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Dress: Topshop // Shoes: DSW // Bag: Similar

This isn’t my first little black dress themed post and it certainly won’t be my last.  I am pretty sure my closet will never have enough of them but my most recent find is one of my favorites to date.  This slip dress is so simple making it easy to dress up, as shown below, or down- think tennis shoes and a jean jacket.  I am all for versatility and this has me covered, literally (well, somewhat). I have been purchasing a lot of great pieces from Topshop (via Nordstrom) lately and have not been disappointed.  I’ll be wearing this tank under all my cardigans this Fall, and this is another keeper that I’ve received several compliments on.  I will say that as a European brand I find most of the items to run a bit small.  My hips don’t lie but the size on the tags of this dress do, or so I tell myself. I also have to mention this new beauty of a bag.  I am such a sucker for the Kate Spade Outlet sales.  Every so often the entire store is 40% off and then…an extra 20% off!  When a bag is over $200 off you buy it and don’t look back, unless you see another one that you want.

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A month ago we ventured out on our first trip to Italy.  If you follow along on Instagram you may have seen some snippets from our adventure but today’s post is a full recap of our entire trip! I have yet to write a post like this so if I leave anything out/you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond.

The most common response I received from friends, family and coworkers when I told them about our trip was “You planned it yourselves?” While it does get a tad exhausting to map out travel plans, especially to several cities, I love doing the research it definitely gets me even more excited for the trip. We first figured out which cities were on our list to visit and then how many days we would need in each city. We chose Rome, the region of Tuscany and lastly Venice. We also planned to take day trips to Pisa and Florence while we were staying in Tuscany. Yay for crossing more cities off our list!  I’ll break this post down by each city/town that was stayed in, what hotel we stayed in and what activities we did on each leg of the trip.

ROME

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St. Peter’s Basilica

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Dress: Loft // Sandals: Urban Outfitters // Bag: Old Navy

We started our trip in Rome as we found it was the cheapest airport to fly into.  It was actually even cheaper to fly into Milan but since that wasn’t a top destination on our list we nixed that option.  We landed at about 12:30pm on a Thursday afternoon and stayed in Rome until Saturday.  This gave us just barely two days to explore the city and check out the major historical sites.  It was busy but very doable.  We actually took a red-eye flight from NY and neither of us slept much so after getting checked into the hotel and committing to resisting a nap, our first stop was iced coffee.  That was the first and last iced coffee in Italy.  It was a bit of a struggle to find good coffee in Italy as they seem to serve it sweetened and I do not drink any sugar in my coffee….in case anyone was wondering about my coffee struggles.

Where We Stayed:

Boutique Hotel Roma

Our hotel was walkable from the train station (about 1 mile) and there were lots of restaurants within walking distance.  We did have to take the train to Vatican City but we were able to walk from the hotel to the Colosseum and to the Trevi Fountain.  The room itself was pretty small, but I did read that small rooms are quite common in Rome.  Breakfast was included and they did in fact have American style coffee…score!  Our only complaint/concern about the hotel was the owners request to have the keys dropped at the front desk every time we left the room.  It was a bit strange to us to have to leave our room key with the front desk.  We were told that it was safer with them in case we lose it while we are out exploring.  Fortunately we voiced our concerns about this policy and were allowed to travel around with the key.

What We Did:

Being that we had limited time in Rome I made a list of each place we needed to visit and attempted to plan it all out once we arrived.  The hotel gave us a map and some tips on how to get to each attraction.  We visited the following:

  • Trevi Fountain- It was very crowded but a must see.  We didn’t spend much time there because of the amount of people but had it been less crowded I would have opted to grab some gelato and sit around the fountain for a bit.
  • Colosseum- You must buy tickets to enter but you don’t necessarily need to purchase them in advance.  We visited the Colosseum around 4 o’clock the day we arrived in Rome.  We waited in line for 20-30 minutes in order to buy tickets and enter.  It was definitely a site to see and we didn’t need more than an hour to explore.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica/Vatican City- If you are visiting Vatican City I highly recommend going to St. Peter’s first.  On the way out you can buy tickets for the Vatican Museum which will save you from waiting in line.  I was quite confused while researching prior to our trip but we found that no tickets are required to get into Vatican City and St. Peter’s yet you will need a ticket for the Vatican museum.  We paid a little more in order to purchase tickets for a certain time slot.  When we arrived at the museum we were SO glad we decided to do that as the line (which was all outside) was pretty long and it was in the 80’s that day.
  • Vatican Museum/Sistine’s Chapel (the Chapel is within the museum)-  Many people were on guided tours or using audio tours but we were totally fine exploring at our own pace.

**For both St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum you must wear appropriate attire.  This means covering your knees and shoulders.  There is a chance of being turned away.  I opted for a midi dress and a light scarf which I wrapped around my shoulders.

I should note that we were able to accomplish all this within the two days because we did not take any guided tours.  There are guided tours of many of these historical sites yet they are often long and may require advanced booking.  We both prefer to tour the sites at our own pace, but that’s just our personal preference.  If you enjoy guided tours I suggest researching options before your trip.

Our Favorite Restaurant:

My most memorable meal in Rome was at Sofia.  I honestly can’t remember the name of my dish but if I could rename it I’d call it ‘pure deliciousness.’

TUSCANY

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Antinori Winery (Dress: H&M & also comes in black)

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Sunflower Fields in Cerbaia

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Castellina in Chianti

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a quick stop in Livorno with this model

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The Duomo

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View from Piazalle Michelangelo

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Tuscany is a very large region and I struggled when researching the best place to stay.  There are so many small towns and some larger cities.  We were slightly limited because we booked our trip so last minute, it was kind of a blessing because had we had endless options I may have taken weeks to decide on a place to stay.  We ended up in Castellina in Chianti.  I promise I based my decision off of more than just my love for Chianti.  This small town is about 40 minutes from Florence and 90 minutes from Pisa.  While researching Tuscany I quickly learned that we would be doing a fair amount of driving regardless of the town we chose to stay in, mostly because we wanted to explore more than just the one town itself.

Where We Stayed:

Hotel Colle Etrusco Salivolpi for 3 nights and Borgo Di Pietrafitta Relais for 1 night.  The two hotels were roughly 7 minutes apart but I couldn’t resist staying at Borgo Di Petrafitta Relais for the one night because it had an amazing infinity pool overlooking the countryside.  They did not have full availability for the entire time we were in the area which is why I chose the first hotel for a few nights.  This actually worked out well as we found that Hotel Colle Etrusco Salivolpi had better customer service.  We stayed in a one bedroom apartment at Borgo Di Petriafitta and I would definitely recommend it if you’re visiting the area and looking to have some meals within your room.  It would also work well for families as there was plenty of space within the apartment as well as a game room and grill for barbequing on the property.

What We Did:

We had three full days in Tuscany and decided to make the very best of it.  We arrived on a Saturday and chose to enjoy some wine at the hotel before driving into town (also walkable) for dinner.

  • Pisa- On Sunday we drove out to Pisa for a day of exploring.  We actually found the town to be a bit underwhelming but the Leaning Tower of Pisa was on our list of things to see.  After visiting the tower we took a quick drive out to the coast in Livorno where we walked around the Terrazza Mascagni, a checkerboard print stone terrace, on the waterfront.
  • Florence– On Monday we headed into Florence to see the Duomo and explore the city.  We didn’t take the opportunity to climb the Duomo because it was extremely hot that day and I have read that it is a bit of a narrow stairway.  We opted to take in a view of the city from Piazzale  Michelangelo.  That night we ate one of our favorite meals before heading back to Chianti. Details on that below!
  • Winery Tour and Tasting- What’s a trip to Tuscany without a winery tour?  We toured the Antinori Winery, one of the largest producers of wine in Italy.  It was definitely the most modern place we visited in Tuscany.  The establishment is hidden on top of a hill and was 100x larger than we expected.  This is a huge production and we were able to take an hour tour of the facility.  We did book this about 2 days in advance on their website .  There is a restaurant located on the rooftop of the winery but unfortunately we did not have time to stay for a bite to eat.
  • sunflower field- This was not planned but I can’t leave it out as it was definitely a highlight of the trip for this sunflower lover!  I had hoped we would see some of the infamous sunflower fields but knew it may not happen as sunflower season had passed and we had driven by several fields of dead sunflowers (may they RIP).  On our drive to Pisa we stopped for breakfast and I grabbed a gelato.  Driving through the Italian countryside with my gelato in hand I was literally telling myself ‘life could not get any better right now’ and BOOM there they were, an endless field of my favorite flowers.  Jeremy knew to immediately pull over so I could frolic amongst the beauty.  The pictures really speak for themselves, this was one of my favorite parts of our trip.

Favorite Restaurants:

Our two favorite meals were at La Taverna di San Guiseppe in Siena and La Giostra in Florence.  Both require reservations.  We saw many parties get turned away from La Giostra if they didn’t have reservations.

 

VENICE

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Gondola after gondola after gondola

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Pizza at Rizzo

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After dropping our rental car off in Florence we hopped on the train for a two hour ride to Venice.  After lots of sightseeing in Rome and driving throughout Tuscany we were excited to have some downtime in Venice.  We had no plans other than to walk the mazes streets and explore the city…one pizzeria at a time.

Where We Stayed:

Our last two nights in Italy were spent at the Duodo Palace Hotel and it ended up being my favorite hotel of our trip.  I am quite picky about hotel rooms as I get a little weirded out thinking about how many people sleep in those beds and use those same sheets.  Currently cringing just thinking about it.  Either way, this hotel felt SO clean and we were pleasantly surprised to have landed the only room in the hotel with a balcony overlooking a canal.

What We Did:

  • Gondola Ride- This was a must.  I knew it was a bit overpriced at 80 Euro for a half hour but I could not leave Venice without a gondola ride.  It was definitely a tad overrated and our gondolier was on his phone while rowing us around #rude, but it was still a fun memory!  The gondolas are way fancier than I had expected, fur seats and shiny red interior, so lavish.
  • Ate food. YUP, we really did just walk around enjoying the last two days of our trip.  It was the perfect ending and we were definitely exhausted by this point.

Favorite Restaurants:

Dal Moro’s – delicious pasta to go and the staff were so friendly!

Rizzo- I cannot find the a website or trip advisor link for the life of me but the pizza here was SO good.

 

 

& that’s a wrap! If you are planning a trip and have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.  I’ll happily live vicariously through your travels…while helping you plan!

 

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Skirt: Nordstrom (old); Similar options- 12345 // Top: H&M // Shoes: DSW // Bag: Similar

It’s been a few weeks too long since my last post! If you follow along on Instagram you may know that Jeremy and I were in Italy at the end of August. I’m planning to post a travel guide/recap of our trip soon (hold me to it!). Oh, and we got engaged!!!! ! I think I’ll spill more details on that in a later post but I am finally back in my routine and can’t wait to share some Fall content with you all! That being said, the weather has reminded me that it’s still Summer here in Connecticut and I can’t put on my sweaters and OTK boots just yet. I did decide to start a s l o w transition to Fall by pulling out this suede skirt. Baby steps, baby steps. Anybody else still holding on to Summer? Or maybe I should ask if anyone else IS NOT excited for pumpkin spice lattes. I can’t seem to understand the hype but then again I’m not a fan of flavored coffee. Speaking of coffee…

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Jeans: Similar (same brand & style)// T-Shirt: Madewell–  via Nordstrom // Shoes: Old; Similar // Bag: Nordstrom  // Watch: Christian Paul c/o

My go-to for casual days is  jeans/shorts and a white t-shirt.  Sure, you may have some colored t-shirts but everyone needs to have AT LEAST one good white tee.  I’m sure you all own one and if you’re like me you wear the heck out of it!  The hard part isn’t knowing you need one, it’s finding the one that fits the best.  I know, I know…how hard could it be to find a basic white tee?  I thought it was quite easy for years.  I bought every white t-shirt I came across (because you can never have too many) but they always shrunk, didn’t lay right, or became ‘pilly’ after a few washes.  Side note: I HATE WHEN CLOTHES/BLANKETS START TO PILL.  I know pilly is not a word, mostly because it took me five attempts to type it without autocorrect changing it to ‘silly’, but I use it frequently because all pilled items MUST GO.

Anyways, it’s with great pride that I announce the debut of the best white tee my closet has ever seen/my body has ever worn. It has the perfect v-neck, not to deep and not too shallow, and the overall fit is just right.  It is a relaxed fit but not at all sloppy-looking.  This is the one item that I’ll willingly do laundry for so that I can wear it again and again and again.  Random fact- growing up my mom did laundry DAILY so I never knew what it felt like to want to wear something but not be able to because it was still in the laundry basket.  Heck, I probably didn’t even need a laundry basket. Thanks, Momma.

Happy Friday!  It’s time for jorts and…you guessed it, my beloved white t-shirt.

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Dress: Bloomingdales // Shoes: DSW ; Similar // Bag: Similar

Whenever wedding season starts I start scouring the racks for dresses.  Of course I can’t bring myself to wear the same dress to more than one wedding so I always try to grab a few cocktail dresses every Summer.  My two go-to stores are Bloomingdales and Nordstrom as they both have a wide selection of dresses.  Nordstrom has free shipping and returns and if you sign up as a Bloomingdales Loyalist (it’s free) you can also get free shipping on your purchases!   Anybody else get dissuaded from making purchases when you have to pay for shipping?

I recently purchased this dress which I wore to a friends wedding last month.  While I usually try to buy something other than black I could not resist the pretty lace detailing on this dress and I wasn’t the only one.  I received a bunch of compliments and may have to consider re-wearing this one to a future wedding, it is THAT good.   The length, the fabric and the fit make for a killer combo.  And yes, I was able to get down in it…movement and comfort is a non-negotiable for weddings!

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