My dearest Italy. I always knew I would get back to the beautiful vistas of Italy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first. Before I started this little blog, I was the co-founder of another blog with one of my best friends and then-roommate Meggie called Heartfelt Confessions. When Meggie moved back to Charleston, we decided to split Heartfelt Confessions into our own separate blogs, and voila! Just a Touch Too Much and Disco Teepee were born. Now we’ve decided to bring our blogs together for a new travel partnership series called “Two Blondes Travel” #BlondesBeTrippin. We’ll document our travels including where to eat, where to sleep, what to do, what to see, and everything in between. So let’s get to our first travel guide.
Florence, Italy is truly a magical city. There’s history on every corner, music playing in every piazza and palazzo, and gelato stands are open until 11:30pm. What’s not to love?! My first trip to Florence was way back in 2010, and I knew then that it would be the first of many. Since this was Meggie’s first trip to Florence, I was so excited to show her all of my favorite places and parts of Florence. I knew it would be tough, but I knew we had to climb to the top of the Duomo to take in the most impressive 360 degree view of Florence and Tuscany. The tough part was that we’d have to climb 463 narrow and steep steps to get there. That climb wasn’t too bad in my early 20’s, but it quickly became clear that we are not as young as we once were. Nevertheless, we persisted. And once again, the view at the top made the intense climb well worth it.
On our first evening in Florence, we decided to just walk around town and see where our steps took us. It wasn’t long before my steps directed me towards a plate of mushroom risotto (riso ai funghi porcini), and a glass of vino. We found a cute little restaurant off the beaten path that had the cutest little Italian maitre d’ and risotto to boot! Afterwards we continued our leisurely stroll until it got dark. We stopped in at Grom for some late night gelato and wandered down to the Palazzo Vecchio. Everytime I have set foot in this palazzo at night, there is always someone playing the most beautiful music. Since Meggie is a music blogger, I had to take her. We weren’t disappointed. A single man sat near a corner of the palazzo and played the most soulful music on his guitar. It was perfect.
The next day, we continued our wandering around town to the carousel on the Piazza della Republica. Meggie decided it was time to finally try some true Italian pizza and taste test an Aperol Spritz cocktail which we had been seeing on every table at every restaurant. A glass full of one of the booziest cocktails I’ve had in awhile and a couple of cute and flirty waiters turned our lunch into a two-hour pit stop. Afterwards we decided to make it down to the Ponte Vecchio since this was another major landmark we’d heard so much about. The Ponte Vecchio has a beautiful view of the Arno River and is swarming with tourists and vendors.
For our last night in Italy we grabbed a fancy dinner at Acqua al 2, a 40-year old culinary mainstay in Florence. I had eaten here on my last trip and I simply had to get my hands on their blueberry steak (filetto al mirtillo nero). It didn’t disappoint. But Meggie and I were feeling a little adventurous so we also split a pasta dish that merged tortellini’s, avocado slices, of all things, pomegranate seeds (tortelli giganti con ricotta, spinaci, avocado e chicci di melagrana)! It was such an unexpected dish and flavor. The pomegranate seeds kept giving off a burst of tartness that just made the dish really special.
And after two days of wandering the streets, piazzas, and palazzos of Florence, it was time to catch a train to…
So the real reason for our trip to Europe, and Italy specifically was for our friend Katherine‘s wedding in Treviso, Italy (near Venice). Honestly, we had never heard of Treviso before Katherine made it her wedding venue so we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Treviso turned out to be a wonderful surprise and the wedding was the most magical wedding I have ever seen. In Treviso, our friend Julie Anne met up with us to celebrate Katherine, and dial up our travel antics to an 11.
Admittedly, Treviso is a very small, somewhat sleepy town. But it’s a stunning place with lazy rivers, cobblestone streets, and minimal tourists. Katherine’s wedding took place riverside at Odeon alla Colonna, literally overlooking an old turn-of-the-century mill, complete with a royal blue chesterfield couch, victrola, and prosecco! It was so beautiful that Meggie, Julie Anne and I couldn’t resist a few impromptu photoshoots before and after the wedding.
Afterwards, we were all bussed to an inn about 30 minutes into the country side called Locanda Rosa Rosae. This is where the “Is this real life!?” feeling really kicked into high gear. We were welcomed with an entryway overflowing with flowers, and a dinner table full of food (which turned out to only be the first of five courses!). Walking through the inn to the backyard, we see a small vineyard that runs alongside another small river just as the sun is going down.
The wedding party consisted of only 20 people but after five courses of food, numerous bottles of wine (some of which were dated 2020 which only got more confusing as the wine continued to flow), and a playlist by Meggie that was just too good not to dance to, it felt as though there were three times that many people celebrating Katherine and her new husband Courtney. Surprisingly, the final meat course (I think it was maybe course 4) was a seared tuna dish that once again included pomegranate seeds! This must be the current food craze in Italy.
The next morning Meggie, Julie Anne, and I hopped on a plane to cruise over to…
This was my first time in Germany, but it most certainly won’t be my last. While we were planning our trip, Julie Anne realized that Oktoberfest would still be going on in Munich. None of us having ever been to the real Oktoberfest, we couldn’t resist a little hop over to Germany with a couple of dirndls and fake German names for some beer-induced mischief. I wasn’t really sure what to expect at Oktoberfest, but I definitely didn’t expect what I got. To draw you a picture, it’s the most redneck, southern church carnival but with only marginally fewer people speaking grammatically correct English. Also all of the men wear gingham button–ups under the lederhosen. I’m a sucker for a guy in a gingham button-up.
Tents the size of football fields line the main strip when you first enter the fairgrounds, and then behind those are several rows of classic carnival rides and rollercoasters. All that was missing was the Gravitron. First things first, we found the nearest concessions stand and each inhaled a pretzel the size of my face. #noregrets The important thing to know when attending Oktoberfest is that it’s okay if you didn’t book a table months in advance. Most tents keep tables open on a first come, first serve basis up until 4pm when the reservations start kicking in. But by then, if you’ve had enough beer (one stein equals 1 liter) and roasted chicken it really doesn’t matter. Since we were three girls dressed in dirndls we quickly made friends with people who invited us to stay, drink, and prost at their table. I’ve never been a big beer drinker, but that beer was GOOD.
We decided to bounce around from tent to tent to see what we see and quickly made two very interesting observations. The first, European men (and Bavarian men specifically) love me. Like a lot. Again, #noregrets. The second, was the two songs that made every single tent of people lose their minds. Tina Turner’s “You’re Simply the Best” and John Denver’s “Country Road” are apparently the songs that get every European party started. Who knew?
But after 7+ hours on our feet, 3 liters of beer each, 1 1/2 chickens split between the three of us, 4 or 5 biergarten tents, and a 1/2 meter bratwurst for each of us, it was time to head home and wind down this European excursion. We ate our weight in food and drink, but luckily Europe is like a cruise; you do so much walking that you don’t gain any weight! The magic of Europe continues!
I know my first trip to Europe made the travel bug bite me, so I’m crossing my fingers that Meggie won’t want to wait another 7 years before a return visit like me. But as we start this blossoming travel partnership series, it’ll be interesting to see just how crazy and how far our travels take us. Thanks for following along, and check out Meggie’s travel post as well. Let us know in the comments section if there’s any place you’d like to see us travel to. #BlondesBeTrippin
Thank you to Kate Puckett for allowing us the use of her song “Dance Now” in our video recap.