The Best and Newest Tips for Traveling in Italy

May 30, 2024


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Exploring many of the beautiful destinations throughout Italy with the Alma Homes team was an experience unlike any other. From the breathtaking views of Lake Como to the vibrant energy of Florence, our trip was a whirlwind of unforgettable experiences. We loved how each place had its own personality and was completely different than the last place! Italy’s charm captivated us, leaving a lasting impression and a desire to return again soon! Read more to learn about how we got around, where we stayed, our adventures, and our favorite places to eat!


We began our trip in Lucca, Italy, which is a quaint town in the Tuscany region filled with countless shops, restaurants, cafes, and a walking trail on top of the wall that surrounds the whole town. We stayed in Lucca for five nights at a wonderful airbnb, using it as our home base for the first half of our trip. Since there was a train station in town, it was easy to get to other areas of Italy.

We loved that Lucca didn’t feel overly touristy and was quiet enough to enjoy exploring the town without the burden of huge crowds. Everyone was very friendly here and it had a community feel to it. Looking back on the trip, we all agreed we probably didn’t need quite that long in Lucca since it is a smaller town to explore, but it was a perfect spot to stay if you are doing Florence and Cinque Terre day trips like we did.

We flew into Milan and rented a car to drive about three hours down to Lucca. We planned on taking the train, but there was a strike going on so plan B it was!

We stayed at Corte Paolina – A charming airbnb in the heart of Lucca. It felt so homey and had an adorable private courtyard (photo above). The host was so kind and excited for us to be there experiencing his town of Lucca, which added to our love for our stay! We loved this place and would definitely stay again!

Our Favorite Restaurants in Lucca

Osteria da Rosolo – We loved the lasagna and gnocchi from here. It had a cute, small patio outside.

Tenuta Adamo – This was a gorgeous winery just 15 minutes outside of Lucca. The staff here was incredible because they were so personable and put in a lot of effort to get to know us and give us a unique experience. We got to taste all five of their wines during the wine tasting and tour and there wasn’t one we didn’t like! We would highly recommend this winery.

Stella Polare Cafe – Delicious cappuccinos and pastries! They have a great patio, but the inside is so adorable you might just want to sit inside!

Ristorante San Colombano – This restaurant had the most beautiful patio that we experienced in Lucca. The food was just okay for us, but the overall ambiance was perfect!

What We Did in Lucca

Walking paths – On top of the wall that surrounds Lucca, there is a great path for walking, biking, or whatever you please! It is evident it is a very active community.

Cathedral tour – The Cathedral of Lucca is a gorgeous church within the walls of Lucca. It was about five euros to go in and we thought it was worth it!

Shopping – There are so many adorable shops on every street in Lucca!

Cinque Terre

Ah, Cinque Terre! Cinque Terre, translating to ‘five lands,’ consists of five vibrant villages perched on the hills overlooking the sea, which surpassed all of our expectations. You can go village to village by foot along hiking trails or via short train rides. We took the train to ensure we would be able to reach all of the villages in one day. Although visiting all five required considerable walking, we were so glad we did because every village had a personality of its own. We probably could have spent about two days here so there would have been more time to really take in each village.

To get to Cinque Terre, we drove our rental car from Lucca, but there is also the option to take the train.

Our Favorite Restaurant in Cinque Terre

Eno Teca Wine Bar – This tiny gem of a wine bar was located in Corniglia. It was so quaint and intimate and was unlike any other place we had been. This was one of our favorite spots where we enjoyed a spritz, a sweet treat, and the view! It is perfect for a drink and a small snack.

What We Did in Cinque Terre

We didn’t have much time to do anything other than walk through and explore each village. If we went back we would try the hikes between each village, rent kayaks in Riomaggiore, lay out on the beach of Monterosso, and watch the sunset at a restaurant with the incredible views!


We took a day trip from Lucca to Florence to explore the energetic city full of character. We squeezed as much as we could into the day as possible, but we all agreed we could have used at least one more day, since it is one of the larger cities in Italy. Florence was also the busiest spot we visited during our trip. People filled the streets, but it did not take away from the charm and character of the city!

To travel to Florence, we took the train from Lucca, which was about an hour and a half long. 

Our Favorite Restaurants in Florence

Trattoria Zaza – This steakhouse was a designer’s dream! The inside was very well designed with a moodier ambiance. We all enjoyed our meals here, especially the pasta and steak. The restaurant was recommended to us by a friend, so we’re spreading the recommendation by sharing it with you!

Gelato – You seriously cannot go wrong with any of the gelato spots! We are strong believers in gelato after every meal.

What We Did in Florence

Wine Window – We found one of the famous wine windows which was a unique experience! I wish these were in America, LOL.

Piazzale Michelangelo – The views there were immaculate! It was well worth the walk to get up there to see the entire city of Florence from above.

Giotto’s Bell Tower – We all (well, half of us) climbed the 400 steps up to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower. At the top, you have 360 views of the city and you can see the top of the famous cathedral dome! It was difficult to climb all of the steps, but there are a few places you can pause to take a breather while still seeing the incredible view.

Shopping – Florence has great shopping! You could spend all day going in shops and visiting the street vendors if you have the time!

Como, Lake Como

Lake Como was the perfect combination of Italian charm and Alpine beauty. We wandered through picturesque towns of Varenna and Como, enjoying local cuisine and shopping, and then we cruised around on the lake, admiring grand villas and gardens. Our favorite meal and views of the whole trip was in Como, which is why this is a must-see town! Lake Como is perfect for both relaxing or adventuring, so you can’t go wrong when visiting here.

We took a train from Lucca to Como, which is the southernmost tip of the Lake.

Our Favorite Restaurants in Como

Platea Ristorante – This was definitely our favorite meal of the entire trip- we all still talk about this place! We ate upstairs where they have a wall of glass overlooking the lake; it was the most incredible dinner view! Every! single! thing! was delicious. From the olive oil and bread to the seafood pasta and ahi tuna, this is a MUST if you are in Como.

Panino Buono Vista Lago – This was a cafe that we stopped at a couple times for a quick cappuccino and a snack. They have a larger menu than most cafes and a great patio overlooking the lake.

What We Did in Como

Shopping –  A common theme in each location! Again, there were great shops throughout the whole town of Como.

Boat ride on the lake – This is a must-do! We chartered a small boat for an hour that was the perfect size for the five of us. However, we would highly recommend spending a whole day on the lake because we didn’t even scratch the surface with just an hour! The company we chose had boats you could take out on your own with no guide. We liked having this more private experience, but could imagine it would be equally as great to have a guide along to provide information about the lake and the towns along it!


In Milan, we attended Salone del Mobile Milano, which is one of the largest design fairs in the world. We saw many upcoming trends in the world of design and left with lots of design inspiration. Some common themes were concealed storage solutions (walls of appliances hidden behind sliding cabinetry, 360 rotating shelf/wall mechanisms, etc), integrated or “hidden” countertop cooktops, backlit cabinetry, copper plumbing finishes, and so much more. Back in the states, we can’t wait to start incorporating some of these ideas into our projects!

We took the train from Como to Milan for a day trip. The train ride had great views, and we got to Milan with plenty of time to explore the design fair.

Our Favorite Designs We Saw

Integrated sinks  – We saw so many seamless kitchen sinks that are integrated with the countertop meaning the sink is the same material as the countertop. This is a very sleek look if you don’t love the look of kitchen sinks!

Hidden features – There were so many solutions for hiding elements of the home that aren’t the most beautiful. For example, a retractable cabinet wall that hid appliances like a fridge, microwave, ovens, and more. Another design featured a hidden island storage mechanism. This was an automatic shelf that could sit above the island countertop when in use or slide all the way into the island when not in use so you can have more counter space. We also saw storage shelves that were hidden behind rotating walls, so when you need to access something on the shelf, you simply rotate a section of the wall to expose the shelves. 

Small space solutions – There were so many creative ways to maximize space. One of the designs we loved was a sliding island countertop that could be used to expand the island counter space when needed. There was also a rotating bar space that could hide behind a wall, which was similar to the hidden shelf storage where rotating the wall exposes the bar to be used.

Lighting – We loved all of the backlit shelving and automatic lights inside cabinets and drawers that turn on when you open them- perfect for finding a spoon for that late night ice-cream bowl!

Cabinet design – We loved the sleek look of push-to-open cabinets with no hardware, full glass cabinet doors, and slab-style cabinet fronts that blend into the island. 

Plumbing finishes – There were a lot of copper and rose gold plumbing fixtures, which we loved! The designs would be gorgeous mixed with brass elements, hopefully something we can incorporate in one of our projects!

Integrated cooktops – We always love a sleek cooktop, but have you ever seen a hidden cooktop? We saw many cooktops that are actually hidden in countertops, so you don’t even know it is there! All of the cooktops were induction meaning they only heat an induction pot or pan and will be cool to the touch shortly after it is removed. They even had some that could start a blender where you just set a blender on the countertop and it would start! No need to plug it in, how crazy?!

The Alma Homes team had an opportunity to travel to Italy, and it was an experience of a lifetime. From the breathtaking views of Lake Como to the vibrant energy of Florence, our trip was a whirlwind of unforgettable experiences. Each place we visited had its own personality and was completely different from the last! Italy’s charm captivated us, leaving a lasting impression and a desire to return again soon!

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