I could easily get lost in reminiscing in a post like this, so I’m going to try and keep it practical and to the point!! My husband and I traveled abroad for 14 days, and I’m going to share where we went, how long we were there, the best of what we did, and anything else that I think is worth knowing! (Aka, the gluten free EATS.) This is part 1 of a 2 part series. The details on Tuscany, Rome, and Positano can be found here!
NICE, FRANCE: 3 nights, 2.5 days
We flew from PHX > SLC > JFK > NICE. We left PHX at 6am on a Friday and arrived in Nice at 10:30am on Saturday. Both layovers were pretty short, and we packed snacks (Wild Zora bars were my go-to, and I also packed one of their meals) for the trip, though food was provided on the international flight. (If you’re strictly GF like me, be sure to let the airline know in advance! One perk to having a special diet is that they serve you your food first, though you don’t get a choice like everyone else.) We did try to sleep on the flight from JFK to NICE, but neither of us are good plane sleepers. I did find that the TRTL wrap helped quite a bit though! When we landed in Nice, we took a local bus to get to our AirBNB. Tickets were less than 10E apiece and we bought them at the airport and caught the bus from there.
We stayed at this AirBNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking) and LOVED it. It was probably our favorite place of the whole trip! The view was incredible, and we spent as much time as possible out on the balcony to enjoy it. It was in a great location too; easy to reach from the airport, and perfectly walkable to the beach, old town, and anything that we wanted to do.
The day we arrived we just settled in, took a nap, and then ventured out for dinner. On our first full day we walked along the beach and then hiked Castle Hill (great views of the city!), wandered through a Sunday farmer’s market in Old Town (we loved just getting lost in all of the winding streets and exploring the shops!), and went out to dinner.
On our second full day we took a day trip to the neighboring town of Eze, which I highly recommend! We caught a local train to get there and got off at Eze station, just a few stops down the coast. After we wandered down to the water (don’t miss that crystal clear blue!) we hiked through the neighborhood for an hour or so before realizing that the Eze that we had seen in photos wasn’t there. We made it back to the tourist office JUST in time to catch the once-an-hour bus that drove up to Eze Village, significantly further up the mountain than we would have been able to walk. We bought tickets on the bus for 1.50E each (I think). The drive was winding and beautiful, and when we arrived half an hour later, we grabbed a quick snack from the grocery store by the bus stop and then headed up into the stone streets to explore. There were tiny little shops around every corner! At the very top was the Botanic Garden, which cost 6E each to enter. We decided to go for it, and I’m glad we did, because the views were unbeatable! We stopped in a few shops on our way back down before catching the bus back down.
We also considered going to St. Jean, but our Eze adventure took longer than we thought, so we decided just to head back to Nice at that point.
-GiGi Tavola Autentica: Probably the best GF pizza I’ve ever had, with a dedicated preparation space! We went two days in a row, and also enjoyed the vegetable platter and the salads. Located over by the port, it was a bit of a walk from our place, but worth it. One of our favorite restaurants of the trip.
-GROM gelato: Still my favorite gelato shop! Located right along the main road through town, not far from the beach. Everything here is gluten free, including the cones.
-Naturalia market: The equivalent of a Natural Grocers or local health food store here in the states. We picked up some no-cook eats for our travel day from here!
-Lou Pilha Leva: Socca, or chickpea flatbread, is a thing in Nice. You can get it pretty much anywhere, and it is naturally gluten free. We got some from Lou Pilha Leva on a chilly, rainy evening and ate it piping hot and drenched in olive oil and salt. It was delicious!! It’s a casual spot, so don’t expect anything fancy, but it gave us the experience we were looking for! We didn’t try anything else on the menu though.
-The local grocery store is Monoprix, and we stopped in several times, mostly for snacks/no-cook eats. We did pick up some GF bread, butter, eggs, and fruit on our first day and cooked breakfast at home every morning.
-Galettes, or savory crepes, are made with buckwheat and are traditionally gluten free. However, they are not always cooked on a dedicated surface. We did have them once without issue. More on how I approached gluten free eating in this post***.
TELLARO, ITALY: 2 nights, 1.5 days
Since Tellaro is a tiny little town, it would have taken us a full day to get there using public transportation, so we decided to rent a car instead. However, renting a car in France and leaving it in Italy was much more expensive than keeping it within one country, so we took a 3 hour train from Nice to Genoa, then walked from the Genoa train station to the ferry terminal to pick up our rental car from Hertz. The rental (a Fiat 500L automatic) was around $350, so not cheap, but it was worth it for all the time we would save on several legs of our trip. We came prepared with printed maps and instructions, but trying to deal with traffic and get out of the city without an active GPS was nerve wracking, so we quickly agreed to pay the 10E charge by Verizon to activate international cell service for 24 hours. (It’s a day by day service called the Travel Pass and it worked great! We used it 3 times, each day we drove). Things went much more smoothly after that!
We stayed at this Air BNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking) and loved it!! It was 4 levels, and you could open the window on the top floor where the bedroom was and listen to the waves at night. Our favorite part was the balcony, which was 10 feet from the water’s edge. There was no internet here, which was both nice and inconvenient at times.
Because it was so small, Tellaro was a pretty relaxing destination. The day we drove in we stopped for a picnic lunch (we brought some proscuitto, cheese, cherries, carrots, nuts, etc from the grocery store) overlooking a neighboring town, Lerici, before meeting our Air BNB host. After we got settled in at our place, we set out to explore and quickly discovered that you can walk all of Tellaro in about 15 minutes! As such, we spent plenty of time enjoying the view from our balcony.
On our one full day in Tellaro, we decided to get out and walk along the coast over to the neighboring town of Lerici. The walk took us about 45 minutes on the road. There were no sidewalks, but plenty of others on foot, and cars were easy to hear coming. When we got to Lerici we explored the port and then walked over to the next town, San Terenzo, where we bought a carton of strawberries and sat by the water to have them as a snack! We wandered the winding streets and shops for a little big before heading back to Tellaro, which was a pretty good hike to get back up to the road, but didn’t take us long.
-Osteria La Caletta: One of the best meals of our entire trip! We would have eaten here both nights if we could have, but they were closed on the first one. We started with the steamed salmon appetizer and the roasted veggies, and then shared the seafood paella. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! We also shared a carafe of the house white wine. They brought out bread for both of us (GF for me) and also a complimentary fried socca appetizer. 10/10 recommend. Our entire meal (which I would give 5 stars) was only 60E!! If we could go back, we would do the tasting menu for sure.
-La Barca: This place was just a magical experience. We got there for lunch around 1:30 (they close at 2), and were the only ones in the entire restaurant. We had a table upstairs by the windows with a beautiful view of the water. I ordered the octopus with pesto mashed potatoes and beets and Craig got the gnocchi with veggies and langostino. This is also the only spot in town with internet! After having eaten there, we were able to sit at the cafe next door and use the wifi on subsequent days as well.
-Bar Underground: This is the little cafe, coffee shop, and bar in town. We went every day for cappuccinos (1.50E each). It’s a nice little spot to sit and read, or to use the wifi from next door!
The restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7 or 8pm, so if you like to eat early (like we do), be sure to have some snacks on hand! Pretty much everything closes mid-day. We ate one meal at El Delfino, but it was just okay. If you can go to one of the two listed above instead, I highly recommend that instead. There isn’t a grocery store in Tellaro, but there are a couple of little food shops, one up above the square (the main part of town) and one down below. As usual, we picked up some eggs, veggies, and yogurt to have for breakfasts.
A few other random thoughts:
No doubt about it, this trip was the stuff of dreams. There were times where I almost felt guilty for enjoying it so much and for all of the things that we got to do while we were abroad. However, I reminded myself that we saved diligently for two years for this trip, and it encompassed two anniversaries, two birthdays, and two annual vacations! We bought our flights with credit card points. Our biggest expenses were accommodations, followed by food and drink. Travel and lodging were all paid for up front, so while we were there, we aimed for a budget of around 100-150 euro per day for food and activities. Some days we spent way less (like in Tellaro, where everything was really affordable) and some days we spent on the higher end (like in Positano, where prices were almost double). We weren’t frivolous, but we also didn’t decide not to do something that we really wanted to do because of cost. Some of the ways we kept total expenses down were by making coffee and breakfast at home in the mornings and having simple food (no-cook or similar) for one meal most days. At the end of our trip, we were within a few hundred dollars of our goal budget!
-We used both cash and card on this trip. In the hustle leading up to leaving, we forgot to pull cash out of the bank, so the night before we left we gathered up all the cash we had on hand at home ($170) and took it with us. We exchanged it at the airport, which was a flat $10 fee, and got around 150E for it. We pretty much broke even here compared to if we had exchanged it abroad or pulled out cash from an ATM when we landed, but if we were going to do more, the airport would have been the better option, because the international ATMs charge a percentage in addition to the flat rate.
-We knew that our AMEX didn’t have an international transaction fee, so we planned on using that card for most of our purchases, but forgot that many establishments in Europe don’t accept AMEX. This meant that we were stuck using our Cash Rewards Visa, which did charge a 3% international transaction fee. We always tried the AMEX first, and paid for small things in cash (we did pull out cash from an ATM one other time), but ended up with about $50 in fees at the end of the trip from the Visa. Live and learn! If you bank with BOA, there is a Travel Rewards card that does not have an international fee that you can use as well.
For more on how I managed my Hashimoto’s while on this trip, see THIS POST, and for more on the supplements that I took and how I organized them, head on over HERE!
I hope this guide has been helpful! Feel free to leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you!