We’re back! Things have been absolutely crazy for us. We wrapped up 2019 with the opening of two new Cafe Lolas, the holidays, and some big ideas for 2020. After a crazy end to 2019 we knew we wanted to start the year off with an adventure, so off to Italy, Portugal and London we went! Here are our picks for the best places to go, eat, and play at our first stop. Andiamo, Italia!
Our journey from Las Vegas to Rome was pretty quick and uneventful. We had a short layover in Philadelphia which luckily went by pretty quickly. It is kind of nice having a break in the flight to get off of the plane, get some fresh non-airplane air and stretch your legs. We arrived in Rome early in the morning and took the train directly into the city from the airport. We had less than 24 hours in Rome so we only have a few recommendations here.
This hotel was gorgeous! The staff was so friendly from the moment we walked in. It is located less than a mile from The Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and The Colosseum and overlooks a beautiful piazza. The rooms were super spacious and bathrooms felt luxurious with marble everywhere and huge countertops (we think this is a huge plus in hotels)! We also grabbed coffee and croissants in the lobby the morning we checked out and they were the best ones we had on the trip! Bonus: They had bathtubs which was a god send so we could bathe the babies after a long day of travel. Sophie and Margaux definitely appreciated this.
Il Vero Alfredo: Honestly we could not recommend this place more. Alex had been here before and told us to was a must and she was absolutely right! After we dropped our bags off at the hotel we hit the town. We walked from the hotel to the Trevi Fountain and then made a stop at Il Vero Alfredo. From the moment you walk in you know this place has a lot of history. This spot was the birth of Fettuccine Alfredo and has been serving this dish since 1908. Pictures of celebrities, politicians, and more line the walls. Obviously we all ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo and some other dishes. Everything was tasty and fresh but of course the star of the meal was the Fettuccine.
After our meal we walked to the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon and grabbed some gelato!
Our next day in Rome we had a morning train ride to Florence. We woke up early and took an uber to see the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Square. It was worth the early morning wake up call to see Rome before the crowds.
Tips for Rome:
+ We definitely wish we spent more time in Rome. We have heard at least 3 days is the minimum.
+ Walk everywhere! We took one full day just exploring and we found the cutest side streets.
+ Wake up early to avoid the crowds! We woke up early to snap some photos near the Colosseum and it was SO worth it.
Next we were off to Florence!
Hotel: Sina Villa Medici 🌟🌟🌟
We had a good time staying at this hotel but weren’t in love and would likely choose another on our next trip. It was cute and each room had old school keys which gave it a quaint feel. It also had a really pretty courtyard that was peaceful. Overall the rooms were nice but the beds were not comfortable and bathrooms were not our favorites.
After saying that, we LOVED Florence. It is such a beautiful place and we loved wandering around the city and exploring. The city is extremely walkable and it feels like we took so much in during the 3 days we were there. We had lots of late night dinners here, wine, and laughs.
Angel Rooftop Bar: This place is located in Hotel Calimala which is in the heart of the city. We went straight here after arriving via train and it was a great intro to Florence. Although the food was just decent and leaned more Mediterranean than Italian this place is worth a visit because of the views. We had complete panoramic views of the entire city. It was a great place to have a slow lunch, drink, and just enjoy the views. Sidenote – this place had the cutest black, pink and white bathrooms!
J.K. Lounge: We stopped by this spot as we were exploring the city on day one. Steve had been here before and loved the vibe. It overlooks the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella and has almost a 50s flare to it. The lounge is super comfy and sophisticated with fireplaces and cush couches. We ordered a bottle of wine and they brought out the most delicious olives and parmesan cheese to snack on. They also bring over these amazing cold soups (almost like a dip). We only enjoyed the lounge but would love to go back to enjoy the restaurant one day. And we must give them a HUGE shoutout! They were so unbelievably amazing to the kids. They brought out toys for them and one of the hostesses even assisted with a difficult diaper change since they do not have changing tables. A mother’s dream!!
4Leoni: This trattoria is located in the center of the city as well. We saw this place on a lot of blogs when we were doing our research and put it on the list. It was worth the hype! This spot serves traditional Tuscan cuisine. We started our meal on the patio as we were waiting for a table inside and ordered some wine. We then moved inside and had a really delicious meal. The staff was super friendly, accommodated our group of 6 (+2 babies) and even offered some great suggestions off of the menu.
La Ménagère: This spot was really cute and gave us very farm-to-table vibes. The restaurant itself is a big space. The front is a cute little bistro/coffee shop and then they have a full service restaurant on the other side. We grabbed breakfast and coffee here. The food was good but overall it was the space that really impressed us. They also have a little gift shop in the middle of the restaurant that sells fresh florals.
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro: Another spot that Steve recommended! As you may have already been able to tell we drank a lot of wine and ate a lot in Florence. Il Borro was created by the Ferragamo family and is a restaurant and wine bar. We stopped here mid-day and enjoyed a bottle from their vineyard and some light bites. Would definitely recommend stopping by this spot for a glass!
O Munaciello Firenze: While we were at Il Borro we asked the staff there where the best pizza and pasta was in Florence and this was the spot they recommended. We loved the pizza here! It was more of a Neapolitan style pizza here but we loved that you could see the wood fire burning ovens. We also found out the building was an ancient 1600 convent.
The Cut Steakhouse: This is a special one for us. After carbo-loading at O Munaciello Firenze we were craving some meat but it was almost 11:00pm in Florence. We found this spot when we were looking up some options and it was closing at 11:30pm. We called and the owner let us know he had actually closed up early since it was a slower night. We started looking for other options but got a call about 5 minutes later from the owner who said if we could be there in 10 minutes he’d open back up for us. After a dash across one of the bridges we arrived and he opened the restaurant back up just for us!! He then cooked us a huge meal, selected wines for us, and sat down and chatted with us. Everything was so fresh and delicious. It was a meal we will never forget and showed us true Italian hospitality!
All’antico Vinaio: We stumbled past this spot on the second day we were in Florence. We were on our way to an overlook point and found this street that was lined with people eating sandwiches. They stood in the middle of the street and sat on curbs just eating. Curious we looked this place up and found it was an iconic staple in Florence and one of the top reviewed restaurants on Tripadvisor in the world. We came back the next morning to grab some sandwiches to take on our train ride and were sooo happy we did. The bread is super fresh. So fresh to the point that it is steaming when they cut it open. They mostly had pork based sandwiches and a few of us are vegetarians. We asked if they could accommodate and they replied, “Yes, but you have to trust us.” Hands down the best sandwiches we have ever had. We highly recommend stopping by this spot when you are in Florence.
Perche no!…: Gelato! This was our favorite gelato place in Florence. They had a wide range of flavors. Lin was even able to get a scoop of Matcha, her fav. Our group was big fans of the stracciatella and hazelnut.
La Milkeria: We stopped by this place on our last morning and it was super cute! The coffee wasn’t amazing but you know we are kind of coffee snobs (Café Lola lol) but their pastries were good and it was in a great location.
Tips for Florence:
+ Just Wander! We joke that we walked all of Florence but we really did. This place is magical. As Steve said the whole time, “Think about it: Davinci walked these streets”. The city felt super safe and we just wandered around and discovered cute spots and great bars. Make sure to bring comfy shoes.
+ The food here was the best we had so make sure to indulge! We would highly recommend all of the spots listed on here.
+ Fill your bags in Florence! The shopping in Florence was amazing. Their streets are lined with designer shops and cute boutiques. Make sure to visit Gucci Garden. They have one of a kind pieces unique to their store and it’s super cute inside. And stop by Valentino in the city center. We scored some matching Valentino bags and sneakers and this location has the ability to engrave initials on your sneakers! This was the best souvenir. We each got our initials on the left shoe and the initials of our daughters on the right.
+ We passed this little fruit stand/ grocery shop multiple times and finally stopped to grab a snack. One of our favorite memories is exploring while snacking on fresh fruit from this spot! Everything was so unbelievably fresh.
Off to Venice!
Hotel: St. Regis Venice 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟+🌟🌟
All of our stars are going to the St. Regis Venice. This was by far our FAVORITE hotel of the trip. The service, rooms, and food were all unbelievable. We honestly could not say enough about this spot. The hotel bar was a spot we frequented quite a lot. The view overlooks the grand canal and some of Venice’s most iconic landmarks. They also had amazing cocktails. If you follow along on our socials you saw that we discovered our new favorite drink: The Pink Spritz. They also sabre a champagne bottle every night so you better believe we were there for that! Other than the bar which was definitely a highlight, the service was absolutely unreal. We had both babies with us and they gave each of the girls stuffed animals, personalized welcome letters and perfectly made cribs for them. The rooms were very cozy and had the comfiest beds of the trip. Also worth noting that the bathrooms were extremely spacious which is always a plus when traveling in Europe. It’s also in a great location. Everything is very close in Venice as you can imagine but this is steps away from Piazza San Marco, St. Marks Basilica, great shops, and more. We would definitely go back to Venice just to visit this hotel!
Gran Caffé Quadri: One of the hotel staff recommended this spot to us so we headed here on our first morning in Venice. The weather was super nice so we grabbed a table outside and ordered coffee and some snacks here. It is right in Piazza San Marco so the setting is unreal and great to just relax and have a slow morning or afternoon while people watching. They had a band playing and the food was great! There was a fried veggie dish that everyone loved. Fair warning though the birds are super crazy here and will divebomb anything that is not covered. It is also really gorgeous inside; we just weren’t able to snag a table.
Amo: Another recommendation from a local. Amo was one of the highlights from Venice. It is located right by the Rialto Bridge, inside the courtyard of a luxury department store. It is decorated beautifully and has a super cool vibe. The food was really unique, fresh and delicious. They also had some great vegetarian options so make sure to give those a try. Dessert is a must here! Believe it or not they had probably the best gelato of the entire trip here.
Grom: When we were doing our research Grom came up as one of the top gelato spots on a lot of blogs. We were slightly skeptical because there were a lot of them around but we stopped here twice on our visit to Venice so that probably says it all!
Tips for Venice:
+ Venice with kids is hard! At least when your kids are in strollers. If you followed along you probably saw us lugging the stollers up and down stairs and bridges the entire time (but if not check it out on Alex’s Italy highlight). It is totally doable but just plan on getting a workout in and double your walking time lol.
+ We loved Venice during January. The only downside was that it is off season for them so a lot of restaurants were closed and it didn’t always say that on their website. But the streets were not busy and everything bad that we heard about Venice (overcrowded, the canals smell, etc) didn’t apply.
+ Don’t believe the hype! This can be said anywhere but one of our must visit spots was Harry’s Bar. This is the bar where bellinis were invented so we obviously needed to check it out and we were sadly disappointed. Our best advice is to ask the locals where to go especially in a place like Venice where it is one tourist trap after the other!
+ Explore without a plan! We are the type of group that loves to prepare and look up places to go but in Venice we kind of just went with the flow and recommendation of the locals. When we did explore we found gorgeous bridges, black and white movies playing on the sides of buildings, and more.
So that’s it! We will definitely be making the trip back to Italy one day especially to visit the southern cities. Let us know if you have any questions below!