A Feast for Our Eyes and Our Stomachs

Thus far we have discovered that there are hundreds, no THOUSANDS, of opportunities to indulge in awesome food in Florence. From the piazzas flanked with cafes, brick oven pizzerias and gelaterias on every corner, to the Central Market food hall the options for fabulous food and local culture are seemingly endless. If you’re looking for something a little more special than any ‘ole restaurant though, try stumbling into a neighborhood gem just as we did last night.

We had walked by La Menagere almost every morning in Florence on our way to our daily outing. We always remarked at its open, yet cozy interior that was divided into three distinct sections, all to be seen from the completely open storefront.

The first section, a long banquet table that stretches 24 seats long on either side, was always perfectly set for dinner. The middle section, a small kitchen accessories boutique in the front and dining room in the back, was whimsically decorated with giant head shots of storybook animals dressed in Elizabethan era costumes and white candelabras dripping wax. The last section, a bar/bistro, was laden with people grabbing a coffee and brioche.

Every time we strolled by we remarked that we needed to give it a try, and last night the time had come. Knowing nothing of the menu or the concept, we set out for a “quick bite” at that “cute place” we had seen everyday. The moment we arrived we knew we had struck gold.

We walked up to see different parties all dining together at the communal banquet table. Inside the store were people sitting at low tables enjoying cocktails and conversation over the bustling atmosphere. Back in the dining room were table as diversely sized, shaped and decorated as the guests sitting at them.

We put in our name with the hostess who said she might be able to accommodate us, even though we didn’t have a reservation. And accommodate us she did. After no more than 10 minutes we were whisked back into the dining room, weaving through tables, past the grand piano, and into the kitchen where were told we would be enjoying our dinner.

The chef’s table was minimally decorated, the gorgeous wood table being the star. With our charming server Carmine at the helm, we began an unforgettable evening set against the sleek backdrop of the busy kitchen.

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Before placing our orders, we asked Carmine for the chef’s recommendations. Ordering both of those, the roasted gnocchi and the braised beef cheek, along with three other entrees, we were blown away. The meals placed before us were as much of a treat for our eyes and noses as they were for our tastebuds. The beef cheek and one of the other entrees, the pork shank, were without a doubt two of the best dishes we have had during our time in Firenze. We were passing dishes all over the table while the chefs were among us shuffling food all over the kitchen. It was truly a symphony for all the senses.

 

After finishing our entrees, and having to resist from licking our plates clean, we decided that even though we were so full, dessert was a must. After all dessert IS for the soul not the stomach. We tried Carmine’s favorite dessert, peaches with cream and ‘sparkling’ chocolate crumble; like Pop Rocks circa 2001, and strawberry sorbet over coconut crumble all accompanied by a lovely dessert wine complements of our new favorite Firenze folk.

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With our stomachs and souls both at full capacity its was time for bed, but not before a photo with the hilarious chefs, and Carmine. We gathered behind the counters sporting our new chef hats for a quick pic to cap the evening, definitely one for the books.

Our evening at La Menagere was by far the most enjoyable we have had in this magical city. If you are ever in the Florence area, be it up the block or across town, they will not disappoint. We cannot wait to return.

As always thank you for continuing to follow up as we Karpe Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

Time for the Highlights

Good evening Wanderlust-ers! After a whirlwind couple of days on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast, we are now back in our homey apartment in Firenze. It never feels like we’ve had enough time while hangin’ in paradise, but a little R&R proved to be exactly what we needed.

With this trip being quite the quickie, we feel as if we have neglected you all, so here are some highlights from our little vacation from our vacation:

After our enchanting evening in Ravello and a lovely dinner alfresco at our villa, it was off to bed to rest up for another fabulous day. The next morning it was time for two things to be smooth and dark: our coffee and our skin. After a few shots of espresso to prepare us for our assent up the hill (#kilimanjaroPTSD) we drove into Amalfi for our day in the sun. We scouted out the perfect beach club and spent the day lounging!

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After catching some Z’s under the ray’s, it was back home for a quick shower followed by a costal drive to Sorrento to pick up our lovely friend Claire who is studying abroad in Rome for the summer! We spent a few hours walking around the town and grabbing a quick vino. Okay… a few hours of vino and a quick walk around town. We grabbed Claire from the train station and drove back to Amalfi for a light dinner.

JULY 7TH: NATIONAL KARPE DIEM MOMMA DAY!!!! We woke up to celebrate our fabulous mommy’s birthday! The morning was spent having breakfast on our lanai and then heading down to the harbor to board our private charter for the day.

We spent the whole day luxuriating in the sun, swimming in the Mediterranean, and touring the island of Capri and the Amalfi coast from the water. Our captain Francesco and first mate Aldo (or as we called him, our resident cutie pie) showered our mommy with lots of vino and great times on board (shoutout to Premium Charter Italia for the boujiest of days). Three swim stops, one of which was in the coveted blue gratto, and one amazing lunch in the small town of Nerano (only accessible by boat) later we sunset cruised back to the harbor of Amalfi.

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Later that evening, we went down to the Amalfi Piazza for a quick dinner, when we stumbled upon a candlelit concert. We indulged in fabulous food and sat outside listening to the lovely melodies of a local artist set against the backdrop of a 16th century church. It was the perfect ending to a festive day.

As always thank you for following us as we Kapre Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

 

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

After going out with a bang in Amsterdam, spending our last night out on the town with our favorite Amsterdam resident Bram and being introduced to a local delicacy Febo…check it out, it was back to Florence for one day of laundry before heading to Amalfi!

Tuesday, we hopped on the train from Florence to Naples where we made a quick pit stop for some famous Naples pizza before making the one hour twisty, windy drive down to the Amalfi Coast. About 20 minutes away from the villa that we are renting for the week we pulled over for a bottle of wine, where we learned that Italy doesn’t have any laws against open containers, or drinking in the car (don’t worry we weren’t the ones driving).

When we arrived at our villa we hit a bit of a bump in the road, well more like a steep switchback road that we weren’t allowed to drive our car down. So, it was walking down from there and then a sudden realization that, in our case, what goes down must go up, but at least we know how we will be getting our workout in for the next five days.

Amalfi is one of our favorite vacation spots, and a place that we have been coming to for the last three summers. Yesterday we spent the day walking around the town of Amalfi, the first place we ever visited along this coastal oasis. After a couple hours of shopping and a lite lunch, we headed up to the storybook town of Ravello.

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On our maiden voyage to the Amalfi Coast, we stumbled upon this picturesque hillside town while driving up the mountain. Yesterday we walked around Ravello, wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets. Don’t worry about getting lost in this fanciful town, whichever path you take you will always end up atop a beautiful vista with panoramic views of the coast.

We spent the afternoon relaxing in a garden lounge sipping our Aperol Spritz (the official drink of Italian summer) and indulging in some homemade lemon cakes and gelato. Before heading back down the mountain, we grabbed in a couple of roadies for our stroll back down to the car park.

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Toddling down the streets, now filled with onlookers, we ran across a blushing bride and her bridesmaids. Seeing her parade through the town on her way to the alter was the perfect end to our dreamlike day.

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Sarah is officially planning her Ravello wedding, 2021. Will the real Prince Charming please stand up?

On our way back to our villa we stopped at the market to grab some sausages and pasta for our home cooked meal, courtesy of chef Taylor.

As always thank you for following us as we Karpe Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

Poffertjes, Please

In case it wasn’t apparent from yesterday’s post, we are obsessed with Dutch pancakes, so when we woke up this morning, breakfast wasn’t a question.

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We took the tram to De Vier Pilaren (shoutout to Elana for the rec), a place that only serves pancakes and poffertjes (yeah we didn’t know what they were either). We have officially found love in a hopeless place. Not to say Amsterdam is hopeless, it has quickly become one of our favorite cities, but let’s just say life begins and ends with poffertjes. These teeny tiny, doughy balls soaked in butter and confectioners sugar literally makes life worth living.

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Upon stuffing our faces with these bite sized pillows of deliciousness, along with two pancakes, we decided to attempt to walk off some of the 2,000+ calories we had just consumed. (Side note: it was more of a roll than a walk…they see me rollin’ they hatin,’ only because they didn’t get any poffertjes).

We strolled through The 9 Streets, a local shopping district with small boutiques and vintage stores. While we don’t recommend such a heavy carb-fest as a precursor for a day of shopping, we highly recommend The 9 Streets for their one-of-a-kind shops and gorgeous views of the canals.

We’ve absolutely loved wandering this city, and are sad to be saying Vaarwel tomorrow afternoon. Amsterdam is so breathtakingly beautiful, and the people are some of the nicest we have met. We can’t wait to tack this city onto our list of go-to travel destinations. If you ever get the chance to visit, don’t pass it up. We promise you will enjoy.

As always, thank you for following us as we Karpe Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

 

Spreek je Dutch?

Welcome to the land of cheese and “coffee shops.”

We arrived Thursday morning to Amsterdam, where our first lesson was that the taxis, although beautiful new Teslas, are not the most efficient or affordable way of getting around. After a 75 euro ride to our hotel (we’re pretty sure Vlad ripped us off), we purchased a 48 hour tram pass and got scootin’.

After a 4:00am wakeup call and 2 hour flight, we were hungry. It was 9:30am in Amsterdam, so naturally, PANCAKES. We walked up a few streets near the Museumplein and stumbled upon a cute breakfast nook that was teaming with locals. We sat in a corner by the window next to a group of young Dutch girls who appeared to be celebrating something. The coffee was hot and the Dutch pancakes smelled amazing. Outside bikes swooshed passed us on the streets and side walks with the same sort of nonchalant ease as walkers in New York City would have. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city trying to get our bearings, which usually comes easy to Sarah, but Amsterdam seems to be her Kryptonite.

After a much needed mid-day snooze, we got ready to go to dinner at a restaurant we found listed as one of the best up and coming restaurants in Amsterdam. This city has a lively Asian food scene, so when we found Dum Dum Palace to be a bumpin’ restaurant and bar, we knew we struck gold. Prior to dinner we had a few drinks at the hotel bar, where we met Martin, a nice British man who ended up joining us for dumplings and pork buns. When dinner was finished, we wandered through the city center in search of an authentic Amsterdam aperitif. This lead us the one of the infamous “coffee shops.” …When in Rome right? Or in our case Amsterdam.

Today we decided to embrace our inner tourist and go to the “I Amsterdam” sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. While the sign was buzzing with everyone trying to get their iconic photo, it’s beauty falls short in comparison to it’s backdrop. The breathtaking design of the gothic castle that houses the collections of artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer soon became our shelter from the deluge that began while taking photos on the sign.

We meandered through the galleries for about an hour, enough culture for Sarah for the rest of the year, and then continued on our journey to find the best pancakes in Holland. Turns out, the answer to that question was Pancakes, literally. We had lunch at the delicious and aptly named Pancakes.Amsterdam, indulging in both a sweet and savory Dutch pancake (think deconstructed crepe). As if we weren’t already full from lunch, we took it upon ourselves to go cheese tasting at a local cheese shop, and partake in a classic Dutch tradition of “fries in a cone.”

So full that we could barely make it to the tram station, we headed back to our hotel to rest and mentally prepare for dinner.

More to come tomorrow on our last full day in then Dam. As always, thank you for following us as we Karpe Diem

XOXO,

T&S

 

Under the Tuscan Sun

Wine, wheels, and warm weather…what more could a couple of travel-bug bitten girls ask for?

“Today we went on what Taylor told me was going to be a leisurely bike ride through Tuscany when, in reality, it was what I would describe as a level 5 biking trek up steep gravel roads. After almost falling and ~literally~ eating dirt about three times, I decided to walk my bike until we made it back to the paved roads.

Once the biking part of the tour, or in my case the walking part of the tour, we went back to Castello del Trebbio, a privately owned Tuscan castle originally built in the 11th century by the Pazzi family, where we ate a lot of home cooked pasta and drank our weight in the family’s private label. After our exhaustive bike ride, all I needed was a few glasses of vino and our cute Italian tour guide sitting next to me, making jokes, to cheer me up.” –Sarah

 

“No Soulcycle, no problem! Today we traveled into the Tuscan countryside for a bellissima day of bikes and bottles. After arriving to what our driver jokingly called “the middle of nowhere” (clearly he’s never summited Kilimanjaro) we straddled my favorite mode of transportation and got peddling.

While I will admit the terrain and difficulty level of this ride was a little harder than expected, the sights and sounds of this gorgeous Chianti vineyard were worth it. Plus, a little extra vay-cay calorie burn never killed anybody especially when bread and vino was the breakfast of these champions.

After a sweaty ride, or in Sarah’s case a bike aided stroll and quick van ride back up the winding hillside (sorry sis, I love you), we indulged in a fabulous lunch of homemade pasta and bread with olive oil pressed on location. As the wine flowed so did the hilarious conversations with our sarcastic and informative guides as we all relished in the breathtaking views from the 11th century castle we dined in.

Lunch was over, but in true Walt Disney World fashion, the adventure did not end there but in the “gift shop”. Or, in this case, the wine cellar where the family’s private label wines were sold. We had already had so much wine, and were completely stuffed …so naturally we bought a case!”—Taylor

 

That’s all for now, thank you for reading! We hope you continue to follow our journeys as we Karpe Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

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Greetings from Firenze…

After traveling all night into the morning (check out the last post for our travel tips and tricks to staying sane on long travel days) we arrived late afternoon in Roma. After picking up our rental car, we drove 3 hours along the gorgeous Autostrade SS1 finally arriving to our first destination, Florence!

Every time we visit this city we are always in awe of the juxtaposition of the old city to the modern and vibrant lifestyle the locals live. We entered the city limits around 8pm to beautiful outside restaurants and bars lively with activity from everyone young and old.

Our apartment is located only 4 blocks from the city center, and surrounded by authentic  restaurants and bars. Although a little off the beaten path of the touristic hotels, we prefer to stay in spacious apartments in local neighborhoods in order to really get a feel for life Under The Tuscan Sun...

After a semi stressful adventure returning our rental car to the Florence Airport (its 20 min outside the city, and unbeknownst to us it was a national holiday=no available taxis). We were tired and hungry so we walked a block from our new home and stumbled upon what we can only describe as a local hotspot.

It was 11:30pm and Fuoco Matto was packed. The restaurant, filled with everyone from grandma and grandpa to new parents with their infant sleeping cosily in the Baby Bjorn right next to us, was centered around a giant open kitchen complete with brick pizza oven and giant loins of meat hung from the ceiling to dry age.

We sat down and immediately ordered a bottle of Chianti Classico Reserva. The wine was a delicious blend of bold, sharp flavors and finished smooth with a hint of tart cherry. For dinner we shared an array of antipasti, roasted local vegetables, and of course a pizza margarita. The room buzzed with laughter and quick Italian gab, and an aroma of fresh bread and basil sizzled in olive oil.

To top off the evening we indulged in a tiramisu that we’re pretty sure we will be dreaming about for years to come. We have eaten dessert “all over the world” (an inside joke), but this one took the cake… or in this case coffee liquor soaked lady fingers.

After that it was off to bed in hopes of beating jet lag as not to waste any seconds of our Europe adventure. We thank you for reading and hope you continue to follow us as we Karpe Diem…

XOXO, 

T&Sfor the blog.wine.jpg

Forgot Something?

for the blog.airport .jpgEver get to the airport and have that all consuming, nauseating, absolutely terrifying feeling that you forgot something?

Forget the never ending double checking and take a quick glimpse at our travel essentials..

“My biggest fear when arriving to the airport is always my checked bag being too heavy. As the more ‘high maintenance’ of the two of us, I definitely come with A LOT OF BAGGAGE. No pun intended. My biggest airport hack is quite simply, pack heavy, non liquid items in your carry on rollie. So in my bag you will find shoes, jeans, oversized sweats… Hydration is also super important when I’m traveling. I also make sure to pack foods with high water content like celery sticks and raspberries to avoid “terminal” panic food buying, (aka pretzels, chips, high salt nuts) as well as plenty of water and hydrating eye and hand cremes. COCONUT oil is also an essential, as long as you don’t have an allergy!” -Taylor

“You’re about to find out why I am very much the more ‘low maintenance’ of the two of us. My travel essentials are the complete opposite of Taylor’s, especially in the weight category. I put the lightest things in my carry on purse, like my books, medications, sweater, and of course my one true love Eeyore. Yes I mean the Eeyore like in Winnie the Pooh. My raggy old, ‘stuffed’ animal (he really doesn’t have much stuffing left) has been on every trip that I have been on since I was two years old. He’s my pillow, cuddle buddy, and constant reminder that even adults can be childish. I also never travel without a small cosmetic bag with overnight essentials (make-up remover wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc..). Travel light, travel smart, and stay sane.” -Sarah

We hope these quick travel tips will help you figure out what is essential to you when traveling, and if not, I hope we at least humored you a bit with our “travel neuroses.”

Now boarding, hope you always Karpe Diem…

XOXO,

T&S

 

Welcome Wanderlusters

Taylor and Sarah here! This evening we are delighted to announce our Summer Seventeen adventure. But first, a little bit about us…

We are sisters, best friends, nomads… who no matter how wonderful the place, can’t seem to sit still for too long. Although we love the sanctuary of our picturesque childhood home on Siesta Key, we love to travel, live, love, eat and EAT our way through destinations rustic and fabulous alike.

“Taylor, is a rising senior at the University of Miami studying public relations and marketing. She prides herself on her ‘excruciating love’ for her loved ones, her passion, and her determination to make life fun ABOVE ALL; all of which she wants to channel into a career of event planning for everyone from nonprofits and bridezillas, (did I mention she doesn’t discriminate, like ever).” -Sarah

“Sarah is a rising junior at he University of Miami studying public relations and international affairs. She likes to consider herself the ‘tougher’ of our dynamic duo,  but don’t be fooled by her direct, type A exterior, she is one of the silliest, kindest and most compassionate people I know. Sarah prides herself on her ‘cautiously free spirit’, love of dancing like a mom, and a good charcuterie plate.”- Taylor

Tomorrow we will be jetting off to Europe, and we can’t wait to share our travel adventures with you!

We are so thrilled to be blessed with the opportunities we have to travel the world, and even more grateful for you for following our journeys. CHEERS ‘LUSTERS

XOXO,

T&S