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Six months out from our wedding, we were yet to still decide on our honeymoon destination. Luckily the destination was chosen for us when I was the winner of 2 Etihad tickets to either Rome or Milan at the annual Helloworld For Business- I honestly couldn’t believe it!
The outbound flights were surprisingly empty, which meant we each had four seats to ourselves so that we could lay down and get sleep on the 14 hours to Abu Dhabi, with a 3-hour connection onto Rome. The return flights were completely full. The Abu Dhabi – Sydney flight was very uncomfortable being so full, there were fifty kids on the flight, it was like a flying day-care, so we got very little sleep on the way home. On arrival into Sydney it took over an hour for our bags to come out, I’ve never waited this long for luggage, but understandable with a full A380, and families of 8+ travelling with 15 bags.
I stayed at the Colonna Palace nine years ago due to its location and the roof top terrace where breakfast is served it each morning. The hotel was slightly dated back then, and nothing has been updated in nine years. This hotel is located right at the Italian Parliament, so there was plenty of security for those who are nervous travellers. From the hotel you can walk everywhere!
The Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Altare della Patro, Pantheon are all within 500 meters- in all different directions and the Colosseum along with the Roman Forum is just over 1km away- this is ideal! It means no need for taxi’s or even the hop on hop off bus as you can wander around for hours.
We decided to do our own day trip to Pompeii instead of a tour. We booked the fast train from Rome to Naples- this train takes just over 1 hour (in comparison to the 3-hour bus ride) and has 1st and 2nd class. 1st includes a coffee, water and snack in the comfort of your large recliner chair. In Naples there is a separate train which can’t be booked online that takes you to Pompeii, this is the same train line that continues to Sorrento. On arrival into Pompeii we were able to jump onto a small tour of fifteen people for 13EUR with a guide to take us around Pompeii and take in the scenery with Mt Vesuvius in the background.
When you start to walk through the historical city of Pompeii it’s hard to comprehend, but you can visualise how this place was a vibrant Roman city that in 79AD unexpectedly was buried under a thick layer of ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Under the ash the city was preserved for 1000 years, until explorers rediscovered the site and found most to be intact. Buildings, artefacts and those who lost their lives that day however many of these artefacts are now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, so allow time to visit there too.
We ended our day with a sensational lunch, what else but pizza and pasta then back on the train to Rome- such a great day!!
Venice hotels can be very expensive especially when on the Grand Canal and depending on how you arrive (by plane or train) transfers by boat need to be added.
We arrived by train and our hotel, Hotel Principe, was within walking distance from the train station and on the Grand Canal- in my opinion a perfect location. I had booked a standard lead in room, however on arrival we upgraded for 60EUR per night to a superior balcony room. We were not disappointed at all with this hotel and room. The hotel itself is very elegant as you would only imagine in Venice, the restaurant for breakfast is on the canal.
Our days were spent walking, getting lost in little lanes and finding gorgeous little places for coffee. We lunched by the famous Rialto Bridge and finished our afternoon at St Mark’s Square, home to the stunning St Marks Basilica & Doge’s Palace, known for its grand design, very gothic, but with gold ground mosaics. Make sure you get there early as the lines can get very long!
There are many areas around Venice where you can take a Gondola ride, prices start from $80EUR for 1 hour. For $20EUR there are daily boats tours to Murano, Burano & Torcello- famous for glassmaking factories, a colourful fishing village and where Venetian Lace is made.
This was my second visit to this romantic city and I loved it even more this time, maybe because I was there with my love.
On arrival into Sienna, we picked up a car for our stay in Sienna to explore Tuscany at our own leisure over the next 3 days. Of all the Medieval cities I’ve visited, Sienna would have to be one of my favourites. The walled town has the spectacular Cathedral and the Piazza Del Campo is full of life all day and night.
I did a lot of research on where to stay, we wanted somewhere rustic, traditional, close to Sienna but far enough away to enjoy the countryside. Frances Lodge was the perfect choice and made our time in this region so special. Owned by Frances and Franco for 50+ years, they greet you on arrival and wave you goodbye when you must, sadly, leave.
The property has six individually themed rooms, at the time of booking the only room left was the Roses Room- everything from the bed cover, the curtains and the wall hangings were pink roses, very funny but gorgeous. Our view from the room is over the exquisite gardens out over the rolling hills for miles. Breakfast was our favourite time of the day here. Each night we put our breakfast request under the door, we could choose freshly squeezed juice, tea, coffee, pancakes, eggs, croissants or one of each, all homemade and cooked ready for our allotted time. The food was AMAZING!
Each morning Frances would bake a happy cake where everyone gets a piece to take away…the flavours were delicious from almond to lemon and anything else you could ask for….YUM!
Over Breakfast Franco would come and discuss our days and map out exactly what we should do and see.
Our stay here was an experience Franco and Frances are there to answer any question and to ensure your stay is wonderful.
As a wedding gift from Reho, we were given a 2-hour photo shoot in Florence booked with Travelshoot. This was our only opportunity to visit Florence and we are so thankful for this gift to give us a different way to spend an afternoon/night in this beautiful renaissance city.
Meeting at the Santa Trinita Bridge, we spent our time along the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio Bridge learning the history and finding cute little alleys to take photos. So often I return from a holiday and the only photos I have are all selfies, having done this photoshoot we have wonderful professional photos and memories that we will have forever.
After a quick photo with the Leaning Tower of Pisa we were off to Cinque Terre.
We wanted a special hotel for our stay in Cinque Terre, Hotel Porto Roca- Monterosso was great, but be prepared for long walks.
This hotel is situated right on top of a cliff looking down over Monterosso. There are some rooms without a view, however request anything with a Sea View which have balconies and unobstructed views over the Mediterranean.
We weren’t there to trek, so looked out of place hopping off the train without hiking boots and poles!
Cinque Terre is made up for five coastal villages- Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso where we were located.
With such good weather the ferry was still running at that time of year, so we spent one day on the ferry visiting a couple of the villages along with one additional Porto Venere which was such a hidden gem.
The Ferry ride is approximately an hour and you can buy a ticket and hop on/off all day. The train ride between each village is approximately 2-3 minutes and again very easy to visit somewhere different for lunch and dinner. We had planned to do one of the walks -Lovers Lane between Riomaggiore and Manarola which is approximately 1km but unfortunately there was a landslide some time ago and is closed for walks.
Cinque Terre is a magical place for all different travellers and a must visit.
We finished our Italian honeymoon with an overnight in Como, staying at the Palace Hotel. The hotel is opulent but with the all the mod cons.
It describes itself as Two Styles, One Soul.
The Palace Hotel is in a fantastic location right on Lake Como, within walking distance to the city centre.
We took the Funicular Railway from Como up to Brunate, this gave panoramic views of Como and beyond, stunning.
We bought a ticket on the fast ferry that makes it way up the lake, passing luxurious villages with the Alpine backdrop all the way to Bellagio where we stopped for lunch.
October was a great time to travel in Italy. The weather was warm, nights crisp but bearable with a jacket and without the big crowds like you get in June-September so we didn’t have to queue for hours. Availability for trains was good, I would just recommend booking as early as possible, as some of the hotels were busy.
Italy was PERFECT in every way for our honeymoon. Romantic, great weather, sensational food, as much or as little to see as you want, good wine, scenery and a place we both loved and enjoyed it together as the new Mr & Mrs Williams.