Few months ago, we made a last minute decision to have our holiday in Italy. Being a lover of food, wine and shopping, Italy has always been one of the countries that I wanted to visit for a long time and I was thrilled that my husband felt the same.
We quickly realized that there were too many places we wanted to visit. As we had a limited time of just under two weeks to spend and we didn’t want to spend so much time ‘in transit’, we had to narrow down our choices.
Our 2 week itinerary in Italy in October:
- Rome (4 days)
- Santa Maria Cosmedin
- Pantheon (free)
- Piazza Nervona
- Piazza Venezia
- Trevi fountain
- Spanish steps
- Roman forum and palatine hill
- Borghese gallery – purchase ticket beforehand
- Arcibasilica di SanGiovanni in Laterano
- Capitoline hill for great sunset view
- Piazza del popolo (cafes around)
- Le domus romane di palazzo valentini (do tour of underground)
- Vatican City (1 day)
- Florence (4 days)
- Central market & San Lorenzo Market
- Cupola del Brunelleschi
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset view
- Florence Cathedral
- Basilica di Santa Croce
- Vecchio Bridge and Palace
- Santa Maria Novella Church and square
- Uffizi Gallery and Piazza della Signoria
- Tornabouni Street
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Basilica San Miniato al Monte
- Cinque Terre (2 days)
- Riomaggiore – Manarola – Corniglia – Vernazza – Monterosso
- Venice (1.5 days)
- Piazza San Marco
- Grand Canal
- Dodges Palace
- Saint Mark’s Basilica and Square
- Bridge of Sighs
- Burano Island
From Adelaide, Australia, we flew into Rome and flew out from Venice. In between the cities we travelled by train. Train tickets were all booked online couple days in advance. Although we may have missed some of the cheapest fares this allowed us to be very flexible. We found the train system very foreign-friendly.
Useful Tools for planning
Tripomatic is an online itinerary maker and an iphone/ipad app, which I found quite useful for this trip. Not only it showed all the popular tourist attractions on the map (with optional offline maps), I was able to organize each day with list of attractions knowing the proximity between places and expected time to be spent at each attractions.
Tripadvisor and other personal blogs – I cannot highlight how valuable online resources were. This was how I found out that some tickets must be purchased beforehand to prevent missing out or having to wait in lines for hours (for example, for Vatican City). Online Food suggestions and restaurant reviews, however, were hit-or-miss. Few places we went to which had hundreds of positive reviews on Tripadvisor were rather disappointing. We ended up at some the most amazing restaurants by talking to locals.
Having a working mobile in Italy was a lifesaver. Not only we were able to navigate with our google map every time we got lost, we were able to call and make reservations to popular restaurants. Roughly, I think it cost us ~50$ AUD with 3 mobile with enough data and minutes (with 500 minutes of international calls to Canada or 300 minutes to Australia) during our 2 weeks time. I would avoid getting a sim card in major airports as the plans are far more expensive with less data and minutes.
What I would do differently ‘next time’
- We visited in early-mid October. Although on most of the days it was hot enough to cruise streets in a shirt and jeans, there were few days when it was rather too cool and we found ourselves wearing winter vests and layers of long sleeves.
- Just bring your go-to ‘walking shoes’. I made a huge mistake by buying a leather converse just prior to the trip and it kept cutting into my skin, which resulted us buying a pair of nike runners in Rome, which was lot more expensive than what I would pay in Australia.
- Florence and Cinque Terre were simply magical. I would have loved spending more days in either places, and perhaps 1 day less in Rome.
- There were some restaurants that we have missed out because I thought it would be ok to leave the reservation until a 1-2 week prior. Some of the very popular restaurants were booked out for couple of weeks so I would highly recommend booking them few weeks in advance. For example, Trattoria al Gatto Nero in Burano Island is one of the best meals we had in Italy and I had booked this place via their website 2 months prior. Once I had my mobile in Italy I had called in to confirm my reservation… and it was all worth it.