Inspirational lifestyle blog

Our Italian Honeymoon

Before my husband and I had finalized or even started the wedding planning process, we booked and completely finalized our honeymoon details. I knew that after wedding planning, emails, phone calls, and to-do’s we would definitely need some time to enjoy the start of our marriage alone – no emails, no answers to any questions, no phone calls. Italy has always been on my list of destinations to visit, and when I shared it with my husband, he was all for it!

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of Italy. I wanted us to be able to experience all parts – the amazing food, wine, architecture and artwork.

The day after our wedding, we packed up everything in our hotel room, went down to the front desk of the hotel, gladly accepted the bottle of champagne from the hotel staff, and drove home to drop off my wedding gown, his tux, and a few other wedding details. We grabbed a quick breakfast and made our way to the airport. After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the O’Hare International parking lot, found a spot, and boarded a tram to the airport.

When we arrived at the airport and stepped off the escalator, we ran into our Norwegian relatives who had flown in for our wedding and were awaiting their flight back to Norway. What are the chances?! We talked for a while, made it through all the security checks, and found our gate.

PSA: I HIGHLY recommend traveling, especially traveling internationally, with one bag. I purchased two Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekender Carry on Backpacks for our seven-day trip, and it was the easiest traveling experience that we’ve ever had! You can fit a surprising amount of folded clothes, shoes, books, and extras, and the bag fits perfectly under your seat or overhead. {Here’s to saving someone from tripping over your roller bag} Also, roller bags + brick roads = no thank you.

We boarded our flight and prepared for our 10 ½ hour trip. We had a connecting flight in Dublin, but I was a bit concerned about the first plane ride being cramped, as it was the longer part of the trip, but that wasn’t an issue at all! We flew Aer Lingus and the seats that I chose for us were directly in front of the restrooms in a two-seater row and it was quite spacious. I watched Bob’s Burger’s, the fourth season of Downton Abbey, and played games on my personal screen that was located on the head rest of the seat in front of me. To start off our trip, we ordered bubbles and were ready to go!

When we arrived in Dublin, my phone said 5am. We found the gate that we would have to fly out of two hours later and decided to grab two double shots of espresso (my morning go-to.) There was a coffee shop near our gate that was packed, as well as a busy pub right across from it. As they say, “when in Rome!”…well, in this case, Dublin. We grabbed two double shots of espresso and two pints of beer until it was time to board our next flight.

We arrived at the Venezia (Venice) airport and found our way to the water taxis – and I was loving the warm breeze and sunny weather. During our entire trip, the highs were in the 70’s and the low’s in the 50’s, absolutely perfect. We boarded the water taxi and rode past beautiful old buildings that looked as if they had been transported out of a movie set. It was unbelievable! During our ride we met two other couples that were also visiting from the states. With the excitement of finally arriving, the long plane rides, waking up early and staying up late on the day of our wedding rehearsal and on the day of our wedding, I plopped my head on my bag pack that was situated in my lap and fell asleep. How, you ask, could you possibly fall asleep on a boat in Venice? Short answer, very easily. I woke up with one of my faux eyelashes from the wedding partially attached as I struggled to figure out how close we were to our stop. My husband wasn’t sure why our water taxi looked as if it wasn’t headed to our intended stop, so he got up to talk to the driver. Apparently, we were on the wrong taxi, so we decided to get off at the next stop, which was about a 10-minute walk to our Airbnb.

We stepped off the taxi into a sea of people shopping, sitting at tables outside having lunch, and moving about. Although there was A LOT happening, and husband wasn’t in a great mood since we hadn’t made it to the correct stop, I still had to make a quick stop to take a few photos. I brought my Nikon DSLR with me and had worn it around my neck for the entire trip. This was my first time turning my camera on to take a photo, and when I did, SURPRISE – my battery was low. Better yet, I remembered that I had forgotten my charger! After whispering a long “FUUUHHHHH” *Insert The Office episode where Dwight punches Michael in the stomach* I grabbed a few quick pics on my phone.

On our way to the Airbnb a man approached us and said “Here, a flower for you!” At first, I said, “Oh no thank you!”, but he insisted that I take it. I thought that it was a really nice gesture, but husband asked how much, paid him and let me know that people aren’t giving out things for free and are expecting euros for them, even flowers. Moral of the story don’t take the “free” flowers, they are 100% not free. 

We met our Airbnb host’s friend outside of the market which was surrounded by shops and vendors. She took us down a narrow path, past a restaurant that we enjoyed the next night, and to a door without a handle. I had actually noticed that as we walked past the doors, there weren’t any doorknobs at all! Some had knobs in the center of the door, but I wasn’t quite sure how that worked! We were shown how to unlock the door and lock back behind us, and we walked up five flights of stairs to our Airbnb. It was a gorgeous lofted apartment in Venezia Sestiere Cannaregio, which is the northernmost of the six historic sestieri (districts) of Venice. The apartment included a white staircase, a large ornate chandelier, an antique bookcase, and two incredibly large glass doors that opened to a small patio. The doors were cracked, and a warm comfortable breeze flowed throughout the apartment as we heard people laughing and talking while dining at the restaurant down below.

The market, which was about one minute away, carried grocery, deli, fresh bakery and everyday household items. We decided to pick up a few snacks to keep in the kitchen to enjoy throughout the time that we were in Venice. We were really surprised by how reasonable the wine prices were. After picking out a few things we headed to the check-out line, husband grabbed our receipt and we were on our way – or so I thought. There was a gate in the doorway of the exit which I thought would open automatically like the doors at the grocery stores here in the states. My legs smacked up against the gate as my torso bent over it, with the market bag in hand. Luckily, another shopper who was leaving walked up to us and said, “Miss, you have to scan your receipt.” There was a scanner off to the side of the gate that he held his receipt up to that made the gates immediately open. Here’s to learning new things and flaunting my clumsiness internationally.

We enjoyed our time walking the streets, dining on the water and enjoying all the bread, pasta, and seafood possible, finding artist studios in the Venetian ghetto, finding a delicious patisserie – where we had our first experience ordering espresso internationally, walking down a less traveled street where people were chilling on docked boats with drinks, ordering more espresso, having 5am cheese plates and Bellini’s while watching Netflix, and having early morning tea while enjoying the sunlight and sounds from the awakened city down below. Venezia was stunning, absolutely unforgettable and incredibly calming.

We traveled by train to Firenze (Florence), where we took a quick 7-minute walk to our Airbnb. Firenze had cars, narrow streets, and was faster pace than Venezia. We walked through a market that was filled with leather goods, and situated between two restaurants with covered outdoors seating, was our host awaiting us.

We climbed five flights of stairs to our two-bedroom, two-story Airbnb. Inside we found a beautiful space with brick walls and lit brick stairs that led to a loft with a skylight above the bed that looked out into the sky.

We filled our time scoping out places to enjoy dinner, perusing the public market located not even five minutes from our Airbnb, buying beautiful leather goods, shopping, eating gelato, visiting Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, sightseeing, and learning more about wine at the Organic Wines Secrets Airbnb Experience.

After a few days in Firenze, we had to see Venezia one last time. We took the last train back to Venice, grabbed a pizza, opened a bottle of wine, and ate in bed at a hotel that slightly reminded me of the Grand Budapest Hotel.

Train – bus – donut – plane – Chicago – Wheaties (Milwaukee) – Madison – feet up and already thinking back to our beautiful honeymoon. 

I highly recommend saving up and taking some time off for a beautiful trip to Italy. Being able to experience the delicious food and breathtaking scenery is unforgettable.