Valerie Wilson Travel

Tour de Italy

What was supposed to be a trip to the Amalfi Coast, was postponed, and ended up being an off-season vacation to Italy. Our trip took place towards the end of March, which I think is a great time to visit. This time of year is ideal for exploring the city, museum hopping, and relaxing in the countryside. The only thing really out of reach is swimming at the beach, which doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous trip! The weather was in the seventies during the day and we wore light jackets at night.  


We started our trip in the bustling, capital city of Rome. To give you an overview, Rome is the largest city in Italy and to no surprise can be full of people – we used lime scooters to easily access the narrow pathways of the city. As old as the city is, there is a modern metropolitan feel that mixes cobblestone roads and ancient buildings with the culture of modern Italy. One of the first activities in Rome was an early access, private morning tour of the Vatican. I used a private historian to walk us through the enchanting history and highlights of this majestic fortress. We stood in the tapestry hallway almost alone, and it felt magical imagining all the important people that had walked this hall before. This was very surreal to have such a worldwide destination all to ourselves – the off-season serves you well. 

We stayed for a few nights at Hotel Campo de’ Fiori, a more traditional Italian boutique hotel in a great location. The hotel sits just off the beloved square of Campo dei Fiori – a true gem of Rome with a marketplace full of fresh foods, daily finds, and deep history.  What I loved about this location was how easy it was to get to one of my favorite neighborhoods, Trastevere – where Stanley Tucci explores on his show. The neighborhood feels authentic and offers some of my favorite restaurants. I found the restaurant Trapizzino in Condé Nast, a popular local restaurant where the first pizza/sandwich was invented. Trapizzino is a very popular Italian street food, and for good reason – you must try it!  

We had dinner at the classic staple, Tonnarello. Get there early as there will most likely be a line around the building, and they don’t take reservations, but it is worth the wait and the lines moves quickly. The cacio e pepe was incredible. If you are looking for dessert, and the best hand-crafted gelato, La Gelateria Frigidarium is the place to go. There is no better way to end the day than a nightcap at The Court Rome. The cocktails are quite expensive, but the views are priceless. You’re provided an unobstructed view of the colosseum – it’s worth the splurge to sit in the moment and overlook one the most important structures of history.  

The Gallery of Tapestries in the Vatican
La Gelateria Frigidarium
The Court Rome 

After our adventures in Rome, we rented a car and drove up the coastline en route to Tuscany. We stopped into Siena for a detour and made our way to Piazza del Campo where locals were relaxing and enjoying “la dolce vita.” 

Tuscany was the perfect breather in the middle of our trip. It is truly the best place to take in the beauty of Italy, drink wine, and relax. We stayed at Villa Borgo del Cabreo, a very boutique Italian family-owned estate. The property is beautiful and sits on the top of a hill overlooking the small Chianti town of Greve, a great spot for exploring the Chianti wine region. The villa had spacious rooms that felt traditional, sophisticated, and chic, with brass hardware and warm colors. We loved the breakfast spread every morning and the natural sunlight that came into the garden room. 

On our first night, we had one of our favorite dinners in Greve at a restaurant called La Terraza and ate the most amazing truffle pasta. We met with a new DMC (Destination Management Company) called Bespoke Tuscany with over fifteen years of experience, and spent the day in a very small, family-owned cooking class. The class was run by a father, mother, uncle, and daughter and the mother spoke only Italian. At Agriturismo Rocco the father and daughter combo still choose how they will blend the wines and when they will bottle their creations. It was spectacular to see such passion go into every bottle of wine. 

Piazza del Campo – Sienna, Tuscany 
Borgo del Cabreo – Greve in Chianti 
Truffle Pasta from La Terraza – Greve in Chianti 

We ended the trip in one of my favorite cities in the world – Florence. The perfect combination of city and the overflow of the Tuscan lifestyle, where any sight you’re interested in is a short walk away. We stayed at the new Virtuoso property, Hotel Brunelleschi – a mix of traditional Italian and modern style. The location was exquisite, and we could easily access everything we had planned. It did rain the first two days, but that didn’t stop us from exploring this magical city- from the Uffizi Gallery (just a five-minute walk), the Duomo (around the corner), and my favorite leather shop Misuri located in the Santa Croce square. Near the Uffizi gallery, the newly opened Gucci Garden was a perfect stop for afternoon tea, with sophisticated interiors and a colorful bar. 

We had to visit the iconic Mercato Centrale Firenze, a food and wine market with several different foods and vendors – I like to imagine this is where Italian “pop in” for their lunch breaks. I had recently read a Vogue article mentioning Il Tartufo by Savini Tartufi, a fourth-generation, family-owned Tuscan company selling truffles had stall in the cercato. The expectations did not disappoint, and I had another amazing truffle pasta and highly recommend walking through the market. While in Florence, we went and saw the legendary Four Seasons Hotel Firenze and it was just as incredible as you’ve imagined. The hotel is housed in the historic 15th century Della Gherardesca palace, protected by towering walls, walkable gardens, and opulent luxury you would expect from a Four Seasons.    

Florence, Italy  
May 2022