I’ve always dreamed of going to Italy (aka EATaly) and wander the streets stuffing my face with an unimaginable amount of gelato. Which is what I did.
Our Italy trip started in Rome where we did a tour of the Vatican, ate roasted chestnuts on the Spanish steps, marveled at the Pantheon and were transported back in time at the Colosseum. Because we ate on the go and at the flat quite a lot I haven’t got many restaurant names to drop, particulary in Rome. The best way to see a city is on foot so we did a fair amount of walking, which was great for taking photos because I could stop whenever I wanted to 🙂
The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica
Piazza St. Pietro
Leaving Rome, even though it was beautiful, was a great relief for us because there were just way too many people (I guess it was expected, being the amazingly culturally rich city it is). Florence was not as busy but just as gorgeous and possibly more my kind of place. We went to see the Uffizi gallery, munched on Lampredotto (Italian street food), wandered through the Boboli Gardens and ate lunch at San Lorenzo Market. Our host recommended some restaurants, my two favourite being Trattoria la Casalinga and Ostaria dei Centopoverti. Some friends of ours also recommended we try the gelateria Vivoli – they had some weird and wonderful flavours (like rice) but I played it safe with pistachio and chocolate.
Florence was a magical experience and I would most certainly go back again (and make time to go into Il Duomo). I think next time I’d like to rent a car and drive through Tuscany, stay in a villa and just spend more time outside of the cities.
Marbling tools at Il Papiro | Busy streets of Florence
We rested a lot in Bologna – we didn’t have anything planned besides eating and walking under the kilometers of porticoes. Up until Bologna I didn’t REALLY find any clothing stores that stole my heart. We stumbled upon The Hidden Forest Market, with their beautifully put together shop I just loved the very structured and geometric shaped clothing. They also had tons of cute-sy jewelry! Another great find of ours was Zoo – a super cute bagel/coffee/art/kids café. The space is beautifully decorated, open plan and multi-purpose with areas for kids to play, mom’s to have coffee and creatives to work.
Cattedral di St Pietro
Hidden Forest Market
Definitely the most romantic place I’ve ever been to, Venice was probably my favourite city we visited in Italy. Again, we walked all the time and ate on the go, sampling all the gelato and marzipan treats along the way. Wandering around trying to find a place for drinks we fell in love with a tiny bar called El Sbarfalina (which I would go back to 100 times again)! They have a great selection of wines and bar snacks and we had some super yummy spritz (which came highly recommended by Mel).
We did waste a bit of money on buying tickets for the viapretto which we used once to get to Piazza St. Marc, but I’d recommend it anyway if you want to see Venice from the water – we just preferred walking. If you are willing to spend some cash, gondola rides are a must (the guys rowing are usually easy on the eye too).
If there’s one thing you see in Venice, make sure it is the Peggy Gugenheim Collection – that and the Galleria d’Academia were two of my favourite galleries we saw on our trip. Also, don’t be afraid of turning up dingy looking streets – the ones that look the least discerning usually surprise you the most with hidden bars, shops or a moment of silence amidst the busy streets.
Gondola out on the Canal
Fresh goods on the street | Art in the Peggy Guggenheim Garden
Some tips for your travels:
1. Book as much as you can online! You will be surprised how few people think of pre-booking museum tours – it will save you tons of time.
2. Pack as light as you can if you are traveling between a few places – you don’t want to pull around a huge bag between your accommodation and train stations.
3. Use AirBnB – it is literally the best way to find reasonably priced accommodation in virtually any city. You get to take fresh produce ‘home’ to cook if you don;t want to eat out, plus you get cool tips from your host!
4. Walk and walk some more. You are sure to see more of a city by foot.
All-in-all I loved Italy and would definitely go back one day (after I’ve seen the rest of the world of course)!
For more photo’s and detailed experiences on the different cities visit Nikki’s blog.