Since many of you asked, I put together all of the links and information for you.
We took this trip in April, 2022 during what is still considered the winter season in the Mediterranean and Europe. It was much cooler (which I loved) and much less crowded (which we all loved). Our family of five consists of our 18 year old son, our 21 year old son and his wonderful wife, my husband and me.
We started our 12 day trip in Oia, Santorini, Greece.
WHERE WE STAYED
For this whole trip, we opted for AirBnbs. I really wanted to stay in the little white cave houses and this one was perfect for us. Since we are a family of five, we had to make sure that we had enough beds and at least two bathrooms. We only had one shower, but honestly, it worked out fine. The location could not have been more perfect!
We walked everywhere that we wanted to go with a couple of exceptions: the wine tasting, when we took a taxi van and when we took a taxi on the day that we hiked across the rim of the caldera from Oia to Fira. We walked a little over halfway (about 3 miles, uphill) before we decided to call a taxi to go on to Fira. This is a short article about that beautiful hike. The shopping in Oia is wonderful! So many little stores tucked away in between the cave houses and along the main streets- all walkable.
WHERE WE ATE
Larger restaurant with amazing food and wine. Beautiful view. Make reservations!
We ate lunch here and it was delicious. The boys ordered gyros and they were amazing! So good- not to mention the views!!
So, so good. Beautiful view. Very small restaurant, great wine selection. Again, make reservations!
This was our favorite restaurant. No view, but the food was incredible! Reservations are a must.
This was one of our favorite things we did. The view is otherworldly and the food and wine was incredible. The winery is actually carved into the mountainside. We opted for the wine tasting and food pairing option, but any of them would have been wonderful.
We also enjoyed wine and small bites and gelato on our patio at the Danai House before or after dinner in the evenings. Our family loves to go to local markets and grocery stores when we travel and there were several in Oia. There are also some great bakeries within walking distance- we tried out as many as we could!
THINGS WE DID
- Hiked along the caldera from Oia halfway to Fira
- Hiked to Ammoudi Bay
- Wine tasting at Venetsano's Winery
- Shopping and exploring Oia
- Shopping and exploring Fira
Then we flew to Rome, Italy.
WHERE WE STAYED
We wanted to be within walking distance of the Vatican, so this was the perfect location just a few blocks away. We had an elevator, which was very nice to have with luggage, and plenty of space. Only one bathroom, but it worked out just fine. Extremely comfortable beds and an awesome ceiling fan (if you know, you know).
We walked to most places and the few times when that wasn't feasible, we took a taxi. They do have Uber in Rome, but we found that the taxis are more reliable.
WHERE WE ATE
Hands-down, without question, this was our favorite restaurant the whole trip. I cannot even begin to describe the mouth-watering ravioli, so you'll just have to go see for yourself. Reservations required.
This many-generations, family owned restaurant is in Trastevere (where all the locals hang out) and came recommended by a dear friend. The food was delicious and so cool to see all of the old memorabilia on the walls. Again, make reservations.
This place was incredible! Right down from the Trevi Fountain, the atmosphere is ethereal. We sat outside and while it was chilly in April, they had heaters and blankets for us... and of course, wine! The food was amazing. Make reservations.
This little family owned pizzeria was a great spot for lunch. Da Baffetto was recommended by Bobby Flay (and Adam Rogers), so you can imagine that it was amazing.
The best gelato- and right next door to Da Baffetto!
THINGS WE DID
- Solemn Latin Mass at Piazza della Trinita dei Pellegrini (Church of the Holy Trinity of Pilgrims)
- Spanish Stairs
- Trevi Fountain
- Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
- Toured the Vatican
- Toured St. Peter's Basilica, walk to the top of the dome
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museums
- Roman Colosseum
- Roman Forum
- Palatine Hill
For our last leg, we flew to Valletta, Malta.
WHERE WE STAYED
This penthouse was in the best location. We have traveled to Malta before and we knew this time that we wanted to be in the heart of Valletta. There was so.much.space in this AirBnb, it even had a rooftop veranda where we enjoyed the views and wine every evening.
Inside Valletta (it's a walled city), we walked everywhere. We had some other exploring that we wanted to do, so for that, we took the public bus system. We have used the bus system there before and once you figure it out, it's pretty easy. They also have taxis and a version of Uber called Bolt. One of the days, we had a generous and gracious friend and her husband take us to see some sights that we wouldn't have been able to see without a car-- the busses either didn't go to those places or it would have taken far too long on a bus.
WHERE WE ATE
Best pizza ever. Owned by a wonderful guy from Rome. We had eaten here on our previous trip and knew we wanted to go back this time. Call or email to make reservations, as they stay completely booked.
This is Sotto Pinsa's sister restaurant and is just a few feet from our AirBnb. The best cacio e pepe we've ever had. We love this place so much, we ate here twice (once was just carryout). Reservations required.
We had lunch here in their tea garden when we went to Mdina. So so good!
I can't say enough about this restaurant. It's one of many Michelin rated restaurants in Malta and we could definitely see why. The brown meagre fish was amazing, as were all of the pasta dishes. The ambience, incredible. Check out the pictures on their website. Just perfect. Reservations required.
They don't have a website, so I linked their Trip Advisor profile. This restaurant only serves prix fixe style tapas. The menu is chosen by the chef for the day based on which ingredients they deem excellent for the day's menu. The food was interesting and unique and very good. They stay fully booked, reservations required.
in Valletta and St Julian's
Best little coffee shop. I don't know how to describe how amazing the vanilla latte was, but it had real vanilla beans in it. Two people in our family want to get jobs at Lot 61 ;)... they're hiring! The pastries were incredible, too. We probably stopped here a dozen times in our four days in Malta. When you drink a lot of wine, you also need a lot of cappuccinos.
THINGS WE DID
- Exploring and shopping in Valletta
- Exploring and shopping in Mdina
- Ta'Qali Craft Village and artist community
- Blue Grotto
- Popeye's Village (from afar)
- St. Paul's Shipwreck Island
- Dingli Cliffs
- Toured Mosta Dome and WW2 Bomb Shelters
- Toured St. Paul's Catacombs
- Toured St. John's Co-Cathedral (includes the Caravaggio painting "The Beheading of Saint John")
- Toured Fort Saint Angelo and the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Saint John
- The Grandmaster's Palace is another must-see but it is temporarily closed for renovations
- On our last trip we visited Gozo for a day and it was amazing!
Our whole family has invested in Away luggage. At first we thought it was a little pricey, but Parker wanted the carryon for Christmas a few years ago, and Santa delivered. Since then, we have all bought the carryons and Parker also got "The Large" suitcase. We LOVE this luggage and their customer service is top-notch. With a lifetime warranty, you can't go wrong. Last year, Parker had the lining pull away from the interior of his well-loved carryon and they replaced it immediately, no questions asked. Exceptional company.
I have a referral link and you can get $20 off when you use it!
I also have an Amazon affiliate list where you can find our favorite items. These are products that I use and love.
I've also created story highlights on my Instagram account with tons of photos from our trip- including food pics! You can find those here:
And that's our trip in a neat little package! Of course, it's so much more to us than what I could fit in this post. I hope you have the opportunity to travel and make memories with the people that you love.
Let me know if you want any more details!