carissa stephens in italy

Travel: Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence

2016 has easily been my most traveled year… ever. To kick off my birth month (September) my family vacationed in Italy! It was all of our first time in Italy and for about a week we journeyed through the Tuscan hillside and drove from city to city experiencing Italian culture, food, history and the landscape’s natural beauty.

My husband and I began our journey one day ahead of my parents and sister. It takes about 12 hours to fly from Texas to Italy but it didn’t feel too long to us. Now when we fly on long international flights, we usually plan an intentional layover in a city of interest. This time it was Toronto, Canada. We only had enough time in-between our flights to take a peek at the skyline and grab a bite of Canada’s finest.
Our “home-base” during our week stay in Italy was Castello di Izzalini located in the rural hills of Italy near Todi. It is an old castle built sometime between 1100 and 1200 AD that had been fabulously converted into a royally elegant resort that maintained an authentic Italian villa charm. We wasted no time getting acclimated to the area and our first taste of Italy was at cute cafe which was right next door to our resort. There, we enjoyed gelato before we even checked in. lol
Our apartment was so beautiful.




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That day we ventured in Todi and even caught a glimpse of acres and acres of my soul flower.

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The next day we drove back into Rome to pick up my family from the airport. Since it is a 2 hour drive from Todi to Rome, my family was prepared to go straight into exploring Rome fresh off of their long international flight. We toured the ancient city of Rome first. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum…all the ancient ruins and history were fascinating!unnamed-1 unnamed

The next day we went to The Vatican – which is its own state within a state. The Vatican is governed by it’s own laws, it has a fortress built around it which was originally built to protect it from naysayers; it is the birthplace and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home of The Pope. We happen to be at The Vatican on the day before The Pope declared Mother Teresa as a saint for all the ages in a canonization ceremony. This is a really big deal and the occasion will forever be marked in history. We saw Mother Teresa banners hanging on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica and she even had limited edition memorabilia in The Vatican gift shops. We are lucky we beat the crowd for this. Had we been just one day behind we may not have had a chance to take a tour of The Vatican!

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Venice, our unanimous favorite place on our tour. “Home of Casanova”. Venice was everything I imagined it to be and MORE! The food, the people, the music.. the ROMANCE!!! It was all there in full effect. The Grand Canal was such a joy to experience. We took a gondola ride in the evening and rode for an hour through the narrow canals of Venice. We learned rich history from our boat guide who has lived in Venice and being giving people gondola rides for nearly 40 years! The streets of Venice were exciting! Masks are everywhere for purchase and decoration for the local vendors signifying a city that has always been known for liberation and excess. As history tells us, the city of Venice emerged when Italians fled Rome to escape German vandals who wanted to conquer and essentially enslave them. They fled to a place their enemies were not likely to follow…. Venice is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Once there, the people adapted by building a city on water and thrived. Centuries ago Venice was considered an upscale and progressive city, and n many respects it still is today.


We toured Doge’s Palace and took a family picture in front of St. Mark’s Basilica.


carissa stephens in italy
Milan was the next stop on our tour. What I loved about Milan was the trendy shopping. After all, it is one of the fashion capitals of the world! Ever heard of Milan Fashion Week? The general population in Milan is young. Everyone is just young and kind of cool. There is also the history and beautiful architecture that makes Milan incredible. I was practically obsessed with the architecture and interior splendor that my eyes feasted on at the Duomo Cathedral in Milan. We stumbled upon a Leonardo Da Vinci museum where we learned about of his great inventions, art work and even got an up close look at Da Vinici’s ‘Last Supper’. Nightlife in Milan was decent. We were there on a Monday night and still managed to find live music and a bar.

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Florence was the last stop on our Tour of Italy. There were some lovely areal views and several chances to just sit back and enjoy the sites. While in Milan we did a city site-seeing tour which allowed us to hop on and off at various points of interest. We saw a lot in a short amount of time including the Tuscany region in Florence, ‘The David’ and many similar statues and of course the cathedrals.
Overall Italy was incredible, the food is unbelievably carby and the wine is the best I’ve ever tasted. Never ending pasta, pizza, wine and gelato were the most prevalent options in most places. The people were friendly. Most just going about their daily lives. Everything that I experienced was very authentic. I can say I got a true taste of Italian culture during my Tour of Italy. 🙂


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Watch our travel blog and look-book from the trip!

Thank you for reading/ watching. See you soon! xoxo – Riss





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