Italy: Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, & Rome

In early October I went on a two week trip to Italy with my family.  We went to Venice, the Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome. We started out in Venice and stayed at this beautiful airbnb outside of the main square. It was conveniently located near several main vaporetto stops. Vaporettos are the “bus” system used in Venice, but instead of a bus it’s a boat. One of my favorite things to do there was just take a vaperetto ride, which you could do anytime if you bought a 2 or 3 day pass, for about $30. I loved Venice, but I would suggest you stay away from St. Mark’s square or Rialto Bridge if you want to avoid crowds. I have never seen crowds like that before. And so many Aperol spritzes! If you get even 20 minutes outside of the main square walking, you can find a completely quiet Venice.

I absolutely loved going to St. Mark’s Basilica and listening to a Rick Steves tour. One tip on going to the Basilica that saved a ton of time was that you can reserve your entry time online, up to 10 minutes in advance, and bypass the enormous line outside. One day we took a boat to the Islands of Burano and Murano, which were both really beautiful. If you go, head straight to Burano, and hit Murano on your way back, which will save you a lot of time waiting for a vaporetto. I also really enjoyed the 4 hour food tour we went on. We were able to try so many kinds of cicchetti and learn about Venetian culture.  Cicchetti is a Venetian specific style of food, very similar to Spanish tapas. Supposedly mostly eaten by the younger generation, who don’t make time to cook anymore. They just eat the small bites in bars on their way home. We also had a farm to table 4 course dinner at CoVino. Thank you New York Times for the suggestion. I would also recommend seeing the Doge’s Palace as a place to not miss!

Next stop was the Cinque Terre, which took about 6 hours to get to from Venice by train, with three transfers. We stayed at this amazing hotel, Hotel Villa Adriana, which I would go to again in a heartbeat. It was so beautiful, and served the most delicious Italian breakfast spread, with all types of cheeses, meats, and pastries. Very reasonably priced too, as I had a little single room for about $100 a night. The Cinque Terre was my favorite of all of the areas we visited in Italy, because it was all food, boats, swimming, and hiking. My favorite food I tried of the whole trip was there too, the fish cone! The specialty of Riomaggiore, is fried fish served in a paper cone, of course. Each of the 5 towns are connected by trails, trains, and boats, so it is very easy to get between them. My friend Gwen had joined us for this portion of the trip, and we would easily lose track of time swimming, or eating in one of the villages.  I did end up hiking between Corniglia and Vernazza solo, which was supposed to be the easiest of the hikes, taking only an hour. We spent a lot of time swimming in Vernazza and Manarolla as well, which both have wonderful places you can take a dip. One evening we headed over to Levanto for dinner, which seemed like the quieter of all of the towns, and technically isn’t one of the 5 Cinque Terre towns. This would be the type of place that Italians might stay on vacation, it seems a little more low key, with less tourists.

After the Cinque Terre we headed to Florence. Again, we totally scored with our place, thanks to my Dad! Hotel Il Bargelino was wonderful as were the hosts. One full day in Florence we did touristy attractions, we went to the Uffizi, the Duomo, and the Accedemia. It was pertinent that you book a time for entry well in advance for each of these. You cannot climb to the top of the duomo without this, and there is a long line to enter the Uffizi, even with a reservation. I cried while seeing the Birth of Venice. My friend and I commented how helpful it was at the Uffizi to have downloaded the Rick Steves audio guide in advance. In Florence we really enjoyed the art of the long dinner. Typically Americans will go to dinner at 7pm and eat until 9pm, and then the Italians will head out for their dinner around 9:30. It winds up being beneficial to the restaurants since they can have two dinner services. Florence claims to have created gelato, so we at plenty of that there, though I can’t say that’s much different than the rest of our trip.

While my sister, her husband, and my friend Gwen headed their separate ways, my parents and I ended the trip in Rome. It’s funny, looking back now,  I think at a certain point I stopped taking pictures with my actual camera in Florence. I have hardly any on camera from Rome. In Rome, again we stayed at the most lovely VRBO. We had a 2 bedroom apartment, and our host was so gracious. Again, I would highly recommend staying there. In Rome we spent a full day at the Vatican, taking a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, we ended the day with mass at the Vatican, which was a remarkable experience. We then headed to see the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain, and I had the best gelato of my trip, at Don Nino. I would say to not miss the Trevi Fountain at night! The next day we did a full half day tour of the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill, and we headed to the Pantheon, upon my insistence. I really didn’t want to head back home without seeing it. We sure did make sure we hit all the sights in the two days we were there. It was definitely a busy, yet unforgettable few days spent with my parents in Rome.

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Summer is upon us! Shoot with Rachel Grunig

I worked on a test shoot (aka practice shoot) with Rachel Grunig a few weeks ago, and had so much fun using my lights to replicate bright sunlight. I always love working with Rachel. Her idea of shooting sardines and pasta turned out beautifully. The recipe for the chili oil can be found at Bon Appetit  in their healthyish blog. Also, I am obsessed with the rosé & sunglasses shot we did. I can’t wait to do another shoot like this in the future!

In other news, I am going to LA this weekend, and I can’t wait. I always have a great time with my sister when we go and this time we are headed to Disneyland along with Venice & Hollywood. I can’t wait to share the places that we go to when we get back. I definitely know we will be hitting Salt and Straw for ice cream, Gjelina for pizza, and Moon Juice, our go to spots.

Also I am gearing up to go to Italy in the fall, which I am so exited about. If you have any recommendations for food please let me know! I will be headed to Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Cinque Terre.

 

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Interiors with Elizabeth Herrera

Last month I got together with my friend and colleague Liz Hererra to work on a styled interior shoot. It was really fun! I love being able to practice shooting whenever I can, especially the more I am getting into interiors photography. Unfortunately I was feeling really under the weather that day. I am definitely feeling better now, though I am going through a very busy time. I am on a 2 week streak! More often than not my summers are typically slow, so this is a bit of a change!  It’s a good rule of thumb to say that the only thing constant is change. 😉

I am really looking forward to this summer. I have several trips planned, camping in Bellingham and a weekend trip to LA. I am also going to a food styling and photography workshop on Lummi Island, which I am really excited about.  I will definitely be posting pictures from that. I will end the summer with Feast in Portland, which is always a good time!

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Summer Test Shoot with Patty Wittmann

I worked on a really fun summer themed shoot with Patty Whittmann a few weeks ago. I really am loving how everything turned out. I am noticing now we used a lot of very bright colors, which I love. We collaborated on the props, but she did all the food styling. I really like her idea of creating the blueberry ice cubes. How cool is that?? We had actually met during my internship in Photography school, and I had been wanting to work with her for a long time. She has such a wealth of knowledge is was really cool to talk to her about all of her years of experience in the industry! Hope you enjoyed the photos.

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Spring Test with Rachel Grunig

Rachel Grunig and I did another test a few weeks ago. I have been loving the shoots we have been doing. So far 3 in the last few months. I particularly love these oysters we shot, which were Sunset Beach and Kumamoto. It has been really fun to try different types of lighting and angles.

In other news, I am still shooting away and also busy trip planning. One far off trip to Italy in the fall and hopefully a smaller trip to LA over the summer or later this spring. I have also been excited for spring to finally hit here. It seems it just keeps getting colder!!! I am excited to get my garden planted over the weekend though. That is at least the sign that warmer weather is on the way.

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West Seattle Remodel Shoot with MOI Designs

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of shooting another project that Desirae Wilkerson owner & principal designer of M.O.I Designs had just completed in West Seattle. I absolutely loved this space. The combination of bright & subtle paint colors, cabinetry, tile, and lighting really pulled this space together in a modern, fresh way. I always love shooting interiors and working with Desirae. Hope you enjoyed the photos!

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Cakes & More Cakes with Rachel Grunig

I always love working with prop and food stylist Rachel Grunig. Over the last few weeks we did 2 tests, both of them were cake. We had to cut the day short the first round but we both ended up being so glad because the shoot turned out so wonderful the second day. It would have been a shame to rush it. We worked on creating a few GIFs which I am going to learn how to do later this week!

In other news, I have have had some extra time this month, which I have filled by taking some extra classes. I took a very interesting Instagram class yesterday, and as well as a baking class at Book Larder. I can bake biscuits now! I went to the inaugural Gather Seattle Matcha Mondays today. If you don’t know about Gather Seattle, you should definitely check them out. It is such a supportive community of women, I am very glad to be a part of it. Kari Brunson of Frankie & Joe’s and Juicebox spoke this morning, giving a little extra inspiration to a Monday.

I am also coming off two shoots last week, one was a pizzeria and the other was an interior shoot, which I look forward to sharing soon!

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Los Cabos & Todos Santos

A few weeks ago my sister and I went to Cabo for 5 days. We were lucky enough to snag an amazing deal (which I don’t think we could get again) at Welk’s Cabo Sirena Del Mar. I am pretty sure is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We did actually spend one full day at the resort, by the pool and at the private beach, to attempt snorkeling. With cliffs on both sides of the resorts, and 2 infinity pools, and an amazing staff it actually was pretty hard to go! I know understand the draw of staying at your resort all day.

We did go to Cabo San Lucas and take a water taxi out to the Arches and have them drop us off at Lovers Beach for about an hour. I would highly suggest it. Just be careful getting in and out of the water taxi! We went to dinner at the Office, which was a pretty hip restaurant on the beach, but be prepared, you are literally eating on the beach, so wearing nice sandals might not be the best thing.

We also took a day trip to Todos Santos which is about an hour from Cabo San Lucas, but such a cute sweet hippie town. I really loved going there, and if I went again might want to just stay in that town. There are a lot of beaches you can drive to fairly close, but swimming is hard in many of the beaches in Cabo because of the dangerous current. We ate at the darling Cafe Todos Santos, which was wonderful and took a stroll across the street to see the little Boutique hotel, Todos Santos Inn. We also got to see Hotel California, whether it’s the hotel from the song seems to be widely debated.

The other very notable place that we went was to Flora Farms.  Just outside of San Juan, the Farm has a wonderful restaurant (we had the pizza and ice cream both were sensational), a spa, cooking classes, and boutique shops. We took a tour of the farm and the newly constructed cottages for sale before we ate. I would recommend both tours! (Unfortunately we weren’t allow to take any pictures of the cottages) Visiting Flora Farms was a really lovely way to end our trip.

One Response to “Los Cabos & Todos Santos”

  1. Patricia johnson

    Amy, my sister lives in Todo Santos! She and her husband bought a casita there about 4 years ago and have fixed it up. She loves it there and I am totally jealous!

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Dark Chocolate Rosemary Bark

I made some dark chocolate rosemary bark for a fun little holiday shoot and it turned out delicious! I did actually have to try a few times because I wasn’t exactly sure how long to boil the sugar before it was at the hard cracking stage. Turns out it is a lot longer than I thought, but there are ways to test it by dropping strands of the sugar into cold water with a spoon. It really did turn out super tasty and would highly recommend it to make for friends for the holidays. I have already been getting into the holiday spirit, as you can see by this shoot. I am going to see a Christmas play next weekend and I tried to look at lights last night with friends, and it was even too early already! Haha. I have already started my shopping. I don’t know what has gotten into me this year!

In other news, I have been really busy which is good. I just got off a 3 week project for a catering company and am planning a trip to Mexico in January. Eek! That is definitely something to look forward to, since it is already so dark here in Seattle. I also am going to start shooting for some hotels which will be nice to try something a little different. I really enjoy shooting interiors, so it will be nice to get a little bit more work doing that. Hope you all enjoy your holidays!

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Apple Cake for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful day and long weekend. I already worked, but that’s the life of a freelancer! And I will have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy spending the day with family. I am really looking forward to a long weekend and spending a lot of time with good friends and taking care of my sister’s dog. So on that note and since it is Thanksgiving, I am thankful right now especially for work, friends and family! I have been very busy lately which has been a great turn from a slow summer. I think in the future I will plan accordingly for slow summer’s and busy falls, since that has been the trend the past few years. And I mean, could you want a better time to be slow in Seattle?

A few weeks ago I tried out this apple cake recipe and it turned out so good! It was really easy, which is my number one requirement for a recipe. Don’t worry that it will seem like there is barely any batter with all the cut apples mixed in. My brother in law is my sweets taster, and he loved it.  Since I don’t like cooking food with alcohol, I just added a teaspoon of vanilla for every tablespoon of bourbon called for. I also made this mascarpone whipped cream, which I learned about from visiting my sister in law. It is so good! I would say this recipe combo was a hit. Also I actually baked it with a few different kinds of apples and it turned out great. I used Granny Smith and Honeycrisps. It’s a super easy Thanksgiving cake or for any occasion for that matter.  Enjoy!

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