Tag Archives: pizza

Florence Part 1

I’m back with the next post in my series about our trip to Italy! As mentioned in my previous post When in Rome, our next destination was Florence.

DAY 3

In the morning of our third day in Italy, we went to the train station in Rome and traveled to Florence. It’s a high-speed train, so the trip only 1.5 hours, and it goes through beautiful parts of the countryside on the way. We relaxed, read books, and listening to music. And it cost less than $50 total. I wish that the US had more trains like this!

TIP: Buy tickets in advance online. It saved us a lot of time and hassle to have our tickets already.

After arriving in Florence (aka Firenze), we took a taxi to our new Air BnB. This Air BnB was beautiful, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the summer months. It does not have air conditioning, which wouldn’t be so bad if there were screens on the windows. Unfortunately when it got stuffy we either had to deal with the warmth or open the windows and let bugs in. The Air BnB was also quite close to the road. We were able to drown out the street noise with white noise on Derek’s laptop, but it is not be the best place for light sleepers.

TIP: Always check Air BnBs for air conditioning if you’re traveling in the summer! I am a silly American who is used to it being standard and did not check until after we booked. Whoops!

On the plus side, the Air BnB had a great location that allowed us to walk almost everywhere. We set out to explore on foot as soon as we were settled in. Since we arrived in Florence in the early afternoon, we decided to do something low key and check out Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s a square dedicated to – you guessed it – Michelangelo, and we heard it had a fantastic view of Florence.

It took us about 30 minutes to walk there. Be forewarned- it involves a ton of stairs!

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#legday

After spending the morning on the train, it felt good to get some walking in, and the weather was amazing. It was in the mid 70s and breezy.

People were not exaggerating about the view. It was incredible.

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There were beautiful gardens up there as well.

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Stopping to smell the roses. 

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And of course there was a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David.

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After all of our walking around and climbing stairs, we decided it was time for a pizza comparison. Our Air BnB host recommended Pizza e Carbone Acasamia, which was less than a 10 minute walk from the apartment.

TIP: Italians generally do not eat dinner until at least after 8pm. There was only one other group at this place until almost 9pm.

We started out with a salad and beer, which Derek was quite excited about. Of note, we accidentally ordered an entire pitcher due to our poor Italian. Oh well!

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He finally got some beer in the land of wine.

Derek and I both agreed that the pizza at this place was one of the food highlights of the trip and hands-down the best pizza of our lives.

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Veggie pizza with bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini,  and mushrooms. 

TIP: Pepperoni and peperoni (Italian) are not the same thing. Peperoni refers to bell peppers.

We actually went back our last night in Florence because we liked it so much.

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Prosciutto, tomato, and ricotta.

DAY 4

On our first full day in Florence we decided to spend the morning checking out a market near our Air BnB followed by an afternoon at the Duomo since we knew it was going to rain later in the day.

Exploring Mercato Sant’Ambrogio was another excellent recommendation from our Air BnB host.

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We loved strolling around and looking at all the different foods, flowers, and goods available.

We decided to get brave and cook a meal at the Air BnB for dinner and picked up a few things to take back with us.

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Our spoils from the market. 

Trying to explain how much beef and pasta we wanted in our stellar Italian was hilarious for us and the poor guy assisting us. I think we provided his entertainment for the day. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of the final product, but it was delicious!

After our morning adventure at the market, we made our way to the heart of the city to see the Duomo, the main cathedral in Florence.

After we got our tickets, we waited in line to enter the building. It started to rain, which cleared out the crowds quite a bit. We were prepared with ponchos and umbrellas and decided to tough it out. However, we thought that a little gelato might help the situation.

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Pistachio for Derek and tiramisu for me.

The US really needs to do the whole gelato thing. So good!

After about 45 minutes we reached the front of the line and started the climb inside the Duomo.

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See the gray arches at the top of the dome? We climbed up INSIDE those. It was like climbing a ladder in a tunnel. The experience was crazy/claustrophobic/incredibly cool.

The ceiling art was mind boggling and striking. How did they do that?

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And the view at the top was awe-inspiring.

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After conquering the dome climb, we spent the rest of the time checking out the actual cathedral and the various museums associated with it.

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I didn’t get as many pictures in the museums, but we learned a ton about the selection of art and architecture as well as how the Duomo was built.

After a fun day full of Italian culture, food, and history, we headed back to the Air BnB to cook dinner and rest up for our “Best of Tuscany” trip schedule for the next day. I’ll dedicate an entire post to that day. The places we went on the tour were our favorites of the entire trip.

Air BnB Info

At Ghibellina – Central Florence

Firenze, Toscana, Italy

<blockquote>A 200 metri da Piazza Santa Croce, dietro le antiche carceri delle Murate attuale sede dell’omonimo caffè letterario, deliziosa dimora fiorentina ideale per vivere nel cuore della città e muoversi …</blockquote></div>https://www.airbnb.com/embeddable/airbnb_jssdk</div>

When in Rome

As I mentioned in my Episode 0 post, Derek and I took a very delayed honeymoon trip to Italy. It was an absolutely wonderful trip, and I thought it would be fun to share here on Brown is the New Pink via a series of posts. I’ll also include some travel tips, just in case you’re considering a trip to Italy, too!

We traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice for a total of 9 full days. In addition to the main cities, we also took two day trips out of Florence to the Tuscan countryside and to Cinque Terra. I’ll kick off the Italy trip series with our first stop: Rome!

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The journey begins!

DAY 1

We flew out of the Charlotte airport directly to Rome on an overnight flight. The flight went as well as can be expected for international travel, and we managed to get a taxi and travel to our Air BnB without any issues. We loved our Air Bnb in Rome! I highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a trip. I’ll put some info about where we stayed at the bottom of the post for those interested.

TIP: Driving in Italy (especially Rome) is insane! The lines on the road are really more of a suggestion than law. 🙂  Unless you are very confident and comfortable driving in another country, I would suggest using public transport if at all possible.

Given the 6 hour time difference, our 9:45am arrival time felt like 3:45am. We were thrilled to be in Italy but totally exhausted. We ended up taking a brief nap, which was definitely worth it.

After our power nap, it was on to sightseeing! We walked about 45 minutes heading towards the Colosseum and took in the city.

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Piazza Venezia

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Tiber River

We arrived at the Colosseum late in the afternoon. It was actually good timing because we hardly had to wait in line, and it wasn’t very crowded.

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Selfie stick for the win!

TIP: If you’re interested in hearing more about the history of the Colosseum, you may want to consider taking a guided tour instead of the audio tour. The audioguides were just OK here.

It was truly awesome, in the traditional sense of the word, to stand in the Colosseum and talk about its history and significance. Like many places we visited on the trip, there’s just nothing comparable in the US because it’s a relatively new country.

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The Colosseum at sunset.

By the time we walked all around the Colosseum the sights were closing, and we didn’t get a chance to tour the Roman Forum. We were pretty bummed about it! Derek double-majored in biology and ancient history (i.e., lots of Roman history), and I took a Roman art class during college so we were excited about the forum. (Is it super obvious that UNC is a liberal arts college, yet? 🙂 ) We did, at least, check it out from above. It’ll be on our list if we head back to Rome someday!

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Derek looking out over the Roman Forum.

After all that walking and the previous day of travel, we were famished! We stopped at restaurant called Piazza Sforza Cesarini on our way back to the Air BnB. It was a beautiful evening (low humidity, low 70s), so we enjoyed our wine and pizza on the patio.

People were not joking about how cheap wine is in Italy and how often everyone drinks it. I think I found my people!

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Margherita

We both decided on pizza, and it was delicious. (Though the best pizza of the trip was still yet to come in Florence.)

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Al Prosciutto Fungi

TIP x3:

  1. Italians like to enjoy leisurely meals, and the servers usually do not bring the bill (il conto) unless you ask for it.
  2. You do not need to tip! Most places include a service charge. We often left a small tip out of habit but definitely not as much as we would leave in the US.
  3. Expect to pay for water, and don’t expect ice.

We finished walking home and then promptly passed out. Besides our quick power nap, we had been awake for almost 36 hours straight.  It was some of the best sleep of my life.

DAY 2

After a glorious night of sleep we were well rested and ready to explore.

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Looking much more awake!

Checking out the Vatican was our plan for the day.

TIP: Remember to dress modestly for trips to the Vatican. Cover your shoulders and legs down to at least below the knee. (I wore a maxi dress with a sweater which worked out well.)

On our way there we stopped in a little cafe for breakfast. It was one of the few places where we were the only people who spoke English. Ordering was little tricky, but we were able to do it with our shoddy Italian. (By the way if you know any Spanish, it will be helpful in Italy. The languages are more similar than I thought!)

TIP: Most Italians drink coffee/espresso quickly and standing up. Expect to pay more to sit down at some places.

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Latte macchiato, cappuccino, pistachio cream pastry, and apple pastry.

I am so bummed that I can’t remember the name of this place because it was one of our favorite meals throughout the whole trip. The coffee/espresso in Italy is to die for generally, and the pistachio pastry was AMAZING.

Next we headed to the Vatican Museums. The audioguides here were excellent, and the museum is HUGE.

TIP: Buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance. We spent about an hour waiting in line to buy tickets while the people who bought them in advance zoomed right in.

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Nearly every room has an ornate ceiling.

The Sistine Chapel was, of course, amazing to see in person. (Though, to be honest, the crowds pushing around in there sort of take away from the experience.) However, my favorite part of the museum were the Rafael Rooms. They were unsurprisingly beautiful, but I most enjoyed hearing about the symbology and history of the rooms. It was fascinating!

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Perseus with the Head of Medusa

After several hours walking around the museum, we were pooped and decided to start heading back toward our Air BnB. On the way back we stopped at St. Peter’s Square.
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St. Peter’s Square

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Views on the walk home.

We capped off the day with happy hour on our Air Bnb’s gorgeous terrace and a relaxing dinner at a small restaurant down the street.

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Happy hour on the terrace in Rome. NBD.

The next day we headed to Florence for four days of our adventure. Stay tuned for more trip recaps!

Air BnB Info


Vatican Terrace

Rome, Lazio, Italy

<blockquote>This elegant and bright apartment is located on the ground floor of an elegant building close to St. Peter’s. It has recently been renovated with high quality white oak parquet floors in all rooms….</blockquote></div>https://www.airbnb.com/embeddable/airbnb_jssdk</div>

18 Hours in Chattanooga {Weekend Recap}

Hello! Hope your week is going swimmingly! I wanted to pop in and tell you about my weekend. It was an absolute whirlwind.

After grabbing a quick dinner on Friday after work, Derek and I headed to Raleigh to celebrate my best friend Jenna’s birthday.

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Happy birthday Jenna!

We had ice cream cake and a couple of drinks before heading downtown to begin our Trolley Pub Raleigh adventure.

If you don’t already know, Trolley Pub is essentially a roving bar. You bring your own wine and beer and drink while you ride around the city. Trolley Pub is powered by pedaling, so instead of sitting on traditional bar stools you’re on a bike seat (with a lap seatbelt connected to the trolley).

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The whole crew on the Trolley Pub.

We had blast! I highly recommend it if you’re in the Raleigh area. According to the website, Trolley Pub is also located in Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, Pennsylvania, and St. Thomas.

Derek and I didn’t get back from Raleigh until 2am. The next morning we woke up around 10am, got ready, packed, and headed out the door to meet my family in Chattanooga, Tennessee for Jared’s big race. My brother Jared and I signed up for the 7 Bridges and 4 Bridges Marathon and Half-Marathon, respectively. However, due to injuries I wasn’t able to run the half. Instead I decided to walk the 2 Bridges 5K with Derek, my mom, and my dad while Jared raced.

We arrived in Chattanooga around 7pm after a 7.5 hour drive. We immediately dropped our stuff off at the Downtown Chattanooga Residence Inn (which was a great place to stay, by the way) and walked across the street to meet my family at Big River Grille for dinner. The food and beer were delicious, and it was so great to see my family! By the time we finished eating/catching up and walked back to the hotel it was time to hit the sack.

Jared’s race started at 7am, so we were all up around 5:30am to get ready. We walked over to the start since it was less than 1 mile away. I was impressed with Jared’s calm demeanor; I would probably be freaking out. Before we knew it, he was off. My parents, Derek, and I waited around at the start for another half hour before our 5K started at 7:30am.

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We took some sweet pre-dawn photos on the winner’s podium.

We were treated to a beautiful sunrise while we waited.

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Our 5K only went across 2 bridges, but the course was gorgeous!

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I stopped to get a photo of this sculpture while we were walking. Chattanooga has cool and interesting art all over the city.

We finished the 5K a little after 8am.

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With about 3 hours to kill before we expected Jared to finish, we walked back to the hotel to eat breakfast, change clothes, and hang out for a bit.

On the walk back to the finish we noticed gold shoe prints on the sidewalk ever few hundred feet. It turns out that they were showing different dance steps. I took a picture of the waltz.

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Isn’t that cool? Downtown Chattanooga is awesome! I wish we had more time to explore. We all decided we should go back sometime to check it out.

My parents, Derek, and I waited at the finish, anxiously looking out for Jared. We were all so pumped when we saw him come around the corner looking strong!

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The classic victory stance of a marathon-finisher. Go Jared!

I think finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment in itself, but he finished in his goal time of 4 hours exactly. How awesome is that?!? I’m so glad that Derek and I could be there with my parents to see Jared complete his first marathon.

After we found Jared, it was time to refuel. We headed to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and beer. NOM.

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Around 1pm, after just 18 hours in Chattanooga, Derek and I hopped in the car to start the 7.5 hour journey back to Durham.

It was a crazy, hectic weekend, but we had fun. I’m proud of my brother for finishing his first marathon. It was inspiring to see him finish the race after all of his training. Congratulations Jared!

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