I love Italy. It was and remains to be a charming and picturesque place. Nothing shocked and awed me more in my travels than the feeling of being in this country. The clash of modernity intermingling with antiquity made the nerd in me geek out to extremes! Walking down the streets of Rome is so enchanting. You could be standing right next to an ancient historical site while a million people in tiny cars zoom past you. I spent 2 weeks exploring 4 extraordinarily amazing cities across the country. I found travel here to be relatively easy and the people were so helpful and nice! I loved every second of this trip and if you are on the fence about going, it is 100% worth it! Take the leap!
~Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre~
Who, where, how now brown cow, wait what?
Is three a crowd?
I was in Italy for 2 weeks with a group of friends. There were 6 of us in total by the end of the trip. My recommendation is to go with four people or less. It is nice to have an even number so that everyone can buddy off, but the more people you have the harder it becomes. Decisions can be a struggle when you have 6 brains trying to call the shots. Make sure to travel with like-minded companions. This can make or break your trip. We did well in general, but people were getting cranky and tired by the end.
I think that 2 weeks minimum is a good amount of time to be there. I suppose you can cover all the major spots in 1 week if that’s all you have, but you will have little time for rest and relaxation. Some crazy kids (myself included at times) prefer to travel that way. Time is money people. All play and no rest, take that Jack! The trains are very efficient and quick but it probably would take roughly 8 hours to get from Rome to Venice, possibly longer. Its a good chunk of travel time to go from bottom to top or vice versa. So plan your stops wisely.
For this trip I planned for all the major spots everyone wanted to stop at, got tickets for the major museums (Vatican and Accademia Gallery), and booked the first and second hostel to stay at. The rest we just kind of winged it. We didn’t want to have the itinerary 100% set in stone. This turned out to be nice because we got to stay in a remote city in Tuscany which was totally unexpected and was an amazing surprise!
The reason we ended up in Tuscany was sort of a last resort panic decision because we could not find another place within our budget to stay (which is what can happen if you plan on the go). Although it was not quite part of the plan and we missed out on staying in Florence, I think the consensus was all positive with our stay there. The city, or technically it was a village was called Tavernelle. It’s very small with all locals who think they can’t speak English but actually can (We found that most Italians claimed to not know English but they are full of lies. Most could speak very well. What modest people!). This is where I had my first European style hot chocolate, time to de-stress and relax from all our travels, and the food here was food to die for. It was raining during this hump of the trip so it was really nice to have a place to unwind and take it all in. So, I say plan the important stops and go with the flow for the rest! You never know what kind of amazing things you will discover that you didn’t anticipate for.
When I planned the trip I chose four different cities to focus on. Three popular ones and one that was, at the time, a less populated destination: Rome, Florence, Venice, and Cinque Terre. Each place was so different from each other and so amazing. Rome had the history and ancient sites, Florence had the art and the infamous David, Venice had its liquid charm and shopping galore, and Cinque Terre was a coastal beauty with small town charm and the best food of my life.
I am 100% sure you can hit up all the top touristy places within 2 weeks. I think if I broke it down for you my recommendation would be to do 2-4 days in Rome, 2-4 days in Florence, 1-2 days in Venice, and 2-4 days in Cinque Terre. If you choose less days in some places you can fit in some sort of mix of Pompeii/Naples, Amalfi Coast, Milan, and Tuscany. I don’t think you can cover all of that unless you really are on the go go go! *I didn’t get to see any of those additional places, so I can’t say if they are worth the trip! I do want to visit them the next time I travel to Italy.*
I say find out what your interests are and plan from there. If you aren’t into museums, cut them out. If you don’t care about history or ancient civilizations, don’t see the Colosseum. If you love wine, make sure to go to wine country! We ended up skipping the Leaning Tower of Pisa since it was out of the way and we wanted to go straight to our next stop. But if you gotta have that leaning tower Insta pic, then make the trek! Also, you just have to accept you can’t and shouldn’t see everything crammed into one trip. So just make sure to take notes and then next time you go you’ll remember what you wanted to see that you didn’t have time for.
Highlights of the Four Cities:
- Rome: Roman Colosseum and Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, The Vatican
- Florence: The Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery (The David), Florence Cathedral
- Venice: Murano Glass Island, Piazza San Marco, Bridge of Sighs, Doge’s Palace
- Cinque Terre (5 cities): Monterosso al Mare (Il Gigante), Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore (Via dell’Amore-“Lover’s Lane”)
~Do Not Skip: Roman Colosseum/Forum, Trevi Fountain, The Vatican, The David, The five cities in Cinque Terre, Murano Glass in Venice.
“Ah, merciless Love, is there any length to which you cannot force the human heart to go?”
― Virgil, the aeneid
The journey to Italy was rough in the Aeneid, but mine was a little less so. Virgil gave me more passion for the history, old stories, and charm that this country has to offer. He knows how to tell the tale of exploration and love. Both can drive a person to do anything. In real life it was so much more than I ever could have expected. It’s crazy to think that men used to fight to the death in the Colosseum and that people even built such a thing so long ago and without technology! I saw my first giant sculptures in the Vatican which was a surprise and shock. I never had been so amazed by art before. It is true that art can make you feel things that you can’t quite anticipate. And I don’t think I’ve had Italian food as good or as fresh as what I experienced in all the cities in Italy. I think I gained 10 pounds from an all pasta and gelato diet for 2 weeks.
My friends and I made a pact to go back in 15 years. That was in 2012. That seemed like an eternity back then, but now is right around the corner. As Albus Dumbledore says, “Time is making fools of us again.” I can’t wait until my next trip and to rejoin my travel buddies in a journey to a place I love and will always want to come back to. If love is the force that drives the human heart, travel must be my soul mate. My heart is and will always be on the tip of cupids arrow, aiming to land on the next place to fall in love.
Keep a look out for future posts with more details about my experience in Italy. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or if you want to know anything specific from my trip!