This past September 2019, I was blessed with the opportunity to journey through Northern Italy for almost a month. The experiences were a dream, as my mom and I cultivated our very own slow food tour. Besides missing a few days here and there, I tried to film most of the trip purely to look back on the memories. As my mom and I reflected back on our previous trips to Italy, we came up with a few highlights of Autumn in Italy.
We hope that these highlights will help you plan the BEST Italy vacation of your very own! Most of these highlights are things that we wish we had known in the past…
A Few Tips to Easy & Cheap Travel:
- Fly within Europe on RyanAir; however, book at least six weeks in advance.
For example, if you plan on traveling from Rome, Italy to Paris, France, then I truly recommend flying on RyanAir. Typically, it should only cost you about $40 roundtrip! They are very similar to Frontier in the United States. Keep in mind though that their seats do get quickly booked by the Europeans themselves and/or the prices begin escalating once it gets within six weeks of your travel date.
- Travel within Italy on the Frecciarossa Train
Easily book your train tickets on Trenitalia or simply purchase them at your time of departure. However, if you are certain on your travel dates/time, then it will be cheaper to book the train tickets in advance. The Frecciarossa is high-speed train that you will get you to almost any city in Italy within a good time frame and yes, it is safe!
- Rent a Car to Explore Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany, Italy is beautifully landscaped with rolling valleys, wheat fields, and generation-old farms. And I can’t even begin to describe the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. It truly is a place to slow down for ultimate relaxation, and a time to enjoy the wonders of traditional, down-home cooking. Although the ‘major’ cities in Tuscany may be 20-30 minutes apart, they are completely worth the rental of a car to explore each individual town that is packed with its own history and adventures.
Where to Eat?
This is a loaded question, because Italy is full of surprises. From my personal experience, I’ve noted three most common types of restaurants: ristorante, osterias, and trattorias.
What is the difference?
Trattorias tend to be less formal, more focused on serving traditional Italian-style food in decent-sized portions. This is our go-to when searching for a place to eat.
Ristorante is typically a full-service restaurant, meaning a host or hostess will be seating you. According to our friends that live in Italy, they’ve always recommended my family to stray away from ‘ristorante.’ They’ve claimed them to be more Americanized with a lower quality in food and higher price ranges. Although our few cases in the past years that we’ve gone to a ‘ristorante’ have proved this claim accurate, there are other times where we have received appetizing food. So, I always say use your gut-instinct in these cases.
Osterias are another tricky case. Traditionally, they are wine bars that have served simple meals without menus, simply based on the chef’s inspiration for the day. However, every ‘osteria’ that my family and I have eaten at served high-quality, upscale food that was phenomenal! You’re usually seated at a long table with multiple parties to a table (GREAT for conversations with individuals from around the world!) and often given a menu that was curated by the chef specifically for the evening.
A few noteworthy, hands-down delicious places (that we have remembered) that was of the highest quality and a lively atmosphere are listed below (they are in different areas).
- La Taverna di San Giuseppe (Siena, Italy)
- Restaurant Stadele (Lana, Italy)
- L’ Incontro [Cash only – Best for Pastries, Orange Juice, Cappuccinos] (Volterra, Italy)
- Juice Bar Albero Cafe (Florence, Italy)
- Podere il Casale (Pienza, Italy)
Where to Stay?
Similar to finding a place to eat, there is the need to find an authentic place to stay. If you have a sense for adventure and truly want to experience the Italian countryside, then here is a impacting tip that we’ve learned over the years…
- Bed and breakfast hotels that often reside on an active farm (whether it may be a wheat farm, olive farm, grape farm, etc.) often use the term ‘Agriturismo‘ before the actual name of their farm. You will have the opportunity to experience that part of Italy like a local! You’ll often see farmers hard at work during the day and hear the laughter of families at night. More often than not, our favorite place to stay is agriturismi… more bang for your buck!
A few more noteworthy places to stay (that have a phenomenal breakfast) include:
- Villa Vignamaggio (Chianti, Italy)
- La Casa Di Adelina (Monticchiello, Italy)
- 1477 Reichhalter Eat & Sleep (Lana, Italy)
- Cascina San Vito (Turin, Italy)
However, as you can see above, there are many fabulous places to stay that do not contain the term ‘agriturismo.’ So, once again, truly analyze each property using your gut-instinct.
Italy truly offers an amazing experience that will inspire you and give you the chance to see God’s beautiful creation. I hope that y’all find these tips helpful. Although I could write on for ages, I believe it’s best to leave it here for now.
Enjoy a few fun videos capturing our most recent trip below…
Here is a fun, short highlight video:
Now, to the longer videos… LOL
Below are parts of our journey that I managed to film…
’till next time! xxL