Edit: Summer Whites
 

It's not too early to shop for breezy white summer clothes, right? The latest collection by Staud is summertime perfection - if I could, I would add pretty much every piece to my closet.  Exhibit A: the Cita top ($175) and Skipper pants ($252) above. 

mini lady bag, $168
other colors available

retro crop jeans, $188

natalina blazer, $288

bead & blossom earrings, $65
other colors available, some on sale!

eloise mules, $158
also available in black

 
How to See Rome in Two Days
 
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design

An ardent fan of big cities, gelato, Roman Holiday, and cobblestone streets, it's not surprising that I loved Rome. While I was ready to be surrounded by the ancient history and modern bustle of the Eternal City, I was surprised by how incredibly walkable and green it was, with leafy trees lining the path along the Tiber river and glossy vines climbing colorful buildings in Trastevere. Of course Rome is also covered with tourists almost any time of year, so a quick visit calls for some strategy.

With only a couple days to explore, you'll want to reserve your tickets and restaurants in advance whenever possible. A bit of legwork up front will save you hours of waiting in line, and keep you from stumbling into an overpriced tourist trap for dinner out of desperation. You'll also save time by staying in a central location like Campo de' Fiori (we stayed here). Because there's so much to see, be sure to take a couple breaks each day - a long lunch in the shade, a place to sit with a cone of gelato and watch the city go by.

How to Spend a Weekend in Rome, Italy | A complete travel guide for a quick visit to the Eternal City. | Things to do, the best restaurants, and what to wear in Rome. | What to Do for Two Days in Rome | Itinerary for the reluctant tourist: when you want to see the big sights and the real city. | Rome Travel Tips | Free Travel Map Rome
How to Spend a Weekend in Rome, Italy | A complete travel guide for a quick visit to the Eternal City. | Things to do, the best restaurants, and what to wear in Rome. | What to Do for Two Days in Rome | Itinerary for the reluctant tourist: when you want to see the big sights and the real city. | Rome Travel Tips | Free Travel Map Rome
How to Spend a Weekend in Rome, Italy | A complete travel guide for a quick visit to the Eternal City. | Things to do, the best restaurants, and what to wear in Rome. | What to Do for Two Days in Rome | Itinerary for the reluctant tourist: when you want to see the big sights and the real city. | Rome Travel Tips | Free Travel Map Rome
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design

Day 1: Vespa Tour & Aventine Hill

Buongiorno, Roma! Make sure you're wearing your best Roman Holiday outfit (you know, this skirt and this top with these sandals), and start the day with a cappuccino and a pastry. For a proper introduction to Rome, schedule a Vespa tour for the morning. In just a few hours your guide will take you on a personally tailored tour of sights in the city, sharing history, stories, and hidden gems along the way. Just trust the glowing reviews. You'll have plenty of opportunities for photos, and likely one for gelato, too!

For a leisurely lunch, find an outdoor table at pizzeria Emma. When you've finished your last sip of wine, head outside for some exploring on foot. Wind your way through the charming side streets over to the weekend market Mercato Monti, admiring the Colosseum and Roman Forum again along the way. At the market, spend an hour or so hopping from vendor to vendor, browsing their collections of art, vintage accessories, and handmade goods for sale.

How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design

As the afternoon wears on, walk up Aventine Hill to Giardino Degli Aranci. Walk to the edge of the garden for my favorite view of Rome. It's almost always quiet up here, but you might be lucky enough to find some musicians playing. Relax here for a while, watching the sun begin to dip over the terracotta rooftops - it's a perfect place to be for sunset.

When you're ready to move on, walk a little way down the southern side of the hill until you see a few people gathered by a pair of large green doors. Join the queue to peer through the Aventine Keyhole and see the archway of foliage that perfectly frames the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in the distance. 

Cross the river to wander through the charming Trastevere neighborhood before settling in for dinner at Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina. End the day with a stroll along the river - it's a good idea any time, but particularly magical at night.

How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design

Day 2: The Vatican & Borghese Gardens

Bright and early, make your way to the Vatican and skip the famously long lines (you reserved tickets in advance here, of course). Spend the morning taking in all the magnificent art and architecture in the museums. It's truly breathtaking to see the Sistine Chapel and The School of Athens in person, and one of my favorite rooms was one I hadn't heard of before: the Gallery of the Maps.

From the Sistine Chapel, there's a little-known shortcut into St. Peter's Basilica, avoiding another long line to reenter the Vatican complex. With your back to The Last Judgement, exit through the door in the back right corner (instead of the left), then follow the path straight into the church. You won't be the only one taking this route - less time waiting means more time to admire the incredibly ornate detail of the basilica.

Be sure that your shoulders & knees are covered for your visit to the Vatican. The Sistine Chapel is closed Sunday.

How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design
How to Spend Two Days in Rome | Monica Francis Design

If you want to settle in for a sit-down lunch, reserve a table at La Zanzara or Il Sorpasso. Try some pizza at Bonci or a sandwich from Fa-bio for a quick and delicious meal. After eating, walk towards the river to see Castel Sant'Angelo. Cross the pedestrian bridge Ponte Sant'Angelo, and spend the next couple of hours visiting the fairytale library Biblioteca Angelica, or some sights that are still on your list - the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain aren't far away. Whenever you like, break for gelato at Come Il Latte.

A bit before sunset, venture out to Villa Borghese and its public gardens that cover almost 200 acres. If your feet are starting to protest all this walking, rent a cart to keep exploring or sit by the lake at the Temple of Asclepius. Either way, don't miss the view over the city from the Pinoco Terrace.

Spend your final evening in Rome having a fantastic dinner at Colline Emiliane, then - do you already know what I'm going to say? - take one last stroll along the Tiber in the moonlight.

 

what to wear:

'star' the map below to access it from the google maps app on your phone.

 
Edit: Black & White Stripes
 

jonathan adler 'secrets' canister, $128
other sizes & words available

 
Ten Days on the Amalfi Coast
 
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

After ten weeks of traveling, we settled in for a long stay at my favorite spot in Italy: the Amalfi Coast.  The landscape of zig-zagging cliffs dropping into the sea stretches from the Gulf of Naples to the Gulf of Salerno. Even after days of sailing along the coastline it seems like a mythical place - so it's not surprising to learn that the fabled Sirens of the Odyssey sang here, on a set of rocky islands just off the coast of Positano.

Visiting in August, we found ourselves among a crush of vacationers, both foreign and Italian. While we wouldn't take back a day of our stay, we would plan a return trip for September - when the sea is still warm from summer and the vacationers are slowly clearing out for the season.

Any time of year, you'll find that getting to the Amalfi Coast takes a bit more time and planning than other destinations. Depending where you're coming from, fly or take a train into Naples. From there, I recommend booking a private car and driver for the hour-long journey to Positano - it's possible to take a series of buses and/or ferries instead, but after an already-long day of travel with your luggage in tow, it's worth the €100 in my book. Plus, your driver will make a stop or two for photos as you take in that captivating landscape for the first time.

10 Days on the Amalfi Coast, Italy | A travel guide for my favorite place in Italy, with a custom travel map. Things to do, fashionable outfit ideas, the best food and my favorite views! | The perfect place to honeymoon in Italy. | Positano, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Atrani, and Ravello | When to Visit | How to get to Positano | Day Trips on the Amalfi Coast
10 Days on the Amalfi Coast, Italy | A travel guide for my favorite place in Italy, with a custom travel map. Things to do, fashionable outfit ideas, the best food and my favorite views! | The perfect place to honeymoon in Italy. | Positano, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Atrani, and Ravello | When to Visit | How to get to Positano | Day Trips on the Amalfi Coast
10 Days on the Amalfi Coast, Italy | A travel guide for my favorite place in Italy, with a custom travel map. Things to do, fashionable outfit ideas, the best food and my favorite views! | The perfect place to honeymoon in Italy. | Positano, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Atrani, and Ravello | When to Visit | How to get to Positano | Day Trips on the Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

Positano

We chose this colourful town as our base for the trip, like many travelers do. Its central location, enchanting atmosphere, and great restaurants make it well worth the prices. If you're looking for a less expensive town with a more local feel, try nearby Praiano. You could also spend a few nights in Capri or Ravello to really soak in each place. Wherever you stay, try to pack lightly. Between all the great shopping you'll find and all the stairs you'll climb, it's worth the effort to whittle down what's in your suitcase

While you could rent a scooter or ride the public buses from town to town during your stay, being based in Positano means easy access to the summer ferry boats that run all along the coast each day. Even when a ferry gets full, the ride is still beautiful, relaxing, and cheap. And I'd much rather be relaxing with a cool breeze than navigating all those hairpin turns. 

In Positano, it's hard to find any particular place that doesn't have a pretty view of colorful houses stacked up the cliffside, down to the tiled duomo and the sea below. Our wonderful vacation rental, Casa Gabi, had the sort of view no one would ever be ready to leave. Click here to read my full guide to Positano including favorite beaches, restaurants, and aperitivo spots. 

Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

Sorrento

Sorrento makes an incredible first impression, with the city built up to the very edge of the cliffs that drop sharply into the harbour. While it's probably the first town you'll see on the Amalfi Coast, most visitors just pass through on their way to Positano or Capri. Instead, make the time for a day trip here, catching the 40-minute ferry from Positano (your boat might stop in Capri along the way). If you want to spend four or five hours exploring Pompeii, it's just a 30-minute train ride from the center of Sorrento.

A bit more modern and metropolitain than the other towns on this list, Sorrento has plenty to see and eat that you won't find elsewhere along the coast. Make your way into the main town square, Piazza Tasso, and spend a while people watching from a cafe. When you're ready to move on, wander the maze of narrow back streets in Old Sorrento, where you'll stumble upon all kinds of restaurants, private homes, artisans' shops, and luxury hotels. And don't skip the street food - from limoncello gelato to Queen's Chips (yes, fries in Italy!), it's not to be missed. After exploring the city for a couple hours, I was surprised to turn around and see this abandoned mill than I had saved on Pinterest years before. 

Evening in Sorrento has its own sort of magic, with incredible sunset views and no shortage of wine bars and restaurants. My choice would be the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria's vine-covered champagne bar La Pergola, followed by dinner at Ristorante Donna Sofia (named for Sofia Loren) - or maybe just a cone of fries from Queen's Chips. Because the ferry boats don't run at night, plan to take a taxi for the 25-minute ride back to Positano. 

Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

Capri

From Positano, catch a 45-minute ferry out to this stylish island - and don't worry about the long commute, because the views along the way are stunning. After watching the colorful vintage cars scooting around the harbor, make your way up to Capri town and promptly buy a lemon granita from the stand in the square (you won't regret it). Catch an open-air taxi up to Anacapri, and take the Monte Solaro chairlift to the top of the mountain for fantastic views over the island and the Sorrento peninsula. In the afternoon, take a gozzo boat tour around the island, or lounge Slim Aarons-style at La Fontelina Beach Club. For more to do, see, and eat on the island of Capri, read my travel guide here

Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

Amalfi

The namesake of the Amalfi Coastline, this city was once a bustling maritime republic and home to a celebrated paper-making industry. Today it thrives on tourism, and being a 30-minute ferry ride from Positano makes it a perfect day trip.

Amalfi can quickly feel more crowded than its neighboring towns, as everyone is funneled into the the main square, Piazza del Duomo. Admire the striped cathedral and its magnificent bronze doors (though Siena's duomo is still my favorite), then weave your way into the quieter back streets to wander for a while. Stop for a famous lemon-cream cake (delizie al limone) at Pasticceria Panza, and honor Amalfi's tradition of handcrafted papers with a visit to the stationery shop La Scuderia del Duca

When you need a break from the crowds, walk the footpath over to the neighboring fishing village Atrani. From the handful of pastel buildings to the umbrella-lined beach, it covers less than .08 miles, making it the smallest community in Italy. Between its size and its picturesque appeal, it's a perfect candidate for a postage stamp - and the perfect spot for a long, late lunch at A' Pranza

Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design
Amalfi Coast Travel Guide by Monica Francis Design

Ravello

Perched high above the Amalfi coastline, Ravello is incredibly romantic. After a 30-minute ferry ride from Positano to Amalfi, catch a bus or taxi to reach this hilltop town. It has the charm and beauty of other coastal towns, but with breathtaking views at every turn and far less tourists. Add in the Italian castles-turned-luxury-hotels, and it's little wonder that this place was the setting for several famous 20th century affairs. Even if you're not on a honeymoon, a day trip here is a must. Find my guide to Ravello's castle gardens and delicious food right here.

 

'star' the map below to access it from the google maps app on your phone.

 
Gifts for Spring
 

Whether you're headed to a bridal shower, celebrating a spring birthday, or getting ready for Mother's Day, there's probably at least one lovely lady you're shopping for. Here are some of my favorite gifts this season:

wine & cheese picnic basket, $78
such a sweet wedding gift.

floral print kimono robe, $60
I have this in another print & just love it.

leather travel jewelry case, $105
available in other colors