Italy Travel Guide: Gluten Free Rome

Hi friends! Welcome back for another recap of our trip to Italy. Today I am sharing our amazing trip to Rome; highlighting all of the gluten-free details you need to know. We took this trip at the end of 2019 with our best friends. It is so special that we can share these memories with them. One of our friends is also gluten-free/celiac {I call her my GFF; gluten-free-friend}, so together we found a lot of GF spots in Italy. In this post I am going to share where we stayed, the places we ate and how we filled our days. For my gluten-free readers, I am happy to report no gluten-tummy aches on this trip.

At the time of our trip, COVID-19 was not yet part of our everyday lives or being reported by the media. Little did we know that our world would enter a pandemic a few months after we returned home. I am so thankful we were able to go on this trip and I am looking forward to traveling again one day. By sharing this post today, I hope you can tuck it away for your future travel plans. Be sure to check out my How to Packing Guide for Italy in December (COMING SOON!) and Italy Travel Guide: Gluten Free Florence (click here).

Rome

Where to Stay

During our time in Rome we stayed at TriviHo Hotel which is in the Trevi area. We were able walk to all major must-see sights on our list with the exception of the Vatican and Colosseum area (keep reading). When booking a hotel in Rome, our focus was on comfort of the room and its proximity to areas we wanted to visit. Unlike our stay in Florence and Tuscany, getting a good view from the room was not a priority. Although our room was tiny, it was clean, comfy and had all of the amenities we needed. The staff at the front desk was also very accommodating and helpful. I recommend booking directly through the TriviHo website to get the rate.

After we both booked our rooms, I emailed the hotel and asked for tour recommendations; they quickly responded and suggested Grayline Rome. Upon arrival, we asked the concierge at the front desk helped us coordinate a taxi pickup to take us to the airport on our last day. It gave us peace of mind having this squared away off the bat. At this time we also asked the concierge for general tips on navigating the city. He gave us notes on a map which we used throughout our time in Rome. As a side note, I also paid for mobile data on this trip. In a group of four, only one of us needed to have it so we could access maps a needed. Although its not totally necessary, it did come in handy. It is not a good idea to use public WiFi especially highly touristy areas, so I avoid it at all costs.

Where to Eat

The first place we stopped for food in Rome was at Pizza in Trevi. It is literally a few steps away from the Trevi Fountain. We all opted for pizza and of course, wine. Pizza in Trevi is where we learned about Associate of Italian Celiacs (AIC). My understanding of the AIC is that it is organization that advocates for the research, education and awareness of celiacs disease. Restaurants, such as Pizza in Trevi, can earn an AIC certification that is displayed in their window and on their menus. This means that the restaurant is certified gluten-free. At Pizza in Trevi, my plate was different and my utensils came in a sealed paper pouch. These precautionary measures were so comforting to me and my GFF.

We went to Enoteca Barberini twice while in Rome. Once for a late light lunch and again for dinner. Here we enjoyed delicious meats, cheeses, pizza and a good selection of wine. This was the only place we ate at on our trip that had live acoustic music.

After our tour of the Vatican we stopped for lunch at Mama Eat. Everything here is gluten-free. If you haven’t caught on by now, I was on a quest to try as much pizza as possible in Italy. Naturally, I ordered pizza for lunch at Mama Eat along with Mama Crocchè (fried potato croquettes) and a gluten-free Peroni. Yes, you read that correct. Gluten-free Peroni. I am usually more of a wine girl, but I could definitely make room for this beer in my life.

We had the most amazing gelato Fiocco di Neve which is also AIC certified. There were so many flavors, toppings and delicious cones. This gelato spot is fairly close to the Panteon. It was so nice, we stopped there twice.

Where to Play

When we were in Florence, we opted to not signup for any tours, but for our visit to Rome, we felt that tours would make the most of our short stay. At the recommendation of our hotel concierge, we signed up for through through Grayline Rome. Through the Grayline website we were also able to arrange to be picked up at our hotel and dropped off at the starting point of the tour. However, transportation back to our hotel once the tours ended was not available. We were in Rome for just less than 3 full days, so we had a lot to see in a short time.

The first day we quickly settled into our hotel then when sightseeing on our own. A few areas that we visited on our own were the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Panteon and Piazza Navona. All were a reasonable walk from our hotel. I would recommend stopping by the Trevi Fountain and the Panteon both early in the morning and at night. They’re equally as stunning at both times of the day. If you want to toss a coin into the Trevi, this is also the time to do it. It gets really crowded mid-morning through the dinner hour. Also keep in mind, that some mornings (possible every morning) the Trevi Fountain is cleaned out, so you won’t be able to get super close at during the cleaning. We also visited the Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps very early. I suggest grabbing a cappuccino and walking around these areas before the crowds.

On day two after we spent the morning on our own were were picked-up for our Grayline walking tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I believe this tour ran about 2 hours which was a reasonable amount of time for us. Our group move along at a good pace and our tour guide was excellent. I loved the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Everything about this area looked as if I was looking at a painting; stoic and serene. From Palantine Hill, we ended up walking about to the Trevi Fountain area.

Our third day started with an early morning Grayline “skip-line” tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. By the time we arrived at our tour group meeting point, there were already lines wrapping around the entrance to the Vatican. For the reason alone, I highly recommend utilizing a tour service to visit the Vatican. Vatican City is beautiful, but I still cannot fathom waiting outside for hours to get in when you can still the line with a tour service.

Similar to our first Grayline experience, our tour guide in Vatican City was fantastic. He shared so much history with us. This tour was a bit longer than the Colosseum; it ran about 2.5 hours. Both tours included audio sets (with new earphones), so we could clearly hear the guides throughout our tour. Once this tour was over, we stopped for lunch just outside of Vatican City then opted to take the subway home. Knowing that we wouldn’t have transportation back to our hotel, we asked the shuttle drive for recommendations. His tips coupled with what the concierge shared with us gave us enough info to take the subway. These tips were critical because one of the major subway lines was closed. It was really pretty easy to figure out and follow the signs. The hardest part was swiping our tickets, but luckily there were a lot of people around, so we watched what they did.

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Italy Travel Guide: Gluten Free Florence

Hi friends! Today I am recapping our amazing trip to Florence and Tuscany highlighting all of the gluten-free details you need to know. We took this trip at the end of 2019 with our best friends. One of our friends is also gluten-free/celiac {I call her my GFF; gluten-free-friend}, so together we found a lot of GF spots in Italy. In this post I am going to share where we stayed, the places we ate and how we filled our days. For my gluten-free readers, I am happy to report no gluten-tummy aches on this trip.

At the time of our trip, COVID-19 was not yet part of our everyday lives or being reported by the media. Little did we know that our world would enter a pandemic a few months after we returned home. I am so thankful we were able to go on this trip and I am looking forward to traveling again one day. By sharing this post today, I hope you can tuck it away for your future travel plans. Be sure to check out my How to Packing Guide for Italy in December (COMING SOON!) and Italy Travel Guide: Gluten Free Rome (COMING SOON!).

This blog post contains affiliate links. For each purchase made through these links, I may make a small commission.

Florence

I am not sure I can fit my feelings about Florence in a single blog post (but I’ll try my best). It was one of the most beautiful and charming places I have ever been to. I really hope to visit Florence again one day. From the cobblestone streets to the food, wine, history and people we met, it was all a dream come true. I honestly could have walked around for weeks admiring the buildings, enjoying the food and soaking in the atmosphere. It is a walkable city (in comfy shoes), and the best way to experience the city, so plan your days ahead of time and see as much as you can.

Where to Stay

I highly recommend staying in a hotel along the Arno River. It was a useful central location for sightseeing and steps {or a window view} away from the scenic river and the Ponte Vecchio. For lodging during our entire trip in Florence, we stayed at the Palazzo Alfieri. This hotel has beautiful décor throughout the lobby area, main hallways and guest rooms. Our rooms were nicely decorated, spacious and clean. Our room had an awesome bathroom with a rainfall shower. There was also a room safe and fridge which also came in handy. Keep in mind not all rooms have scenic views. Speaking of views, be sure to check out the rooftop at this hotel. We brought a bottle of wine upstairs and soaked in the beauty of Florence overlooking the river. From here you can see the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio in the distance.

The staff at the front desk were helpful in planning prior to our arrival in Florence via email as well as onsite during our stay. Take advantage of the knowledge of hotel staff regardless of which hotel you are at and ask for help when planning activities, traveling to other areas or making reservations. Other helpful resources we used and recommend for planning our sightseeing spots were Rick Steve’s Florence and Tuscany travel guide (click here) and Google Translate. The Palazzo Alfieri is walking distance to the train station {keep in mind most of the walk is cobblestones}, the Ponte Vecchio and most must-see attractions. I would recommend this hotel to friends and definitely envision staying there again in the future. To get the best rate, I suggest booking directly through their website.

Glimpse of out Hotel Room at Palazzo Alfieri
View of the Ponte Vecchio – Steps away from the Hotel

Where to Eat/Drink

Overall, we had a really positive food experience in Florence. Gluten-free options were fairly easy to find and most waitstaff had an understanding of gluten-free sensitivity. Senza glutine means without gluten in Italian. This phrase will come in handy when you are ordering. As far as drinks go, water is not served unless you ask for it. Everywhere we went there was a large selection of wine and we happily took advantage of it. For around $20 you can get a great quality bottle of wine to share with friends and family. To make the most of enjoying a glass of wine while in Italy, plan to stop for a drink during aperitivo; a pre-dinner custom where restaurants serve complementary snacks or light food.

Something to keep in mind (at least if you’re from the States) is that dinner is served later in the evening and is not rushed in Italy. Restaurants are not looking to “turn” tables over the way we’re use to in NY. In Italy, dinner is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. The waitstaff doesn’t rush you along or stop-by to check on you constantly, so if you feel that they’re ignoring you, that’s probably not the case at all.

Breakfast

Our hotel stay included complementary breakfast every morning at the Foody Farm restaurant which is located at the entrance of the Palazzo Alfieri. We took advantage of this every morning for a healthy breakfast to start the day. It was a money saver and there were a lot of gluten-free options such as eggs, fruits, meats, cheese and vegetables.

Pastries & Dessert

Starbene is a MUST for gluten-free pastries. It was honestly a gluten-free foodie’s dream. They offer a huge assortment of croissants, cookies, Danishes, muffins, breads and stuffed pastries – think ham and cheese inside a warm flakey crust. I have never come across a gluten-free bakery quite like this. The quality was amazing. I am still dreaming about Starbene.

For dessert we stopped at GROM for gluten-free gelato and gluten-free cones. Everything they serve is GF which was such a wonderful treat to look forward to after dinner. You can also find GROM in other cities across Italy.

Wine & Appetizers

Tosca Nino is a great place to stop for rooftop views and wine in the heart of Florence. We stopped there after climbing to the top of the Duomo. One of our favorite places in Florence was Signorviono. It is great for wine and food right on the Arno River overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. It’s a must visit! We were lucky enough to score an outdoor table. It was a bit chilly, but definitely worth it for the views and atmosphere. They actually had blankets and small outdoor heaters which we appreciated in December. Another favorite for a glass of wine was Il Burro Tuscan Bistro. It was in close proximity to our hotel which made it a convenient stop. I wish my house had the decor vibe of Il Burro. It was beautiful and so cozy.

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Starbene
GROM
Il Burro Tuscan Bistro

Lunch & Dinner

Le Botteghe Di Donatello is right in the vicinity of the Duomo. It’s a great place to stop before or after you do some sightseeing. I had a gluten-free pizza there for lunch. Although that pizza in particular was amazing, the best pizza and my most favorite meal of the whole trip was dinner at Pizzeria Lorenzo De’Medici. A friendly host greeted us at the door and made our short wait enjoyable. The gluten-free menu had so many options to chose from. I ordered pizza, pasta and tiramisu. I literally have not stopped talking about it! Hostaria Il Desco is a small, cozy restaurant with a lot of gluten-free options. This restaurant had a lot of positive reviews, so I made a reservation a few weeks in advance. We had lunch at Mattancena which for me consisted of meats, cheeses and warm gluten-free bread. This was the first place we tried pecorino fresca which is a soft pecorino romano cheese. It was delicious! We continued to look for this cheese on menus for the rest of our trips. Sadly it is not a cheese I have seen in NY.

Where to Play

I think the Duomo is on everyone’s must-see list in Florence and I can see why. We purchased our tickets online prior to our trip, including a climb to the top. The climb is definitely worth it for the amazing views. I got really nervous before our climb, but it was not as bad as I anticipated. Keep in mind it is a long, very narrow climb with a lot of steps, so this activity probably isn’t for everyone.

The Basilica of Sante Croce was personally one of my favorite churches to visit. We were able to purchase tickets on-sight and there was no line. It was fairly early in the morning, so the church was also empty. It is the resting place of many well known historical figures such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli. While we are on the topic of churches, another we visited was Church of Saints Michele. My husband is a history buff and this was on his must-see list. This church has Baroque-style architecture and is beautiful.

I found The Statue of David to be one of the most impressive sights we visited. Who knew David was so tall? Not me! It is amazing how David, along with much of Italy, is carved from marble with simple tools. For this stop, we purchased our tickets online and picked them up at the ticket office. We didn’t do a full tour; just got tickets to see David.

The Uffizi Gallery is a must for lovers and students of art-history. We purchased our tickets online and picked them up at the ticket office. Although many people advised me that a tour was necessary, we felt that for this gallery, a tour was not for us. I enjoyed walking around the gallery to see the various forms of art along with the view of the Arno River. I suggest going to the Uffizi Gallery early in the day because it does get crowded.

Michelangelo’s Piazza and the Ponte Vecchio are both walkable areas that should be on your list of must-sees. The view from the top of the Piazza is beautiful; it looks over all of Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is full of shops and connects one side of the city to the other. I HIGHLY recommend stopping at The Gold Market if you’re interested in Florentine gold jewelry. The shop is located on the Ponte Vecchio. Fadi oversees multiple locations throughout Italy and he made our experience buying jewelry so memorable. I cannot wait to go back here one day! I purchased earrings and a bracelet from their diamond cut collection, and have honestly worn both almost every day since then. You can follow them on Instagram.

View from the Top of Il Duomo
Basilica di Santa Croce
Arno River

Tuscany

While planning our Italy trip I really had my heart set on staying in the countryside of Tuscany. We opted for an Air BnB for this part of the trip. Our selection was based on Air BnB reviews as well as ease of travel between Florence and Rome. We settled and agreed on a small town called Castiglion Fiorentino. It is about a 1 hour train ride from Florence to Castiglion Fiorentino (and later on in our trip, about 1 hour 45 minute train ride from there to Rome.) We did not have to transfer trains for either trip. When we got to Castiglion Fiorentino I quickly realized we in the true Tuscan countryside.

Our specific Air BnB was about a 20 minute walk from the train. However, we did not know this walk would be almost entirely up hill. The walk was totally do-able for us but may not have been for everyone. We couldn’t figure out how to get a taxi, but I do think they were available. The walk definitely caused us to stop for few belly laughs along the way. It was probably comical for locals watching us trek up the hill with luggage that morning. The Air BnB was very nice and had all of the amenities we needed.

This timing of our stay in this area made our planning a bit tricky. We were traveling Christmas day through the new year, so with the way our travel plans turned out, we were in Tuscany for NYE. Unfortunately, this meant a lot of businesses were closed and restaurants booked during our visit. Although our planning definitely could have been better, I enjoyed this part of our trip. We had a couple mellow days to recharge before heading to Rome.

In Castiglion Fiorentino we had an incredible dinner at Ristorante Da Muzzicone – known for its Fiorentine steaks. We saw our steaks chopped directly off the rack and then brought to our table (raw) for us to inspect (similar to how a server will show you a bottle of wine). It was really cool to experience an authentic Tuscan steak house. The staff was friendly and did their best to accommodate language barriers. Our dinner was one for the books.

The highlight of this stay was the afternoon we spent in Cortona. It is nearby town that was only a train stop or two ride away. From the train we took a bus (thanks to some info from our Air BnB host) up a windy mountain to Cortona. The views from the top were unbeatable. Although Cortona is similar in size to Castiglion Fiorentino, there was much more to do. The town had many shops, restaurants and local street vendors. Cortona is actually where the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed. I highly recommend adding Cortona to your travel plans if you will be staying or visiting in this area. If we ever visit again, I think I would prefer staying in Cortona than Castiglion Fiorentino.

Tips for Tuscany

When you travel to Tuscany, I definitely recommend doing your research and having a pretty good plan but remember to be open to suggestions from locals. An area like Castiglion Fiorentino is a bit off the beaten path which has its limitations. I would recommend being aware of holiday schedules and how this may impact your stay. It is also a good idea to make all of your reservations (dining and tours) well in advance. If you’re staying in an Air BnB, I would also recommend stocking your kitchen with food upon arrival. This will come in handy if your plans change or you’re not able to get a dinner reservation. You can find amazing meat and cheese in these small towns along with wine tasting and tours. If you visit the Cortona area they are known for their Syrah. My last tip is to be prepared for locals to speak little English if you visit a small town. You should bring a book of Italian translations or use Google Translate (planning ahead will also help).

Tips for Train Travel

If you’re traveling by train in Italy I definitely recommend packing light (My Packing Guide – Coming Soon!). The train platforms are at ground level, so you will need to quickly hoist your luggage up and down. We found it helpful to buy our tickets ahead of time. Our hotel staff helped in explaining tickets too. Some tickets must be printed and others must be validated at machine. Be sure you know what type of ticket you have before getting to your train. Once you’re on the train, familiarize yourself with the name of the stop before your destination. The trains do not wait at each station for a long time, so you may have to act quickly to gather your luggage. And my last tip is of course to bring snacks for long train rides!

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10 Day Ireland Itinerary & Gluten-free Guide

Hi friends! I am so excited to share our Ireland trip with you! I have been meaning to put this blog post together for quite some time. It has been well over a year since we took this amazing trip. A month before we left, we bought our first home and quickly started our extensive renovations. That month flew by and before we knew it, we were handing our keys {and renovation plans} to our dads and packing our bags for Ireland. I fully intended to blog about our adventure when we got home, but as soon as we returned, my life became re-occupied by house renovations AND wedding planning. Now that our wedding has passed and we are much more settled into our house, I am excited to finally share this vacation with you! This is going to be the longest post I’ve ever written, but I hope you find it helpful!

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I will start with the planning. We used a tour company called Gate 1 Travel which we booked through Virgin Vacations. The booking process was straight forward and the site was easy to navigate. I now realize that we could have booked our trip directly through Gate 1 Travel. I am in the process of booking our next trip and have concluded that the booking process on either site is very similar. I still suggest comparing pricing between the two.  The tour we took is still available and called 10 Day Classic Ireland. It was the first either myself or my husband had traveled to Europe or took a tour. 

We honestly cannot say enough good things about Gate 1 Travel. Our tour guide (Linda) and driver (Declan) were amazing. The travel plans were well organized, Linda was so knowledgable of the country and the coach bus was new, clean and comfortable. One aspect of the trip that we loved was that there was just the right amount of planned/guided activities and free time. It was also really nice to not worry about our luggage – it was either safe in our hotel room or on the bus. Declan and the various hotel staff always took our bags off the bus and to the rooms and vice versa.

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I strongly recommend adding at least 1 day to the start of your tour to help with jet lag. We took a Saturday night flight from JFK and landed mid-morning Dublin time. Our tour was considered the “Sunday Start,” but that technically means you would depart for your tour on Sunday. We departed on Saturday {because we added an extra day} and had all day Sunday to explore on our own. As soon as we got to the hotel we changed clothes and started exploring Dublin. We took a 2 hour nap before dinner and went to bed right after dinner which seemed to kick jet lagged in the butt! By the next morning, we were totally adjusted to Ireland time. On Monday, we were also able to explore on our own because we didn’t meet up with our tour until late in the afternoon.

The tour package we chose included a lot of meals, and I was happy to find that we were able to include our dietary restrictions in our reservation. I chose gluten-free for myself and no seafood {not his favorite} for Mike. For our specific trip, I don’t think these selections made much of a difference for the tour-included dinners. Almost everywhere we went had gluten-free options – more than I would find in NY. Most of our breakfasts were included in the tour package as well. I found breakfast to be the trickiest when it came to gluten-free options, but that’s why I always travel with instant oatmeal packets, granola bars and peanut butter.

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Dublin

We arrived in Dublin mid-morning and made our way to our first hotel; the Mespil Hotel. We were able to check into our room, so we changed clothes and started exploring. My beer-loving husband did a lot of research on Irish pubs, so we had a long list to make our way through. One of our first stops was O’donoghue’s Pub. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect place to start. It’s a small old pub with a side alley that was filled with locals enjoying each other’s company and live music. We were both in awe of the culture we stepped into. On our first day we walked all through the city and St. Steven’s Green.  That night we ate at The Farm Restaurant which was a little tricky to find, but not all that far from our hotel. Prior to our trip a lot of people told me that the food in Ireland wouldn’t be great. Those people could not have been more wrong. We had so many delicious meals on this trip! But The Farm Restaurant was definitely my favorite. I had cottage pie and got to try a gluten-free beer I had never heard of. The Farm Restaurant is a must if you’re in Dublin!

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The next morning we were up early and made our way to the Guinness Factory. We had great weather our entire trip and this day was one of the best. It was a long walk, but we got to see so much of the city by walking. Although I cannot drink Guinness, I enjoyed every second of the factory. At the top of the building is the Gravity Bar. It was a little crowded, but the views were amazing {especially with perfect weather}. After leaving the Guinness factory, we stopped in a random pub and that’s when I knew I wanted to eat as much soup as possible on this trip! Later that afternoon we finally met up with our tour group for a quick introductory toast and then we headed off to dinner on our own.

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Our tour began on Monday morning with a tour-included breakfast at the hotel. This was the first morning we saw our tour bus or as our fabulous tour guide called it, “the coach.” The bus was on the new side, clean, air conditioned and had outlets in each seat for charging devices. I really didn’t mind the time we spent on the bus because it was comfortable. Between the long rides, the comfy seats and a tour guide’s soothing voice, I almost always fell asleep on the bus {and my husband has 50 pictures to prove it}.

On this day we toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Although our tour guide gave us plenty of quiet time on the bus to relax, she also shared a lot of history while we were driving. Before leaving Dublin we had time to walk around the city on our own. We stopped at the Porterhouse Brewing Company for lunch. While in Ireland I had the opportunity to try a lot of gluten-free beers that I haven’t seen in the U.S. At this restaurant I enjoyed a pale ale by BrewDog. It also only took me two days to figure out the country was filled with the best gluten-free soup I’ve ever had. Soup with a side of gluten-free bread was my lunch of choice for the entire trip. Before we got on the bus I stumbled on gluten-free scones {yes, the exist!} and tea for the ride.

Foley’s Bar in Dublin – cute decor and gluten-free fries. Enough said!

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Galway

From Dublin, we made our way to Galway, which was a bit of a drive. I pretty much always fell asleep on the bus and on this particular drive, I had a cup of tea in my hand which leaked onto my brand new white jeans {that took me all summer to find}. Total bummer! Before we made arrived at the hotel, we stopped at the Connemara Marble Factory & Visitor Centre. This area of Ireland is know for its green-toned marble. This cathedral was incredibly beautiful and filled with Connemara marble.

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In Galway we stayed at the Radisson Blu which was the only larger, chain hotel included in our trip. Our room was so comfy and the only hotel on our trip with air conditioning, so we definitely took advantage of it at night. Galway was filled with so much culture. The main town had so many little shops, bars and restaurants. Our favorite part of this city was the live music. At night the streets were filled with bands and on-lookers totally enjoying the moment. On our first night in Galway we ate a tour included dinner at the hotel then stopped at a bars The Dail Bar Galway and Tig Choili in town.

It is hard to say which of the areas we visited was my favorite because they were all so beautiful, but Kylemore Abbey ranks pretty high on the list. Every day of our trip I was more amazed by how beautiful Ireland was. Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Garden were no exception. It was probably the most beautiful place I have ever been to in my life! Acres of beautifully manicured gardens and buildings filed with history. I highly recommend adding this location to your travel plans if you will be in Ireland.

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Killarney

From Galway we made our way to Killarney and stopped at the Cliffs of Moher. I remember this being a very windy day, but the views were beautiful! You only need an hour or two to walk around the park and take in the sights. There is a visitor center, but not much more to see. Along the way we also took a tour of the Bunratty Castle which was full of medieval history and narrow passage ways up the tower.

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We spent two nights in Killarney at the the Dromhall Hotel which was beautiful, clean and classy. It was also in easy walking distance from the main town. The town is full of restaurants and little shops. I didn’t buy much of anything on this trip, but in Killarney I found a the wooden spoon I have used every day since we moved into our house and it always reminds me of this trip. Although there are many locations throughout the country, it was in Killarney that we found Murphy’s Ice Cream. This ice cream was delicious! Take a short break from the Guinness and get your fill of Murphy’s for a night.

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From the hotel we took a pretty long walk to Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey. We visited more castles, big and small, than I could have ever imagined on this trip, but each one was impressive in its own way. This day was the warmest day of our trip which made the walk to Ross Castle seem even longer. We opted to take a Jaunting Car on our way back.

Our hotel was also very close to the Killarney Brewing Company. We ended up not having much time at this brewery {check the hours before you go}, but Mike was able to try a beer and we met a couple from Massachusetts who were on their honeymoon. During our second day in Killarney, we drove through the Ring of Kerry and made a quick stop at Waterville Beach.

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From Killarney, we made our way to Waterford and stopped at the Blarney Castle and Gardens, home of the Blarney Stone. It is a narrow, steep climb to kiss the Blarney Stone. I knew very little about the Stone before this day and when I finally saw it, I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. And I certainly was not going to kiss it {hello, germs!} but Mike said he couldn’t pass it up. Right after I got his picture I handed him an antibacterial wipe to clean off his face. The grounds of the castle are beautiful. We spent quite a few hours walking around the gardens before we ended this stop with lunch and shopping at the Blarney Woolen Mills.

Waterford

The Waterford Crystal Factory is pretty impressive and definitely worth seeing. In hindsight, I wish I would have bought a small, authentic piece of Waterford Crystal home with me. We spent one day and night in Waterford and in all honesty, it was my leave favorite stop of the trip. I found the city to be a little eerie and desolate. Perhaps we just hit this stop on the wrong day, but it was the only area that I felt a bit uncomfortable. Even with that being said, the night we spent in Waterford was made memorable by a sweet local couple we met in a bar who share so many world things about Ireland with us!

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Kilkenny

Our last stop before heading back to Dublin and heading how was Kilkenny. We grabbed coffee and walked around the beautiful grounds of Kilkenny Castle. Each castle we saw in Ireland was more beautiful than the last. Kilkenny is home to Smithwick’s beer. We visited the Brewery {although I’m not sure this is where they actually brew their beer} and took a guided tour of the facility. The small tours are lead by a guide and enhanced with digital technology. The technology their incorporated to help tell you the story of Smithwick’s was actually pretty impressive. For lunch, we stopped at the  The Fig Tree Restaurant and had warm toasties {ham and cheese sammies}. As with the rest of our trip, gluten-free food was easy to find! The Fig Tree has “gluten-free” outside on their window. It was one of my favorite lunches too.

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Packing Suggestions

I thought it may be helpful to share some of the items that was most useful on my trip. Packing for 2 weeks in a foreign county can be tough! My carry-on bag was a very light weight Vera Bradley backpack (affiliate link). I used this bag almost every day on our trip. It was able to hold all of my necessities which came in handy because the weather can change a lot in Ireland throughout the day. Each day my bag held a very light weight, waterproof jacket that could be rolled up, a small umbrella, a cardigan and a light weight scarf. I never felt uncomfortable carrying a backpack, but I know in some other countries it’s a no-no for traveling. I honestly felt very safe on this trip.

Clothing wise I kept it pretty light. I packed two pairs of sneakers (incase one got wet on a rainy day), two pairs of jeans and mostly light weight, long sleeve shirts.It’s also a good idea to bring a small plastic bag to shoes that may get wet and need to be put back in your suitcase before totally dry. Everything I packed could be easily layered for changes in the weather. And of course, don’t forget to bring a converter and adapter!

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