Who hasn’t dreamt of visiting Italy at some point? The country’s history, the art, the beautiful countryside, the fashion industry, the Italian charming men and well-dressed women, the food, that particular accent characterizing the Italians anywhere they go… That and all the possible clichés! Italy is a country inspiring students, lovers, singles and families to leave the gloomy moods back and enjoy life more… Inspiring to live La Dolce Vitta. So yes, like one more of you I had dreamt of traveling Italy one day and finally that day arrived 30 years into my sweet life. In June 2015, my mom and I booked two plane tickets to Rome for a mother and daughter weekend break. We were both delirious and anxious about seeing everything there was to see and experience in that beautiful city. Of course we were aware that two days were not enough to explore Rome but they were enough to make us fall in love with it. Eight months later, here I am in Italy again to confirm that love for Rome and discover more of Northern Italy. Fortunately, this time I have a bit more time than two days. This is what my itinerary holds for my 10 days in Italy in a mild-winter February:
4 nights in Rome (spending Valentine’s Day!)
3 nights in Florence
4 nights in Venice with side trips
Because I want to do the most out of the time in Italy, I’ve decided to move between cities by train to look at the landscapes and only on foot throughout the cities (with the occasional needed underground ride in Rome and boat ride in the Venetian canals). There is certainly no better way to explore European cities than by walking!!! So I’ve prepared myself for the 15-20 km daily walks… I’m not sure my traveling partner knows what he is in for 😜
Some pre-planning tips…
For Rome: if you’re interested in visiting the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel, I recommend booking the tickets online with some time in advance to guarantee entry on the chosen date. You will avoid LONG queues that day and make the most of your fit feet inside the museum!! There is enough information inside the museum in both Italian and English but if you want more detailed information on the art, getting an audio guide is a good option. I booked my ticket online here.
The same goes for mandatory visit of Roman Forum and Colliseum, especially for this last one who faces long queues everyday. You can get your ticket here. My recommendation is to do these two visits in separate days to have plenty of time to enjoy everything.
For Florence: if you’re interested in visiting the Uffizi gallery (I highly recommend it!), it is better to get the tickets online to avoid long queues or disappointments with impossibility of entry. I bought mine here. There are masterpieces and other wonderful artwork worth admiring. Just a winter tip: the cloakroom only stores backpacks and long umbrellas, so you will have to carry your coats and winter accessories with you inside and it does get quite warm inside. You can always bring an empty backpack to place them inside and leave it at the cloakroom or dress a bit lighter not to carry the weight.
Train tickets: I purchased all train tickets online at very good prices here. Just need to print your tickets and carry them with you without having to exchange vouchers at the train station. I used both frecchiarossa and Italotreno high-speed trains and they were very comfortable (and indeed fast! Up to 300km/hr).
Some tips for the restaurants…
Italy is expensive and especially the most tourist cities like Rome, Florence and Venice. It is difficult to find meals with a non-alcoholic drink for less than 15 euros unless you’re purchasing a kebab or a panini from a minute shop where you need to eat it standing up on the street. don’t get me wrong, I’ve done that and they are tasty! But perhaps you want to sit down to rest, so look out for restaurants outside the popular main squares or away of the tourist sites’ front rows. In general they tend to be much more pricey and quality of food and service is lower to those restaurants found in near-by streets. Also, when looking at the menu price lists, look out for the added service fee per person (between 1.50€ – 3€).
In all three cities and I believe across all Italy, the evening wine or cocktails come served with free appetizers in the form of small bruschettas, slices of cheese, breads or cold meats platters. Of course not all restaurants/bars offer them but the majority do, so look out for those offering these typical nibbles and cozy ambience for a real taste of Italian life and better budgeted evening snacks.
Hopefully this general information is useful for your Italy trip planning. Look out for individual blog posts on the different cities with hotel/restaurants and top attractions in the coming weeks. Happy travels!