Ciao! Benvenuto in Italia!
Welcome to Italy. A country with such diversities ranging from romantic canal cities to historical ruins that will have your mind “spinning” to go back to school!
After several visits to this incredible country, here are some brief highlights and what lives in my heart to this day:
ROME: To see this city at its fullest, you must be willing to share it with the hundreds of thousands of people world-wide who travel from far away lands to enjoy it as well.
While in Rome, we stayed at the Albergo Ottocento, http://www.albergottocento.it/en/
which provided a hearty breakfast and was in a convenient location. We were only in Rome for two days and would recommend seeing the following:
Vatican City, which is the smallest country in the world also known as Holy See.
It is wise to book a “skip-the-lines-tour ahead of your trip and be sure to see
the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, the Pope’s Palace, St. Peter’s
Square, and St. Peter’s Basilica. One of the best tours of my life!
The Colosseum & Roman Forum. Again, it is necessary to book a “skip-the-lines-tour
ahead of your trip and be certain to see everything. Don’t let the crowds
sway your decision to see and learn about the remarkable history of our
world. This tour has made me go back and study world history. Fabulous!
Be sure to see these on your own and wear GOOD walking shoes:
1. Victor Emmanuel II Monument
2. Piazza del Popolo
3. Basilica of San Clemente
4. Palatine Hill
5. San Giovanni in Laterano
6. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
7. Castel Sant’Angelo
8. Spanish Steps
9. Trevi Fountain
11. Piazza Navona
12. Campo de Fiori Marketplace
FLORENCE: As much as we like to avoid tour groups and see everything on own, it’s probably best to book a guided tour to be able to get around the city to see everything. We were only here for two days, and once again, we didn’t want to waste a moment. We also wanted to see some of the famous sight surrounding this lovely city.
Try to see the following:
1. Ponte Vecchio along Arno River
2. Piazza della Signoria
3. Palazzo Vecchio
4. Galleria dell’Accademia (David Statue)
5. Basilica di San Lorenzo
6. Boboli Gardens
7. Santa Croce Church
8. Loggia dei Lanzi
9. San Miniato al Monte
10. Mercato Nuovo
PISA: These are Italy’s most popular cities world-wide, so I am going to be like a broken-record and encourage a skip-the-lines- tour that you buy ahead of time. The key things to see here are The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Baptistery, and Santa Maria della Spina. See more if you have the luxury of time. We did not, but were satisfied with our tour.
NAPLES: We were pretty “toured-out” by the time we reached Naples, so we walked the city as much as we could. We even got lost a few times which was good because we saw little parks and neighborhoods that we would have otherwise missed. We even met a nice local man who owned a cute clock shop. He spoke English and even walked with us for a while to get us back onto our planned route. Although we did not see all of the tourist attractions, we did manage to walk past a few: Royal Palace of Naples, Naples Cathedral, Catacombs of San Gennaro, Castel dell’Ovo, and Spaccanapoli Street.
POMPEII: The only way to see Pompeii is to once gain, purchase the “skip-the-lines” tour ahead of time. It’s a once in a lifetime place to see, and if you are a cat-lover like us, you will LOVE seeing all of the felines in every nook and corner. Be sure to see the following sites no matter how tired you get of looking at ruins: The Shrine of Pompeii,
Antiquarium, The Forum, Terme Stabian (Stabian Baths), House of Vettii, The Amphitheater, Casa Del Fauno and Street of Tombs.
TUSCAN REGION & COUNTRYSIDE: I think the best way to see this vast part of Italy is through a tour unless you are staying in the region for the long-term. We were here only a day and saw the following:
VENICE: We have been fortunate enough to see Venice on a couple of occasions. Once you are familiar with the city, you will find it to be quite walkable. If you have a rental car, it is worth a drive to Verona, the city that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. But, for now, let’s stick to Venice and try to do and see the following: Bridge of Sighs & Prison, San Giorgio Maggiore (separate island that requires a boat ride), Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Rezzonico, Santa Maria della Salute, (to see these well, you’ll want to take a gondola boat ride) Piazza San Marco (NOT to be missed), Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace (try to take the tour of the secret passageways to the torture chambers), Grand Canal (another MUST DO and see….even if you only take a water taxi). And, finally, St. Mark’s Basilica & Campanile. I think I have forgotten how much, despite the crowds, I do love Italy. Especially Northern Italy and Venice.
So, for now, I will say goodbye. Happy and safe travels and Addio per ora.