life on pine


exploring florence: a mini weekend travel guide

Kate ParrishComment

the last time i was in florence i was 20 years old visiting my best friend who was studying abroad [i was also studying at the time in paris]. of course, i did not appreciate the city as much as i should have at that age, and faintly remembered trattorias & osterias around every corner, twice as many gelato shops, museums, cathedrals, the raw beauty & size of the duomo, shops, bridges, sunset views ... and wine. lots of wine. 

i was so excited to return to florence with friends and family to refresh my memory on why it is such a special place to so many people. i was quickly reminded the second we drove in – the instant feeling of charm and rich culture mixed with modern developments carefully placed amongst deep history. we only had 3 nights / 2 days here, and the weather was beautiful. we decided to skip museums and spend most of our time exploring on foot. we ate delicious food, finished each meal with gelato, drank many spritzs & bottles of wine, walked and walked to burn off the pasta and wine, and tried to avoid anything that seemed touristy. some of our favorite moments:

penga drogheria this little shop filled with local italian goods and treats reminded me of the italian version of a vida portuguesa which i mention in this post | mercato centrale come hungry to this 2 story market, as they have any and every kind of vendor you can imagine [fresh fish, homemade pasta, vegetables, meat, pizza, salads, gelato, wine, beer, cooking classes....] |  this street sign artist | sunset with friends and champagne at michelangelo plazagelateria della passera & gelateria grom

ditta artigianale cafe this bar and coffee shop has cool vibes and is popular for coffee or brunch [2 locations] we went here twice | osteria vini e vecchi sapori [lunch] traditional tuscan restaurant that is popular amongst locals – call ahead for reservations [lunch or dinner, no frills place and worth the planning ahead]. | lo sprone vinaino [dinner] down home Italian in a very small space with a cozy atmosphere. the dishes were traditional and standout delicious. del fagioli [dinner] famous for their steak florentine (huge chunk of meat!) and all of the pasta and other dishes we had were very good. | coquinarius [dinner] around the corner from penga drogheria, delicious food, deep wine menu and very friendly service .



umbria, italy: our camper van at perugia farmhouse

Kate ParrishComment

our italy plans were pretty un-planned other than wanting to get up into the mountains and of course get to florence/tuscany for the wedding i mentioned here. while in rome we randomly met 3 different italians that were born and raised in umbria, and they all pretty much said we "had to go". umbria is a region i hadn't really heard of, bordering tuscany and often referred to as the country's green heart. the region is known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine – and tends to be less touristy than tuscany. after doing a little research and seeing the perugia farmhouse , we thought this would be a fun and random next stop. 

after a 2.5 hour train from rome, a 20 minute bus ride and a 15 minute walk, we arrived. for a little more privacy we chose the roller caravan [which actually ended up being cheaper than two beds in the dorm room] and ended up loving it so much that we extended our stay by 2 nights. this place is tucked back in the middle of the countryside, so if you don't have a car [like us] it is tough to get around. we made the decision to just not leave the property and enjoy the pool, animals, local winery and food farm with craft beer, hiking trails, communal kitchen and cool people – everyone staying/working there was around our age and really fun. we all cooked dinner together one night which is what i love about the hostel vibes. 

umbria is broken into smaller cities, and we mainly stayed in perugia. if you're planning a visit, some other cities we didn't have time to explore but heard were cool are: assisi, spoleto, gubbio & todi. 


rome: quick tips to avoid touristy spots [from a local]

Kate ParrishComment

as i mentioned in this post, the blue hostel's owner, ercole, hooked us up with a ton of recommendations when we arrived and we could tell how legit they were after the first restaurant we stopped in. from there, we followed the map they provided for almost our entire visit [4 days] and could not have been happier when we left. see our full rome travel guide  here.

BREAKFAST / LUNCH: panella old school bakery that prepares all types of pastries, great coffee here from a machine that is almost art | osteria della suburra a local favorite, nothing special in terms of decor but food is delicious | core de roma decorated in history of the roma futbol team, delicious traditional Italian for a ‘local’s lunch’. |  zia rosetta organic juice, espressos and gourmet sliders.

DINNER: @ ada e mario low key family style trattoria that is affordable and delicious - nothing fancy but very good. | augusto: only a few tables and one of the best meals we had (be there right before 8pm) | roscioli very buzzy and popular spot, must get a reservation for dinner. the carbonara is out of this world. |  pizzeria dar poeta, must stop here to try their pizza

DRINKS: enoteca cul de sac: one of the best wine spots in town with thousands of bottles to choose from | akbar cocktail bar to grab a drink at and maybe hear some live music. 

EXPLORE: we loved the trastevere & monti neighborhoods and spent a lot of time wandering this area. specifically via urbana [street] where we loved king size vintageLOL moda arte design and mercato monti urban market roma. | eataly is a bit of a trek to get to but we couldn't have loved it more. an absolute must for wine and snacks, in my opinion. | sunset and a bottle of wine at gianicolo hill | for the touristy-historical things, we tried to arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds. the crowd-avoiding ended up not being possible, so we spent a lot more of our time just walking around the city and not stressing too much about seeing every single thing.  


lodging review: the blue hostel in rome

Kate Parrish1 Comment


bonjourno, italy! this country has been on our radar since day one of the trip because my BFF got married in tuscany on october 8. we arrived in rome a few weeks early to explore and slowly make our way to florence.  rome was on our list entirely because the flight made sense – but then we realized neither of us had really spent that much time there and that we should stay a while. i'm so freakin happy we did. to be honest i thought rome would just feel like a big stressful touristy city and i was 100% wrong. 

after a late night arrival and a lost backpack, we were warmly welcomed at blue hostel by one of the epic owners, ercole. we couldn't have felt more at home. let me start by saying the blue hostel is not really a hostel. it's a very cute little boutique hotel tucked in an apartment building, refurbished in 2012. the timber ceilings were discovered by accident during the renovation and date back to 1804 – giving the rooms a very cozy vibe. the decor is clean and warm, the shower is perfection, and ercole hooks you up with delicious [endless] coffee.

when we arrived ercole sat us down and walked us through his masterpiece of a map that he's put together over the years. it shows you some of the tourist sites, but also goes into full detail on all of his favorite places as a long time local. many of the restaurants he sent us to had minimal tourists and we experienced some of the best food, wine and exploring because of him. the hostel itself is also in a prime walk-to-everything location [right next to basilica papale di santa maria maggiore] and ercole made sure we knew where we were going before we left each morning. a full list of some of our favorite spots [all recommended by the blue hostel]. rooms start at about $100/night. 

rome travel guide here


* this stay was part of a collaboration, all opinions are my own.