{florence, rome, capri, sorrento & athens . . .}



. . . one of the loveliest things about writing a blog is receiving so wonderful letters from readers from around the world — thoughtful words and lovely thoughts, and sometimes, questions or requests for recommendations, such as glamorous reader katie’s, who is planning an upcoming art history trip and would love any travel suggestions you may have for florence, rome, capri, sorrento & athens . . .

Hi Roseline,

I love your blog and read it everyday for the dreamy, enchanting images; you really have fantastic taste.

I’m going on a high-school trip with my art history class to Italy for 11 days this summer (2 of which will be spent in an airplane), and was hoping you might have some recommendations for while I am there. I want to feel like Audrey in Roman Holiday!

I don’t know that you’ve been to any of the places I’m traveling to (Florence, Rome, Capri, Sorrento, and Athens), since I can’t remember ever seeing any posts about your own trips there, but if you have or if you know anyone who has been to any of those spots, I’d really appreciate your suggestions.

During the day we’re mostly going to museums,galleries, and the like, but we seem to have afternoons and nights free (although I think we may all be going to same places for dinner, because the itinerary says that breakfast and dinner are included). I know we’re not staying in particularly nice hotels, so I was really hoping for a way to make the trip as fabulous as possible. My parents are paying for most of the trip, so I’m in charge of spending money (for lunch, shopping, extra activities), so I can essentially spend as much as I can make before the trip, although, being 17, I’m still going to have a relatively small budget.

We’ll be going to Florence for three days, Rome for two, Capri for one (and spending the night in Sorrento since the accommodations on Capri are so expensive), and then Athens for two days, I believe. If you have any recommendations for any of those places, such as cafés, shops, beaches in Capri or Sorrento, or any other lovely spots, I’d so love to try to accommodate them into my trip.

Thank you so much for any suggestions and for your lovely, lovely blog,

{image: tati cotliar and melissa tammerijn by benjamin alexander huseby for harper’s bazaar US, october 2010 via oh}

26 Notes
  • Anonymous said...

    In Florence, consider eating at Acqua al Due behind the Bargello. Absolutely go to the Leather School in Santa Croce. But most of all, go to San Miniato on top of the hill behind Piazza Michelangelo. Best views of Florence, and on certain nights, you’ll hear Gregorian chanting coming from the Church on the hill while watching the sun set and eating a gelato. Also, go to Il Papiro and take a look at Florentine marbleized paper. Lastly, take a walk on Borgo degli Abizi and check out the best pastry shop in Florence: (I go almost every year to Italy for research for several months)

    In Rome, go the the Trastevere neighborhood. If you want to feel like Audrey, it’s a hip neighborhood with the most authentic “Italian” feeling sans the mob of tourists. It’s a neighborhood that is most closely tied to its roots in post WWII Italy. Go to Agustino’s (mom and grandmother run place); highly rated by all guides and will give you an incredible authentic pasta meal.

    Try avoiding any and all tourist restaurants (the menus often have ‘deals’ or staff enticing you to enter in English). Food is expensive and terrible. I feel terrible whenever anyone eats there and then proclaims that “Italian” food is not good. I agree with everyone in that you should worry about spending money on making memories and maybe a special purchase (not clothes) that you will always remember your first trip by for decades. If you’re going to the Vatican, go very early, in the summer the lines to get into the museums can consume well over a day.

    Beware, water is more expensive than house wine.

    Capri is breathtaking, but very expensive, especially in the summer. The Amalfi coast is considered by most Italians to be the chic jet setter area. Many Italians choose to go to Sardegna to avoid the crowds and have clearer water. Going to the Blue Grotto on Capri is stunning, but making sure you don’t bother on a cloudy day in the summer. It will be filled with already drunk American students.

    Athens is also beautiful, but beware of the current political and economic crisis (Italy is not much better currently). Many locals may try and take advantage, so approach street vendors with caution and if you have to wear a bag, make sure it’s strapped across your body and anything important is tucked in a hidden pocket inside.

    The best thing you can do on such a short trip is to not try and see everything – you’ll feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. Pick a few things that are “musts” to you. Get lost (with a friend or two that you make).

    Buon viaggo e ti auguro un bell’estate!

  • Anonymous said...

    Capri! It may seem easy to just enjoy how beautiful it is, but there’s actually quite a bit you can do! Going to Anacapri is a must – there’s at least one famous man who makes beautiful handmade sandals. Also, the Blue Grotto is worth the trip – I have friends who have even gone swimming in it after hours! I imagine it would make for some amazing pictures if you bought a (disposable or not!) underwater camera. Also, check out the less-touristy beaches – there are a lot of great cliff jumping places too!

  • Anonymous said...

    Just come back from Florence and Rome on Saturday ( and am Athenian), so this is my list:

    Rome: Have an espresso in St. Eustachio (piazza St. Eustachio which is near the Pantheon, another free must in Rome) it is the best in the city

    Florence, eat at the yellow spot (I think), really affordable, great food, locals queue outside daily, ask at the reception

    Athens, I assume you will be staying somewhere central, go to the coffee shops that are left from Monastiraki underground station, follow the train tracks, these are very cool and affordable coffee places where you can soak up the atmosphere.
    Eat souvlaki and gyro, it is the only way to go with Arthens.
    Try retsina wine and ouzo!!!
    Underground is a very cool shop for clothes in Kolonaki, ask in the main square, it is affordable and really cool!

  • I would extend the time in Capri, if at all possible. Depends how important sightseeing is to her, of course, but I’d trim a day off of Rome and add one to Capri. It is so exquisite there. Also, day trip to Amalfi (the town) is so pretty, as is Ravello…the gardens are a must.

  • Such amazing places on your list! My top tips would be:
    Capri: Take the bus to Ana Capri and then take the chair lift to the top of the island….The views will blow your mind and the pictures are amazing!
    Florence: I Fratellini. Great stop for a panino and glass of wine for lunch while walking around. I say stop because it is a walk up and has nowhere to sit. Fabulous panini and atmosphere. Located right round the corner from Uffizi on Via dei Cimatori.
    Piazzale Michelangelo has amazing views of the city as well!

    Hit up for all the rest. The reviews helped.
    Hope you have a wonderful trip!!!

  • Anonymous said...

    I have been to–and love– all of these places! I must say though that Capri is definitely a favorite. While you are in Capri you must stop by Carthusia perfumerie–it’s amazing. Also, I recommend indulging on some gelato (I have found in Capri apricot is the best) while walking around the Monastery gardens.

  • My advice while traveling is spend your money on experiences (dinner at a nice restaurant, going to museums) rather than spending on things.
    When I was 21 I went to buenos aires and spent all my money on clothes that don’t or wear or fit anymore. I wish I’d gone to more places.
    If you want a souvenir, buy a beautiful print, an antique or something you won’t find back home.

  • I always follow your blog, it’s fantastic! I live in Rome and I can say with certainty that it is a wonderfully romantic city. The perfect place to stroll. Florence is also a beautiful city, small and full of charm. And It is very close to Rome (1 1 / 2 by train).
    Kisses from Rome

  • this is indeed very glamorous!

    I love Lake como! Its so beautiful!

  • In Florence, you must go to the Caffe Giacosa for lunch. It’s on the best shopping street-Via Tournabuoni. Also, don’t go to Piazza Michelangelo for a view of Florence at sunset–instead, go to San Miniato al Monte, a small church (built in 1018!) that overlooks the city and has a much more beautiful view. It’s somewhat of a secret, and I recommend it highly. Also, there is a fragrance store on Via San Gallo that has the best-smelling diffusers and home fragrances in the world. It is called: Antico Officina del Farmacista Dr. Vranjes. Walking into the store is like a dream, and I guarantee you’ll find a scent to die for. My favorite is Magnolia Orchidea, and I’ll be using it in my bedroom for the rest of my life. Another great street is Borgo San Jacopo, which parallel to the Arno River and just south of it. There is some great shopping on that street, as well as fabulous small restaurants like the Osteria del Chiangale Bianco.

    Im Rome, be sure to go to the Casten Sant’Angelo at sunset. It overlooks the Tiber River and the Vatican, and if you go right at sunset, you can see the lights of St. Peter’s basilica light up. It’s a very magical thing to witness. Also, I suggest one night grabbing a bottle of wine and heading to the Spanish Steps. Young people “hang out” on the steps at nighttime, and sometimes there are even acoustic guitars and smooth Italian voices to accompany them…

    To Katie: Have a wonderful time and soak up the culture as best you can. It will change your life!

    To “glamorous”:Thanks for your inspiration everyday and for including this post, as well.


  • Hi,
    in Florence,if you like vintage, go to Pitti vintage store(,
    my favourite ice-cream is at Grom(next to il Duomo); if you don’t have much time, go see Palazzo Vecchio. Pizza-just don’t tell anyone-is AMAZING at Munacielo(not just the pizza but also the atmosphere), I also loved eating at Za-Za which is close to the S. Lorenzo church.
    Lida (

  • Claire said...

    Katie- I’m sure you will have so much fun! I wasn’t much younger than you on my first group trip to Europe. Here are some of my tips from my travels in Italy and Greece:

    Florence- Leather galore! Large budget- beautiful handmade shoes, purses and jackets. Smaller Budget- belts, gloves, journals and bracelets . No matter your budget you can find a very well made leather product (which makes everything seem more glamorous)

    Athens- Be sure to get a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. By fresh I mean, the man picks the orange from the tree behind him when you order and juices it right in front of you> You won’t believe the neon orange color!

    There are plenty of gelato places to choose from, but I found the best places had a man (typically around your age) making fresh cones outside. Be sure to ask for a little taste of a fresh cone straight from the maker> possibly better than the actual gelato.

    My friends and I frequented Syntagma Square on our nights off from the rest of the group. It’s easy to get to from the metro and there are lots of little shops and cafes dotted around centuries old churches.

    If you’re allowed out after dark, hike up to a park nearby the acropolis. It is on a high hill and the view at night is wonderful.

    Rome- Typically everywhere you’ll go on your tour will be very crowded! They are of course must-sees but be sure to explore other areas of the city and lesser known historical sites (ask your tour guide)

    Use public transport (subways, metros) to go around on your own, to help save your shopping money. But be very careful with your bags and do not go alone. Be sure to hold your bag so that the zipper is under your palm. My friend was pickpoketed on the metro in Milan the one time she didn’t have the zipper under her hand (watch for groups of women who crowd around you for no reason; that’s how that got my friend).

    Be sure to test out the shoes you’ll be bringing before you leave (took me many blisters to find this out!) On tours like yours, you’ll be walking a lot I’m sure so do take care of your feet (please don’t wear flip flops- very un-Audrey if I do say so myself)

    Some of my favorite photos from the trip are of store displays and little details found while walking around. The landscapes are magnificent of course, but it’s the little details, that are usually overlooked, that are hanging on my walls.

    Just please don’t get on a Vespa with an Italian man you’ve just met! Had to give you some motherly advice :)

  • Anonymous said...

    and also, in Athens at the top of the hilton hotel is a rooftop bar go there at sunset and with the view of the Acropolis, it’s amazing!

  • Anonymous said...

    Tell the hotel concierge you want to go to a restaurant that he loves, something owned locally. Maybe go eat around the water where the fishermen bring in the fish. Seek out local food and when they come to take your order, ask what the chef and waiter recommend. Explore both Italy and Greece eating the way they eat. Your trip will likely have Americanized food since it’s included. and that you can get at home. Have a beautiful time!

  • I went on an extremely similar trip to these Italian cities in high school. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s through the same travel agency. With that being said, the hotels were alright (some fabulous, some slightly unsettling), the included meals were usually awful (it’s hard to believe that Italian food can be made poorly or with new flavor, but it’s totally possible), and the long distances between cities took forever to travel. I would recommend eating as much gelato, pizza, panini, and cappuccino on your own. I had the most divine tiramisu in Capri and would eat entire pizzas as a meal. You will be walking so much that you will actually lose weight, I promise! Take the time to wander in your free time. I was often disappointed when I stuck to the assigned activities — there are so many wonderful tiny cafes, chic boutiques, and beautiful buildings everywhere you look. And bring a good camera, but don’t be afraid to spend a day or two not seeing Italy through a lens!

  • How exciting would love to be there right now. Have a wonderful time.

  • chel said...

    The Blue Grotto in Capri is beautiful! Also, you could take the ferry/boat tour around the island, it will give you a fantastic view of the sea and the island!

    I liked the view I got from the top of the hill in Florence, where the replica of the David statue was. It’s especially beautiful at sunset and at night. My friends went up at to watch the sunset and their photos took my breath away. But if you’re more of a night person, do catch the view at night! It’s beautiful as well, a different kind of beauty – peaceful, calm and romantic.

    Have fun! (:

  • Capri: be sure to visit the blue grotto (Grotta Azurra), it’s a blue cave and you can only do it when the sea is calm with low tide! Also go on top of the island, the scenery is superbly gorgeous. Capri is split up into two parts, capri and anacapri. Capri is a good place to catch the sunset! Anacapri has some lovely gardens and beautiful rocks.

    Florence: Must try Vivoli gelato, apparently the best gelato. It’s freshly made everyday! Leather markets around the duomo area are good places to purchase cheap fine leather goods. There’s a Yellow Bar which is quite near the central area too, loved the tiramisu and steak there!

    Rome: I love window shopping along the street near the spanish steps, their displays are always fascinating. the Fendi Palazzo especially, the largest Fendi boutique!

    Also eat as much italian pizza, pasta, gelato when you can, the authentic flavours are hard to find elsewhere!

  • Anonymous said...

    I went to Florence a few years ago, and ended up just wandering around, because I only had one day and didn’t want to waste it waiting in lines. Not a bad thing to do! The outdoor markets are really fun, though there seemed to be quite a bit of imported stuff. The glass beads and leather gloves are nice though.

    I heard from my grandparents that the Scuola del Cuoio was great, but didn’t go myself. As I understand it, you can watch artisians add gold tooling to various leather products. Their things might be a bit pricey, but you should still be able to afford something small, and Florence is definitely known for this craft!

  • Anonymous said...

    How exciting! I’ve only had the pleasure of being to Florence, and what a beautiful, magical city! My advice: rather than try to spend your small budget on as much stuff as possible (I bought a bunch of clothing that I now don’t wear at all), try to save it for something special that you will keep forever and will always remind you of the trip. I bought my now husband his first designer tie on my trip, and he still has it and loves it! If you want to indulge in window or small souvenir shopping, I encourage you to embrace the country and stick to the Italians – Prada, Pucci, Versace, Gucci…
    And, of course, gelato.
    Have so much fun!


  • Susan said...

    In both Italy & Greece–go off the beaten path enough to have a little adventure. And to actually meet people…that is travelling. The other way is just tourism…read a lot before you go–esp. novels. Both Daisy Miller & Shirley Hazzard’s Bay of Noon.

    Keep a journal with your sketches, thoughts, glued in bits of whatever you like. I moved to France at 17 & went to university on my own from the States. No one helped me. It helped me to grow up & I still have friends from around the world.

    Ask people you meet about their lives, their opinions, too.

    Have a great time.


  • When you are in Roma, there are many many many options, though for the “Roman Holiday” experience, the streets around the Spanish steps will provide lots for you to discover. Via Gregoriana, Via di Capole Case Via Francesco Crispi & Via Sistina are good streets to find restaurants and cafe’s to fit varying budgets. You will find some very stylish cafe’s that are glamourous and will be able to enjoy your hard earned cash without leaving you broke:)

    Enjoy your personal “Roman Holiday”

  • Katie, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Italy a few years ago and it was just amazing. Eat gelato often, there are so many yummy flavors. In Rome, visit the Villa Borghese Gardens that overlook the city. There’s a little organic orange grove in the middle of Sorrento. Wander through if you can find it. Remember to walk a bit off the beaten path, along with a friend for safety. And please learn a few phrases of Greek and Italian… a few thoughtful words go a long way. Enjoy your trip! Ciao.

  • Anonymous said...

    go to positano, it is the most amazing place.

  • Ooh, how lovely you will have an amazing time. Those cities can be and are a bit mad and crazy so keep your wits about you and enjoy!Capri is mad and sooo very expensive, but looking is free and and the ice cream is yummy and affordable. Have a wonderful trip and thank you Miss this is glamorous for sharing, Amberxx

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