February 16, 2020
Last summer we spent eight days in Europe! Some of our friends decided to go to Italy and were kind enough to invite us and host us for a few days in Tuscany! Although that was the base of this vacation, It was then up to Nathan and I to decide where else we wanted to go while on that side of the world. It was an easy decision for me…LONDON.
Ok, the flight situation was a doozy I’ll be honest but here’s what we ended up doing to keep the costs low. Keep in mind if you have low standards for flying you could very easily book cheaper options. I, unfortunately didn’t want any layovers and am a loyal Delta flyer. With that in mind, here’s how we booked:
Round trip: Atlanta to Milan – You want this to be an overnight flight so you can get some sleep and adjust a bit easier to the time change.
One Way: Milan to London – Consider this a connection that we forced ourselves. Our flight landed in Milan and we stayed in the airport, got our luggage and checked back in to a budget airline to get to London.
One Way: London to Pisa – For where we were staying in Tuscany, this airport was only about 30 minutes from our house in Lucca so It made the most sense location wise.
Milan to Atlanta: Our house in Lucca was about a three hour drive to the Milan airport, which was the second part of that original round trip flight we booked. The Milan airport was the cheapest option to fly in and out of and It was cheaper to book this way and get a car transfer early the morning of our flight, which was about a three hour car ride…oh the things we do to save money! Next time, I would rather just spend more money and not make the drive that early.
In London, we found the most charming flat in Notting Hill. It was such a sweet location to stay in. We did have to take the tube or a taxi to get into the city but we didn’t mind that much since we were only there a few days. I would absolutely stay here again but I will note that there isn’t air conditioning, we didn’t have an issue at all and are all very hot natured!
In Italy, we found this Italian villa that was UNREAL. It exceeded all of our expectations. There are four houses on the property and the one we rented was a three bedroom with a full kitchen, living room and two bathrooms. They have a pool and several outdoor eatings spaces and because the hosts live on the property they were willing to drive us places, call taxis and help with anything we needed. There is also someone on property who speaks a little bit of English, which was very helpful.
After a long day of travel, we got to our flat around 4 and unpacked, changed then headed to grab a drink at the Churchill Arms. It’s the most highly decorated pub I’ve ever seen and possibly in London! We walked down to get fish and chips from The Mall Tavern which was a great little easy spot. We walked through Kensington Gardens and called It a night because we were pretty wiped!
We knew we needed to hit the ground running and one thing on the boys’ list was to see a Football Stadium so we headed there first thing. From there we went to Westminster Abbey area, saw Big Ben (which is sadly covered in scaffolding), London Eye and all of the beautiful architecture in that area. We went into Westminster and loved the audio tour they have, It was so fascinating and educational. Buckingham Palace is relatively close and it’s a nice walk along the park to get there. We had tea reservations at Sketch and It was such a cool experience! The details are unparalleled and it’s a fun twist to the traditional afternoon tea that you would find in London, not to mention the interiors are STUNNING! Regent Street has a lot of high end shops and you better believe I went CRAZY in Harrod’s! We had dinner at The Ivy and It was really good. It’s a beautiful, cozy environment and the food was great too. We weren’t quite ready to end the day so we found a bar/put-put place called Swinger’s…and It was a blast!
We started off this day with brunch at Coppa Club. They have a really cool patio overlooking the water and you can sit in igloos and eat! It was a short walk to Tower Bridge so after checking out those sights, we headed to Hyde Park to walk around. This park is STUNNING and there are even a few restaurants in it so you could spend a long time here. It was relatively close to Royal Albert Hall, Albert Memorial and a few other major attractions we wanted to check out. Of course, I stopped into Harrod’s one last time and then It was off to our flat to change for dinner. That night we had dinner at The Admiralty, which took us to a new part of town that I wish we had more time to explore, right by Trafalgar Square. After that we hopped on the tube and were in search of a speakeasy. As It should be, It was incredibly hard to find but eventually (in the middle of Chinatown) we found Experimental Cocktail Club. It seated 20 people at most and had INCREDIBLE drinks, I would highly recommend scoping It out if you’re headed to London.
Our Italy experience was a bit different since we stayed in the countryside. Our house was 10 minutes outside the town of Lucca and I cannot recommend It enough. It had some great spots but is such a hidden treasure in Italy. Our first night we walked about a mile to a tiny Italian restaurant close to our house and It was hands down one of the best meals I’ve had and literally in the middle of nowhere. We were about a one hour train to Florence, so we went there the next day, shopped around, saw Duomo and had dinner at the Gucci Restaurant in Florence.
The next day was my personal favorite! We booked a 15 mile electric bike tour of Tuscany. We had to get a car to the meeting point close to Florence and the bike company sent a van to take us to our starting point. It was such a cool way to experience seeing Italy and the views were absolutely breathtaking. Included in the tour is an amazing lunch and wine-tasting in Chianti. That night since we were getting a train back to Lucca from Florence, we stopped into some shops in Florence for food so we could hang by the pool the next day.
The next day was spent really relaxing. Sitting by the pool, drinking wine and hanging out and It was the perfect cap to our trip. That night, the owner of the house arranged a private chef for us. There was an outdoor dining table on the property and we had a five course Italian meal that was phenomenal! The property itself had three of four houses on It and we stayed in one that was complete with two kitchens, and its own dining area. It was a massive (and stunning) property with a pool, gardens & breathtaking views!
The next morning Nathan and I headed back to catch our flight from Milan to Atlanta. As I mentioned earlier, It would’ve been worth It to just fly out of a closer airport but with all of the other connections It didn’t work out as well! We are SO ready to get back this year because four days are not enough for either of these magical places! Have you been to Italy or London? What are your favorite spots?