Florence is one of the most well known and well loved cities in the world. Famed for being the home of Italian Renaissance art, adored for its picturesque medieval historic center, coveted for its mastery of Italian leatherwork.
Florence is also a city that in the last few years has suffered from massive tourist overcrowding. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the busloads of tourists, unless of course you know where to go to avoid them. I’ll give you a heads up – there is an entirely different experience awaiting you just a few meters away from the crowds!
During my years of leading private tours through Florence I’ve learned about really amazing places to visit and things to see and do in the renaissance city that are only a stone’s throw away from the crowds yet feel like you’re in a different world.
I was so lucky to be invited onto the Untold Italy podcast to talk about my secret Florence. In the podcast we talk about everything from the Medici to the best places to try artisan gelato, where to go for an aperitivo, churches you had no idea you wanted to see, and some of my best tips for experiencing the real Florence, the Florence you will fall madly in love with.
If like me you are aching for Italy but stuck at home because of the pandemic, Untold Italy has a member site called Untold Italy Insiders where every month you have a cooking lesson with one of Italy’s most famous chefs, a wine class with a sommelier who will make your heart flutter, lessons from private tour guides, live question and answer sessions, and help planning your dream trip for once we can fly the friendly skies again. There is much more available too. You can find out more about Untold Italy Insiders here.
If you want more insider secrets to help you explore the magic of Florence and discover roughly 100 incredible things to see and do that the bus tours don’t know about, almost all of which are hiding in plain sight, right under your nose, check out my best selling book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence. Available world wide on Amazon.
We may be stuck at home for now, but travel will be back in 2021. Make your holiday shopping easy by checking out these fantastic gifts for travelers. Most (if not all) are getting Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts and all can ship from Amazon, saving you a trip to the mall! Whether you are looking for stocking stuffers or larger gifts, this list has you covered!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and purchase an item from the list, this blog may make a small commission. All commissions are used to help pay for hosting and publishing expenses.
The Trtl Pillow
Avoid neck pain and get comfortable sleep on plains, trains and in automobiles with the Super popular Trtl Pillow. It’s lightweight, super soft, compact, and packs easily into your carry on bag. During the 2020 holiday season it is discounted from $39.99 to $24.00 on Amazon. Linked here. Check out the video below
Compass Rose Bra Wallet
Discreetly hide money and credit cards in this RFID blocking Compass Rose bra wallet. Made from soft, bra fabric the wallet doesn’t sweat or chafe and works with all bra sizes. There are three places on your bra that you can comfortably attach your hidden wallet. It is easier to hide and much more comfortable than a traditional money belt or neck pouch.
Designed by Travel Fashion Girl Alex Jimenez. Available here on Amazon.com
Go Pro Hero8
GoPro is known as the most powerful and feature rich action camera in the world. Ideal for underwater photography as well as any action footage it is the perfect companion for travel.
The new Go Pro Hero 9 is now available. It looks like the Hero 8 but has a front facing screen, horizon levelling, 30% more battery life and a big sensore boost. But it’s brand new seems to only be selling at full price. Check it out here for $399 and also as a bundle for $463 here
Every traveler, whether venturing internationally or domestically, needs an external phone charger or power bank. I recommend getting a minimum of 20,000 mAh. The one pictured above, by Karusale has a whopping 50,000 mAh. Whatever size you get you need to be able to fully charge 2 devices from completely dead. Less than 20,000 mAh units will normally only have one or two full charges in them. The 50,000 unit will be able to charge or recharge multiple times, which is extremely helpful if your plane gets parked on the tarmac or if you get stuck while away. This one is $28.
Travel Hair Dryer
The BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium Travel Hairdryer is handsdown the best travel hair dryer I have ever had. It is both tiny and surprisingly powerful. Even with a super thick head of hair like mine I can blow dry my hair quickly. The titanium helps you to get a smooth blow out too. At only $32 this travel dryer just cannot be beaten. See it here on Amazon.
Even if you’re staying in hotels it doesn’t hurt to pack a microfiber towel to bring with you. The Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is perfect for travel – it’s fast drying, super absorbant and packs down to next to nothing. It also has a suede feel to it, which is way better than scratchy hotel towels! It also comes in handy for beach trips or trip where you will be doing outdoor sports. It comes in multiple sizes and colors too. See it here on Amazon.
It doesn’t hurt to have a waterproof phone holder with you when you travel, especially if you will be boating/kayaking/being out in the rain. Amazon has lots to choose from. This pair from MPOW costs $6.79
I swear by packing cubes. I’ve had the same set from Eagle Creek for years and have them in mutiple sizes. They are especially handy for separating off categories of clothing, such as keeping swimwear separate from lingerie, t-shirts and tops separate from bottoms. They fit beautifully inside suitcases, and just make life so much easier when you are on the road for work or on vacation. This Eagle Creek set is 25% off at Amazon at the moment.
If travling internationally a Universal Adaptor is essential. I have had this Unidapt Power Adaptor for several years now and have used it all over the world. At $18.95 it is a steal. During Black Friday/Cyber Monday it has further discounts too. See it here on Amazon.
Foldaway Duffel Bag
This Paravel Foldable Duffel Bag is a life saver! It folds down flat and takes up no space at all. It’s basically the size of an iPad. I take this with me on overseas trips and pull it out if I’ve overshopped or can’t pack everything back into my suitcase.
The nylon is super durable but lightweight, the zipper is strong and high quality, and the bag itself meets airline carry on requirements, fitting either in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. This one was on Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2018. If she approves, you know you can’t go wrong! Find it here on Amazon.
It’s easy to get dehydrated when you travel, especially when you take long flights. Nuun hydration elctrolytes not only give you the hydration boost you need, helping to stave off jet lag and reviving you after hot sightseeing days, they also offer immune support, helping you to stay healthy while you’re away. Available here on Amazon.
Even the best sneakers can give you blisters when you are out sightseeing all day. Leukotape is the best thing in the world for blister prevention. It is also perfect for strapping feet, toes or knees. Hikers swear by it and say it is softer than moleskin. It also will adhere for several days if you need it to. It’s a lifesaver. Available here on Amazon.
E Readers make ideal gifts for travelers. Load as many books and audiobooks onto them as you want. (An 8GB Kindle holds 6000 books.) Waterproof and glare free you can even read with them on the beach. The newer models hold their charge up to a week. Once you’ve downloaded a book you don’t need wifi access to read it. Best gift ever! See the Kindle Paperwhite here on Amazon.
I recently ordered a bunch of Audio Technica audio equipment and am thrilled with the audio quality. At $99 these Audio Technica wireless earbuds are less than half the price of the Apple ones but the quality is outstanding. The are waterproof and have 6 hours battery life.
Have you been to Capri yet? Is it on your travel bucket list?
If it isn’t, it needs to be.
Just twenty minutes from Sorrento by ferry Capri is the most chic island in the Mediterranean. From its staggering beauty to its fascinating history, exquisite cuisine and fabulous shopping, Capri has something for everyone.
Walk through the residential area up to Villa Jovis, Emperor Tiberius’ 2000 year old palace and take in the breathtaking views of Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Ride around the island in a famous Capri convertible taxi, take a rowboat helmed by a singing Napolitan into the Blue Grotto, rent a local gozzo boat for an afternoon circumnavigating the island and swimming with a view of the Faragioni. Sit somewhere beautiful with a view to die for and enjoy the delicious local cuisine.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Capri.
But what do you do if you are dying to get back to the island or dreaming of going there for the first time, but are stuck at home with travel bans and pandemic lockdowns?
Today I want to give you three ways to escape to Capri while we are stuck at home. These three things also make fabulous gifts for the traveler who couldn’t get away.
Three Ways To Escape To Capri During Lockdown
Best-selling author Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians) has set much of his newest book Sex and Vanity on the island of Capri.
His writing style is so descriptive and alive, you will feel like you are actually there. His characters even frequent real life shops and restaurants that you too can visit once we open back up for travel.
The much loved Ristorante Michel-Angelo in the book is actually a real place, not a fictitious one! It was actually chosen as one of the top 10 restaurants on the Amalfi Coast! (See the list full here) Sadly they closed their doors for the last time at the end of the 2020 travel season but you can still buy their famous food boxes.
Their food boxes include their own fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil, jars of their bottled tomatoes, their wine, a ravioli stamp and their cookbook.
For those of you who have been to Ristorante Michel-Angelo and like me are devastated that it has closed down, they now have a new business, Giardino Michel-Angelo. This is a huge vegetable garden overlooking the Mediterranean in Anacapri, where you can do everything from taking cooking classes to ordering a curated picnic to take on a walk (or a boat!) while you enjoy the wild beauty of the island.
** I featured the food boxes in a newsletter recently. I told my newsletter members that I don’t know the owners, I just like the food boxes. The following week the owners reached out to me (there are thousands of members of my newsletter, and some had contacted Ristorante Michel-Angelo to order boxes shipped to their countries all over the world.) and we have since become friends! I will be ordering picnics for my tour groups when we are finally able to travel again, hopefully in 2021. You can join the newsletter here
The month after I sent out the Capri food box information, one of my favorite Italy-centric podcasts, Untold Italy, did an interview with Holly d’Esposito, one of the owners of Ristorante Michel-Angelo.
Her story is the stuff dreams are made of. She talks about arriving on the island as a tourist and asking her hotel for a restaurant recommendation. They sent her to – you guessed it – Ristorante Michel-Angelo. She walked through the front door and locked eyes with the owner, handsome Gianluca d’Eposito. The most gorgeous love affair rolled out from that moment and now the couple are married with two lovely little kids who are growing up on this island paradise.
If you’ve ever daydreamed of finding your true love and soul mate via a chance encounter on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean, or if the idea of escaping from real life for an hour to hear a beautiful love story that happened because of a magical twist of fate, check out the podcast episode here.
Holly also tells you about fabulous things to do while visiting Capri, indulging your wanderlust and giving you ideas for that next trip.
You’re going to love it.
If you know someone who would love to visit Capri, consider buying them the Kevin Kwan book and/or the food box for a holiday gift!