Pizza, past, rolling hills, wine, culture, canals, ancient. These are words that come to my head when I think of Italy. A country so rich in history, so rich in culinary culture, and so rich in drastic beauty in landscapes and architecture. Italy is one of my favorite places I have been. There is so much to do and see in this country. Once visit is never enough to see everything is country has to offer.
Growing up in the United States you always see it in the movies or read about it in books. It is a place so many people dream about. Cruising in the canals of Venice. Imagining Rome back when the ancient gladiators still took the stage. Wondering why there is a leaning tower in Pisa. All of these things, all of these lusts, are what makes Italy a country everyone must visit.
Top Things to Do
- Rome – Visit Rome to see the old and the new. Spend time seeing all the sights, including the coliseum, of the old ancient empire. Take a free walking tour or explore the city yourself. You will always keep finding little treasures in this city everywhere you go. There is a bar crawl in this city that is legendary if a party is something you want out of this ancient city.
- Venice – Take a date on a canal ride through venice and spend time in Piazza San Marco. It is an amazing city to be seen. The main islands are very touristic, but if you have the $$$, sneak away to the outskirts where it still feels like old-time Venice. Personally, I got bored and started drinking wine about three hours into the trip. I loved my time here don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t not need to spend more than one day.
- Cinque Terre – Imagine the most pictures little cliffside villages in Italy and this is it. There are a total of five villages in which you can hike between. We took the harder route up and over. The route was amazing as we got an ariel view as well as climb through winery. I would spend 2-3 days here. There is also an amazing beach. One of my best Europe memories was drinking a $6 USD bottle of wine, on a waterside cliff, watching the sun go down. These are memories you will never forget.
- Piazzale Michelangelo – Speaking of sunsets, when in Florence, head here to watch the sunset. Don’t forget your $6 USD bottle of wine. Locals and tourist flock to these steps to watch the sun set over the city and the surrounding Tuscany.
- Tuscany – When in florence, spend a day trip or even a few days to explore the wine country. Italians make some of the worlds best wines and it can be seen here. I would recommend a day trip, unless you want to relax in the rolling Tuscany Hills.
- Leaning Tower of Pisa – Go to Pisa to take your picture holding up the leaning tower. I spent 45 minutes in Pisa, switched trains, and was able to run to the tower and back. You would not need to spend much time here, but just enough to check it off the bucket list and carry on.
- Pizza in Naples – Everyone has a favorite food and pizza tends to be one of the most popular. Head to Naples where it is said they invented pizza. You would not want to eat pizza in this amazing coastal town.
- Escape to the Islands – There is more than just mainland Italy. Constantly overlooked, but never underrated are these islands. Relax in Capri or Sardinia. These islands offer a more laid back lifestyle than the mainland. it can be a nice little relaxing break to break up a trip.
Where do I begin with this topic. Some of the best food in the world came from Italy. Need I remind you of pizza, spaghetti, and cold cut meats and cheeses. (I know many of you were like, you had me at pizza)
There is no doubt it is a foodie paradise, but it can be very expensive. Here are a few tips to save some money, but still enjoying the cuisine!
- Eat a large lunch and small dinner. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner and is the same thing.
- Get a panini or calzone and split it. If you are a solo traveler, find a friend or bring home the other half for dinner.
- Get out of the tourist center.
- Use yelp.com to look up menu prices.
- Always ask to see the menu before you sit down to see if it is in your price range or not.
- Drink at home, on a cliff, in a park, or at Piazzale Michelangelo. Avoid drinking at dinner.
Overall Country Cost – $$$ (3/4)
Hostels – $12 – $30 USD per person
3 Star Hotel – $60 – $150 USD
Breakfast – $3 – $10
Lunch – $5 – $12
Dinner – $5 – $30
(Note: Lower prices are for bread and fruit or local sandwich. Low scale sit down restaurants will be the upper end of quote.)
Two Weeks in Italy – Fly into Venice to work your way South. Spend 2 days adjusting to the time and relaxing on the outskirt islands. Next head to Cinque Terre. Spend 2-3 days hiking in-between villages and taking in the cliffside view. Next, head south to florence, with a quick layover in Pisa for the picture. Spend 3 days in Florence, with a day trip into Tuscany to sample some wine. Next, Head to Rome and spend 3 days looking at the “Old” and “New”. Next, had south to Naples and the Amalfi Coast to get some beach time and some Pizza. Finally, either head hope or spend the last few days exploring the islands of the country.
Note: Time can be shortened or extended, but this is a good framework to work on. I came in through southern France and stared in Cinque Terre and worked my way to venice and then florence. The best way to travel is to be flexible and go with the punches.