Unapologetically honest. What will she rate it out of 5 stars…?
Author: Rated by Hanna
New England based blogger with unapologetically honest opinions, Wife, Financial Consultant, Yelp Elite and recovering makeup addict. Mostly review and analysis format posts interlaced with personal anecdotes often with my own (mis)fortune to inform readers.
Always open to collaborations and new ideas! Feel free to drop me a message in the contact page.
Confusing title huh? Not that we’d want to forget our fun time in arguably the most popular city of Renaissance, Florence. Dana actually visited Florence almost a decade ago when his sister studied abroad. So smitten with the city he even picked out a spot for an engagement proposal! More on that later. Fast forward to our honeymoon – only 8 hours in the town where do we venture? Thank you so much to my cousin from Australia who helped make this optional excursion along with other memorable ones possible!
Well we knew that we definitely had to see Davidup close at the Academy of Fine Arts, and of course walk the beautiful streets soaking in the heart of the Renaissance. Johnny also recommended checking out the Uffizi Gallery. I didn’t see the spelling so I re-purposed that word as a pun saying “Ooooh (my) feetsies!” from all the walking we did. I had been training on the elliptical for the Duomo stair climb, and unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to climb the steps, but we did enter as the line died down right before we left for the day to enjoy the magnificent architectural design and artwork within.
Continuing from the first part about Wedding Registries Online and Traditional, let’s deep dive into Amazon & Zola! I’ve also updated the previous post with all the ratings if you are curious. I’ve only seen one other couple who also registered on Amazon, and it was so easy to just order something with our Amazon prime account! Most of our friends and my parents specifically are very familiar with ordering stuff from this retailer. It was actually my father that introduced me to this for ordering books over a decade ago. Zola on the other hand I have never seen anyone else use until after our bridal shower. (It’s actually the wedding we will attend this weekend!)
Montecatini what a mouthful to say. Honestly we didn’t get to explore the Tuscan town we stayed overnight in extensively, but we had great time overall! I also became obsessed with the word Quirinale because it was part the name of where we stayed, Hotel Francia E Quirinale. (Plus it’s just fun to say.) It used to be where the president would reside so the word itself is associated with being presidential I guess. The hotel itself had an old world charm to it from those obnoxiously huge keys with a plastic tag. This may have been our favorite location in terms of food since the Swordfish one night was excellent. Breakfast each morning was consistently great! (They had this unique over hard egg in a Hollandaise-esque sauce.) We got to enjoy the outdoor pool on the last day! I didn’t notice any specific signage for their thermal spas, so perhaps if we return in the future we will seek them out!
Next stop: the historical town of Lucca for our adventure, hidden in the rolling hills of Tuscany. We were really en route to Montecatini, but of course we can’t check in until 3PM so why not take another side trip? (This seemed to be Gate 1’s itinerary strategy.) Our journey there by bus (and to all the subsequent locations) slowly lulled me to sleep by our wonderful driver, Stefano. For the parts when I was awake, I noticed narrow highways with large strips of farm land similar to the US. There were of course several olive and fig trees instead of the regular US corn vegetation. Never heard of it? Apparently that was the point! There was so much history in this lesser known portion of Italy that we both discovered! Our excellent local tour guide, Gabriel, explained that Lucca was one of the most secure kingdoms in Italy during the middle ages. Also it was one of the few stable currencies accepted across Europe, until the rulers decided they needed more of a low profile. Thus much of the city has been well preserved including the remarkable walls all around the city. As he put it, everyone knows that Switzerland is a rich country with a high standard of living, but try to name the prime minister. (Do they even use a PM? I don’t know, but they’re rich!)
Ah registries! One of the many tricky aspects of a wedding (as I’m reflecting on our wonderful gifts from the continued session of Thank You note writing). I honestly had no familiarity with this concept until we started receiving invites directly addressed to us! As a guest, most people don’t start looking at the registry until 2 weeks prior to the event. Be it a wedding shower OR the actual wedding. As the couple getting married, they also must walk the line of picking out appropriate items without coming off as greedy: wide price range and quantity for guests to choose from. For someone who hates surprises, I love registries now!
On the same day we visited the glass factory, we also took a shuttle boat back to Venice! I couldn’t wait to experience my first Gondola ride, despite it being the most cliché activity. Johnny warned us ahead of time about the importance of “Church Attire” to show respect and to make sure we get into the Basilica. Shoulders and legs need to be covered. No short shorts or sun dresses with thin straps. The weather reminded us of New England since it was raining during the morning so I of course donned my trust black trench rain jacket. As soon as we reached St. Mark’s Square the hot sun burst through the clouds and I had to tie the jacket around my waist! Johnny pointed out the key locations for meeting in one of the corners of the square and across from the Corinthian columns. He made sure to let us know not to walk between them since that’s where executions would take place!
So American using Fahrenheit.
We met the first of our various local tour guides, Sylvia. She confirmed the info that Johnny had told us on the shuttle boat that the residential population of Venice itself is shrinking. Now it’s only about 50,000 when it used to be 200,000+. However, the tourism is still increasing. We definitely noticed this on Monday where bodies filled almost every crevice from the Pier to Piazza San Marco at 10 AM! We reversed our original plan of visiting Doge’s Palace first for our group appointment then to the Basilica. All the while Johnny was still coordinating the timing of the optional Gondola ride with musical serenade.
Gondolas along Grand Canal
View above before entering Basilica. No photos inside.
Get your tickets since this train is leaving the station right now! It’s almost peak wedding season in the summer! I’m so glad that mine is done at this point even if I was a bit under the weather. Everywhere I turn I can’t avoid engagement announcements or upcoming nuptials. Even some unexpected department stores are getting in on the Wedding industry action. Namely slapping the “W” word on anything white, ivory or special occasion looking.
Let’s play a game and look at the image to guess which (unexpected) business wants in on the wedding game?!