If you guys have read my previous post on Paris, you’d know that I’ve been there twice, once with family and once with friends. It’s the same with Italy, however, I went to different cities in Italy on both my trips. With Family, I went to Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Pisa and Naples, and the second time, I swapped out Naples for Venice and went to Padova as well.
Italy is one extremely beautiful country. I actually liked it much better than France because it was warmer in temperature and the people were so nice and friendly. It was much more scenic than Paris was, the language was a little familiar because Italian is similar to Portuguese and being a Goan, I’ve grown up hearing people speak Portuguese. The food, the culture, everything was so rich and beautiful. So here’s a mini guide to all the places you should visit when you’re in Italy.
This place gave me major Olsen Twins feels! Remember the movie When in Rome? That’s exactly what it felt like, Vespas on the roads, cobblestone streets, rich architecture, ugh, it was crazy beautiful!
Both times, I stayed at Budget hotels which had great breakfast. A special mention goes out to the hot chocolate I had in Rome from vending machines all over the city. It was so delicious, I used to have it at LEAST 5-6 times a day. Great stuff!
One thing to keep in mind when in Rome, is that since it’s a tourist area, there’s a lot of pick-pocketing that happens. You’ll find a lot of gypsies or women dressed in rags who come to talk to you and are experts at distracting you and stealing your valuables. So I recommend that you keep your passport safely locked in your hotel room while touring the city, keep your cash handy in different places so that if your bag gets robbed, you’ll still have cash in your jeans pocket or fanny pack. Fanny packs are back in vogue now (Just saying).
Cabs are a little cheaper in Italy as compared to France, however, we mostly used the metro to travel.
Our first stop in Rome was the Colosseum which was humongous! After seeing it in movies and pictures, I always had an idea of what it looked like but never imagined it to be as big in real! It was definitely a sight to behold.
We then went to Vatican city by metro and saw the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s square. Normally, you have to wait in line for hours before you can get in, which is honestly a real waste of time. I would recommend that you pay for the “skip the line” tickets which will cost you a couple of bucks extra but will save you time. In our case, we knew a nun that was working there, so she came and took us in. It’s a fun one-time experience if you’re interested in architecture, the history of religion or if you’re a religious person.
There are little corners around that sell the cutest souvenirs. There are also street vendors that sell first copy replicas of high-end bags which were sooo tempting to buy! If you don’t mind a fake, you’d go crazy over these bags. They’ve got everything, from Chanel to Michael Kors.
Another beautiful place I visited was The Trevi Fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy. Most of you have probably heard about it since it’s been featured in so many Hollywood movies! I got ‘When in Rome’ feels when I saw the place! It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
The legend of the Trevi Fountain says you should stand with your back to the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder to guarantee a return trip to Rome. I tossed my first coin in to the Trevi Fountain in precisely this manner with my cousins the first time I visited and returned to Rome exactly one year later. So in my experience, it works! However, I didn’t get to visit the Trevi Fountain on my second visit to Rome which was sad because I wanted to throw in another coin just to see if I would return to Rome yet again 😛
Around the Trevi Fountain are little shops and boutiques that sell clothes, shoes, trinkets and what not. There are also a lot of Gelato parlours. I did a little shopping here for some cute trinkets and of course, couldn’t leave without getting myself a Gelato!
If you’re in Rome, please make it a point to visit these places because they truly are magical.
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There’s so much to do in Florence but both times I went there, I could only stay for a day. But let me tell you, it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited. Florence has an old world charm about it but it also has that hustle and bustle that city lovers admire. It has great places to shop (high-street as well as local boutiques and street vendors).
We took the hop-on-hop-off bus to travel around Florence and every stop we made, I’d get down and have a scoop of Gelato. I must’ve gained at least 3-4 kgs after the entire trip! But, life’s short, so no regrets here 😛
I visited the statue of David at the Piazzale Michelangelo which is an area with a panoramic view of Florence. The statue was a replica of the original one that was sculpted by Michelangelo but was just as beautiful. The view from the top was breathtaking! I’d recommend you go here for the view and to take a look at Michelangelo’s art.
I also bought an infinity scarf from one of the street vendors here and let me tell you, the quality of this knit scarf is amazing! And the price was pretty reasonable as well.
Next up, I went to a shopping area called Via Por Santa Maria. It had affordable brands like h&m, Zara, etc as well as local boutiques and street vendors. I first went street shopping and picked up some cute souvenirs, scarves and bowties. I don’t know what it is with Florence and Bow-ties but almost every vendor was selling them on the street and I couldn’t resist because they were so cute and would make great gifting options! Besides street shopping, I spent the rest of my free time at H&m where I went a little crazy and bought a lot of stuff. Also, here’s a shoutout to the street artists of Europe! How are they so talented? It’s honestly unbelievable!
I will definitely be going back to Florence in the years to come because I’m not done exploring it yet!
I’m definitely no expert when it comes to Naples because I only visited for a couple of hours. But I *loved* what I saw! We went there by train from Rome and we visited this place called Toledo and just walked around the streets all day. Since we were pretty tired from travelling, we didn’t want to do much of the touristy stuff so we spent the day shopping at one of the streets which was close to the train station. We also visited a beach there and it was so warm and beautiful.
We tried out the local food at small cafes on the street. Tiramisu, Pizza, Pasta, the works! Also, did you know that Nutella originated in Italy? A lot of the cafes I visited sold Desserts with Nutella in it and although I’m not a fan of hazelnut, I’m a sucker for chocolate so I was completely mind blown by the desserts!
Padova, more commonly known as Padua is a city in Northern Italy. Not a lot of people know about this city because it doesn’t cater much to tourists. It’s got a lot of villas and churches to admire if you’re into that kind of stuff. We stayed in Padua for only one night and it was beautiful. Our hotel was the Ramada and it was nestled among nature so it made for a very peaceful stay.
We also bought a lot of alcohol from Padua because it was much cheaper here than any other place in Italy (I bought a full bottle of Jaggermeister for Rs 700!!)
Didn’t do a lot of sightseeing here. We mostly stayed in and enjoyed our hotel which had a heated pool and so many other nice amenities.
I only visited one place in Pisa because of shortage of time and that was the leaning tower of Pisa. It was definitely a sight to behold, seeing this extremely famous monument right in front of my eyes. The surroundings were gorgeous. If you want to take good pictures with the Leaning tower, get here as early as possible in the morning because it’s always crowded with tourists at peak hours. It’s actually pretty funny to watch people do the signature ‘leaning’ pose!
There’s also a lot of street shopping around the area. I picked up a cute faux leather backpack from one of the vendors and it is my favourite backpack to date. You have to really know how to bargain to get a good deal here. Since it’s a tourist area, the vendors hike up the prices like crazy!
There are a lot of Instagrammy little corners in Pisa where you can get great shots!
My last destination was the ever so romantic Venice! Venice was one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. We drove to the pier by bus and had to take a ferry to the main island. The ferry ride was a treat to my eyes. Surrounded by water on all sides, it was as romantic and beautiful as ever.
We got down at the island and had approximately 4-5 hours to explore the area. Since Venice is a tourist destination, most of the vendors sell their goods for a really high price. And when I say high, I mean HIGH! The same goods are available for half the price at the pier where we boarded. So I’d suggest not to do a lot of street shopping here since it could definitely do damage to your wallet.
We visited a glass factory here and saw how glass ornaments were made. It was an awesome process to see the glass being melted and turned into something so dainty and beautiful. Definitely a must-do when you’re in Venice.
Besides that, we walked around the place on our own, tried out some cafes, Just explored. The gondolas looked beautiful and you can get a gondola ride for pretty cheap if you team up with a bunch of other people. If you’d like to go by yourself, I won’t lie, it definitely is expensive but it’s a super romantic experience as well.
Also, it’s really easy to get lost here! So make sure you buy a map and decide on a meeting point with your friends or family. I’m writing from personal experience because one of my friends did get lost here and we had a really tough time finding him. But there police did an awesome job helping us.
So that’s it for my post on Italy. Even after being there twice, I still haven’t had enough of this beautiful country and I definitely plan on going there again! ❤️