Sunday, September 19, 2010


As most of my readers know, we selected Italy for our honeymoon. We spent two full weeks of bliss around the country and are excited to plan a return trip.

On Tuesday we woke up before the sun and headed to the airport to begin our journey. The next 24 hours are a bit of a blur but went like this: San Francisco-Chicago-Rome-Train to Rome Termini-Train to Naples-Ferry to Capri-Funicolare to the top of the island-short walk to hotel.

And we're off!

Scott and I tried or best to get an upgrade to first class (or, heck, even business) on the way to Rome. We made it our goal to tell everyone it was our honeymoon until we got something. Unfortunately, we never got an upgrade, but after broadcasting our nuptials to anyone who would listen, we got a couple of glasses of champagne smuggled back to economy from first class!

Back to the trip...Capri is unbelievable. It really is surreal. The sky and water are the most incredible colors of blue and the island itself is some kind of fairy tale. I have not photoshopped a single photo that I will post on here, the colors are just that amazing.

A few notes about Capri:

1. Spend more than a day here. In our opinion it would be hard to really experience Capri in a day. It is nice to be able to relax and explore the island on your time schedule. AND, rent a boat for a day or half day. Worth every penny!
Yes, that would be me floating in a rescue tube. Even though I swam competitively for 10 years I never warmed (no pun intended) to the idea of getting into cold water. I was always the last one in as the "just jump" technique is out of the question. So, our boat driver gave me this floaty to ease into the water! Actually, I really believe he didn't think I knew how to swim!

2. It is definitely the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Ferragamo, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, etc... Needless to say, we bought nothing except wine and food!

3. Do the walk/hike to La Fontelina. The sangria alone is worth the walk (not to mention the views)

4. Our hotel had the most incredible shades/curtains ever. Our room could become a cave with the push of a button (which led to a few, "oops, it's 1pm, time to get up!" moments). The hotel itself was also tremendous. Great rooms, the most helpful staff, special treats by the pool in the afternoon, and gorgeous views!

A few other Capri collages:
Come on, tell me you can eat Pringles without wanting to make the duck bill?! The drinks above were Prosecco with Aperol. Our server that day was loving the Aperol. Not bad but I think I still prefer Prosecco straight.

One theme that emerged throughout our honeymoon (other than eating and drinking) was taking pictures across the table of one another. I think we came back with all of about 5 pictures together but about 100 of us individually. Something to work on...

Speaking of eating and drinking...just a small look at what our meals for two weeks looked like.

The one item I didn't get a picture of was the Caprese salad on Capri. The BEST mozzarella I have ever had in my life. It is worth visiting the island for this alone.

After 4 full amazing days on the island it was time for another day of travel. Pretty much reverse our earlier travel (minus the flights) and we were back at the airport to pick up our rental car. Thank goodness this husband of mine can drive a stick or we would be stuck.
Our driver, "Flo" the lifesaving GPS, and the co-pilot!

We made it safely into Tuscany and to our hotel/villa in Sinalunga. It really is hard to leave this place...gorgeous grounds, amazing buildings, Osteria, restaurant, and beautiful pool. But, we managed to pull ourselves away and explore Italian wine country.

Day 1: Siena: Siena is an amazing town. This is where we learned the parking lesson of all of these towns, though. Pretty much everywhere you went you had to park "outside" of the town and walk or take a bus in. It is all a little unclear where to park (plus, we don't speak Italian so signs are a bit of a challenge) but eventually we figured it out and made our way into the town.
When we arrived (conveniently right where we were supposed to eat) and found out we couldn't eat for 2 hours I might have become a bit cranky (see bottom left picture). Honeymoon's over? I THINK NOT! Scott puts up with my "I am so hungry I might eat your head if you keep talking or taking pictures of me" attitude and we made it without anyone suffering bodily harm to an amazing lunch!

Day 2: Radda: Oh, what a day. There is a restaurant in Boulder called Radda, which I love and took Scott to early in our relationship, so naturally when the town was recommended I jumped on the chance to go.
Unfortunately, it was the one day of rain we had our entire visit and we didn't have umbrellas. It was raining harder than anything I have ever seen (driving anyway) and there were definitely moments where we said, "should we pull over?". But, we pressed on and made it to Radda ready to find lunch. After a sprint in the downpour into town we stumbled into a restaurant soaking wet. Lucky pasta EVER! The wine and food were so incredible and by the time we finished the rain was gone and we were able to explore this wonderful little town!

Day 3: Montelpulciano: We made a valiant effort to travel to a very small village for lunch, unfortunately, it was closed. We took pictures anyway as the scenery was amazing and got in the car and headed back to our original destination. Many people might say, "I have seen this place before!" about the wonderful town of Montepulciano. Well, if you are a Twilight fan, you have. They filmed the most recent movie there. Can't say I have seen it but they sure are proud of it! Same story: amazing food and wine! It never gets old!

Day 4: Montalcino: Food, wine, getting lost on back country roads...a typical day in Italy. We had a special stop this day at Poggio Antico. It was a wonderful winery with delicious wine and also the information that legally we are only supposed to bring 2.5 bottles back each. Oops. We were planning on way more (and ended up checking 9 total). Problem solved: buy a case and ship it back! Italian wine galore at the Retchless household!

Back to Montalcino...this was a great stop. Enoteca after enoteca and the town perched far up on a hilltop!

Two other Montalcino highlights...1-I found FroYo! Yes, gelato is great, but I do love my FroYo! 2-Spumante. While Prosecco is delicious...7 days of it can get to be a bit much. Spumante will have to make a regular appearance here at our house!

Day 5: Pool Day: I am not sure how much actual sun we got, but we sure did enjoy our day by the pool after all the driving around we did in Tuscany. We also got out and explored the rest of the property, including Scott's favorite, the vineyards! He sure does love his grapes!
This is also the only day of the entire trip that we ordered a meal in. Pizza from Sinalunga. Nothing to write home about but having dinner in our PJs for a change was quite nice.

Random notes (aka, the bitching and moaning portion of the blog):
1. Validation: a little known fact (well, to us anyway) is that when you buy train tickets in Italy you have to get them validated before traveling. It seems that they are good for a certain amount of time and you must validate on the day you travel. Where was the GIANT sign announcing this (or, why didn't the person who sold us our tickets mention this?). We learned the hard way, having to pay 50 euro to a very grumpy train ticket official. Lesson learned, we validated EVERYTHING from then on!
The tickets that got us in trouble.
Validating on our next trip!

2. Iron: The ONLY place we were able to get an iron was in Capri. Otherwise, you pay and wait 1-2 days for your laundry to return. We opted out of said service and just wore repeats or wrinkly clothes. Next time we will be bringing wrinkle free items!

3. Wine Opener: The Amorosa wasn't exactly thrilled with us wanting to stop buying wine from them and paying their service fee (it seemed). So, obtaining a wine opener from them wasn't a possibility. After meeting a wonderful family and getting a few tips, we opened our wine courtesy of a tree. It is the same idea as the shoe trick, and worked like a charm.
At least when you did get wine from the Osteria it was a nice big glass, "Look this wine glass is as big as my head!"

4. Italian radio: If you visit Italy, bring CDs. There was not a handy place to plug in an iPod so we drove for 5 days with Italian radio. There was plenty of American music (however, apparently "Like a Virgin" is just hitting airwaves there) but the number of commercials was PAINFUL. Every song they broke for at least two minutes. A little tiring after awhile!

5. Balsamico!: Ok, not exactly a gripe but a very funny story. Quick back story: my parents were in Rio and my mom was trying to find the bathroom:

Mom: "Where is the bathroom?"
-confused look from someone who doesn't speak English
Mom: (much louder): "Bathroom?!"
-confused look...
Mom: "Bathroom-o!?"

**They finally got what they needed when my dad said, "toilet".

Ah, the magical "o".

We were in a similar situation in Sinalunga at dinner where no one spoke English. We ordered just fine by pointing at the menu but I wanted a little balsamic and a plate for my bread. They were not understanding what I needed so Scott suggested I ask for a "plate-o" and "balsamic-o". I told above story. Well, Dad/Steph-1, Scott/Mom-1. I had to tap the plate to get across that piece of information but alas...

Next up...Scott turns 40 in Rome!

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