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Roman Holiday











Look 1: dress // sneakers 
Look 2: dress // hat (similar) // sunnies // purse // sandals // lipstick

I cannot believe that the summer abroad program I was working with is over and that it is already almost July! Where does the time go? I guess what they say is true, time flies when you are having fun. These pictures are from the final weekend of our program, which we spent in Rome. I am actually back in Rome now to do some research sans students, but more on that later.

We only had two and a half days to see the highlights of Rome, which is not an easy task! As I have said before, Rome is a difficult city to really appreciate in a couple days (you can read some of my tips for seeing the softer side of Rome here). Of course, we hit all of the big sights in rapid succession -- The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, St Peter's Basilica, and the Vatican Museums.

Despite our limited time, I did try to add something other than just one big site after another. I took the group to the Capuchin bone church (which is always a crowd pleaser) and we did a really fun Baroque art gelato crawl. Although Rome has more than 2,000 years of history to experience, the city you see today is a Baroque city. We crawled our way from baroque church, to baroque sculpture/fountain, to baroque painting with strategic gelato tastings along the way (three to be exact) to reenergize our spirits and bodies. It was a lot of art and a lot of gelato but I think it gave the students a deeper appreciation of the city. At least I hope it did anyway. I plan on sharing this crawl on the blog soon!

If you find yourself visiting Rome with limited time, here are my tips for conquering Rome in two days.


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Pink and Black in the Boboli Gardens







hat (similar here and here) // sunnies // lace shirt (similar) // top with collar // skirt // bag (similar) // shoes

I am a sucker for a girly look. Lace, bows, pastels, you can never have enough! So when I strolled by one of my favorite brands in Florence and saw this pink and black printed skirt and coordinating top with detachable tie pink color, I could not resist.

I love that the collar is detached and can be worn with other tops and dresses. And the color combination of the skirt is perfection. It was still a little chilly when I wore this to the Boboli Gardens last week so I layered this bell-sleeve lace top underneath. It turned out to be the perfect finishing touch. Sadly, summer arrived swiftly this week and there will be no more layering in my future for the summer.

There are very few European clothing brands that I love. I find my body shape is more difficult to shop for and dress in Europe. But, Sandro Paris, The Kooples, and Max and Co. are my favorites. While I love my preppier more American style, it is nice to add some chic European pieces to my repertoire every once and a while. I am currently swooning over this dress.

This perfectly-pink purse was a local find here in Florence. If it looks familiar that's because it is a fantastic dupe for this gorgeous Givenchy bag. I bought it from a local leather vendor, so needless to say I did not pay Givenchy prices. This pink version is actually not mine. I borrowed it from my friend who originally spotted and purchased the bag. She let me try it out to make sure I liked it. I loved it and immediately purchased the red version for myself (you have probably already spotted it on my Instagram).

Do you have a favorite European clothing brand?


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Fiat Fever









dress (on sale!)  // hat (similar) // sunnies // bag // sandals

The Fiat Cinquecento is a classic Italian car that epitomizes the charm and character of Italy. And I have always wanted to drive one! So, when Anna told me about the Fiat tour her partner company, My Tour, offered, I was in!

The tour lasts all day and takes you through the winding back roads of Tuscany and to several small oh-so-Tuscan towns. You can go by either Vespa or vintage Fiat (you can read about my Tuscan Vespa adventures here and here). As nervous as I was to drive a very old manual car, I could not resist the opportunity. We began our day filling out release forms and reacquainting ourselves with stick shift (it is, in fact, like riding a bike). I will say, however, a vintage stick with a tiny engine is a very different experience, but I managed pretty well.

Once we were comfortable, we hit the road! Our first stop was the town of Castellina in Chianti. Castellina is unique because it retains its original 15th century castle and walls. We had a quick tour of the town and a coffee before hitting the road once more. Our next destination was a local organic winery for lunch.

It was on our way to the winery that we hit our only hiccup. You see, we had three of us in this tiny Fiat and a very large gravel hill we needed to ascend. Also, I am from Florida, so while I understand (in theory) the tricks of getting up a hill in a manual car, I have not had much practice. I managed all the hills until this one. Our guide said, "take speed and just go!" I guess we did not really understand how much speed he meant. We made it halfway up and stalled lol. Fortunately, the guide then came and did it for us. Unfortunately, we had to walk up the hill.

At the winery we sampled their best wines and dined on a three-course Tuscan meal. Sadly, I could only taste the wines, since I was driving, but Anna and Brynna were happy to drink the rest. Waste not, want not!

After eating and drinking the best of Tuscany, we were back on the road once more. This time our guides took us to what is probably the most Tuscan looking panoramic I have ever seen -- cyprus-lined roads, sprawling fields of grapes, and rustic villas. We took all the photos!

Our final stop of the day was the Medieval hill town of Monteriggioni. Monteriggioni has basically not changed since the 13th century. Like Castellina, it has retained its original walls. The town is so old, it was referenced by Dante in his famous Inferno. We ended our adventure with a refreshing gelato in Monteriggioni's adorable medieval square before driving back to the tour's staging area.

It was such a fun day and I can officially say I can and have driven a vintage Cinquecento!

Would you drive one?


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Wine with Mona










dress (last seen here, and this color is on major sale!) // hat (similar) // sunnies // bag // sandals

One of the courses offered this summer in the program I was teaching with and coordinating for was the chemistry and culture of wine. Yep, you read that right, a wine course. Where was that when I was an undergrad? And thanks to this course, I got to arrange several amazing winery visits throughout Tuscany over the course of the month-long program (you can read about San Vito here and Montepulciano here), but my favorite was our afternoon trip to Vignamaggio.

Vignamaggio is a 600-hundred-year-old estate that sits half way between Florence and Siena. Beyond being a very old and very gorgeous estate that produces delicious Chianti wine, it also boasts a very famous resident - the Mona Lisa!

The villa was built by the Gheradini family in the fourteenth century. And while we don't know for certain who is the face behind the world's most famous portrait, most scholars believe that it is an Italian noblewoman named Mona Lisa Gheradini (this is who Vasari said was the subject of the portrait in the 16th century). Legend has it that Mona spent a lot of time at her family's country estate and some have argued (mostly our guide at the winery) that this was the site where she and her husband met with Leonardo to commission the portrait. I will say that the landscape surrounding the villa does look like something straight out of a da Vinci painting.

Legends aside, there is no questioning the immense history and beauty of the estate (their website has an amazing historical timeline here). Today, the original villa is surrounded by renaissance gardens and acres of vineyards as far as the eye can see. And after 600 years, the estate still produces delicious wine. We sampled their Chianti Classico, the Chianti Reserva, and the Vinsanto. Of course, the Reserva was my favorite and I may have returned to Florence with several bottles of their Rosé.

Oh and did I mention you can also stay in this incredible 600-year-old villa? Sign me up!

Now let's talk about this dress and how obsessed I am with it on this trip. I basically wear it once a week. It meets all of my travel-dress requirements -- comfortable yet flattering, easy to wear, lightweight, and has sleeves (sleeves are great in transitional weather and for church-going). Sadly, it is sold out, but I have rounded up some more great travel dresses for summer below. Oh, and don't forget a great hat. It is a life-saver!



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Cinque Terre in a Day









The Cinque Terre is a seaside mountainous region in northwest Italy with five (hence the "cinque" in the name) picturesque and colorful little towns that sit on top of cliffs that cascade into the coastline. Until twenty or so years ago, these little towns were cut off from much of Italy (and tourism) due to the region's rugged terrain. Thanks to Pinterest, however, the towns today are well-known internet sensations and tons of tourists flock to this region each year. Unfortunately, the surrounding terrain remains rugged and hostile. In 2011, the Cinque Terre was devastated by mudslides and many of the region's famous hikes remained closed today.

While spending a couples days hiking, eating pesto (this is the region that invented pesto!), and relaxing in these darling towns sounds wonderful, the logistics of actually visiting the Cinque Terre can be a nightmare. Reduced car access, closed hiking trails, and limited and crowded trains make getting around the area challenging, especially with luggage. Because of this, I recommend day-tripping. While you cannot see all five towns in a day, you can see the highlights and experience the charm of the region.

Last weekend my students and I did just that. Thanks to Anna at FlorenceForFun we hopped in a bus and headed north to Manarola (if you take the train you have to switch at least twice, so the bus is actually quicker). We arrived in Manarola and headed straight to the sea to capture the famous shot of the city (first photo). After taking a ton of photos, we had just enough time for a coffee and snack before jumping on the local train bound for Vernazza.

Vernazza is the fourth city of the Cinque Terre and it is where you can still access the National Park and hiking trails. You can either take a ferry boat from Vernazza to the last city Monterosso, or you can do the challenging 90-min hike. In my opinion, if you are going to go to the Cinque Terre, you must hike! It is what the region is famous for and the views are unbelievable. If you want a relaxing day at the beach, I suggest Amalfi over Cinque.

The hike itself is challenging yet not impossible. But it is only from the hiking trails that you can see the colorful towns from above and the crystal blue water. It also gives you a sense of what living in this area was like before the arrival of cars and trains. After an intense but invigorating hike, we arrived in Monterosso. There we rewarded ourselves with a lot of pesto pasta and some serious beach time. I napped under my umbrella and it was glorious.

The best part about day tripping to the Cinque Terre is that you are back in Florence before 9 pm. Plus the tour is offered several days a week during the summer. I suggest going as early in the summer as you can to avoid the crowds and the heat.

You can find more info on the trip we did here.

Have you hiked the Cinque Terre?


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Colorful Burano, Venice









dress (also here in white) // sunnies // hat // bag // sandals

Last week we took a short trip to Venice. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were in Venice. But fortunately, we did get one gorgeous day, the day we headed to the island of Burano.

Burano is my favorite island in the Venetian lagoon and is just a short water taxi or vaporetto ride away. It is one of many amazing little islands that surround the main island (or rather islands) of Venice. I love Burano for its adorable, brightly colored houses. Originally a fishing village, families painted their houses different bright color so they could be easily spotted when out at sea. Today, it is a highly regulated tradition that defines the culture and character of the island.

I will be honest, there is not a whole lot to do on the island, other than snap some pictures, eat some fresh seafood, stroll, and admire the handmade lace... But really that is part of its appeal. It is a really nice relaxing afternoon and a wonderful break from hordes of tourist of mainland Venice. I highly recommend adding Burano to your itinerary if you are visiting Venice.

Inspired by the mixture of colors, I wore this printed silk dress that I picked up in Paris. I love a great colorful pattern and this seemed like the perfect occasion for it. The dress is so comfortable, flattering, and easy to wear. It has basically been on repeat since I purchased it.

Have you been to Burano?


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