Summer is almost over, but here at COL1972 we are soaking up every moment we have left of these sunny, warm, relaxing days. If you have been following along with us on social media, you already know we are having an exciting summer. If you did not follow along, here’s the recap: we spent a little over a month in Europe, visiting Italy and Portugal! Our maternal great-grandparents and paternal grandparents immigrated (legally) to the United States from Italy in 1921 and 1968 respectively, so it was a huge blessing to be able to return to their homeland and visit our family there. We even had the opportunity to meet some of our cousins whom we had never met before!
While we were away, many of you asked us to share our itinerary, recommendations, and tips & tricks for the Italian vacation of your dreams. Here at Culture of Life, we believe that you must make time for new life experiences. Spending quality time with family and creating memories together is essential for a fulfilling and joyful life. One way our family does this is by traveling. Our time in Italy provided the break our family needed to recharge, bond, learn new things, and make lifelong memories. That being said, we are thrilled to share the highlights of our trip with you in hopes that you and your families can have the same relaxing, exciting experience we did in our travels!
We arrived on a Thursday morning in Rome and drove to stay in with our relatives in Offida, Ascoli Piceno in Marche, Italy. This was probably our favorite part of the whole trip, and not just because our family and family history live there. If you’re looking for a quaint small town to experience local Italian life, we absolutely recommend Offida! It’s big enough to keep you occupied for a few days but small enough that you will still see Nonnas (Italian grandmothers) sweeping their front stoops with their nipoti (grandchildren) nearby playing. There are several old churches and museums to visit, plus it’s only 25 minutes from the Adriatic Sea! Finally, you must purchase some handmade lace, which is what Offida is known for around the world.
On Saturday morning, we left Offida to spend a week in the Amalfi Coast. We rented an AirBnb in Praiano, which is a smaller, lest tourist town along the coast. Unless you have significant amounts of experience driving along the Amalfi Coast, we DO NOT recommend driving there. There is only one road in and out of the Amalfi Coast, and it is tiny, filled with busses, mopeds, and people…and Italian drivers are maniacs. While we were there, we spent a day visiting Pompeii, which was only about an hour away. We also spent a day in Capri and a day in Positano. Both have excellent shopping, wonderful views, and delicious restaurants. To get to Capri from Praiano, we took a taxi boat to Positano and then jumped on a ferry straight to Capri from there. We spent one day at the beach in Praiano, which was so relaxing! Be aware: Italian beaches on the Amalfi do not have sand. They are usually pebbles or large rocks, so you’ll want to reserve beach chairs the day before you plan to go. Another morning we hiked the Path of the Gods, which we absolutely recommend! The views are unbelievable!
After the week in Amalfi, we drove to Rome and spent five days there. On Sunday, we did our own walking tour and we stopped by the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona. There are several amazing restaurants in the Piazza Navona, so you should make time to grab dinner there. On Monday and Tuesday, we had guided tours scheduled. Definitely book a tour guide for at least two days…there is so much to see and so much to learn in Rome. It can be confusing to understand what or impossible to know what you’re seeing without an expert. Plus, you can avoid lines, get access to private areas, and even private drivers with tour guides. We spent Monday at the Vatican and at the Roman Catacombs. On Tuesday, we toured the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Wednesday and Thursday we took time to do some souvenir shopping, eat our last few long, authentic Italian meals, and pack up because on Friday morning, we flew to Portugal (you’ll have to check back in a few weeks for the Portuguese itinerary)!
DOs and DON’Ts
DO pack lots of COL1972! Remember, Italy is home to one of the fashion capitals of the world (Milan), so you’ll want to pack plenty of trendy summer outfits! Here’s a few COL pieces we packed that were essential:
- White Ruffle Crop Top and White Maxi Skirt – this outfit screams Amalfi Coast! We wore the items together as a matching set when we went out for a nice family dinner but also wore the pieces separately for different daytime looks! These pieces also kept us cool during the heat of the day.
- I Speak Fluent Italian Tote – we used this bag as our personal item on the plane. It is big enough to hold all your plane essentials and it’s excellent quality, so you can be confident that it can withstand the requirements of travel.
- 2022 Baseball Hat – keeping your face shielded from the European sun is ESSENTIAL if you want to age gracefully! We wore our matching 2022 Baseball Hats everywhere!
- Bold Block Letter 1972 Necklace – what’s an outfit without cute accessories? This reimagined 1972 necklace is bigger than previous designs so you can be sure to stand out for life wherever you go!
DO eat gelato every day…it is so much more flavorful and creamy than American ice cream.
DO learn some essential Italian phrases. Italians love when you try to speak their language, even if it’s basic. Most people speak at least a little English, but you will inevitably meet someone who doesn’t! Fortunately, our dad is fluent so he took care of most of the translation, but he was not able to stay the whole time so we had to fend for ourselves. Here’s a few phrases to get you started:
- Ciao – hello
- Arrivederci – goodbye
- Buon giorno – good morning
- Buona sera – good evening
- Buona notte – good night
- Per favore – please
- Grazie – thank you
- Si – yes
- No – no
DON’T cut your pasta. For the love of everything that is good in this world, please just don’t.
DON’T leave your belongings alone, especially in the big cities. The last thing you want on your trip is for your passport and credit cards to be lost or stolen! We carried our 1972 Pink Fanny Pack with us everywhere to keep our important documents, cash, and credit cards conveniently on us at all times!
DON’T forget to bring cash! There are still places that do not accept credit cards, so be sure you have euros with you at all time!
Finally, DON’T forget to have fun! Making memories, trying new things, learning, and spending time with the ones you love no matter where you are adds so much value to life!
Click HERE to watch our Italy highlights YouTube video!