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Destination Italy… a journal of our travels in Italy this summer highlighting hotels, restaurants and more!

Journal Entry #1:

Having left Tampa on Tuesday night for Rome via Gatwick, London, was a tiring start to our first day in Italy.  Quick note…  When planning a trip to Europe, we suggest you plan nothing for at least 2 days upon arriving.  The long airplane ride, with a probable layover somewhere, accompanied with the lack of sleep from a six hour change to your normal time zone, has you struggling to keep your eyes open.  In short, you just feel like a mindless zombie.  So we highly recommend you not take the time to rent a car for a 5-6 hour drive to Florence, because you’ll probably just stop along the way from sheer exhaustion.  So back to our story…  We then arrived in beautiful Rome, Italy and were greeted by the most amazing family (Elena’s) who whisked away our little Gia and her nonna and headed south while we took the time to rent a car for our 5-6 hour drive to Florence, stopping along the way from sheer exhaustion.  We found the closest hotel to the A1 (autostrada).  As we struggled to keep our eyes opened, we noticed about 20 mack trucks meticulously lined up, one by one, in the hotel’s parking lot which had one of us wondering what kind of hotel this was.  After sending in the man who spoke no Italian (Ryan) to “check out the place,” we agreed that we had found the nicest truck stop we had ever seen!  Another quick note…  On your first day into Italy, ask for a late checkout.  So, after waking up, to our surprise around 10 or so, we had to hurry along in order to check out in time.


Our 11 hours of sleep and our first cup of espresso in Italy had seemingly given us enough energy to make it the rest of the way to Florence.  We even arrived 30 minutes early to the scheduled site visit of Castello di Vincigliata for the wedding we were going to capture the very next day.  Always in awe of the antiquity of Italy, the castle and its grounds were no exception.  Just breathtaking!  We left the site visit with one feeling… excitement!  That was, until our Florence lodging plans changed.  So a quick ride on the Internet Super Highway had us randomly finding a hotel through our favorite site,  With no time for a check in before having to photograph the rehearsal dinner, we took out our map and followed the roads for Fiesole.  If you have never been to Italy or even to Europe, you probably think the roads are somewhat similar to the ones we have in the States.  I mean it is the 21st century.  Right?  Not a chance!  Outside of the Autostrada, the roads were built long before there were cars.  So the “suggested” 2 lane road is actually barely large enough for 1 car.  The good Lord was shining down on us as we only had to straddle the edge for 1 car coming down as we were going up.  Did I fail to mention how mountainous Italy is and the lack of guard rails?  With hearts pounding from an intense ride up – or rather MY heart, we arrived at Villa le Piazzole.  Quick note…  Ladies, for a reason that has baffled me to this day, our men, behind the wheel of an Italian car in Italy, quickly turn into “Italian” drivers.  For those of you who have had the privilege of either driving in Italy personally or experiencing a taxi ride in Italy, you know what I mean.

(more to follow)

A presto,

Ryan & Elena Joseph


British Airways

Thrifty Car Rental

Hotel Domenico

Castello di Vincigliata

Villa le Piazzole

Bridal Hair





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