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 EATS.) This is part 2 of a 2 part series. Find part 1 with the details on Nice and Tellaro here!
MONTEPULCIANO, ITALY: 3 nights, 2.5 days
We left Tellaro in the morning and drove a couple of hours to San Giminiano, which was just a little way off of the direct route to Montepulciano. We had stopped there on a bus tour when we were in Italy two years ago, and they have a world renowned gelato shop that we wanted to go back to! That was a nice stretch before the remaining two hours to get to Montepulciano. The drive was beautiful, full of picturesque Tuscan countryside views!
We stayed at a bed and breakfast called Poggio Etrusco. Pamela Sheldon Johns, who wrote many of the Italian cookbooks for Williams Sonoma, runs it with her husband. We had a little apartment with a bedroom, kitchen, and living room. It was lovely there; almost all of the vegetation is a fruit or a vegetable, and we loved picking cherries off of the trees every time we walked by! There were a couple of other guests there as well, but for the most part, we had the place to ourselves.
Cooking Class at Poggio Etrusco- This is one of the things that we were looking forward to the most on our trip! Pamela welcomed us into her home and put on a cooking class in her own kitchen, just for us. She was able to accommodate my gluten free needs as well without any issue at all.
Here was the menu: leaves and flowers battered in rice flour and fried in olive oil, chickpea spread on GF crackers, asparagus with two types of prosciutto, mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola and walnuts, pinzimono (evoo + herb salt) with crudité, fresh fava beans, gnudi (ricotta spinach dumplings) with spicy tomato sauce, roasted chicken + potatoes, shredded vegetable salad, asparagus custard cups, GF chocolate cake with strawberry gelato. Are you drooling yet?? We spent about 3 hours together and got to help as we learned. After that, we all enjoyed lunch together out on their sunny patio, with a bottle of wine of course!
Pienza- It was a quick 15 minute drive to this nearby town. We didn’t spend long there, as it was pretty small, but there were lots of shops (especially for pecorino) to wander through!
Montepulciano- Since we were actually staying just outside of Montepulciano at the B&B, we wanted to make sure that we actually got to see the town! It was much bigger than Pienza, and the main street is a pretty steep incline all the way up to a plaza at the top. We had some reservations to keep elsewhere so we pretty much just hustled to the top and then walked back down. There were countless shops along the way though, and we could have spent much more time there. It’s also a wine tasting town, and many of the shops provide free tastings! You could easily taste your way through several glasses of free wine!
Winery Tour of Salcheto- Yet another highlight of our entire trip, Salcheto is an all organic, biodynamic, off the grid winery. They use only natural light, and use gravity to move the wine through the factory. Every choice they make is with the environment in mind. The tour was fascinating, and everything about the design and their production process was intentional and well thought out! After the tour, we got to do a tasting and have lunch at the restaurant there. (More on that below.)
Farm Tour of Podere Il Casale- This was another highlight of the trip. Podere Il Casale is a self sustaining, biodynamic farm. The owners moved to Italy from Zurich 30 years ago and taught themselves how to farm because they wanted to produce quality food that they felt good about. The farm primarily produces goat and sheep cheese and has a herd of 60 goats and 300 sheep. We got to see the goat milking in action! We learned all about cheese production on the tour, then headed off to the restaurant for dinner. (More on that below.)
-Gelateria Dondoli- This is the little gelato shop at the top of San Giminano that won best gelato in the world in 2016 and 2018 (I think). It really is excellent and worth a stop if you’re in the area!
-Tre Stelle- This little restaurant is actually part of a hotel, and is definitely a local favorite. It was completely packed by the time we left at 8pm! I had branzino and a side salad and C had pizza. We shared the pecorino appetizer with fruit and honey, which is a local dish. They also served us free limoncello after our meal!
-Ristorante Daria- Located in charming little Monticchiello, this restaurant is owned by Pamela’s best friend and came highly recommended! It did not disappoint. We asked for her recommendations and ended up with the local pici pasta (they had some that was GF for me, which was SUCH a treat!) I got the duck/sage version and C got the classic meat sauce. We also shared steak and veggies to share, which paired perfectly with the wine that they recommended.
-Salcheto- We had a light lunch here, paired with our wine tasting. Everything that they serve is made from scratch, organic, and local. I had a green salad (from their own garden!) with a charcuterie plate, and C had salad with soup and beef carpaccio. They had no trouble accommodating my gluten free needs. You can stop in just for food as well!
-Podere Il Casale- After our tour of the farm, we stopped at the restaurant to eat. I do recommend reservations here, as they tend to book up. All of the produce and cheese that they serve is from their own farm! We shared the cheese plate (definitely recommend) along with the lamb and the veggie entree. Everything was incredibly flavorful and artistically plated. I did have a little bit of a harder time with my GF needs here (the menu wasn’t labeled, and there was a lot of checking with the chef), but it was worth it!
-GF Pasta shop- A tiny little shop that has frozen fresh handmade GF pasta, along with croissants/pastries and focaccia! I’m certain that the Pici I had at Daria was from here, and it was delicious. We picked up a couple of croissants and some focaccia to take with us. The foccacia was excellent, but I would skip the pastries in favor of the ones I found in Rome (below). Had we not been leaving town the next day, we definitely would have bought some pasta as well! I couldn’t even find the name online and didn’t catch it while we were there, but it’s right by this auto shop.
I definitely recommend having a car. It gave us the freedom to get out and about and see several other small towns while we were in the area!
ROME, ITALY: 1 night (stopover during travel) x 2
This was a quick stopover for us, once on our way from Montepulciano to Salerno en route to Positano, and then again after leaving Positano before flying back to the states. On our way south, we still had the car so we drove from Montepulciano to Rome, stopping in Orvieto on the way for a cappuccino and to stretch our legs. We dropped off the rental car near Roma Termini, which was a bit confusing because the rental car return was actually at the top of a parking garage! Also, the garage was so tight and tiny that even our Fiat had trouble making the turns. As much as I appreciated having a car in the countryside, I was glad to be free of it in the city!
For our second night in Rome at the end of our trip we took a train from Salerno to the Roma Termini, then another local train out to the airport, where we caught a shuttle to the hotel where we were staying for the night.
We stayed in this AirBNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking), which was great! We didn’t have much time there, but would happily have been content for several days. On our way back through before our flight home we stayed at Hotel Academy, which we booked through Orbitz. It was definitely no-frills, but we weren’t even there 10 hours, so it hardly mattered. Had we thought about it, we probably would have just paid the entrance fee to the Delta lounge at the airport and stayed there overnight, because between the cost of the room and the shuttle both ways, the cost would have been the same and it would have been a lot less hassle!
After we dropped off the car, we headed straight to our Air BNB, which was only a mile or so away, to drop off our bags. We only had a few hours, so we set out again asap to explore! We knew that we wanted to find GROM for some gelato, which was a pretty good walk across town. On our way, we stopped at the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Forum, and the Colosseum.
This time around (as opposed to when we were in Rome 2 years ago), we did all no-cook and cook at home meals because we were there for such a short period of time. The first night, before we headed down to Positano, we picked up some simple veggies, sausages, tomatoes, cheese, and bread from the store. When we made our pass back through before heading home, we bought some no-cook groceries at the little Coop outside the Roma Termini before catching the local train out to the airport and our hotel.
La Pasticciera- An entirely GF bakery right by the Roma Termini! We stopped by before we caught our train to Positano, and it was by far the best GF baked good I had all trip!
GROM- Of course :) Not only did we go when we spent our first night there, but we also managed to snag one last scoop at the train station on our way out of town to the airport!
Rome is one of my favorite cities in Italy. There is so much to see and do! One of these days I’ll try to put together a post of our favorites from when we spent a few days there two years ago!
POSITANO, ITALY: 3 nights, 2 days
Getting to Positano was the only travel difficulty we had on our entire trip. We took a train from Rome to Salerno, then had bought tickets to take the ferry down to Positano from there. However, when we got to the ferry dock we found a sign that said that all ferries had been cancelled due to weather…surprise! Well, we didn’t have internet or a backup plan, so we did our best to ask people about the busses and ended up at a bus stop with about 75 other people who were stuck in the same situation. Many of them had been waiting for hours, since all of the busses were packed due to the ferries being down. We waited for about 45 minutes and got lucky to get on one to Amalfi, where we waiting for another hour to catch a second bus to Positano. We were fortunate to make friends with a local who was also going that way, and who was able to give us rough directions to our Air BNB and let us know which bus stop to get off at. The first leg was about 75 minutes, and we were standing the whole time. The second leg was an hour, but at least we got seats! The busses drove along the edge of the cliff the whole way, often coming within inches of other cars, busses, or rock walls. I wouldn’t want that job, that’s for sure!
We stayed at this Air BNB (save 15% with this link if it’s your first booking). It was sufficient, but not outstanding. We did enjoy all of the space, and especially the patio! One of the things that caught us off guard was the fact that they charged 40E if you didn’t take out your own trash (not hard to do, but you had to pay attention to know that was your responsibility) and they also charged for electricity, which we didn’t find out until the time of checkout.
We spent most of our time in Positano just out walking and hiking! There are TONS of stairs, so be prepared. On our first day we hiked down to the water a couple of times and took the road up and around town as well. We stumbled across a little citrus shop called Valenti where we did a limoncello tasting. The woman who owned the shop also let us taste various spreads, jams, candies, and even took us across the street to her garden! That was a fun experience.
On our second day we hiked part of The Path of The Gods. We knew that we could take a bus to the start of the path, but given our experience with the busses on the way there, we decided to hike our way there instead. Starting in Positano, this meant hiking out of town a bit to the base of a huge staircase (1500 steps), which took us to the START of the path. We refilled on water and then set out again. The path itself was a pretty easy/moderate hike with incredible views! It was about 4 miles one way, so since we hiked TO the path in addition to the path itself, we decided to just go half way before turning back. I think that was a good choice, because by the time we got back to the bottom where we started, our legs were toast and we were hungry!
-Da Vincenzo- This was another one of our favorite restaurants of the trip, and we ate there two of the three nights that we were in Positano! It’s a Michelin Star restaurant, and for good reason. They fill up quickly, so since we didn’t have reservations, we showed up before they opened and were fortunate to get a seat both times. We had the buffalo mozzarella both nights (a local specialty), and the yellowfin with zucchini alla scapece was my favorite dish! We also tried a pear and hazelnut ricotta torte, which I highly recommend!
-La Latteria- A little market where we bought eggs, fruit and veggies, prosciutto, etc for our breakfasts and charcuterie lunches. They also have lots of prepared dishes in the back at the deli counter. We had the octopus salad, which was delicious! Utilizing this market was one way that we saved some money here, because eating out was expensive!
-Saraceno de Oro- We ate here on our first night. They were happy to accommodate my gluten free needs, but didn’t mention up front that each item that I ordered would have an additional 2E up-charge, even if no modifications were needed. C did get an amazing pizza there, and it is one of the more affordable places to eat in the area.
-Cafe Positano- One of the things that I wanted to do while in Positano was have an espresso with a view of the coast. Cafe Positano has one of the best views that we found! We only had the espresso here (much of the food looked like it catered to tourists, which we don’t prefer), and we paid top dollar for the view, but it was worth it!
I definitely recommend utilizing the ferry to get to and from Positano! When the weather was agreeable, it was significantly faster, easier, and more enjoyable than the bus.
As expected, Positano was the most expensive destination of our trip. I’m glad that we went, because it was beautiful, but if we return to this area, I think we will look for a small town in the area and stay there instead.
For more on our budget and how we managed money while abroad, head back to part 1, HERE. 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!