Our longest stay in one country so far has been Italy. We went to Venice, Florence, Naples, Capri, Rome, Anzio. We are glad to have spent the longest amount of time here, because it was amazing! Italians, in our experience, are so friendly! Derik's favorite city was Naples because it "was grungy and felt "like a real Italian city with less tourists". My favorite was Venice because the canal views are absolutely stunning, not to mention the alleyways.

The food in Italy is to die for! We went to the pizza place from "Eat, Pray, Love" (Pizzeria da Michele) and it truly is another world experience when you take that first bite. Italian meatballs, ravioli, street pasta, cannolis, gelato, tiramisu.... we had THE BEST food here. Our favorites:
Tiramisu- I Tre Mercanti in Venice
Gelato- Punto Gelato in Rome
Pizza- Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples

We met our friend Alex from Austin in Italy, as she was traveling with her mom and meeting us after. It was fun making Italian memories with her. One of the most raw ways to get to know a person is to travel together. You see the good and the bad. The times of exhaustion and frustration and the times of laughter and food comas. We were squished on a bus in Rome multiple times, group-huddling next to a fan (because again, AC is a RARE luxury to find in Europe), getting lost in translation at gelaterias, groaning while walking miles in the heat, but also relaxing on the beach in Anzio, joking about pretending to be deaf when a panhandler tries to sell us something, marveling over the cuisine, singing with the crowd at kareoke, and reminiscing on adventures in Austin. We had good and the bad, but that's what makes a genuine friend: seeing both and loving the same. Alex is the best "third wheel" (not really) because she loves us both the same, goes with the flow, and never, ever let's anything be awkward. She is always herself and always true to us, and we love that about her.

A short synopsis of the cities we visited:

Venice: We walked for miles through Venice and never got tired of views. Each canal was more beautiful than the next. Being our first stop, we were floored by the food! We had planned to take a gondola ride but honestly, it didn't seem worth it. The cost was $80 for a 30 minute ride, so we just watched people come and go instead (still fun). We stayed in a camping hostel: a field of tent pods and cabins, with a store and restaurant. It was really fun and a lot cheaper than staying in the city. Also, the bus ran right outside of the hostel, taking us in and out of the city with ease.

Florence: We stopped here after many people marveled over its beauty. The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower was the most beautiful building I have seen throughout this trip (Derik still says the Prague Castle was his favorite). Florence has some of the best sunset views out of the entire trip. A lot of the buildings are yellow or white, so the sun just seems to glimmer off the buildings.

Naples: I wasn't sure what to think before arriving in Naples because we heard mixed reviews. Ultimately, I really wanted to get the 'Eat, Pray, Love' pizza, and all of the Naples reviews said this is the best city for food. They were right: the food was incredible! The city itself may not be "pretty", per say, to some, but the feel to the city was authentic. It felt like we were really in Italy, not just on vacation in a tourist town.

Capri- From Naples, we took a ferry to Capri to have a beach day- the first beach day of this entire trip! Capri is very touristy, full of shops and overpriced restaurants. The beach area was gorgeous- the water was so clear and we got there early enough to take a swim before all the tourists arrived. While it was so pretty, I would say realistically that Capri is a one-day stop due to the price of everything on the island and how crowded it gets in the afternoon.

Rome- We loved Rome! We went to St Peters Basilica, the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. The Sistine Chapel is one of those things you have to experience to understand- I was taken away by the beauty and serenity of it all. Derik's favorite building was the Pantheon. He literally laid on the marble entrance to soak in the amazement. The downsides of Rome: the heat in June and he crowds. When I mentioned being squished on a bus earlier, that was an everyday occurrence. When we stated on the side streets and alleyways, it wasn't as crowded, so we would recommend spending more time in those areas versus the touristy spots. Our airbnb was a tiny house on a side street that made us feel like locals.

Anzio- Another beach city, Anzio was not touristy at all, unlike Capri. Hardly anyone spoke English (though it wasn't hard to communicate) and the beach was pretty quiet. The restaurants were simple and not too expensive. Anzio was just a really pleasant and relaxing place. If you are going to Rome, make a day trip out to Anzio!


  1. Great read! Enjoyed the city by city breakdown. When you return to the states, you and derik should put together a slideshow presentation and invite everyone. I can bring refreshments! 😀

    1. Are you prepared for a 2 hour presentation? That's probably how long it would take to go through all the pictures 😂


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