Europe Adventure Part 3: Italy

Europe Adventure Part 3: Italy

The final stop on our European adventure was Italy! I was very much excited about Ireland and Switzerland, but was most looking forward to our experience in Italy. It was made even more special by the fact that my parents and Nick's mom and her cousin joined us! When we stepped out into the streets of Florence, Nick and I were nervous that we had made a mistake - we were coming from the peace and quiet of the breathtaking mountains of Switzerland to the hustle and bustle of Florence with people literally everywhere. Thankfully it didn't take us long to get adjusted and settled in - but we still laugh about how we looked at each other thinking "what have we done?!"
Our first night in Florence we ate at Trattoria ZaZa on the recommendation of two separate friends who studied abroad in Florence. They certainly did not steer us wrong and it was the perfect way to kick off a series of incredible meals in Italy! I was somewhat adventurous and ordered the pasta with a wild boar sauce for my first course and it was really good! We were pleasantly surprised by the food prices, especially having just come from Switzerland.
Our first full day in Italy was spent wine tasting at local family wineries in the hills of Tuscany, and it doesn't get much better than that friends. Anna from Cool Tours by Anna drove us all around and picked out fantastic wineries. We visited I Balzini, Sant'Agnese Farm, and Querceto di Castellina. Each one of them was different, but we had an amazing experience at all three. We were served lunch at Sant'Agnese and the meal was absolutely incredible. The family that owns the winery was in the back making the meal and I felt like I was in a movie. We had a ton of great adventures in Italy, but if I had to choose my favorite day it would be this one.

The next day we took it easy in the morning and then climbed to the top of the Duomo in the afternoon. There were beautiful views of the city to take in. That evening we went to a pizza and gelato making cooking class - this was my activity that I was in charge of, and thank goodness everyone enjoyed it! We had entertaining instructors and they showed us how to make everything and sent us home with the recipes. No recreations have been made yet here in the states, but maybe sometime soon!

That Monday we took a day trip to the villages of the Cinque Terre on the coast. The weather was beautiful and we took in all of the pretty sites on the water. And of course ate gelato (a daily occurrence). That night we had an incredible meal at Osteria del Enoteca. It had been recommended to us by a friend of my dad's and I was wishing we had a chance to go back again. I had a three tomato spaghetti (sounds simple but it was anything but) and sausage stuffed quail which was ten times better than I thought it was going to be. My dad and Nick tried the rabbit pasta and both claim that was their favorite dish of the entire trip - so it must have been good!
Our last day we rented a car on a whim to drive to the hill town of San Gimignano. I wasn't so sure about that decision when we were in the middle of Florence traffic - I do not recommend renting a car at all. But once we were on the open roads headed to San Gimignano I was feeling much better about the whole thing. We found a lunch spot with a view and enjoyed charcuterie and wine. We explored for a while and were thankful we decided to be spontaneous! We rounded out the trip with a group dinner before all parting ways on Wednesday.
We had an amazing 16 days exploring Ireland, Switzerland, and Italy, and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do this trip! Now, is it time to go back yet?

Rolling hills in the wine country of Tuscany, Italy

Wine tasting setup at Il Balzini Family Winery in Tuscany, ItalyLunch table setup at Sant'Agnese Farm Family Winery in Tuscany, ItalyBeautiful scenery at Querceto di Castellina winery in Tuscany, ItalyScenery at I Balzini winery in Tuscany, Italy

Group picture at Querceto di Castellina winery in Tuscany, Italy

Beautiful Tuscan farmhouse at Querceto di Castellina family winery in Tuscany, Italy

Duomo Cathedral in Florence, ItalyTop of the Duomo Cathedral in Florence, ItalySelfie in front of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, ItalyPizza and gelato cooking class in Florence, ItalyBeautiful views in the towns of Cinque Terre on the coast of ItalyBeautiful views in the towns of Cinque Terre on the coast of ItalyCharcuterie and wine in the hill town of San Gimignano, ItalyTaking in the views in the hill town of San Gimignano, ItalyThe beautiful hill town of San Gimignano, Italy

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