My best gal friend of all-time got married this last summer! Yes, I know this post is very delayed, but in my defense, I had about a bajillion photos to weed through and edit. But I am proud to present my collection of photos from my trek across the world for E’s wedding. A group of five of my closest friends from childhood were my travel-mates.
We left my house and headed to the airport in Vancouver, B.C. I highly recommend flying out of the Vancouver airport if you live near Seattle, as it is often much cheaper for international flights.
We flew from Vancouver B.C. to London for a painfully long layover in which we couldn’t leave the airport. At least they had decent food there.
Our first night in Italy was spent at a hotel near the airport in Venice. We arrived so late that all we wanted to do was sleep when we arrived. The place was pleasant and clean.
When we awoke the next morning and set out to find our Airbnb location, we took a public bus after struggling to find it and running back and forth like a bunch of crazy people on the sidewalk.
The Grand Canal is one of the most magical places in the world. It is the main highway canal in the city of Venice, and is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. There are public water taxis and private ones. Generally, private taxis are much more expensive (60-80 euros depending on where you’re going and your amount of luggage), but because there were enough of us to split the cost efficiently, we went for that option.
We met up with our Airbnb host nearby, and she led us to the apartment where we would be staying. Let me tell you, if you have the option to do Airbnb, I highly recommend it. After the five of us split the cost of a decent-sized place, it was really cheap, and we got to experience our stay more authentically like a local. Our place in Venice had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, AND a lounging room. We had a view that looked out over a small canal (see below), and it was nearby everything. Our host helped us figure out which sights to see and was extremely helpful in making our time in Venice the best it could be.
The famous gondola boats are EVERYWHERE in Venice. Because it is a high tourist area, we took a gondola that was located in a smaller canal rather than the Grand Canal. We were told that this was a quieter, less-populated route as it was created more around the riders and not near all of the other tourists.
Riding a gondola was another instance where it would usually be fairly expensive (60-80 euros), but because there were five of us, the split cost was totally worth it.
I could not believe how unique and beautiful the canals of Venice were. The buildings are stunning and the bright colors are incredible.
The actual streets of Venice are often a confusing labyrinth, however, and when you’re hangry it’s pretty darn frustrating. We went around in circles trying to find a worthy place to eat, and the buildings and streets all start to look the same after you’ve been in 10-foot walkways for a while.
After a couple days exploring Venice, we took a taxi to the train station, and set-out for our next location.
We arrived in Milan a few hours later, and headed to meet our next Airbnb host. She took us to an apartment in the city, but just outside of the noisy bustle. One of the best parts of this apartment was the terrace (seen below). It was large deck with a stunning view of the city, and furnished with a table and lounge chairs. There was even an area enclosed with glass with a large outdoor sectional and foosball table.
We got ready and hit the city of Milan.
We walked to a trolley stop and then took it to a restaurant that N had been to in the past and had raved about. It was unbelievable. They even gave us a complimentary pizza!
We spent hours walking around the city the next day. There was so much to see.
One morning we walked to a small cafe for breakfast. They had beautiful glass cases filled with treats and pastries.
We all got a bit of coffee and a few of us got croissants filled with pistachio cream. This pastry was so ridiculously delicious – it was one of my favorites from the trip.
The duomo, or cathedral, in Milan is massive and intricate. When we walked to it, the sky put on a show and a rainbow arced over the structure.
We took advantage of our apartment’s terrace the last morning in Milan and made our own breakfast with groceries we had purchased at a market nearby. It was the most perfect, peaceful way to end our time there.
Lake Como is located nearby Milan via train, and we took a little day-trip to visit. It was sunny and warm.
One of the attractions in Lake Como is the funiculare – a small track car that takes passengers up the side of a mountain. After gazing out over the little city of Lake Como at the top, we walked around a local neighborhood and admired the quiet houses in the area.
During the time we visited, Lake Como was flooded, and water spilled out into the streets. In certain spots the water was deep enough that they built temporary bridge walkways so that pedestrians could still get around. Some locals decided to just bike through the water instead.
The lookout point at the top of the mountain was gorgeous and we took plenty of pictures up there.
These next photos are from the quiet neighborhood we explored at the top of the mountain.
We jumped on a train to Florence next! We walked over to meet our next Airbnb host in a quieter neighborhood just outside of the main part of town. We had rented a loft for the night. After that was settled, we walked across the main bridge into town that was littered with little shops and lots of people.
Below is the duomo of Florence. It was so fun to see how unique and beautiful each duomo was in all of the cities we visited. At night, we walked back over to it and got gelato at a shop that was so close you could have a sweet treat looking at a sweet view.
At sundown, we were recommended to climb to the top of a hill that overlooks the city and the river. We climbed this massive set of stairs (seen below). This picture really doesn’t show the extent of how many stairs there were…
At the top we enjoyed the sunset over the river. There was a busker playing music, and it really set the perfect, peaceful tone.
We were there with just a few other people…
The next morning we grabbed breakfast at a delicious little cafe before heading out. It tasted just as good as it looked.
Naples was our main destination! We stayed here the longest during our travels in Italy, and the wedding took place in this city. We arrived by train, and then took a taxi in to meet up with E near the Airbnb we were going to stay at. Piazza del Plebiscito was this beautiful square (shown below) where people gathered and walked, and it was very close to where our week-long home would be as well as the Royal Palace of Naples.
This was a drink I ordered at Caffè Gambrinus (the palace coffee shop) after we were settled into our apartment. It was kind of like a Frappucino, and boy was it tasty.
Naples was my favorite city visited because of its vibrant culture, and lack of mass tourists.
Two days during our stay in Naples, E took us to a place called “Rocce Verdi.” It’s a resort located on the water where you can pay to sunbathe and swim for the day. It costs about 20 euros, and you get to lounge in chairs on the sun deck, swim in the pool, sunbathe on the rocks near the water, and swim in the sea. Swimming in the sea was magical – it was the perfect temperature and a beautiful turquoise color.
One of my favorite things to order while in Italy was gnocchi. This was a type of pesto gnocchi with zucchini.
Europe is amazing to me, because the outward appearance of houses and apartments are no indication of the quality of life inside. In America, we assume that if a building’s outside is rundown, its inside will be too. That’s because most buildings in America don’t date back as far in time as European buildings do. The buildings there may be run-down on the outside, but that’s only because they’re buildings that have stood the test of centuries. The insides of their buildings are very beautiful and often modern.
A food highlight of the trip was eating at “Brandi.” It’s the restaurant that started the Margherita pizza!
Wedding day! This was the Catholic church that E & M had their ceremony at.
The beautiful bride!
The villa where the reception was held was incredibly picturesque; it overlooked the sea and the city of Naples.
E let me do the hand-lettering for the signs around the reception. The one below requests that guests have a Polaroid photo taken as part of the guest book. The little sign below that requests guest book signatures.
The amount of food that was served at this wedding was almost absurd. Pre-appetizer appetizers, an appetizer bar, a 3 course meal, dessert, and wedding cake. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS.
My bouquet as maid of honor for the bride.
The gals and I were put at the dinner table with the bride and groom as well as many other friends. The band circled around the venue during the meal singing traditional Neapolitan songs.
This window was another piece that I got to hand-letter for the event.
This was my favorite coffee shop that we visited in Naples. You’d be surprised how uncommon ordering an iced coffee is over there.
More pizza. <3
Below is part of our trek to another famous Neapolitan pizza restaurant.
Street art can be really strange…
We had to get as much gelato as possible while we were in Italy.
Capri was a fun day-trip we took, as it was right off the coast in Naples. We took a public taxi boat there.
We took a private boat tour around the island. This was another instance where it was super cost-effective to split the fare 5-ways. The water was the most vibrant teal color I’ve ever seen.
The island is covered in caves and caverns.
This is the mermaid that sits on the top of the rock and watches over the boats that travel by.
This was our last stop on our trip around Italy, and what a great last stop it was. Our last Airbnb was within walking distance of the colosseum.
Our little apartment was located in a really cute part of town that was out of the way of the bustle, and close to a restaurant we grew to love. They had really great breakfast!
Using a hop-on/hop-off tour bus is a great way to get around the city when the walking distance is just a little too extreme. We were able to see a lot of the city this way.
There it is: The Trevi Fountain. I had my Lizzie McGuire Movie moment here, and made a wish in the fountain.
We found a restaurant nearby the fountain to refuel when we got hangry.
Back to our neighborhood cafe.
The Pantheon was one of the places we went in, and I was awestruck. There was a choir performing inside which just added to a sense of reverence I felt while walking in. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
We visited the Vatican in Rome as well. I highly recommend buying a “fastpass” through a touring service, or you’ll be waiting for hours in a long, hot line. We bought one through our hop on/hop off bus tour and essentially walked right in.
Although we saw a lot here, we barely scratched the surface of the exhibits and artwork inside.
In the evening and at night, many people would gather in the plazas and around the fountains as a way to socialize. It was nice to see people actually spending time together.
Touring around the country of Italy is something I’ll never forget. I learned so much about independence and getting around in unfamiliar places. I got to see so much variety and culture in this one country, and I can’t wait to travel again as soon as I can.