Ciao, bella!

Happy, happy, happy Friday!! Why are there extra ‘happys’ in my Friday, you ask?! (Oh, you didn’t ask?! Well, I’m telling you anyway.) Because Mr. Sugarplum and I are flying this coop tomorrow for our kid-free, hey-I-remember-you, hey-I-still-like-you, take-a-break-from-life trip! In other words, the reason for all the frugal DIYs and Dollar Store shopping…saving up for what matters most to us.

Today I’m scurrying around prepping the house for grandparents (cleaning for in-laws to stay at your house is a whole other level of cleaning!), arranging kid schedules, and closing all the loose ends at work. Hopefully, I’ll follow my own travel advice when I actually get around to packing. Here’s a peek at where we’re headed…

Cinque Terre

Venice

Florence

Yes, we’re going to Northern Italy!! Can you hear me squealing, and my waistband expanding?! Have you visited any of these cities? I’d love to hear your favorite places, restaurants and tips. Since we’re on mileage seats, the flight over isn’t exactly ideal…so I’ll have plenty of time to read and prepare! I’ve already got quite the list from Lauren’s huge collection of travel posts.

But don’t worry, I am hooking you guys up while I’m gone!! I dreamed up another little guest series, and invited a few of my favorites to play along, whom I’m sure you’ll recognize….

20 questions bloggers

Trust me, you won’t want to miss a single one! Ciao, lovebugs!

PS — You know I’ll have full Trip Reports when we return, but thanks to the wonder of free wifi, I’ll have a hard time staying off InstaGram. Follow along (@cassiesugarplum) if you want to see how much food I inhale!

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54 Comments

  1. Have the very best time! I can't wait to see your pictures!!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  2. Simply LKJ wrote:

    Have a wonderful and safe trip! Venice was one of Mark and I's favorite places!! The markets are wonderful and dining in the sweet cafes is divine. You DEFINITELY have to see St. Mark's cathedral. Sipping on wine in the square at night while listening to bands is awesome. The food…ALL GOOD!!!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  3. Wheeee! How fun is that! You are going to have such an awesome time. My favourite restaurant is in Florence: http://www.casatrattoria.com/?restaurant=ristorante-paoli You have to go just to see the frescoes on the ceiling but the made to order salad cart was my favourite thing. Have a wonderful trip!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • Awesome — I added it to the list! Thanks Jen!!
      xoxo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  4. Happy safe travels!!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  5. Soo fun! Safe travels and I'll live vicariously through you on Instagram.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  6. Have a great time! Looks like a dream ๐Ÿ˜‰ xo Kristin

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  7. So excited for you guys! I've been to Florence and Venice…trip of a lifetime. I'd go back in two seconds!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  8. Amazing trip! Have a great time. The food, oh the food…

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  9. Wow! Have an amazing time! We went to Rome in March and it was unbelievable! I can't wait to see your pictures and hear about the food…and wine!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  10. have a wonderful time! I will be watching instagram for your pics!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  11. pam wrote:

    oh you lucky lucky duck! i was just screaming (literally) yesterday that i need a vacation.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  12. We were married in Gardone Riviera, needless to say Italy is our favorite! Gotta love that the wine is cheaper than water! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  13. I hope you eat your weight in pasta and drink your weight in wine!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  14. Tiffany wrote:

    Ooh, fun. I've been to all three of those places, but I don't remember any of the restaurants I went to. You really can't go wrong though. Bring some comfortable (but stylish, please, it's Italy!) shoes. You'll do a lot of walking.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Go for at least a day to Bologna. The best food, the best housewares shopping, and the very friendliest people are there. Beautiful and historic but not as touristy. It is a wonderful and historic city. Go to the central square which has the oldest university in the world on one side and some of the best small shop browsing on the opposite side and the street over. Small delicious restaurants are everywhere. And questionable statues in fountains that will amuse hubby and the kids.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • Thank you!! I'll check out Bologna and see if we can squeeze it in!!
      xoxo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  16. Karen wrote:

    Oh… is that a picture of Shay from Mix and Match Family/Mix and Match Mama that I see up there? I love her!

    Your trip looks fabulous. Hope you have a wonderful time.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • That's her!! You won't want to miss her post…or any of them!!
      xo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  17. oh you are going to be in heaven!!!! this whole region is amaze-balls!!!! Florence is amazing . . . try and visit Montalcino for a day or morning…. breathtaking!!!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  18. Lucky duck! Have an amazing trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  19. Amazing! You'll have the time of your life!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  20. Have a great time!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  21. Ashley wrote:

    On our honeymoon we were recommended Trattoria Dal Billy in Manarola and boy was it amazing. If you love seafood – you must get the 15 plate taster appetizer…our table wasn't even big enough!! But make a reservation!!! It's the perfect location for a romantic/sun-setting over the water dinner!

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187819-d1088126-Reviews-Trattoria_Dal_Billy-Manarola_Cinque_Terre_Italian_Riviera_Liguria.html

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • Thanks Ashley — I added it to the list!!
      xoxo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  22. Anonymous wrote:

    oh my word! great timing! hubby and i are heading the same way in 2.5 weeks! please tell all when you return. your travel posts are really helpful-especially for packing!

    becky

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  23. jemz wrote:

    Hubby's favorite place in the world is Cinque Terre! Bring some comfy walking shoes so you can do the Lover's Lane walk between Manarola & Riomaggiore! We loved the gelato shop near the harbor in Vernazza. The food in Cinque Terre is SPECTACULAR. Pesto anything and Anchovy anything is the region's specialty. Get some of their local wines to take home. You can't really find it elsewhere.

    We also had a delicious dinner in Monterossa al Mare where we had a fantastic view of the beach and water. Cannot go wrong with the seafood there.

    Also a note about hiking through all five towns in Cinque Terre is to get a permit.

    I really enjoyed getting lost in Venice! I bought all my Murano glass souvenirs there because anywhere else in Italy is a just a huge ripoff. Also, Gelato! I love love love the gelato in Venice (and Rome!).

    Have a wonderful time in Northern Italy! I can't wait to hear about your travels.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • Thank you for all these great tips!!!
      xoxo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  24. Florence is one of my favorite cities! The BEST place is called Pitti Gola e Cantina, a small wine bar across from the Boboli Gardens. The owners are amazing, the small plates they have are delicious and the wine selection is perfect. The owners are so kind.

    http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/pitti-gola-e-cantina-firenze

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • Oh I'll be there!!! Thanks for the great tip, Erin!
      xo. C

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  25. Anonymous wrote:

    Venice is a complete treasure hunt. I loved it!!! I second the recommendation to ONLY buy your Murano glass there. And, even then, it's still expensive. We took a boat out to Murano and ended up buying a beautiful chandelier. At the time, we didn't even own a home (only rented) but still came home with a gorgeous ($5k!!!!) piece. Unless you're in the market for something like that, I don't know that I would spend another half-day going out there. Your hotel will take you, because they have a relationship with a specific glass maker and everyone involved gets a kick-back. It's how they do business but it feels a little bit like you're getting hustled.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  26. I studied abroad in Europe for 2 months, over 5 countries. Cinque Terre was my FAVORITE spot of the entire summer. Definitely do the 5 city hike (in the morning) which will take a few hours. But the views of the water on one side and the olive branches on the other are AMAZING. And you can reward yourself with gelato afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚ My favorite memories there include seeing a family's home across the small pathway eating dinner with clothes hanging out the windows of the colorful buildings. And seeing old grandma and grandpa's catching up on a bench on the cobblestone roads. This was in 2005, I hope it hasn't become too commercialized since then.

    Can't wait for your trip recap! I'm headed to Seattle and Vancouver soon and plan to eat where you did ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • oh and BARGAIN for a gondola ride in venice – ask a few different guys how much – it is NOT cheap!

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  27. Anna wrote:

    SO exciting. Have a safe and wonderful trip!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  28. Ah so effin' jealous of you two!! But it helps knowing you both work hard & now you get to play hard!!*hard, ha* *bowchickabowwow* Have an AMAZING time you guys!!!

    Your blog will be in good, able hands (except for the day I'm guest posting, sorry)!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  29. All of those are wonderful locations! If you take the paths at Cinque Terre, I DO NOT RECOMMEND the "trail" from Monterosso and Vernazza. Rick Steves claims it is the "most difficult" so to start there when your legs are fresh. Well, when I was there in January, a girlfriend and I very literally nearly died on that "trail" because you start on a wonderfully pathed walkway and before you know it, you are on a tiny ledge on the side of a cliff that has been completely washed out and there is nothing between you and a 1000 foot drop to the ocean but a cactus or two. So just be careful! Foodwise – In Florence you must go to Trattoria 13 Gobbi and split the steak florentine, it's amazing! If you have a few hours, the Florence Cooking Class with Giovanni is a blast (you get to explore the food market – one of my favorite parts of florence – and cook an amzing meal with wine). It's about 4 hours, but a well worth it! Orvieto is an easy day trip from Florence with a beautiful Duomo and yummy Orvieto Classico (and try the cave tours, they are really intersting). Siena is also amazing. If you like shoes, you must check out the Ferragamo Museum in Florence. They have a facinating exhibit of the company's history and all the amazing shoes that he created for celebreties like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo. So cool! And you can't go wrong anywhere in Venice. The best thing you can do after seeing all the big sites is to loose yourself in the side streets and alleys to see the real Venice. And the #1 thing that I can recommend are Rick Steve's books. His books effectively take you on hand-held tours of all the major sites (like walk in the duomo, turn left, now look up the third gargole on the right) and give you all sorts of insight that you would otherwise miss.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
    • My hubs and I go to Italy every year because his company's headquarters are in Florence and we always spend a week exploring a new area that we haven't visited before. So I have a ton more recommendations if you are interested, but didn't want to totally overwhelm you. Feel free to message me if you would like anymore tidbits ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a wonderful time on your trip!

      Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  30. So fun! Have a great time! Cinque Terre is AMAZING!!!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  31. You deserve it! Have a wonderful time ๐Ÿ™‚ Xo!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  32. Amanda wrote:

    oh wow!! you are going to have so much fun!!! And Im so jealous! This time last year hubby & I were headed to London & Paris so I can totally relate to your excitement! Have fun!! and cant wait to see your IG pics.

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  33. eep!! how fun! you are going to have the best time! and i am super excited to see what Shay and Sheaffer have to say this week! Love those two!

    Posted 4.12.13 Reply
  34. Italy?! I'm green with envy! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have SO MUCH FUN! And eat some extra Italian food for me, okay? Can't wait to check out your pictures! Ciao!

    ~Abby =)

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  35. Oh, you'll love every minute of it. Savor the experience and time with the mister. Miss you already.

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  36. Anonymous wrote:

    Cassie!
    Have a wonderful trip to Italy! This is one place that is on my bucket list. Take lots of photos and I look forward to reading all about your adventures. Safe travels to you and your hubby!

    Pat F.
    Las Vegas

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  37. Have an amazing trip!!!

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  38. Megan wrote:

    So happy for you guys Cass! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  39. I'm incredibly jealous! It looks amazing. I can't wait to live vicariously through you when you come back and recount your adventures to us! Have an amazing time!

    Posted 4.13.13 Reply
  40. Hi, I live in South of France, close to Italy, and I had the chance to go to Florence-Firenze. Our best experience was an exhibition about Botticelli that we visited during the night. No light, no noise, only these wonderful paintings. It was like a dream..

    Enjoy !!
    Sandrine

    Posted 4.14.13 Reply
  41. Man, you are going to have such a great time… wish I could see you in London town.;) Still can't believe that story!!! zz- lbk

    Posted 4.15.13 Reply
  42. i've been to them ALL! (venice is amAzing!) my only advice? eat gelato each and every day!!

    Posted 4.15.13 Reply
  43. You will LOVE Northern Italy! I cannot describe how beautiful Cinque Terra is and how wonderful Florence is… You will love it…

    Posted 4.15.13 Reply
  44. Marsi wrote:

    I have been to Cinque Terre three times, and it is so fantastic. All three times, I have eaten at Trattoria Ciak La Lampara in Monterosso. The best plan would be to do the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso in the morning (it will take about 3 hours probably, it is challenging, but do-able) and then eat at Ciak. Get the seafood ravioli for 2, it is one of the best lunches i have ever had!! Also, Cinque Terra is not known for its red wine, the white wine is much better in this region.

    Posted 4.16.13 Reply
  45. Lisa wrote:

    What an amazing trip – hope you are having a wonderful time! Venice is my absolute favorite city in the world, and Florence is close behind. Never been to Cinque Terre. Can't wait to hear all about it!

    Posted 4.26.13 Reply