Travel: Italy

Colosseum

Italy was by far my favorite country that we visited. The food, the culture, the art – everything was amazing! We visited three cities in Italy; Venice, Florence and Rome.

We flew from Geneva, Switzerland into Venice, Italy. We got into Venice around 8:00 PM, right as the sun was setting and took a water taxi to our hotel. After we checked into our hotel, we were both starving so we went out to find some food (it was around 9:30 PM). We had passed a restaurant on our way to our hotel and thought it looked good so we retraced our steps and went back. We always tried to eat outside when we were in Europe, but due to the tight quarters of the city being built on water, we weren’t expecting any outdoor seating. We were quite surprised when the host asked us if we wanted to eat outside and we both said “sure!” not quite knowing what to expect. They took us up about three flights of stairs to the rooftop outdoor patio. We had it to ourselves since it was a little later and the restaurant had cleared out. There were some outdoor cafe lights and all of the herbs they used to cook (basil, oregano, etc.) were growing along the side of the patio. Ah! It was so amazing. We were both pretty tired after traveling most of the day so it was great to relax and enjoy some amazing food together. We woke up the next morning and explored the city until we had to leave in the afternoon to head to Florence. We made the poor mistake of walking instead of taking a water taxi to the train station. We mapped it out ahead of time and it seemed like a pretty easy walk, boy were we wrong, haha. It was so hot and we were literally walking through a maze trying to find the train station, with all of our luggage (ah!). Never again but we laugh about it now. 😉 I really loved Venice! It was such a cool/unique city to visit. Troy was on the fence about keeping Venice on our travel itinerary but I’m so glad that we visited. I wouldn’t stay there for a week or anything, but it’s definitely worth a day or two.

 

View out our hotel room window in Venice

 

St. Mark’s Basilica
St. Mark’s Campanile
Venice is a dream
Rialto Bridge 
Monumental hands art work show the sinking city

Florence is a really cool city to visit. One of my friends (hi, Haley!) studied abroad for a semester in Florence so she had some really great recommendations for us! Also, the hotel we were staying at upgraded our room to a suite when we checked in. It was huge and such a fun surprise! Our hotel also had a rooftop bar/lounge area that overlooked the city. We met some fellow tourists from Miami and it was fun talking to some people that spoke the same language as us. They had just been in Rome (where we were going after Florence) so it was fun to talk to them about what they enjoyed doing and get recommendations. We wanted to tour the Duomo but we didn’t think ahead to get tickets in advance to go. By the time we went to get tickets, they were sold out and since we were only there for a limited time, we couldn’t go. Next time. 🙂 Instead, we ‘hiked’ to Piazzale Michelangelo which is a lookout over the city. It’s a little bit of a trek but well worth it to see the city from that perspective.

View from the rooftop of our hotel in Florence
Duomo – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
View from Piazzale Michelangelo

And finally, our last stop in Italy was Rome. Has anyone ever seen the Lizze McGuire movie? I’ve been wanting to go to Rome ever since I saw that movie. Guys, literally all of my dreams came true. It was amazing. Rome is pretty touristy but it’s a really amazing city with so much to do! We definitely only scratched the surface in the three days that we were there. Our hotel was pretty close to the Colosseum so we walked over there the first night we were in Rome and saw it at dusk and stayed until it was dark. The next day, we did a guided tour of the Colosseum. I would definitely recommend seeing the Colosseum at night and during the day. It was kind of an accident for us but I really loved seeing it at both times. Also, I would definitely recommend investing in a guided tour. Not only do you get a lot of history and details about the Colosseum but you get no wait access into the Colosseum (which is about 1-3 hour wait). Our tour ended near the Roman Forum, so we walked around that for a while too. We visited the Trevi Fountain and threw coins in and made a wish (just like Lizzie and Paulo did in the Lizzie McGuire Movie ;)). We also visited the Pantheon and the climbed the Spanish Steps. We spent a whole day in Vatican City, once again on a guided tour that included two museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Sistine Chapel is a must see, it is so so beautiful! Our friends recommended making reservations at Hotel Raphael one night for dinner. It is a rooftop restaurant of a hotel that overlooks the city. We ate there for our last night in Rome, which also happened to be one of the last nights of our trip and it was so special. The sun was setting over the city, we had an amazing meal, and the overall environment was great.

Trevi Fountain
Right after we threw coins in the Trevi Fountain
Pantheon
Altare della Patria
Colosseum at night
Colosseum gladiator gate entrance
Colosseum
Colosseum
Roman Forum
Just a couple tourists in Rome
Spanish Steps

St. Peter’s Basilica
Rooftop view of Rome from Hotel Raphael

Italy was so incredibly amazing! I knew we would love it but woah! I loved it so much more.

Cities we visited:
Venice, Florence & Rome

How long we stayed:
6 days

Best thing we ate:
K: Gnocchi with tomato cream sauce T: Tomato and basil linguine

What we did/saw:
Venice: Rialto Bridge, St. Marks Basilica, St. Marks Campanile,
Florence: Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo
Rome: Colosseum (at night & during the day), Vatican City (Sistine Chapel, St. Peters Basilica, museums), Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Roman Forum, Pantheon

Our favorite thing we did:
K: Going inside the Sistine Chapel T: Tour of the Colosseum

Our favorite memory:
K: Throwing coins into the Trevi fountain (and all of my Lizzie McGuire dreams coming true) T: Dinner at Hotel Raphael – view of city, environment, atmosphere

What we would do differently next time:
Plan in advance for tickets to the Duomo, the Colosseum, and Vatican City (or any other activities), not walk to the train station in Venice on an 80 degree day

Would you go back?
Yes, yes, a million times YES!