Tuscany Day Trip: Lucca

For all of you dreaming & planning a trip to Italy,
here is the continuation of my favorite day trips from Florence.

This one, though, is my favorite. 

Tyler & I call it "our" town...
which it, obviously, is not,
but whenever we walk it's sleepy streets drenched in sunlight,
 it feels like it was built just for us.

Lucca is about an hour and a half northwest of Florence,
and- in my completely insignificant opinion-
represents all that is wonderful in the world.

Clean, rich, romantic...
this walled-city offers the best in dining,
relaxed days riding bikes along it's ancient walls,
and evenings with Puccini's famous operatic tunes
floating through the windy towns idyllic streets.

(Puccini was born in Lucca and nightly concerts are consistently available.)

If you go to Lucca, please let me know.

I would love to hear how you spent your day in "our" town.

To see:

Lucca's uniquely shaped Anfiteatro.
This oval-shaped piazza now serves as a social base
for restaurants, shops, and prestigiously priced apartments,
but it was once home to the town's small coliseum.

Il duomo di Lucca
Set centrally in the city, the main church in Lucca
shows off the city's unique architecture.
Most days, the piazza is full of daily markets selling clothes, honey, and meats.

To eat:

Trattoria da Giulio
I first found this restaurant through an article in Virtuoso Life,
and since then- it's a guaranteed stop every time we are in Lucca.

Though the restaurant sits near the city walls,
and almost as far away from the tourist zone possible...

once you see the wall of celebrities that have dined there, 

 you'll know you've come to the right spot.

With first and second courses ranging between 5-7 euro, 
you'll be happy to have moved out of the city center
for this local gem that serves Tuscan (and Lucchese) classics like
tortelli Lucchese (a rich tortelli filled with veal, beed, and pork)
salsiccia e fagioli (don't be fooled by it's simple look- this is tasty!)
or mixed antipasti full of polenta, vegetables, and meats.


Lucca has great shopping,
but for a local find-
look out for the copper bakeware and pots.

Made in Lucca, these are gorgeously hand-crafted
and reasonably priced around 40 euro each.


Rent bikes near the walls of the city
{these should cost you around 3 euro per bike per hour)
and take the path around the city on the walls.

This is a popular route for locals and tourists alike,
as this high walls offer an easy path 
set along the Tuscan hills.

{You're gonna love it there.}

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

One Year Ago...

...we moved from Dallas to Oxford.

It's been such an amazing 12 months...

We have done so much...
and at times, so little.

We'll always remember that Oxford taught us to...

properly wear "black tie",

shamelessly travel the world, 

and make life-long friends.

We'll never forget this time.

Thanks for being a part of our journey through school...
let's see what new things London can teach us.

What's changed in your life over the past year?

Three Continents. Three Weeks.

It's been nearly three weeks since I returned from India,
 the day after returning from an amazing trip to Italy...

Today I've found myself buried with work today
and with a last minute flight to the states on Saturday.

My body is getting rocked with jet lag this summer.

As an olive branch to you,
dear blogging friends,
for putting up with my silence, neglect, and absence 
over the past, present, and future weeks.

I present to you...
cute pictures of
Prince Harry.

I hope it suffices...
because it's the best this time-starved blogger has to offer.

To all the rest of you paddling hard to keep up this week,
keep going. 

You can do it!

images via

Sick Day Essentials

My mom & dad were here in Italy 
with us last week,
it was great.

We were really sad to see them go,
but were even sadder to hear
that they both caught pneumonia on the flight home.

I would call that a "worst case scenario."

They have been sick for so long,
and are hopefully now on the mend.

So while they are both homebound,
here is my guide to getting better
and trying to keep some sanity.

laura mercier pistachio bubble bath | 30 rock dvds | restoration hardware linens | tea-for-two teapot | girlscout cookies 

I hope they get well soon...
and if you're feeling under the weather,
same to you!

Remember to take care of your bodies, friends...
because being sick is sooo not fun.

Get that extra hour of sleep instead of blogging,
wash your hands throughout the day (airports & planes are germ farms),
stay hydrated (especially if you are flying)
& eat healthy  food that helps your body fight off the junk!

Tuscany Day Trip: Cinque Terre

Ok... another day trip that isn't technically in Tuscany,
but is easily do-able from there...
so, don't fret about it.

Thanks to Rick Steves, 
this hidden paradise has become a hot spot
for American tourists over the past decade.

While Cinque Terre may be loosing a bit of it's secret charm,
it's definitely not shedding any of its beauty.

We went with friends for the day,
and decided to take it easy.

As the five towns 
("Cinque Terre" = "Five Lands")
are connected through a hiking trail,
you can spend several hours taking the gorgeous walk
along the sparking Mediterranean sea.

However, if you are feeling a bit lazy,
like we were,
you can also take the train. 

It's about $1.50 to take the train between each town,
and takes about 5 minutes to reach the next spot...
which means, it's a great option if you're ready to relax.

While each town has it's unique charms,
my favorites are Manarola & Vernazza.

Manarola wins for it's amazing swimming right off the marina
and Vernazza shines for it's perfect sunsets and idyllic dining.

Liguria (the region that the Cinque Terre is located)
has a few famous dishes that are great companions
for your time in the Cinque Terre:
Foccaccia & Pesto!

My recipe for the perfect day in the "5Terre:"

Hit the beach in Manarola first.
The earlier you get there, the better position you'll have for the day.

Grab a slice of (cheap) pizza from the shops above the natural marina.
One should never lay out on an empty stomach...
heaven forbid your tummy look flat. :)

The theme of Italian beaches is to wear as little as possible...
so be prepared to see a lot of skin.

The Mediterranean sun is very intense, 
don't forget your sunscreen & a hat
or you may end up looking like an Italian meatball...

In case you're in need of good sun protection,
I personally use

{Brush-on powder, foundation, sweat=proof, &... SPF 26!}

There is a refreshing shower at the marina
 that is nice for washing off salt water stickiness
that you'll be feeling after your (glorious) swim in the sea.

When you've had enough sun for the day,
head to Vernazza via the train
and for the evening.

Many of the small groceries will provide you 
with anything you could dream of having at a seaside picnic
along the town's iconic rocky harbour...

....olives, fresh mozzerella, meats, fresh bread, sun dried tomatotes....

It cost us $15 to get drinks & (a lot) of salty goodies
to enjoy between the four of us.

I just love cheap pleasantries like that.

For the rest of the daylight,
we just lounged and watched the cutest Italian kids swim
by us in the harbour.

It was one of those moments that makes Italy... Italy.

If you're looking for a good dinner,
head to the middle of the main drag in Vernazza

It's a staple spot for us,
and the owners are just so nice.

The local special, fresh anchovies, are pretty amazing...
even for those of us that would typically be a bit squeamish at the thought.

I would definitely recommend hiking at least one of the trails-
after all, it would be a shame to go all that way 
and miss out on the area's scenic views and lush landscapes.

The path between Riomaggiore & Manarolo is the most famous,
and probably the least difficult. :)

Whatever you decide to do while you are there
or which town you decide to spend your time in,
the good news is:
you'll still most likely have the time of your life!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Tuscany Day Trip: Civita Di Bagnoregio

For anyone looking to experience Tuscany,
and I mean the real Tuscany
(not just downtown Florence),
this weekend I'm happy to share my favorite day trips with you.

Maybe you have been here earlier,
or are planning a trip there soon,
or maybe- it can just serve as inspiration 
for a "someday" trip.

Either way, these are all very obtainable 
-and budget friendly-
day trips you can take from Florence
that seem to provide consistent enjoyment.

Civita Di Bagnoregio is a visual feast.
From it's dramatic position situated in the middle of Tiber river valley
to it's scenic views,
this town is a pleaser for both the men & the ladies.

the tiber river valley. at the edge of bagnoregio, at the start of the crossing to civita
To be honest,
"Civita" is technically not in Tuscany, it's in Lazio...
but as it is easily drivable from Florence,
as well as totally stunning,
 I've added it to our list.

The city was founded by the Etruscans over 2,500 years ago
but like another beloved Italian city...
is literally disappearing gradually over time.

Though unlike Venice's problem of sinking,
Civita loses it's city from landslide and shifts.

Beyond the shrinking city,
The town's population is also shrinking.
In the winter, the town population sits around 12 people.
In the summer, it explodes to almost 100.

To get to Civita,
you'll have to head to Bagnoregio.

You can either drive there
or train to Orvieto and take a bus to Bagnoregio.

Once you arrive in Bagnoregio,
you walk across an amazing bridge into the tiny town.

It is definitely an experience!

There isn't much to do in this small town
other than gawk and eat,
but it's absolutely perfect.

The streets of Civita are quiet & lonely, 
with only a handful of Italian tourist sharing the city with you.

Visiting Civita is ideal for the late morning,
before the day gets too hot 
and to allow you the lunch setting of a lifetime.

The local restaurants are exceptionally good and well-priced,
which is most towns should be expected.

But in Civita is actually quite amazing...
 after you consider that all food & drink has to be carried in 
across the bridge, every single day.

Once you have walked the town, 
had lunch in one of Civita's sleepy piazzas,
head back to Bagnoregio (where you crossed the bridge)
and make your way 30 minutes up the road to Orvieto
to complete the perfect day trip.

*images by Aspiring Kennedy & Rob Garey
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