David and Jodi near the Faraglioni rock formations off the coast of Capri. Photos courtesy Jodi Conachen.

Travel Journal: Venice, Rome and Sorrento, Italy

Who went: Jodi and David Conachen

We went because: It was our 20th anniversary and it was a surprise. My husband and his travel agent at Kennedy Couture Travel had been planning the trip for eight months. He told me I needed to take two weeks off and have a current passport, and he made clothing recommendations. I found out about our destination at the airport in New Orleans.

Hotel recommendations: There are many nice hotels in Venice and Rome to choose from. We stayed at the Hotel Bonvecchiati in Venice and Starhotels Metropole in Rome. Both were nice. The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento was magnificent. Our balcony overlooked the harbor in Sorrento with Mount Vesuvius in the background.

Where to eat: Anywhere you can find gelato. Gelato was our go-to item to beat the heat. Our favorite restaurant was the Antico Martini in Venice, which opened as a coffee shop in 1720. It was a great choice for our 20th-anniversary dinner.

Near St. Mark’s Square in Venice

Favorite dish on the menu: Pizza, pasta and risotto! As simple as it sounds, all the food was so fresh and the ingredients were local. It was easy to walk into any bistro and order a pizza with homemade dough and locally grown produce. We ate well.

Item of clothing you shouldn’t leave home without: Really, really, really good shoes. We walked our way across the country. There was so much to see, especially in Rome, so pack some great shoes to help you through.

Favorite historic landmark: There are dozens of “must-see” sites in Rome. The Colosseum was my favorite, and the Pantheon was David’s favorite. It was amazing to see such iconic buildings in person, and it was inspiring to think they were built 2,000 years ago.

Local attraction worth a drive-by: We took a golf cart tour in Rome where we were taken to the popular sites. It was a great way to see the city since the golf cart could go places more efficiently than a car or bus could. Our personal tour guide really helped the Roman stories come to life.

A great experience off the beaten path: We took a boat ride to the island of Burano off the coast of Venice. They prepared a local meal and we got see the local lace and glass products. Plus, they have an extensive carnival season selection, which was interesting to compare to our own Mardi Gras traditions.

Worth the splurge: We took a private boat tour around the Island of Capri, which was amazing. The blue water was incredible, and the coastline and caves were so interesting. We could count the rocks on the sea floor in areas over 100 foot deep.

Something surprising we learned on the trip: Venice was the first republic, and during high tide from October to March, it floods. The famous St. Mark’s Square sometimes has 4 feet of water. That’s the reason you can get a good deal on a first-floor apartment.

Insiders’ tips: We spent the first three days in Venice and the next three days in Rome. We went on excursions every day and night. When we got to Sorrento, we were able to slow down and relax. We took day trips to the Island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast. It was a wonderful place to unwind.

We would suggest this trip to others because: We had an amazing time. The views along the Amalfi coast and Capri were my favorite. The buildings and ruins in Rome and Venice are a must see. It was as if a history book came to life.