We had the pleasure of visiting Florence to celebrate Jordan’s 30th birthday over Veteran’s Day weekend this past month. His requests for the trip were to stay at a Tuscan villa and to enjoy the local wine and food. So, of course, we did both. We had also originally planned a day trip to Siena, but failed to make it due to all the fun we had. The weekend consisted of a stay at an incredibly ornate Tuscan villa, a Florence food tour, sightseeing with new friends, and a pasta making class with LovexFood in the Chianti Hills outside of the city. We tend to prefer vacations outside of the city, but I have to say, we LOVED Florence!
We splurged a little for Jordan’s birthday weekend and booked a room at the incredibly luxe Villa Cora. The grounds were stunning and the rooms had real paintings, each with their own lighting! The views from the top balcony (which never closed) were breathtaking with the changing autumn leaves. The villa was just a bit south of the city, but they have a free shuttle that will take you in for free. We also walked back and forth a couple of times, and it was approximately at 30 minute walk (depending where you are, of course). Totally worth it!
I can’t believe we lived in Italy for two years and had not yet learned to make pasta! LovexFood just outside of Florence remedied that for us and it was THE BEST experience. I have an entire blog dedicated to this class here. If you’re ever in Florence, I highly recommend booking this experience. If you can book it on your first day (as opposed to your last, like we did), Luca and Lorenzo also provide you with recommendations for food and activities in the city. Don’t think twice about this one!
I’ve said it before – we aren’t tour group people! I’m always a bit skeptical to sign up for tours when we visit cities, but I have yet to be disappointed by a small group food tour. The Taste Florence food tour is no exception! Alessandro, the host, is incredibly knowledgeable and takes you to smaller shops that you wouldn’t normally visit on your own. A butcher, a bakery, a chocolatier, a wine shop, and the local vendors at the food market, were a few of my favorite stops. Alessandro teaches you about the Florentine life as much as he does about the food you’re eating. It felt a bit like I was hanging out with Anthony Bourdain, but with a bit of a different sense of humor. We really enjoyed this tour as well, and Alessandro also provides food and wine recommendations for every desire.
We aren’t huge fans of museums, but we HAD to visit the David while here, and I’d recommend you do too! It was even bigger than I imagined. We also made a point to stroll around to see many of the more famous sights, including Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
One of the most famous dishes in Florence is the Florentine steak. So, we had to have one! I was also a huge fan of the cheese and sage pasta.
Our favorite restaurant locations included:
Coquinarius – for pasta
Casalinda – for the Bistecca (Florentine steak)
Mercato Centrale – for fresh food and a variety of food (check top level for a restaurant -type food hall).
Enoteca Alessi – for wine
All in all, we had so much unexpected fun in Florence, I wouldn’t be surprised if we visited again one day!
After living in Italy for almost two years, we figured it was probably time to learn to make pasta. In searching for the best pasta making classes for our upcoming trip to Florence, we found the LovexFood experience. The LovexFood experience is hosted by Luca and Lorenzo in their home in the Chianti Hills just outside of Florence. One of the most attractive aspects of this class for us was the fact that it was small group. With a max of ~10 people, we thought the hands-on experience could be right for us. And, it was!
We met Luca at the train station in Florence and hopped a train for about 15 minutes. Once we arrived, we met up with Lorenzo and they drove us to their beautiful home. We got started with the pasta making experience after quick introductions and a cafe. For this experience, they taught us to make ravioli with ricotta and pecorino in a sage butter sauce (my favorite) and cocoa tagliatelle with gorgonzola sauce (a fall pasta for special occasions). We also learned to make lavender panna cotta, which was amazing! Each class is different and Luca and Lorenzo are careful to accommodate for food allergies as well.
If you’re ever in Florence, I HIGHLY recommend you join this experience. Florence was cool, but hanging out with Luca and Lorenzo and learning how to cook was even better! Check out the photos below to see what we made and a peek into how we made it!
I first met Stephanie, Will, and Hadley through a mini session giveaway (look how LITTLE Hadley was!) I have to say, that was the best thing I’ve ever given away because it’s led to a really great friendship and more sessions with this stunning family! Stephanie and Will are like-minded people and we always have so much fun when working together (or hanging out)! They also always show up looking like they stepped out from a magazine, so I obviously have no qualms with that.
For this session, the Clarks selected a park setting with a side of Sicilian gelato! Hadley was a big fan of both, but was especially fond of the gelato. She had so much fun, her mom reported she passed out shortly after getting in the car. I can’t say blame her!
Stephanie and Will, thanks so much for having me!! It’s ALWAYS a pleasure. I can’t wait for the next one 🙂
It was apparent from the moment I met Ikisha and Eric during holiday minis that they are so in love. We visited a beautiful Sicilian agriturismo and explored the grounds together on a rainy, fall day. We were all unsure as to if the rain would hold off long enough, but we got lucky! Nevertheless, Ikisha and Eric were natural models and I didn’t even need to tell them what to do. I really enjoyed capturing their love for one another and I can’t wait to do it again!
Ikisha and Eric, thanks so much for having me! It truly was a pleasure!
I’ve dreamed of Scotland for so long, this past summer, I insisted we go. Note to self and others, don’t plan Scotland on a whim. It worked out and was lovely, but I can’t say it was cheap or that accommodation was easy to find. Be that as it may, we had a blast running around the city and countryside just trying to take it all in. Much like the Dolomites, Scotland was vast, expansive and simply breathtaking.
Our first stop on our 8-day trip was Edinburgh. Twenty-four hours there wasn’t nearly enough, but we also had plans to meet up with a friend. If visiting Edinburgh, I’d definitely allot at least two days (or more!) to see all the sights and take it all in.
Edinburgh Castle – You’ll certainly see Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, as it dominates the skyline of the city from way up high on Castle Rock. It was quite pricy to enter (~£50), so if we had to do it all over again, I probably would have just enjoyed the view from the outside!
Edinburgh Gin Distillery – You’ll have to have a reservation for this one! We didn’t, but we did visit the gift shop to buy some spirts and other little knickknacks.
Arthur’s Seat/ Holyrood Park – Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and is part of Holyrood Park. It was quite impressive to see such nature literally right next to the city. We walked here and wished we had more time to explore the area more before it got too dark.
The Royal Mile/Old Town – The Royal Mile is the Main Street of Old Town Edinburgh. It was quite busy, but lined with many great shops and near many of the great attractions!
Victoria Street – If you like Harry Potter, there are quite a few attractions in Edinburgh and Victoria Street is one! This two level street is pretty cool just to look at, but also appeared as Diagon Alley!
Circus Lane – A picturesque and lovely street to walk down and snap a few photos
Forage and Chatter – We just casually walked in to this delicious restaurant for lunch without a reservation and got lucky! It’s a super cute little restaurant that serves local dishes, much of which is foraged.
The Perch – My friend, Natalia, recommend this restaurant and we met here for dinner. It was delicious (they had the mac and cheese) and I just had to try the Haggis
There were so many other things to see and places to eat, but we didn’t have enough time to see it all or do it justice. Until next time, Edinburgh!
It’s been almost a year since I’ve visited this beach and now I’m really questioning why it’s been so long. When LaQueto told me her vision for family photos, I knew exactly where we could go!
LaQueto, Troy, and Addison are the sweetest little family! Addison loved playing in the sand, watching the airplanes fly overhead and THE WATER!! She was sooo into it, everyone took a little dip!
Take a peek at her adorable little giggle face and her doting parents below. LaQueto and Troy, thank you!!!! It was truly a pleasure to work with you all.
I think it’s safe to say Jahlai had NO IDEA a Sicilian sunset proposal was coming for her when she arranged a couples photo session with me.
When Jahlai messaged me to set up a couples photoshoot, I was happy. I LOVE photographing couples and I don’t get near enough of that here. But when Paul messaged me later to ask if I would be willing to photograph an intimate sunset proposal, I was ecstatic!!!
Jahlai and Paul are both in the military, but Jahlai is deployed to Sicily for a temporary amount of time. Paul has been working for months to surprise her with the perfect ring and an unforgettable proposal when he came to visit. It was honestly so perfect; I was tearing up the whole time!!
When I talked with Jahlai about preparing an outfit, she told me she already had it planned. She knew they were going to wear their colors, black and gold, and dress formally. She even brought along the cutest picnic setup! The look of shock on her face when she turned around to see Paul down on one knee was priceless. He even surprised her with sweet a little gift after the proposal. Scroll down through to photos to see what he got for her!!!
Jahlai and Paul, thank you sooooo much for having me. Congratulations and best wishes for a long and happy life together!!!
I distracted Jahlai by pretending to photograph her alone and sent Paul to wait with my husband. Jahlai was very cooperative, even when I said “Don’t move! I’m going to get some shots of you from behind,” as I ran out of the way. Then I told her to turn around and there was Paul down on one knee!! I think it’s safe to say Jahlai was in utter shock!
We moved to our next location to let reality set in and snap a few engagement photos. Paul presented Jahlai with a sweet little surprise gift and we had a few a laughs before we called it a night.
Congratulations again Paul and Jahlai!!
When Amber contacted me about a family session, she knew exactly where they wanted to have their photos taken – a rocky beach. And luckily, I had just the place in mind! As Ryan remarked during the session, this place looks like the Amalfi Coast of Sicily. I had never thought about it that way before, but he was right!!
We met just an hour or so before sunset and had a great time hopping around on the rocks together. The boys showed me their best superhero poses and each one got to pick where they wanted to take a photo with their family. I can truly say, the Albano family has such a great sense of humor and knows how to have fun!!
Amber and Ryan, I hope you guys love the photos! We had such a great time with you and the babes 🙂
When my friend Rachel invited me to join her on a group hike on Mt. Etna, I jumped at the chance. You probably already know how obsessed I am with that majestic volcano if you have followed along with my blog or Facebook at any point. She’s (Mt. Etna) very active and thus I am in awe of her on a daily basis.
For our day trip, we met early in the morning and drove to Zafferana Etna for a breakfast pit stop. After grabbing a pastry, we continued up to the parking area and began our assent.
It was one of the few times I’ve hiked without my Apple Watch, so unfortunately, I don’t have firm details about the length and distance of the trail. In total, it took us two hours to ascend, take in the view from the top for awhile, and then descend. The hike up is probably somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. The trial is ~1 mile long (I’d guess) and has a relatively steep incline with one one tiny little scramble. Two kids (7-10ish) joined and had a great time as well!
Along the way, we found this chestnut and it’s shell. I never knew chestnuts grew in this sea urchin type ball, but indeed they do!
Once we reached the top, the views were absolutely stunning!! A HUGE lava field lies between the view point and the summit.
You can get a clear view of the summit and see the activity of the side craters as well!
After the hike, we drove down to Le 5 Botti Ristorante Pizzeria, where we enjoyed a delicious Sicilian lunch before heading back home.
All in all, it was a great little day trip and I would highly recommend both the hike and restaurant if you’re looking for a little adventure and amazing food!
It’s possible the Gilmores are the best dressed family I have ever had the pleasure of working with! As soon as I stepped out of my car, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite sessions, because they looked like they just stepped out of a magazine. Talk about a photographer’s dream!
Not only did this family have impeccable style, but they were also so sweet and incredibly kind. Erica and Richard shared lots of laughs (especially towards the end), which made our time together even more special. We had a lot of fun exploring the rocky Sicilian coast while hanging out with baby Ezra. Is he not the most handsome baby you have ever seen?!
Once baby Ezra was tired, mom and dad continued with the shoot until we literally ran out of light. I really hope this isn’t the last time I’ll have the honor of working with this family!! Erica and Richard, thank you so much for choosing me to capture your beautiful family!!