Country with the best food.

Are you ready to pack your bags?


Favorite Place #3 – Italy


Italy is a must when traveling to Europe.  Most people want to visit Italy for its culture, history, and of course, the wine and food!  I am no different than most people.  Some of the best food dishes that I have ever had were in Italy, and it is the one place where I will actually drink wine.  I have been lucky enough to have traveled to Italy on several occasions, even one time when I was in Switzerland we were so close to the border that it felt like we were in Italy.  It truly is an amazing country to visit and these are the places that I enjoyed the most.



Top 5 Favorite Places in Italy


#5   Pompeii – This ancient civilization, that is unearthed more and more each year, is absolutely breath-taking.  Going through people’s homes and seeing how they lived, the interlacing of the city streets, shops, and actual relics that have been unearthed gives one an understanding of how people lived at that time, and it is so well preserved.  Now each time I have visited, we have taken a 3 to 4 hour tour just of Pompeii.  If you really want to see all of Pompeii, you really have to give yourself a good 8 hours or more.  Most tours take you to the known sites, but Pompeii is quite large and you may want to find a tour that will take you to the lesser known areas. 


#4   Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo – When I heard that our cruise ship was stopping in Sicily, all I could think of was the Godfather movies and the opera house, which we did see and go inside.  But there was something else that I really wanted to see, Rosalia Lombardo.  Who is this person?  She is an extremely well-preserved two-year girl who died in 1920.  It is unknown why she is so well-preserved, but she is prominently displayed in her own section of the Capuchin Catacombs.  Catacombs aren’t for everyone as they are a reminder that life is short, but I had seen several shows on this particular one in Palermo, so I booked us a tour.  I was pleasantly surprised that most of the Catacomb was not underground and plenty of natural light was coming in.  The paths were clearly defined and the layout of the bones was very well-preserved.  Once we reached Rosalia and saw her in the small glass casket, it seemed surreal and one of the most mysterious things that I have ever seen. 


#3   Sorrento city center – Sorrento is usually a stop when traveling the Almafi coast.  It is a beautiful town on top of some cliffs that really give you some amazing views of the sea.  The town center is filled with small alleys leading you to amazing store fronts, and seems to be decorated with the most amazing flower displays.  There are three things that are a must when you go to Sorrento.  First you must consider purchasing some wood art.  This is where the artists use wood to make various scenes of Sorrento and is beautiful and quite unique.  Anything with lemons!  Limoncello is hugely popular in Sorrento and a good place to purchase some really amazing versions of it.  They also have various candies with lemon, which are amazing and not too sour.  Gelato!  When in Italy, gelato is a must!  This is one of the foods that I must try in every Italian city I visit, and Sorrento didn’t disappoint with their gelato.  There is one store right down from the main square that resides in a building right in the middle of two streets.  You can enter from either street and the walls are filled with famous people who have stopped into their store, and when we tried their gelato, I can see why! 


#2   The Forum – Rome is a city that has so many amazing historical sites that you won’t be able to see them all in one visit.  We decided to do a private 10-hour tour of Rome to see most of the well-known sites including the Forum.  All I really wanted to see was the Colessum but the first thing we did that day to beat the summer sun, was walk around the Forum.  Immediately I was impressed by the Arch of Titus which is the original arch that the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France is modeled after.  We walked around this ancient Roman civilization for 3 hours seeing mostly city buildings and some homes.  The most impressive part of the forum was when we reached Circus Maximus, where they used to race the chariots.  Looking at this massive site and picturing chariots racing around while people cheered on their favorites, was very impressive to me.  We did visit the Colessum, but I was unimpressed at the size after seeing Circus Maximus. 


#1 The Island of Venice –    My first European experience was Venice and from the moment I stepped onto the taxi boat, I fell in love.  As we circled the island you can see the beautiful colorful structures and you are amazed that a city can thrive right in the middle of the water.  Once on the island, there are alleyways following canals, more bridges than I have ever crossed in my life, and around each turn you have the opportunity to take an award winning picture.  As we love our private tours, we opted for one through Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square and Basilica.  Our private tour of the palace allowed us to go into rooms that aren’t seen by the general public and in the old days were the private rooms of the Doge’s.  Crossing through the Bridge of Sighs was eerie and surreal but I have to say one of the most memorable moments of my life.  When on the island of Venice, one must purchase a masquerade mask.  They are pretty much sold in every store on the island, but the ones you are looking for are made of Paper Mache and not porcelain.  There are a select few artisans on the island who still make them out of paper mache so you will have to ask around where the closet on to your hotel is located.


I only briefly talked about the food in Italy, but if you have been there you already know that eating anywhere in Italy is a culinary experience.  Portions are large, and the wine seems to flow like water.  My husband and I always like to find out where the locals eat and eat with them at night.  Eating dinner in Italy means that you will be eating dinner at 10pm, but it is worth the wait.  Every dinner is as least a five course meal including an appetizer, salad, pasta, entrée, and dessert, usually in this order.  Yes, pasta is a course and not the main meal.  You have to also realize that dinner is enjoyed slowly over 2 to 3 hours so there is plenty of time to digest each course.  Like they say, when in Rome, eat like the Romans!



Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Romantic Venice, Italy

Italy is one of those places in Europe that is a must see.  I know that a lot of people go to Italy for their first European adventure.  Why not, there are so many great cities to visit.  Venice is one of those great Italian cities and in this article I am going to tell you why.

Our hotel room in Venice


Venice is in northern Italy along the Adriatic sea.  Venice consists of the mainland and the historic city.  The historic city has the beautiful canals and endless bridges. If you decide to stay in the historic city you will pay more but it is worth the experience. There is nothing like walking out of your hotel in the morning and seeing the gondolas lined up in the water or seeing the vendors getting ready to open their shops.


Venice has been around for over a thousand years and some of the buildings date back to this time.  The hotels not so much and they are limited on space.  There is a picture of our hotel room and you can see our luggage is against the cabinet and almost touching the bed.  Also, make sure that you if you want your privacy that you book a hotel room with a bathroom en-suite.  Otherwise, you will really get to know your fellow travelers in ways you weren’t expecting!

Piazza San Marco

Our hotel was located just a few steps from Piazza San Marco or as some people call it Saint Mark’s Square.  This square has been famously shown in many movies including one of my favorites The Italian Job.  There are shops, cafes, and alleyways that lead to those beautiful canals all around the Piazza.  Early in the  morning there is nobody around, not even the pigeons.  By lunch time there are swarms of visitors feeding thousands of pigeons that seem to come from the water.  If you are afraid of birds, I would highly recommend staying away from this area from mid-morning to evening.

Also, part of this large Piazza is the astrological clock.  If you enter into the alleyway under the clock it takes you into a labyrinth of shops, markets, cafes, gelato stands, and restaurants.  It feels like it is never ending and one can easily get lost.  Just enjoy the treats that are offered to you along the way.  On of my husband’s favorite stories to tell is that even though we got lost, we always ended up finding the same gelato stand!  He didn’t really complain since he loved the tiramisu flavored gelato and I didn’t mind it too much either.

One of the most eye catching parts of the Piazza is Saint Mark’s Basilica and Saint Mark’s Campanile (the bell tower to Saint Mark’s Basilica).  The bell tower is an iconic symbol of the this historic city along with the winged lions that symbolize Saint Mark, see picture below.

Astrological Clock

Saint Mark’s Basilica is part of the Catholic church and is open for anyone to take a tour.  In the hot summer months when you may be wearing a sleeveless shirt the Basilica requests your shoulders and knees be covered.  If you don’t have something to cover with they will provide you with a cloth.  Once inside you are mesmerized by marble floors, bright mosaics, and a treasury that boosts one of the largest collections of preserved Byzantine objects.  This is a very popular site and lines can be long.  According to the Basilica’s website, the average wait is 45 minutes.  But they do offer reservations so plan in advance!


Bridge of Sighs

Right next to the Basilica is another well-known landmark, Doge’s Palace.  I didn’t know what a Doge was until I went to Venice but a Doge is an elected official.  Typically this was the eldest male in the city and the position was a life-long position.   If you were elected you and your family lived in the Doge’s Palace.  Now the Palace was both a home and work area for the elected official.  It also housed the jail from which the infamous Casanova resided until his escape.  Many prisoners walked over the Bridge of Sighs which was given its’ name because it was the prisoners last glimpse of the beautiful Venetian lagoon before going to jail.  For an amazing experience, ask about a private tour!  We had splurged and taken a VIP tour of the palace.  We went into the work chambers of the all the past Doge’s, which is not typically seen by any tour, and we took secret passage ways around the palace.  We even came out of a tour where a tour group was behind the red rope and thought we were famous people.  Very exciting!


Rialto Bridge

Venice is definitely known for it’s beautiful and plentiful canals but the main canal is the Grand Canal.  You can walk up and down the canal and enjoy the site of boats, gondoliers, shops, restaurants, and brightly colored buildings.  The Grand Canal is one of the wider canals that originally split Venice into San Marco and San Polo districts.  The bridge that connected these two was the Rialto Bridge.  Even though there are multiple bridges along the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge is the oldest.  Many visitors stop along the bridge to get their photo taken over the canal.  Now I really enjoyed see the Grand Canal but I preferred the more intimate canals through the rest of the city.  They had charm, and honestly were not as polluted as the Grand Canal.  I am not sure if it was the time of year, but there was a lot of food and bottles floating in the water.


When it comes to souvenirs in Venice purchasing one of the famous masquerade masks or Venetian masks is a must!  We were told to make sure you ask around which are the authentic shops.  There are a lot of stores that sell beautiful porcelain masks but the authentic ones are made from paper mache.  These stores will also ship them for you so you don’t have to worry about making sure your fragile purchase makes it home in one piece.


Whichever cities you choose to see on your trip to Italy make sure that you fit in Venice.  If you decide to take a gondola ride make sure that you have the Euros to pay for it.  They can be quite expensive but it is a great way to see the city.  There are a lot of cafes and restaurants so make sure to ask your concierge which ones they recommend.  Whatever you eat will be the best meal of your life but make sure that you save room for some gelato, preferably the tiramisu flavor.



Venice was my very first European city and I want to say thank you to this beautiful, well-preserved, and romantic city for helping me understand why Life is Better Traveling.

Sailing Away!!!!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!