Buongiorno! Here we are at the very last stop on our Heritage Honeymoon - Benevento, Italy. This is the city where my husband's family originated, and it's not far from Potenza, where my maternal grandfather came from. Benevento is inland from Naples, and it is by no means a tourist destination - which made it both exciting and complicated to travel to. But honestly, we were up for the challenge, and the opportunity to visit someplace so meaningful outweighed any complication.
We ended our trip to Split, Croatia and flew to Rome, Italy. There are several SPU>FCO flights, which made that route most convenient. From Rome, we took a Trenitalia train from the Roma Termini station to Benevento. This required a lot of planning in finding the best train times that would work with the flight times, but we were able to create an itinerary that worked. Trains in Europe and Italy in particular are frequent, fairly reliable, affordable, and safe. We opted for first class (which wasn't expensive at all!) on the way to Benevento and it was a very pleasant 3-hour trip.
The fact that Benevento is not made for tourists made it the most authentic travel experience I've ever had. We really felt like locals by the time our stay was complete! What was so charming about the city was that it was modern only in the necessary ways. Otherwise it was like we stepped back into a simpler time, between the ancient ruins, tight cobblestone streets, hanging clotheslines, and the silence and absence that occurs during siesta time mid-day. If you ever find yourself in this Italian city, I hope you'll reference my recommended to-dos and to-eats below!
All in all, our mini trip to Benevento was a relaxing way to end a whirlwind Heritage Honeymoon, and it brought us even closer to our roots, which was the core goal that we wanted to achieve. This city may be unknown to tourists and travelers but it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Where will you go where no one else does? What can you discover about yourself through travel? If you are interested in planning your own Heritage Honeymoon or Heritage Holiday, I would love to help. Click here to learn more.
And if you're interested in reading about the other stops on our Heritage Honeymoon, please check out the links below!
Stop 1: Cardiff, Wales
Stop 2: Zagreb, Croatia
Stop 3: Split, Croatia
Thank you so much for following along in our journey.
Ahh, Split, Croatia. This was a stop added onto our Heritage Honeymoon purely out of the desire to go somewhere coastal in one of the countries that our ancestors had come from. I had been hearing more and more about Croatia and we decided that it would be the perfect country to explore, both inland with a quick trip to Zagreb, and on the coast with a visit to Split. We found the perfect tour that began in the capital city, traveled through the country with a stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park, and concluded in Split.
We fell in love with Split and I now think of it as one of my favorite places. Most of why it's so charming to me can't be explained; it needs to be felt. But I'll share about our favorite experiences here in the hopes to inspire you to one day visit and feel it, too!
Another tip: Avoid the restaurants along the Riva promenade - they're more touristy and less authentic.
Spending a few days in Split was relaxing yet exciting, and while we felt like we were on vacation, we also got a chance to feel like a local, staying in an apartment and going to the supermarket, cooking meals, doing laundry, etc. The ability to walk to so much was so welcomed, and not once did the city feel unsafe or uncomfortable. If you have the chance, get yourself there. And soak in all the sunshine for your soul that you can find in Split.
The second destination of our Heritage Honeymoon was Zagreb, Croatia. I learned that my family from Croatia lived just outside of Zagreb, so I was extremely excited to get there. We had a less-than-perfect arrival (our plane was delayed leaving London because it had been struck by lightening on its way to London, and then our baggage took forever to arrive once in Zagreb) but hey, we all know that travel isn't perfect! We, and our bags, made it safely, and I knew it was a good sign when "I Got You Babe" was playing in the taxi on the ride to our hotel. We checked in and went straight to the bar for food! We only had the following day to explore the city before we traveled onward, so we made the most of it by seeing, doing, and eating as much as possible. Check out the list below for everything I recommend for a quick 24 hours in Zagreb.
Outside of all of this, one of my favorite experiences in Zagreb was seeing my very Croatian maiden name, a name I will probably never see on much of anything ever again at home. It was on a car plate because there is a dealership group by that name just outside of the city. Are they family? I'll probably take a Heritage Holiday to find out.
We didn't get a chance to have too many meals in Zagreb, but here's what we liked best:
If you couldn't guess, we stayed at the Esplanade. It's a remarkable building that's in just about every list of best hotels in Zagreb. Opened in 1925 for passengers of the Orient Express, the hotel has become known for housing famous guests ranging from movie stars to politicians to music artists. It was a mix of beautiful and creepy that made us feel fancy and important, even if just for a day.
Our next destination from Zagreb was Split, the second largest city in Croatia. Rather than flying there, we opted for a tour through Portal Travel Agency in which we were picked up at the Esplanade in Zagreb (at which time we loaded our suitcases onto the tour van), toured through the country with a few hours stop in Plitvice Lakes National Park, then dropped off in Split. In our opinion, this was the best way to travel between the two cities!
It poured rain the entire day, which made our photos from Plitvice Lakes less-than-glamorous, but the advantage was that the park was less crowded, and still just as beautiful! There are 16 lakes to explore via wooden pathways, surrounded by waterfalls, limestone, and genuine, untouched nature. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can't swim in the lakes. This is a must-see during a trip to Croatia, and one that you will never forget.
Here is a link to the tour that we booked in case you want to go for it yourself! Stay tuned for more about our stay in Split. And for help planning your very own Heritage Honeymoon or Heritage Holiday, click here.
The Island of Rhodes and the city of Rhodes will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the last destination on the Forum-Nexus Study Abroad itinerary each summer, which is how I first came to know this beautiful place. Rhodes may not be as well known as Mykonos or Santorini, but it still has a ton to offer. Here are just 7 reasons to add this island to your travel bucket list:
1. You can get to Rhodes easily by plane or boat from Athens. Flights arrive in the Rhodes Diagoras (RHO) airport, which is small and sometimes crowded, but easy to navigate. Because the island is so small, you’ll never have to be in a taxi too long on your way to your hotel. The Sheraton Rhodes Resort is where I’ve always stayed and it’s a 20-minute cab ride from the airport.
2. Old Town is full of medieval history. The main areas within the city of Rhodes are the Old Town and the New City. To get to the center of Old Town, you must traverse through three medieval stone entrances that twist and turn (so that enemies could get lost or literally run into a wall on their way in and it would slow them down). There is an entrance facing the sea and an entrance facing the land, as Old Town is now met by a marina of private ships. Take a tour to learn about the history and preservation of the Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and then spend some time exploring on your own. If you’re looking for a dinner spot, Sissitio has a romantic atmosphere, detailed cocktails, and a variety of yummy dishes. For more modern shops and nightlife, New City, or “New Town,” will be your go-to.
3. Sun + Sand + Sea. The entire island of Rhodes sees mostly sunny days, and the summertime is hot but not overwhelming. There are plenty of beaches to relax on and ocean to play in. Many resorts like the Sheraton have their own private piece of the beach with chairs and umbrellas available at no extra charge. Depending on the beach, you can find beautiful rocks in different colors, and above the beaches are hills and mountains that make for really amazing views.
4. You can find every type of water sport at Faliraki Beach. Faliraki is a short ride from the city of Rhodes known for its water park and plethora of water activities. Whether you prefer to jet ski, slide, or rent your own boat for the day, you can find it at Faliraki. While at Faliraki, I rented a motor boat with friends for a few hours and had the chance to visit several coves in the Aegean Sea. The water was clear, it was the perfect temperature, and the boat had just enough shade, too. It was my favorite day while in Rhodes! If you’re interested in renting a boat, you can probably find one day-of (we did) but I recommend reserving one in advance just in case. Peter’s and Manolis are two companies that will rent you a boat that you can drive without a guide.
5. Lindos has the classic Greek island look you need. When you think of a Greek island, you might imagine hillsides of white buildings, bright flowers, and sparkling water hugging the beach. The beaches in Rhodes might disappoint in this aspect, but the town of Lindos won’t. In Lindos you can get lost in the alleyways of shops and restaurants, then make your way down to the beach. You’ll get a perfect view of the ivory buildings on your hike up to the Acropolis and temple of Athena, too.
6. It’s really hard to have a bad meal on the island of Rhodes. Traditional cuisine like grape leaves, tzatziki and pita, baba ghanoush, and moussaka can be found just about anywhere, and everything is absolutely delicious. To compliment your food you might try a local beer – Zythos. Mythos, or Alpha. Coming from an American background, I love to experience the care and consideration in the way other cultures prepare and present food, and Rhodes is no exception.
7. You’ll see an incredible sunset every night. Having the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Greek meal while watching the sun set beneath the Turkish mountains (Turkey is visible across the sea from the Sheraton Rhodes Resort), taking it all in from the beach, or even watching from the balcony of my guestroom, made every day just a little bit better than it already was.