Dolce Vita Bloggers Linky, France, Italy, Traveling With Kids

Defining “La Dolce Vita”

July’s Dolce Vita Bloggers Linkup: Defining “La Dolce Vita”

What is La Dolce Vita? This month’s linkup is hosted by questadolcevita.com, italianatheart.com, and mammaprada.com.

Defining La Dolce Vita
Eat Dessert First

Defining The Sweet Life

How do you define the ‘sweet life’? For me, la dolce vita is best spent with family. My husband and two kids are based in Siena, Italy. Part of living the expat life is being away from our family and closest friends. Sometimes I feel lonely to be so far away from “home”. Imagine my excitement when my dad, mom, sister, and brother visited us from the Philippines a couple of weeks ago! I am writing this post just a day after we said our goodbyes. Together, we traveled to different places in Italy and France. I would love to share the highlights of our sweet trip. (A special thanks to Hershey of heyhersheyblog for the beautiful photos!)

Dining and Wining “Tuscan-Style” in All’Orto de’ Pecci Siena:

All’Orto de’ Pecci is a restaurant and pizzeria located in Siena, Italy. This Italian ristorante serves typical Tuscan meals in an outdoor setting. We had lunch and wine in an area surrounded by farmland and hills. It is a kid-friendly environment because the children can enjoy running around the field. Here you can find a mini zoo with goats, peacocks, ducks, and geese.

Our pranzo (lunch) includes grilled steak, beef with mushrooms and lamb. (c) Joshua Young

Strolling Down the Cobble-stone Streets of Florence, Italy

It was a perfect day in Firenze: there were few tourists and plenty of fun. The weather was amazing and so was the view.

Florence, Italy
With my fashion blogger sister Hershey Neri of heyhersheyblog.com (c) Joshua Young

Experiencing Venice and Its Wonders

Venice will always be magical!  My sons Leon and Lucas enjoyed exploring this ancient city with their grandparents, aunt, and uncle.

Venice, Italy
A Precious Moment in Venice with Nonno (Grandpa) and Nonna (Grandma)

Watching the Palio Horse Race in Siena, Italy

I am so happy to share my first Palio horse race with my sister. We left the kids with the grandparents because we know that thousands of people all around the world will be coming over to Siena Centro to witness this sports event. This world-famous medieval horse race (no saddles!) is celebrated twice a year in July and August. Congratulations to the Dragon Contrada for winning the first race in 2018. Please watch this short video to see the details of our Palio experience.

 

 

Going To Disneyland, Paris

Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your parents and siblings together with your children in the “happiest place on Earth”! During my son’s post-birthday lunch in a sandwich shop on Main Street, my mother said that for her, this was a dream come true. My favorite memories as a kid were in Disneyland with my daddy and mommy. Imagine my parents’ joy as they spend a day in Disneyland with their grandchildren!

Disneyland, Paris
Merci Beaucoup, Nonno Rey for the Mickey Mouse balloon! (c) Hershey Neri
Disneyland, Paris
A Magical Moment

Read this post for Disneyland Travel Tips

Attending My Cousin’s Wedding in Chateau de Bouthonvilliers in France

My cousin Tim got married to the love of his life in a chateau in Dangeau, France! Tim lives in Los Angeles, California. I am happy for him and his wife Stephanie because their friends and family from all over the world were able to witness their beautiful wedding. Felice matrimonio!

Chateau de Bouthonvilliers

Ma Famille
(c) Hershey Neri

Riding an Electric Boat in Bonneval, France

Do you know that Bonneval has a mini-Venice? Instead of a gondola, we rode an electric boat (which I also got to steered). It was a fantastic experience. The best part was ducking our heads under the low bridges! It was so funny.

Mini Venice in Bonneval, France
(c) Hershey Neri

Eating a Macaron in front of the Louvre in Paris, France

It was my first time to taste a real French macaron. I was pleasantly surprised because I did not expect it to taste “that good”! Délicieux! 

French macarons are the best!

Taking A Family Photo at the Eiffel Tower

We were lucky enough to run into Tim, his wife Steph, and their friends on our way to the Eiffel Tower! I love that we were all together in this photo. (Missing my other sister Yas who did not get to go on this trip. I hope that she will get to visit us in Europe soon.) 

Leon, My husband and Lucas, my mom, myself, my cousin’s wife, my cousin, my sister, my dad, and my brother in front of the Eiffel Tower in France (c) Tim Cruz

Loving the Good and the Imperfect

We so blessed that we got to spend time with the people we love the most. Aside from the “big moments” touring key places in Italy and France, I will never forget our not-so-sweet experiences. Those imperfect moments (getting a speeding ticket, family drama ‘mini-explosions’, toddler and baby tantrums, etc.) are still part of “the sweet life”.  I wish for my parents to live long enough to see their grandchildren get married. We already miss them so much now that we have said our goodbyes. I am so looking forward to being reunited again next year for my brother-in-law’s wedding in Manila!

What About You?

How do you define the sweet life? Let me know in the comments section!

Dolce Vita Bloggers

Italy, Lifestyle, Little Kids, travel, Traveling With Kids, Venice

Travel To Venice With Your Little Kids

Traveling to Venice With Little KidsVenice is the ideal vacation spot for lovers and honeymooners. It is probably on every couple’s travel bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to be serenaded in a gondola under the night sky?

So now you have the money and the time to go to Italy. But you’re already past your 20s. You’re a mom or dad in your 30s or 40s and you have little kids. Do you fulfill your travel dreams or do you wait until the kids are older?

I am telling you right now that traveling with small children can be difficult, but not impossible. Here’s the good news: you can enjoy the beauty of this enchanting sinking city with your little ones! It is not going to be romantic but it can still be very exciting!  Allow me to share some tips on how to make the most out of your Venice trip with your little kids.

Go during the low season for Venice travel.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that we are an expat family living in Siena, Italy. Venice in the winter can be amazing! February is Carnevale month, and many tourists flock to Venice to enjoy the fun and festivities. Since we did not want to contend with the peak season crowd, we decided to visit Venice a couple of days after the major celebrations. Sure, we missed all the parades and floats, but we did not mind since we were still able to see the Venetian masks on display.  I encourage you to go during the low season to save money and to avoid the crowd.

Venetian Masks on DisplayVenetian Dottore MasksLeon Chasing Pigeons

 Pack like a pro…and nurse on the go.

It is a good idea to put everything you need in one bag.  A versatile and ergonomic backpack is a travel must-have.We used my husband’s Kelty Redwing backpack for all our personal belongings and documents, including the baby stuff (diapers, wipes, clothes, snacks, water, etc.). I know that is close to impossible when you have a baby and a toddler but we had to do our best to bring only the essentials. If you are a nursing mom like me, just bring your nursing cover (if you use one) and skip the bottles and accessories. Just nurse on the go.

We also brought our Ergobaby carrier to carry Lucas around and our Brevi stroller for Leon. Also, bring a stroller organizer with a detachable wristlet like the Merry Milestones stroller organizer. We used the stroller on the day of our check-in and on the first day of our tour. The next day, however, we decided to leave the stroller at the hotel because Venice has plenty of bridges and stairways. Personally, it is good to have a lightweight stroller like the Brevi stroller, but once you are at your hotel, I would advise you to just leave your stroller there.

Travel with a friend who is good with kids.

I am so grateful that my husband’s buddy joined us on our trip. An extra set of hands is a huge blessing!  He was the official “juice carrier” and “snack bae” at one point. He was also the “official family photographer”! I returned the favor by taking his pictures as well.

Bellissimamma, Lucas, Babbo, and Leon

Take the train.

If you are already coming from Italy, it is best to take the train! We took the train from Florence to Venice. Check the Italotren’s website for information on how to get to Venice from your current location. You will love the Florence train station because there are coffee shops, snack bars, restaurants, and stores everywhere. It is common to pay to use public restrooms in Italy. It costs 1 euro to use the train station’s restroom. You can also use the restrooms inside restaurants if you are a customer.

Italotren has comfortable seats, vending machines, restrooms and free Wifi. It is not uncommon for trains to be late in Italy, so just go with the flow and maybe have some coffee at the standing bar while waiting.

Day 16: Play #familyfunfeb #travelingwithkids #granadventure @drpuneetsekhon @okokami

A post shared by Bellissimamma (@thebellissimamma) on

 

Book accommodations near the Grand Canal.

Venice

I recommend Romantic House at Calle dela Lona Onesta, Cannaregio. On the outside, it looks like a typical ancient-looking Italian building. But you will be pleasantly surprised to see that the interior is new and very modern.  It is fully-furnished (flat-screen TV, refrigerator, dishwasher, bathroom and kitchen supplies). It has free Wi-Fi too! It is close to the Grand Canal, Piazza S. Marco, and Ponte Rialto. Remember to bring your TRAVEL DOCUMENTS (e.g. passports, residence cards) because you need to present them upon checking in.

Cannaregio is a busy street with lots of souvenir shops and restaurants. It is also within walking distance from the deck where you rent a Gondola. St. Mark’s Basilica is a half kilometer away. The Ca’ d’ Oro station is only 0.2 kilometers away, while the Venice Santa Lucia Train Station is only 1.1 kilometers away. The COOP supermarket is also within the vicinity.

You can really have a comfortable stay at The Romantic House. I think the best part of my vacation was taking a nice, warm shower while my husband and our friend looked after the kids! By the way, there are decorative pieces such as vases and figurines inside the vacation home, so it is best to put those things in a safe place away from active babies and toddlers.

Eat at family-friendly restaurants.

You can enjoy a decent lunch at Tappa Obbligatoria, which was located on Sestiere Cannaregioa street near our hotel. The server was very accommodating. You can choose to get a table inside the restaurant so the kids will be more comfortable. My toddler enjoyed his Pasta Carbonara, and he finished his plate! I also recommend their Pizza Margherita. My husband and his friend both had beers. They also have a menu option that already includes coffee.

Espresso

The next morning we had an early lunch at Burger King. Please do not judge me for eating fast food. Leon loves chicken nuggets and it has been ages since I had a Whopper Burger and Onion Rings. They had high chairs and a restroom, which you can use only if you are a customer. The restroom can be improved if it were cleaner.

Go With The Flow.

Did we get to ride a gondola? No, we didn’t, it was raining on the day we were supposed to go. But, it is okay. We just took a stroll in the piazza and enjoyed the picturesque views. Did we go out for late night drinks at the Venice Jazz Club? No, we just bought our own prosecco and cheese from Coop and “wined and dined” at the vacation home.  The key to a successful vacation with your little kids is to not “sweat the small stuff” and to keep the bucket list short. For us, it is enough to visit The Grand Canal, The Rialto, and San Marco for our weekend trip. Leon chased some pigeons, and that already made his day. We are definitely going back to experience more things in the city, and maybe finally get to ride the gondola!

Venice in the RainLeon and Babbo (Venice, Italy)

 

It is not easy being a parent, and you are doing a great job even if things don’t go out the way you planned. Someday your babies will get older and you will get to more fun things and activities that you can manage. Just enjoy the moments that you have with your children while they are still young.

Tired but fulfilled!

 

Have you ever been to Venice? Any tips on traveling with small children? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!


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