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5 Places That Will Make You Fall in Love With Italy

TravelShannon GuerreroComment
5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

I hold a special place in my heart for Italy.  I spent a summer studying abroad in Rome right before my junior year in college.  And while I’d seriously love to sit here and discuss why everyone should study abroad - since I've not only studied abroad once, but twice - I’ll save that for another time. While studying in Rome, I was lucky enough to get to visit a good amount of the country on weekends.  I really feel like I got to take in the country as a whole and not just a city or two for a few days.  I got to spend weeks roaming through Italy falling more in love with every place I visited. Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Sicily.  Each place was beautiful.  Really you could go anywhere in Italy and fall in love, but I’ve chosen 5 places that made me fall in love with Italy.

ROME

Rome is what dreams are made of.  Really, living in Rome was like a fantasy.  I saw the Coliseum everyday (twice a day in fact) since it was on my way to and from school.  Every corner of every street seemed to have a hundred year old story just waiting to be told.  The Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum and the Vatican are all such spectacular sights.  We've all had those moments where something so famous and highly recommended can disappoint, but everything in Rome lived up to its reputation if not exceeded them.  Spend as much time as you can here and soak it all in!

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

CINQUE TERRE

If you decide to travel anywhere besides the main cities of Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, make it Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre is a small region near Pisa made up of 5 small towns along the coast.  Cinque Terre actually literally means five lands in Italian.  They are the most quaint little towns.  You can hike between the 5 cities, which takes a few hours.  I’d estimate about 4 hours in total.  The longest hike, which is the one I did, is between the fourth and fifth cities, Vernazza and Monterosso.  Vernazza (pictured above) was my personal favorite.  Its brightly colored homes were such a juxtaposition against the mountain meeting the ocean.  The hike takes you along the coast through vineyards nestled in the side of the mountain with breathtaking views.  It’s not super strenuous but did take about 2 hours.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

FLORENCE

Florence is in so many ways just like a miniature version of Rome.  All of the niceties of a thriving Italian city without all the hustle and bustle of a busy city.  If you have the time make sure you climb to the top of the Duomo.  Its 463 steps and a little tiring, but so worth the beautiful views. Don’t miss the leather market.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

AMALFI COAST

The Amalfi Coast is just as you would imagine it.  It has some of the most picturesque views I’ve ever experienced.  The blue of the water was unreal.  I visited Naples, Sorrento and Capri.  I’d say Naples is somewhere to not spend much time.  If you get a chance to go to Capri, take a boat cruise and visit the blue grotto.  You won’t regret it.

5 Places that Will Make you Fall in Love with Italy - Shannon Did What?

VENICE

My absolute favorite thing to do in Venice is to get lost.  I mean put the map away and just wander.  You really don’t know the amazing things you can find when you’re simply just taking in the scenery and not worrying about the end destination.  It's really easy to find your way back too.  Just listen for the bells from St. Marks Square and follow them.  Venice is such an amazing place and you can help be think about how awesome it is that a whole city was built on water.  A canal ride is a must, trust me its so much better than the ones at the Venetian in Vegas.

I've been dying to plan a trip back to Italy to visit these places again and experience that feeling of awe one more time.  It's so hard though since I want to go everywhere.  Go somewhere where I've already been and loved or go to a brand new place in the world?  The jury's still out for that one.  Point is, if you haven't been to Italy, go now.  You'll fall in love with the people, the land, the culture and the history guaranteed.

Yours Truly // Shannon 

Travel Photo Diary: The Caribbean

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In continuing with my series called Travel Photo Diary, this post is chronicling my trip 4 years ago to the Caribbean Islands.  Both of my parents were turning 60 and decided they wanted to take a family trip to the Caribbean on a cruise to celebrate.  I had never been to the Caribbean so I didn't know what to expect!  I couldn't have prepared myself for the blue hue that the water is there.  It's more like a turquoise gem color.  Its so pure and so beautiful you can't help but just stare.  In fact, the whole trip was full of such vibrant colors, the ocean, the land, the food, the houses and basically everything was so full of life.

We flew into Puerto Rico and hopped on a cruise through the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Lucia and Barbados. One particular stop to note was on Sint Marteen side of the Saint Martin Island.  The island is split into the French side and the Dutch side.  This is on the Dutch side.  There is a place called Maho Beach that is literally just feet in front of the start of the runway for the local airport.  Planes flying in to land feel like they are so close to the sand that it may hit the people standing on it.  If you ever find yourself on St. Martin, head to the Sunset Bar and Grill for a drink and to watch the planes soar in just above your head.  It’s quite the sight to see.

Here’s a compilation of my pictures from the trip.  Can’t you just feel the island vibes just looking at these? All you need is some really good jerk chicken and a big ol' wide brim floppy hat!

Yours Truly // Shannon

How To Plan Your Next Trip Like A Boss

TravelShannon Guerrero1 Comment

I’d have say that I’m a self-proclaimed expert trip planner.  Well, that’s partially coming from praise and feedback from my family and friends.  I mean my cousin just told me I find the best things to do and see on a trip.  I’ve already admitted it, I’m slightly OCD, so I keep everything extremely neat and organized.  Usually in the form of a grid and broken down by category and day.  Although, I admit, that sounds pretty intense, I swear when I create an itinerary its more of a way to show all options of things that can be done.  I always keep in mind that things pop up and sometimes it’s more fun to see where the day takes you.  It’s less enjoyable to stick to a minute-by-minute plan.  That’s just no fun!  I like waking up having a loose plan for the day.  Here are my tips to planning a fun and exciting trip:

1. WHERE TO GO
Obviously decide where you’re going first!  If you’re anything like me and want to literally go everywhere, this can be a hard decision.  Also, important to decide whether you want to have a more leisurely vacay or a more fast paced one.  It can be a mix, as well, but you should have an idea of this when planning.  For example, in planning my trip to Bali in September, I’m planning on having laid back pool time and adventure days.  In planning my cross-country road trip, the itinerary is definitely way more packed.  Even if you’re shooting to have a laid-back vacation, having any idea of a few things to do is great to keep in your back pocket.

2. WHAT TO SEE
Similar to how I start planning the photos that I’d like to take on my trip, as outlined here, I start with researching what the most popular and main points of interest are.  Honestly, I think a lot of how I plan where to go is by figuring out what are the most photographic spots to visit, but that’s just me!  Life of a photographer I guess!  Generally, these tend to be major landmarks.  Searching for photo inspiration is really helpful because I’ve found I find off-the-beaten path spots that are not super touristy.  On the other hand, I do check Google’s points-of-interest because these are the locations that city is the most known for and you should see the touristy stuff.  I like that you can see photos of them immediately.  There’s no guessing what each location is or looks like.  My most valued resource is to search on Pinterest.  I like to find other’s blog posts on their experiences first hand visiting these places.  I can get an idea of what time of day to go and how long to expect to spend at each location. 

3. LOGISTICS - LOCATION
Sometimes after you look up a bunch of great places to see or visit you realize that they are all the way across town from where you’re staying or even outside of the city.  If you’re just dying to go somewhere but its going to be out of the way, why not make a plan so you know you can make it work!  Sometimes, you have to wake up early to get somewhere and plan places to visit on the way back to your hotel or your next stop.  My new favorite tool (that my roommate recently put me onto) is saving locations onto Google maps.  It places stars on these locations so that when you look at the map you can see exactly where everything is.  So helpful for planning my cross-country road trip!

4. LOGISTICS - TIMING
As I mentioned earlier, eyewitness testimonies in the form of blog posts is super valuable in learning how long to allot for certain locations.  You can learn a lot about whether there will be crazy lines or how long to expect to spend there.  If you know approximate timing and of course location, you can plan how many places you can get to in a day.  Reminder, it really depends on you.  Remember how tiring it can get if you’re spending all day walking around, so don’t overexert!

OPTIONAL
I love including photos of some or most of the destinations that I’d like to see.  This is a great way for the people that you’re travelling with can pick and choose what they’d like to see as well.  I just like to see all of the places to look forward to!

Planning a loose outline for your next trip is great way to not have to do much thinking on your actual vacation.  You’ll have more time to enjoy your trip if you’re not constantly thinking of what to do next.  Just don’t get too caught up in making sure you see everything.  Sometimes it’s just not possible.  Prioritize and then go with the flow.  Guaranteed (don’t hold me to that) you’ll have the best trip!

Yours Truly // Shannon

Ps. I created a little template to get you started with planning your next trip.  Download it here.