This summer I spent over 3 weeks travelling around Italy. Italy is very popular tourist destination with so much to see and do. The best time to travel to Italy is in May, June and September. July and August can be very hot and very busy.
We arrived into Venice Airport and took the water taxi to San Marco Square where our hotel was located nearby. I recommend suitcases with wheels if you are travelling to Venice as you may have to lug you suitcase some distance to your hotel. There is no transport on the island of Venice unless you stay on the mainland. Our hotel was a mere 5 minute walk with our suitcases and close to the tourist sites.
I recommend an early morning walk to San Marco Square before this becomes busy with tourists to take some good photo shots. Another cheap and interesting way to see Venice is by local ferry which travels along the Grande Canal. A good ferry ride is from San Marco to the Railway station and you get a great view from the ferry.
Some must sees are a visit to Rialto Bridge, a Gondola ride and to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano island is famous for Glass making and Burano is famous for Lace making.
We took a MSC cruise to Croatia and Greece and after our cruise we took a train to La Spezia and stayed in a lovely hotel located near the railway station and close to the pedestrian street. My favourite way to see the Cinque Terra area is on the local ferry located at La Spezia Port. From the ferry you can see all the beautiful towns and this is the best option to get those picture card postcard photos. Another great option is to take the ferry one way and the train back. The Cinque Terra comprises five towns and some towns have an uphill walk to get there. My favourite towns were Vernazza and Monte Rosa. It is not so crowded if you arrive early but by lunch time the towns can be quite busy. It is popular and you can walk between the towns to admire the amazing views.
After two nights in La Spezia we hired a car and drove to the beautiful Tuscany countryside about two hours south. We stopped in Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. Afterwards we stayed in the Barbarino area on a farm and enjoyed lovely local cuisine and vino. Our B&B was on a hillside so we had stunning views through the valleys and it was grape harvest season. We visited Colle di Val d’Elsa a gorgeous little hillside town some 15 minutes from where we were staying. We took a lift up from the town square to the old walled city and wandered around and admired the views. This town is a little quieter than San Gimignano but similar so we were able to find a free car park easily and enjoy a lovely lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd. All the towns around this area are situated on hills overlooking the valleys. Wine tasting and cooking classes are some of the other activities available nearby.
We then drove further South to stay at Il Castello Di Cristina a lovely country retreat and B&B with its own castle and stunningly beautiful grounds in the countryside bordering Tuscany, Lazrio and Umbria. We enjoyed lovely home cooking. The Il Castello offered a pool, games area, walks in lovely wooded areas as well as horse riding. This is a wonderful place to relax and explore the beautiful region. Only 20 minutes away is the stunning town of Civita di Bagnoregio and 30 minutes away is Orvieto another hill town with a beautiful Duomo (Cathedral), museum and pretty town well worth visiting. Lake Bolsena is also close by for all types of water sports in the summer.
After a relaxing time in the peaceful countryside we drove to Rome and dropped off our car. We spent two nights exploring the main sights of the Vatican, Coliseum, Spanish steps, Pantheon and Piazza Venezia. We enjoyed eating out and just wandering the streets as there seemed to be something amazing to see on every Street corner.
To get to the heart of Italy and spend some time relaxing I recommend a stay in the countryside. I can certainly help plan a lovely itinerary for your visit to this wonderful country. I lived in Italy as an au pair many years ago so I have travelled extensively in Italy.
If you are taking you phone I recommend purchasing a local Sim card called TIM which are very affordable with shops all over Italy. Banks in Italy no longer exchange money and only the Currency Exchange places in big tourist areas offer exchange at a very bad rate. I would recommend taking a money card and visa and withdrawing money at the ATM which is the best option in Italy. Would you like to start planning a trip to Italy? Give me a call today on 0427 286061