4 unique places you MUST stay at on your Italian adventure

I had been dreaming about travelling to Italy ever since I watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie some 12 years ago. I mean who wouldn’t want to be a famous pop star in Rome with a handsome Italian driving you around on a cute mo-ped eating pizza topped with cheesy goodness? Well, in 2015, my dream of going to Italy came true, just minus the dramatic school trip, falling in love and singing in front of thousands of people at a pop concert, but I can reassure you, it was just as brilliant. If I could pin-point the highlight of the trip, it would have had to be the accommodation that we stayed in. My mum is the absolute queen of all things holiday planning so it’s fair to say that we had some of the funkiest places booked for our three-week adventure. So in recognition of my Mum’s brilliant skills, this post is dedicated to all of the wonderful places that we stayed in so you can make the very most of your Italian dream.

Note: We travelled as a family of 5 so these accommodation options are more suited to a family or large group.

Ocean View at Cinque Terre: Waking up to the sun shining through the windows is how I would choose to wake up every day, but to be able to open your eyes and see straight out over the Mediterranean Sea from the cosiness of your bed is something else. This is what we were treated to while staying in the coastal town of Cornigla; one of the five villages that make up the picturesque Cinque Terre. We spent four nights staying in this sweet little holiday cottage that was surrounded by nature’s goodness and very few tourists. The cottage was fully serviced, so we were able to head up to the village to buy some fresh produce and cook some Italian pasta for dinner (or breakfast), drink ridiculous amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, laugh over card games and watch the sun go to rest all from the comfort of our own balcony. It was the dream! Although we had difficulties with our Internet for the majority of the time, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. I spent a lot of my time here writing post-cards, sharing stories with my family and reconnecting back to nature. There are three bedrooms, one with a set of bunk beds so it’s ideal for a family of five. To read on about Cinque Terre, I’ve done up a blog post ‘Tips & Tricks: Cinque Terre’. Plan to spend 4-6 nights here.

A horse farm in the heart of the Tuscan Countryside: I am going to be straight up and say you’ve probably got no idea where on earth Rapolano Terme is and that’s totally fine, I had no clue either and I had to google the place to jog my memory #guilty! Rapolano Terme is a quaint commune in the Province of Siena, just a short 20 kilometres north of Florence. If you are looking for a complete escape to the Tuscan countryside, then this is the prime spot for you and the journey to get here will justify that. For three nights we stayed at Capannacce a Horse Farm run by Teo and her family. The two-storey, two-bedroom house accommodated for the five of us with a large sized living room, fully equipped kitchen and an outdoor seating area with quite possibly the greatest hammock for all those nanna naps. Teo was so lovely and did everything to make us feel right at home, we even got to have a big tour of the property, where we learnt about the history of the farm and got to meet the beautiful horses. There was even freshly baked goods for us when we arrived for the duration of our stay…the bread was to die for! The rural property oozes with charisma (and mosquitoes) and is definitely a one of a kind experience in the Tuscan countryside.  Plan to spend 2-3 nights here. 

Castle stay in Certaldo with Air BnB: I feel like there is a part of me that can officially say I have experienced royalty after staying in a castle whilst in Certaldo, but it wasn’t all of what one would expect. It definitely wasn’t a ‘royal’ experience but it sure was one for the books and hell yeah, I can now tick off staying in a castle and so can you! Certaldo is a very small, medieval hill-side town in the province of Florence and is accessible by car, foot, or funicular. Although there isn’t a huge list of things to do or see here, it is a great spot to stay to explore San Gimignano and go wine tasting. I will admit, it was pretty cool opening the gates and having everybody turn their heads to look at us driving through the castle entrance (and yes I did give them the royal wave once or twice, I know, rub it in why don’t you Sophie). There are quite a few restaurants and cafes on the one strip in Certaldo, but we noticed that there was a huge inflation on the price due to all of the tourists that come up for the day, so we utilised our traditional Italian kitchen and had breakfast, lunch and dinner atop our very own roof-top. My fondest memory of the whole trip was the night that we sat up on the castle roof-top at sunset with a deck of cards, fresh wood-fired pizza and the bottles of wine that we had carefully sourced from our wineries adventure earlier on in the day. Be careful not drink TOO much though, because there is a very steep ladder to get back down when you are finished. It ain’t easy, but it’s so worth it. If you are looking for comfort, this is not the place for you (there is no heating/cooling and there are plenty of mosquitoes around), but if you are after an experience, YOU NEED TO STAY HERE! Plan to spend 2 nights here.

Transport back in time at Volterra Monastery: I’m not a religious person but I do believe that it’s important to gain an understanding on relevant religions when experiencing a new destination, which is why I was so pumped to be staying in a Monastery. Chiostro Delle Monache is hidden a kilometre from the historical Etruscan walls of Volterra; a medieval town with an atmosphere so timeless that you’ll feel transported back to the 4th century. The monastery offers a Bed and Breakfast option – which we utilised being a larger group, as well as a more affordable dormitory style accommodation, catering for solo travellers. The B&B rooms have a private bathroom and range from doubles to quadruples. If you are travelling in Winter, then have no fear because they have central heating to keep you snug at night BUT if you are travelling in Summer then unfortunately brace yourself to be sharing a teenie tiny portable fan between the lot of you. I drew the short straw and got the bed furtherest away from the fan, and I’m telling you now, it was one sweaty night. But after all, you don’t stay in a monastery for the luxury, you stay in it for the experience and this sure was a mighty cool experience. Plan to spend 1-2 nights here. If you do plan on staying at any of these gorgeous and unique accommodation hotspots in Italy please feel free to share with me your stories and photos. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Also, if you would like to see more photos I would be more than happy to share – I just was uber silly and decided to take them on my phone instead of my high quality, beautiful camera. Damn Sophie, you silly silly girl! 

All the love in the world,

Soph xx

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