This week is a flurry of activity as my husband Nick and I prepare to return to Italy.
We're celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and imminent arrival of our second child, so it only seems natural to return to the last location I traveled while pregnant with my first. While our last Italian trip involved my sister Jenny and cousin Amber where we attended the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference in Umbria, followed by a stint in Positano, this trip is quite different. This time we're bringing along our good friends Kristal and Gary (Kristal came to Vienna and Prague with us in 2010).
Kristal and Gary just happen to be pregnant with their first child. And get this: Kristal and I have the same due date! Our husbands like to call this "Pregnancy by Committee" as we planned our autumn trip to Italy in the spring and the guys said, "Wouldn't it be great if the girls were both pregnant?" We obviously couldn't have planned this if we had tried! Funny thing is, I'll be 21-22 weeks pregnant at the time of travel (perfect timing - read my article on jet setting while pregnant here) and I was exactly 22 weeks when I was pregnant in Italy last time. Not ideal for wine tasting, but I make it work!
So, would you like to know what's on our agenda? It's a bit of a whirlwind adventure as we only have 10 days to spend there (we can't bear to be away from our precious 2-year-old daughter Elinor any longer than that!). We are revisiting some old favorites as well as adding a multitude of new sites for us. Kristal and Gary are new to Italy, but this is my fourth trip and Nick's third. I've been to Venice before but not Nick. None of us have seen Verona or Lake Garda. Nick and I have been to Tuscany and have explored Florence, Chianti and Pisa before, but we've never done Siena or the Val D'Orcia (although we have been east of there in Umbria, obviously). We've never been to Liguria and the Cinque Terre. And we're ending in an old favorite: Rome.
Here's our day-by-day breakdown:
Day 1 - International Travel
Day 2 - VENICE - Fly into Venice, 1 day and night to explore
Day 3 - VERONA/LAKE GARDA/TUSCANY - Pick up our rental car and drive west to Verona for lunch, continue on to Lake Garda (Italy's largest lake) for some Alpine views and wine tasting (Don't worry, Kristal and I will be spitting). Drive south to Tuscany to drop Kristal and Gary off in Florence for their 3 days alone, Nick and I continue further south to the Val D'Orcia for a romantic 3-night stay at the opulent Hotel Monteverdi (owned by our friends, the Cioffi family)
Day 4 - TUSCANY - Kristal and Gary explore Florence, Nick and I do a scenic drive of Val D'Orcia, including Pienza, Montalcino and some wineries
Day 5 - TUSCANY- Kristal and Gary explore Pisa and Chianti, Nick and I explore Siena and Montepulciano
Day 6 - TUSCANY/CINQUE TERRE - Nick and I depart Monteverdi to pick up Kristal and Gary in Florence and drive west to some wineries outside of Pisa. We then continue onto Liguria and the Cinque Terre where we drop off our rental car for 3 nights in Riomaggiore
Day 7 - CINQUE TERRE - Explore Riomaggiore, hike Blue Path to Manarola, train to Monterosso al Mare to explore and take a sunset boat cruise
Day 8 - CINQUE TERRE - Explore Corniglia, Blue Path hike to Vernazza, train to beaches in Levanto
Day 9 - CINQUE TERRE/ROME - Train to Rome, walk around
Day 10 - ROME - Tour St. Callixtus Catacombs, walk by the ancient Roman sites, eat and shop!
Day 11 - Depart for home
What am I most excited about? Probably a sunset cruise through the Cinque Terre and enjoying the cypress-studded views of Mount Amiata from Hotel Monteverdi.
Warning: prepare to be inundated with my instagram photos, Facebook photos, Twitter shout-outs and Foursquare check-ins as I attempt to bring you along on our journey.
Buon Viaggio! (Can I say that to myself? Hmm, I need to practice my Italian)
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