How to Pack for Italy in December

Hi friends! Today I am changing up my usual gluten-free-food focused travel blogs to give you tips on packing for Italy in December. I wrote this post prior to the start of the COVID-19 quarantine, but didn’t get around to posting it. Although I am not sure when traveling will become a normal part of life again, I thought I would share this post with you all to save for one day in the future. This was a trip of a lifetime with our best friends. I am definitely looking forward to the day when we can safety travel again!

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Prior to our trip, packing for Europe during the winter seemed like a daunting task. I think I did a pretty good job, so I thought it would be helpful to share my top packing tips with you. For most of our trip the weather was in the 40s-50s. There were a few days with very chilly mornings and/or evenings, but for the most part I was pretty comfortable. Speaking of comfort, with the amount of walking we did in Italy, I am happy I prioritized comfort over fashion when it comes to shoes. Achy, cold feet are not what I wanted for this trip. When it comes to clothing and jackets, I recommend planning to dress in layers. It’s also okay to re-wear outfits on your trip. If you’re traveling during the winter months, you will most likely have a coat on most of the days anyway. Another great way to get more wear out of what you pack is to stick with one color scheme {similar idea to wardrobe capsules}. I packed my go-to colors, black, beige, grey and a few piece of army green. This approach allowed me to mix and match tops with bottoms and also narrow down my shoe selection.

I LOVE the Columbia jacket I bought for this trip. I brought a JCrew Factory wool coat (similar coat here) as well, but consistently reached for my Columbia jacket. It’s light weight, warm and waterproof. I think the length is perfect and it has a great hood. It is also a bit longer in the back which I really like. I have used it a ton since we got home for our trip too. It was probably my best Black Friday purchases of 2019.

This outfit was pretty much my travel uniform for trip

Another great purchase that has gotten a ton of use are my Keds Scout boots. I wanted to make sure I had waterproof shoes for this trip, so these were a great find. I usually wear size 8 or 8.5. For these boots I went with the size 8. Originally I planned to wear foam inserts (click here) in the boots for extra comfort, but they didn’t fit well. Thankfully these shoes only took a day to break-in then were very comfortable. I should also mention that these boots are a little though to get on and off. If you have a high arch, I definitely recommend sizing up. I also can’t rave enough about my Adidas sneakers; I think they’re a must have. I wore my tan/white pair all over Italy and my feet never hurt. I think the sizing of these sneakers varies a bit between colors. I have a size 8 in the tan/white and 8.5 in the grey/white. On this trip I definitely learned the importance of good socks. Make sure your socks don’t move or slip around inside your shoes. If they do, your socks can actually be the reason to blame for blisters. In a photo below you can see all of the shoes I packed for this trip. I did not need this many; my keds, 1 pair of sneakers and slippers were really all I needed. I did not wear my black flats, suede booties or need a second pair of sneakers. For most of our trip I also wore my Quay Australia Aviators (click here).

Quay Sunglasses

For handbags and luggage, I kept it very simple for this trip. A great piece of advice a friend gave us while planning was to only bring once piece of luggage. Since we weren’t using a tour for our trip {tours usually transport, move and watch after your luggage} that meant we would need to travel across three cities with our bags. Our travels included walking through each city with our luggage, taking the train and getting through airports. This tip was a home run. Each of us had one check-on luggage and a backpack – that’s it. Limited bags made our travels much easier. The check-on luggage I used for this trip was 28 inches (good options: here or here). Packing cubes (click here) are a game changer. They helped me to keep my bag organized and neat the entire trip. I also fit a ton of stuff too. I also found a great cosmetic bag (click here) that fit a ton of toiletries. As far as handbags go, I brought a thin, light weight crossbody bag with me. It was thin enough that I could wear it under my jacket. Having my bag concealed made me feel more secure in crowed areas. My exact bags are out of stock, but this is a similar style (click here).

I think there are a few things you can bring on your trip that will make your plane ride more comfortable. A cozy blanket scarf (click here or similar here) or small light weight blanket are great for keeping you warm and snuggling up a nap sans plane freebies. Although of flights did have in-flight entertainment, I love to have a few good books on a trip. Lately I have been loving the suspenseful thrillers by Shari Lapena and A.J. Finn. Both writers created story lines that are total page turners which help the flight fly by. I am the worst when it comes to drinking water, but I know that hydration and removing your make are extra important for your skin when flying. For our flight to Italy, I decided to bring all of my skincare (click here for that blog) and makeup remover wipes. Before takeoff, I removed all of my makeup and applied a heavy moisturizer.

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The Soundview Greenport

Today’s post is all about our recent stay at the Soundview Greenport along with a travel guide to Long Island’s North Fork (aka the NoFo). We decided to spend a night at the Soundview for a belated anniversary celebration. It is located directly on the Long Island Sound with absolutely beautiful views.

The Soundview has an ideal layout for its location on the Sound. All of the rooms are water front which is awesome. I personally think this makes the Soundview a special place to stay. Even though the weather was chilly, it was so nice to enjoy the view from our room. I imagine it to be even better during the warmer months when you can sit on the patio {which was huge}. Even with the doors closed at night we could still hear the waves a bit.

The room was on the smaller side, but perfect for two with a queen bed and separate sitting area. I felt like the only flaw of the layout was that the entry door faced a main road, so it could be loud at times. If you are a light sleeper or traveling with children who will nap during the day, it may be worth bringing a sound machine. I did feel like it quieted down a lot at night once we went to bed.

Our room was recently renovated, clean and had a nautical decor vibe. We love that there was a Nespresso machine in the room along with Bridge Lane wine, North Fork Potato Chips and Tate’s cookies {for a fee}. Since we visited in November, we missed the peak season and got a more affordable nightly rate. However, I do think that it was still pricey for the off season, so I am not sure we would necessarily splurge on this spot during spring or summer. Although we opted not to bring Henry {this time} the Soundview is actually pet-friendly.

The Soundview has a bar and restaurant on site, but I would recommend skipping the Halyard for dinner. Instead get a drink there before heading into town or stop back later in the night if there is live music. The view from the bar and restaurants is just as good as the view from the rooms. All in all, the Soundview is a great spot for weekend getaway.

For a gluten-free dinner in Greenport I recommend the restaurant First and South. It is located in town and less than a 10 minute drive from the Soundview. We had our car, but I did notice there were Ubers in the area too. Almost everything on the menu is gluten-free and they do not cross contaminate the fryers. I also felt that our sever was knowledgeable about their menu and gluten-free restrictions. Bonus points in our book for the awesome dog mural on the wall – if you haven’t figured it out already, we love dogs!

While you’re making your way to the Greenport here is where we recommend you stop on your way.

* Briermere Farms: Famous for their pies (not gluten-free) and jams (gluten-free). It is a must-do on the NoFo and a great stop for local produce.
*Baiting Hallow Farm Vineyard: A small family owned winery and stable. We love their Riesling.
* LIV: Gluten-free vodka and an awesome tasting room.
* Riverhead Cider House: Tons of gluten-free cider options and room for large groups.
* Bridge Lane Tasting Room: Small, cozy and some of our favorite wine ever. I recommend the white merlot and the red blend.
* Shinn Estate Vineyard and Inn: Beautiful indoor and outdoor seating along with our favorite B&B on LI.

Bridge Lane Tasting Room
Bridge Lane Outdoor Seating – August 2019
Bridge Lane Outdoor Seating – August 2019

Maui Travel Guide: Part 2

Are you thinking of traveling to Maui? If the answer to that question is yes, then you’re in the right place. This post will be the last of my Hawaiian honeymoon travel guide and recap. We started our trip on Oahu and ended in Maui. Although Hawaiian honeymoons sound a bit cliche at the start, I assure you that ours did not feel that way and was nothing short of amazing. We ended our trip at the Andaz Hotel for a few days of pure relaxation.

After leaving Paia, we headed to Wailea where we stayed at the Andaz Hotel. From the moment we arrived at the resort we were amazed with its beauty and all it had to offer. The hospitality of the staff at the Andaz was top notch. The resort provides free shuttle service {most of which are luxury SUVs} to all guests traveling in the Wailea area. Although we rented a car, we did not need it while in Wailea thanks to this service. When we were ready for dinner, we walked outside the lobby and told the bell hops which restaurant we were going to. After a short wait, we would be driven to dinner. When we were ready to be picked up, we just called the bell hops and they came to get us. It was really such a wonderful service. The men working during our stay were terrific. All the staff was very friendly and provided tons of restaurant recommendations. Although we did not sign-up for any tours while in Wailea, the hotel does provide tour guide services for its guests as well.

The grounds of the Andaz are beautiful. The main lobby overlooks the beach and a three tiered deck each featuring an infinity edge pool. Around the corner, guests can find an adult-only pool in close proximity to the spa. We spent most of our time at this pool partly because it was closer to our room. Throughout the all pool areas the Andaz provided towel carts for fresh towels throughout the day. On these carts they also offered a variety of complementary flavored ice water {lemon, cucumber, mint, cantaloupe and strawberry, just to name a few} and Sun Bum SPF. In the afternoon, Andaz staff would walk around the pools offering a complementary refreshing treat such as a mochi or and ice pop. All of these small touches really made our stay feel extra special.

I booked our stay at the Andaz directly through their website because it was a better price than through third party sites. I was really happy I was able to get us an ocean view room. When we were escorted to our room, the hallways reminded us of the 90s show Legends of the Hidden Temple. The room was spacious, included a balcony, modern furnishings and a spacious bathroom. The bathroom included a large rain shower with a window that actually allowed you to overlook the room and balcony. Any drinks or snacks in the bar area were also complementary and were replenished daily. My favorite touch may have been the speciality Maui Lays’ chips. During our stay we also ordered lunch and snacks poolside. The bar menu had a decent amount of GF options, but as with everything in Hawaii, the poolside menus were very pricey.

For breakfast and snacks we went to the Mokapu Market on the grounds of the Andaz. I was overly happy when we realized the market had a gluten-free section including homemade baked goods and our favorite GF pretzels. We would grab breakfast, coffee and head to the adult pool early or take it back up to our room to be enjoyed on the balcony. I love having a balcony with a great view on vacation. I think it’s so relaxing.

My husband made us a reservation at Monkey Pod based on a recommendation he caught by an ESPN news anchor; Monkey Pod is known for its Mai Tais! While we were on Oahu I tried a Mai Tai, but it definitely was thought it would be a drink I would order again. That being said, I am not much of a liquor drinker. My experience was a totally different story at Monkey Pod. Their Mai Tais were delicious! As I type this, I am wondering why we haven’t tried to recreate these at home. To make our experience at Monkey Pod even more enjoyable, the food at this restaurant was as good as the drinks. I had no problem finding a gluten-free options. I went with the Organic Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. Our server was super knowledgeable of the menu and provided helpful recommends. I highly recommend adding MP to your list of ‘musts’ while visiting Maui.

Monkey Pod Mai Tai

On our last night in Maui, we went to Matteo’s for another memorable evening. Many of the staff at Andaz recommended Matteos as the best Italian food in the area. We were totally on board when we looked through the menu and saw plenty of gluten-free options. For starters, we shared gluten-free turkey meatballs in red sauce with a side of fresh garlic bread. Naturally, I ordered a second round of bread (#twoplease). I tend to over analyze my dinner selections. My husband will vouch for me when I say, I am not always good at ordering food for dinner, but at Matteo’s my choice was a winner. I had the Fettuccine {sub GF penne} Frutti di Mare. For me personally, seafood dishes can be a real hit or miss, but this one was a home run my friends. Matteo’s is another restaurant I highly recommend while on your visit to Maui.

We also had dinner at Gannon’s in Wailea. It is known for its view and atmosphere. We caught the tail end of happy hour and got to chatting with a local semi-retired couple. These types of encounters are always our favorite. They were originally from California and decided to move to Maui after making frequent visits. The husband’s name was also Mike and he was a physical therapist. I cannot remember the wife’s name, but she was the cutest and a bit of a Jane Fonda look alike. They were so sweet. Talking with them at the bar was the highlight of the night. As for our meal, I can’t say either of us were blown away, but Gannon’s got brownie points in my book for having my favorite Prosecco, La Marca.