes away from the beauty. Then coming into northern Italy and landing in Genoa was like a warm homecoming to a place that felt like home, even though we’d just arrived. The picture above captures a beautiful sunset night we spent at the fun, family restaurant that we stumbled upon while adventuring – The Bagni Medusa. We ate dinner here overlooking the ocean, while a huge fun group of local Italian’s celebrated their father’s 60th birthday 🙂
We stayed in a beautiful one-bedroom apartment on the hillside of the small town of Nervi. From our balcony we could look out over the ocean to the expansive views of the Italian coastline. AirBnB’s have truly made our travel experience so incredible – getting to stay in places where hotels wouldn’t get enough traffic, and experience much more life as a local.
We spent our days wandering through the old town, with the smell of fresh honeysuckles blooming everywhere, and taking long walks along the rocky beach side cliffs. As we made our way along Italian coastline, we felt peacefully at home. Even though we’ve traveled so far, we’re reminded of the northern California coastline of home.
And… after many patient months, we finally got to try out our first taste Italian pastas! And they did not disappoint. Teal ordered a large lasagne noodle pesto dish with fresh vegetables that was so savory and delicious ❤
After a few days in Nervi & Genoa, we continued down the coastline in search of finding some of Spence’s old family roots. Spencer’s father’s family lineage originates from a small Italian fishing village called Zoagli. In the 1860’s, they left the area and immigrated to New Jersey. We were so excited when our sunny driving along the rugged coastline brought us to his historic family homeland! He fits right in! 😉
After hitting our $100 ticket for going the wrong way on the toll road, we we’re both ready for a bit of a break. We decided to pull over in a beautiful beach village and get our first Italian pizza of the trip – which made Spence a happy camper 🙂
Continuing our journey, we pulled away from the coast and headed inland to the heart of historic art and architecture… Florenzia!
We stayed in a little airBnB studio in the central part of the hustle bustle of the city. Walking out our front door, we were instantly immersed in endless restaurants, shops, museums, and the famous River Arno. During the days, we wandered our way through the cobble stone streets, soaking up the beautiful sights, connecting with locals and immersing ourselves in the art & architecture.
Below is the iconic Duomo in the heart of the city – According to the museum of Florence:
“The cathedral’s octagonal dome was erected between 1418 and 1434 to a design which Filippo Brunelleschi entered in a competition in 1418… A masterpiece capable of withstanding lightning, earthquakes and the passage of time, it continues to enchant all those who observe it from afar.
“Brunelleschi’s astonishingly innovative approach involved vaulting the dome space without any scaffolding by using a double shell with a space in between. The inner shell is made of light bricks set in a herringbone pattern and is the self-supporting structural element while the outer dome simply serves as a heavier, wind-resistant covering.” Pretty incredible construction for happening so long ago!
And the famous Cathedral De Santa Maria. Unfortunately we did not choose to go into these buildings because we were visiting in the peak of tourist season in the heat of the summer, but we admired from afar.
In the evenings, we liked to get above the crowds and see the city from the rooftops. There is a building ordinance that doesn’t allow any building to be higher than the Duomo – so the entire city is only 3 stories tall. Luckily, we found some beautiful rooftop bars like “il Crocodrilo”that let us enjoy Florence from a whole new perspective.
Our favorite part of Florence though, besides seeing the art and architecture was… of course… the food! Florence is known for their Florentine Steak – a special preparation and presentation that we could only experience in the best way possible – at the Michelin star restaurant: Buca Mario!
Located underground and usually packed with a line around the corner, we lucked out and scored a table early in the evening where we were greeted by lively charismatic waiters dressed in suits and treated to high class Italian service. The florentine steak is the largest piece of meat you’ll ever find – served for 2 people to share, and only served rare. It is carefully marbled and seared on a grill and then sliced before you at the table. Top it off with some Chianti Tuscany wine, olive oil, and fresh asparagus, and we were in heaven.
We ended our warm summer nights grabbing fresh gelato and sitting underneath the beautiful sculptures in the town squares, people watching and soaking up the lively nightlife ❤
From Florence, we headed even further into the countryside to experience true Tuscany for ourselves. Teal collecting some fresh olives along the drive.
We arrived in our Tuscan villa in the most stunning location we could have ever imagined. We were greeted warmly by our hosts – Gabriella and her father and were treated like family instantly.
From our room you could hear tower church bells ringing, and the sweet serenade of birds in the trees. It was exactly what we could have ever imagined Tuscany to be like.
We spent the evening enjoying a bottle of home made wine on the balcony with our new friend (another guest from California!) and soaking up the beautiful views of the rolling vineyards and small villages.
That night, Gabriella offered to cook for us – a homemade dinner in her private tower balcony – which of course we could NOT pass up! Putting on her chef’s hat, she provided us the most elaborate 5 course meal we could have ever asked for. While looking out over the gorgeous views from the tower.
Sadly, as quickly as it had arrived, our time had come to an end – and we were on to our next destination. But we will definitely be coming back to Tuscany to visit our new family friends and soak up more of this tranquil, historic, beautiful land ❤