Slow Travel Honeymoon in Italy
Italy | Oct 8 - Oct 27, 2021

Rod
Rod S.
Framingham, MA | Dec 06, 2021

The goal of our honeymoon was to spend 3 weeks in Italy, starting in Florence and ending on the Amalfi Coast. But we needed help to organize a trip that would ensure we could truly experience Italy, spend quality time in each location, have smooth transitions from place to place, and incorporate down time along with the activities. We called it the “Slow Travel Honeymoon in Italy” and from the first day we were in contact to the final day of our amazing trip, Kimkim did a spectacular job for us balancing the activities with the leisurely pace we desired.
The specific criteria, besides the start and end locations mentioned above, were 1) we preferred boutique hotels; 2) we wanted to experience the food, the culture, the wine (all of which are obvious for Italy, but still worth mentioning); 3) we wanted some tours scheduled, but mostly preferred to be self-guided with recommendations; and 4) we wanted to be worry-free with regard to transportation between venues.

Upon arrival, we were connected to the local Kimkim team via WhatsApp – this is an incredibly reassuring and comforting aspect of Kimkim. Whenever we had any sort of question or minor glitch (which were few and not worth mentioning because they did not impact our enjoyment at all) the Kimkim team was there to answer questions, clarify any planning, and resolve issues. We can’t say enough good things about their service during the trip. Kimkim provided a detailed itinerary with great information about all the places we were to visit, plus all the transfers they arranged (some via train, some private cars) with tickets, phone numbers/names of drivers, hotel addresses, etc. The itinerary was in a PDF, which we printed out and then had bound together like a booklet.

Our overall itinerary included: Florence, Cinque Terre, Sienna, Amalfi Coast, Naples

Florence – We landed in Rome and were met at the airport by our driver (Andrea), who drove the 3 hours to Florence – he was pleasant and informative throughout. Upon arrival, we spent a few days in the city before our wedding. Kimkim booked us in the Hotel Continentale, which is on the River Arno next to Ponte Vecchio and a perfect fit. In addition to the great location and extremely attentive service staff, the room was large and had a really nice romantic feel to it. Breakfast is included each day at an outdoor café a couple doors down, where you can people-watch along the Arno and really soak in that part of Florence. In addition, their spa services were outstanding – we both took advantage of several of their spa treatments, including massages. The roof deck is a great place to get a late afternoon drink, and the views of the Arno and Piazza del Signoria are awesome. After the wedding, which was in the hills of northern Florence, we were back on our Kimkim itinerary – back into the city for a couple nights to stay at the Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo, which as you might imagine is right next to the hustle and bustle of the Piazza del Duomo. This 4-Star hotel was much more of an elegant property – whereas Continentale is more modern, this hotel is in a historical structure. Its location was wonderful, the staff terrific, and included was breakfast top notch, but the room was a bit of a disappointment in comparison to Continentale – i.e. although it was perfectly fine, the room did not possess the charm and romance of the former.
Cinque Terre – we took the train from Florence to La Spezia and then a taxi to our accommodation in Levanto: La Sosta di Ottone III. This boutique hotel is set atop a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and of the sea not too far in the distance. The room was comfortable and romantic. The staff were incredibly accommodating and friendly. The restaurant is not to be missed – only a few tables, and the service is top notch, with delicious food and excellent regional wines to choose from. We spent 4 days and 3 nights in the Cinque Terre region, doing day-trips to visit the five villages and we took advantage of both the trains and boats that ferry tourists between Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterossa and Corniglia. We shopped, walked, and dined along the way in perfect October weather. The one standout experience was a wine tour in Manarola (arranged by Kimkim) in which we were guided by a local winemaker, as he talked about the history of wine in Manarola, the process of winemaking, etc. He walked us through his vineyard and at the end we tasted some of his excellent local wine.

Siena – From Cinque Terra we took a private transfer back to La Spezia train station and then to Pisa, where we were picked up and driven to our accommodation in Sienna. The drive was great, through the Tuscan countryside, as our driver (Massimo) described some sites in the distance that we would eventually visit a couple days later: Monteriggioni and San Gimignano. We stayed at Il Battistero, a beautiful hotel in Piazza San Giovanni. There’s so much in Sienna to do – we wished we’d spent more time there and can’t wait to go back. Kimkim arranged two really nice tours for us here: a wine tasting at the Tuscan Wine School, where Georgia talked to us about five excellent regional wines, incorporating some points around food pairings as well. The next day, Georgia’s colleague Davide drove us on a tour through the hills of Chianti, to Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and finally to Volterra where we met Omero, an aged alabaster sculptor who exuded such warmth and charm that we still talk about him. Between San Gimignano (which is not to be missed!) and Volterra, Davide brought us to Il Castagnolino, an organic farm where they grow saffron and olives. Their olive oil is special—we brought some home. We had lunch there, prepared especially for us by the proprietor, and learned a lot about saffron. The views of the Tuscan countryside all day were breathtaking.

Amalfi – from Siena we headed south to the Amalfi coast. We had a private transfer to Florence train station, where we boarded the train for Naples. From there our driver Giuseppe (who would also drive us from Naples to Rome a few days later) delivered us on the only rainy day of our 3 weeks in Italy to our accommodation in Porto d’Amalfi – Residenza Luce, which is situated in the heart of the village. The proprietor Vincenzo was great, and immediately made us a dinner reservation at a nearby restaurant L’Abside (which happens to be owned by his sister) – dinner was fantastic, and we were given a great table by the window overlooking the piazza. Our days in Amalfi were spent walking, exploring, eating, shopping. All of it was great, and we found a particular restaurant worth mentioning simply because the food was outstanding and the owners (a husband and wife – Antonio and Adele) are just wonderful. Enoteca e Gastronomia il Protontino is a 3 minute walk from Luce, and has both great food and an amazing wine selection. We had dinner there two nights in a row, and we drank some great wines. We also purchased a mixed case of Chiantis, which Adele shipped to us within a couple weeks of our return to the States. Every single bottle so far has been outstanding.

Naples – we took a private transfer from Amalfi to Naples as our trip finally was nearing the end. Pasquale drove us out over the mountainous terrain of Amalfi on a beautiful sunny day. As we drove north through the winding roads with hairpin turns, we were greeted by the site of Vesuvius on a clear day. Even from a distance it’s an amazing and somewhat foreboding site to see – given we were heading first to Pompeii on our way to Naples. We spent 2 hours exploring Pompeii, which for anyone who is interested in history and archeology is a must-do. From there we had lunch at Cantina del Vesuvio, which is the restaurant run by the Russo family on the grounds of their vineyard. We had great food and tasted their excellent wines. From here, Pasquale drove us to our accommodation in Naples, the Caruso Place Hotel. This is a nice hotel, but the one note of caution is its location relative to the nearby street traffic and restaurant. Our particular room was street level, and we were just feet from tables of people enjoying their meals and motor scooters driving by. The staff, as with all the hotels, were great and we enjoyed massages in our room. We were met early morning of our departure by Giuseppe who safely drove us to Rome – a long drive to be sure, but easiest for us to do the roundtrip from Boston to Rome.

Covid – although the pandemic was obviously part of the experience, it didn’t deter from our enjoyment of Italy. We felt safe at all times, and appreciated the consistent safe measures taken at most restaurants and all museums we visited. Kimkim also arranged for our pre-departure Covid test, making an appointment for us in a nearby Naples location. Everything worked out great.

Summary - If you’re still reading this long review, then the last and most important point I’d like to make is that our Kimkim team, led by Eleni Fotiou (who is the best!) was great all the way. We can’t wait to plan another trip with Kimkim.

Local specialist: Eleni Fotiou
Eleni
Eleni Fotiou
Local specialist in Athens | Dec 06, 2021

Dear Rod and Francine,
creating for you a perfect honeymoon is the reason for which I am doing this job; that is helping travelers plan trips in which they create lifetime memories. I am honored to have the opportunity to do this for you, and I will be very happy to host you again in Greece or Italy.