Ciao, chickies!! Hayes and I are soooo excited that so many of y'all loved our wedding video! Wasn't it so dreamy?! Truly the time of our lives. Unlike a lot of married couples, Hayes and I wanted to come back after our wedding and enjoy married life for awhile. We decided to take some time in between wedding and honeymoon so we can plan one major event, take a breather, and then go into full planning mode for the next.
If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram, you would know that Italy has a very special place in my heart. From a very young age, my parents and grandparents instilled a very strong sense of Sicilian/Italian pride. I dreamt of the day I would one day get to go to the place I heard my family members talk so lovingly about. And then it happened! My parents, sister and I, all took a trip together in 2010 on a Windstar Cruise around Italy with a few stops in Croatia. I remember when we landed in Venice. I was so groggy and sleepy from our direct LAX to Venice flight. We hopped on a water taxi and headed toward the hotel. Everybody knows Venice is breathtaking. But you truly have to see it for yourself to understand the astounding beauty and why people come from every corner of the earth to spend time here. I popped my head out of the water taxi and was truly blown away. Truthfully, I think I teared up (I still get misty eyed whenever I land in Italy. I can't help how embarrassing I am - HA) because I was so overwhelmed with the beauty. And that was it. I was hooked.
Fast forward two weeks later, and my family and I had just spent the most magical time together in Europe. Not only did we discover off the beaten path travel destinations like Sveti Klement (a teeny tiny island off the coast of Croatia and famous for it's wine) but we also got to visit Sicily, where my dad's family comes from. It was such an eyeopening time of my life.
Fast forward (sorry y'all... I promised this would be a short post! Looks like that isn't happening) to present day. I got my minor in Italian Language. I've gone back to Italy four times since that summer and have explored by myself, with family, friends.. but never with Hayes! Which is exactly why we wanted to go to Italy and take a cruise. But not just any cruise.... a Windstar Cruise!
What I love about Windstar Cruises is that they feel very intimate without feeling crowded. They are actually quite small and they aim to create a "private yacht" feeling. Okay.. sign me up! Unlike major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival that can carry over 4,000 people, Windstar is quiet and relaxing with only a max of a little over 200 people. They also opted for no iceskating rinks, "teen clubs," or rock walls, but rather one or two small pools, intimate candlelit dinners, and the best part: a water sport platform. The ships are small in size meaning they can open up the stern and put out water activities so you can swim in Mediterranean, learn to windsurf, or tan on the floats while anchored at port. Like I said, that private yacht feeling!
Okay, peeps. Let’s get to the good stuff. OUR ITINERARY! Hayes and I will be taking an 8 day cruise around the beautiful coasts of Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro. Here is the day by day:
First stop: VENICE, ITALY
Hayes and I will be staying in Venice for a few days before the cruise to get some rest, look around, and relish the first few days of our honeymoon. We are staying at my D R E A M hotel:The Gritti Palace.It has been around since 1475 (so yah, A REALLY FREAKIN’ LONG TIME) and it was used for Vatican ambassadors visiting Venice. Now, it is one of Venice’s most celebrated hotels with celebrities such as Brad and Angelina, George and Amal, among others who have stayed in this gorgeous place! After a few days relaxing here, we will board the ship and head out to the next destination.
This is one of the most charming places I’ve been to in Europe. Rovinj used to be a tiny island until the channel was filled in during the 18th century and now it has a cove on each side of the little town. Rovinj is famous for it’s amazing farmers market, olive oil, and wine. This is where we will also spend my 23rd birthday! Woohooo!
Split is so charming it hurts. And it is so full of history too! History buffs will love this town because it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the city being built in and around Diocletian’s palace. Instead of being preserved as a museum, the palace is how you navigate through the city, where you can shop and eat while roaming the halls of the Roman emperor’s home.
We are so excited for Kotor because neither of us really know what to expect. Montenegro is the only country on the trip that neither of us have been to so we are super excited to explore together! What we do know is that when entering the bay of Kotor, there will be massive fjords on either side of us and the old town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Completely car free, Kotor’s old town is filled with 12th century Baroque palaces and Romanesque churches and bright red rooftops.
Calling all Game of Thrones fans! This ancient town is the city used for the backdrop of King’s Landing! Although I’ve been before, I haven’t been since becoming a GoT fan and Hayes hasn’t been before so we are super excited to geek out over some GoT realness. Besides Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has INCREDIBLE things to offer. The entire city is enclosed by a wall that you can walk in an hour or two and see the most incredible seaside views. A merchant republic for about 700 years, it was abolished by Napoleon and it traded with Turkey and India in the East. We can’t wait to learn more about this seaside town.
One of Sicily’s jewels, the charming village of Giardini Naxos, nestled in one of the world’s most beautiful bays. An optional excursion to the popular hillside town of Taormina will be a highlight of our voyage — from the stunning setting of the iconic Greek Theater to the sparkling beaches along the Ionian Sea. Hayes and I are super excited to geek out over the ruins with seaside views. We may even take the day trip over to Taormina for the day.
If there was ever a place that could win anybody over, it’s Amalfi. This place is pure M A G I C you guys! The steep cliffside towns are dotted with brightly colored homes, shops, and bougainvillea. If I could stay here forever, I totally would. We’ll spend our day here going to Positano where we will sip limoncello and explore the cliffside town.
Our final stop! Hayes and I will be staying here for a few days to explore the eternal city! We are on the hunt for an amazing Airbnb in the local neighborhood of Trastevere which is across the river from the Colosseum but a short walk from the Vatican. Hayes being a total history nerd and me loving Renaissance art, we can’t wait to walk the halls of the Vatican museum and see artwork you only dream of seeing in person or see in textbooks! I’m also REALLY looking forward to some carbonara pasta and pizza TBH.
Hayes and I are so ready to embark on this once in a lifetime trip together. I can’t wait to show him around my favorite place in the world.
I am working with Windstar Cruises during our honeymoon. Although this post isn't an advertisement, please stay tuned for sponsor posts.