So to conclude my series, An Italian Adventure, I thought I would just write down some top tips for travelling around Italy. These include things to do, things to watch out for, places to eat and travel tips so you can have an amazing time in Italy and make memories that you will never forget, just like I did!
- Go to Lake Garda at the right time of year – there’s no “right” time to go but it all depends on your preference. If you want to view the lake without the crowds, go out of season (winter). However, if you want the life and soul of the crowds and all the restaurants, hotels and other attractions to be open, go in the summer.
- If travelling to other areas by train, make sure you know how they work! Unlike England, every train ticket needs to be validated before you get on the train. This means finding a validating machine, usually dotted along the platform, inserting your ticket into it to get it hole punched. No one told us this when we first got on the train and it seems to be a pretty big deal if you don’t have a tiny hole in your ticket! Also, make sure you get the right ticket for the right train. Even if a train goes to the same place as another one, some are slow and some are fast. The posh fast ones are more expensive so purchasing the right ticket is important.
- Read the hotel reviews on trip advisor before booking! This probably sounds really obvious but our Florence hotel looked completely fine in the pictures so we just went for it. We arrived, and it was an extremely poor hotel – tatty, grimy and falling apart! Breakfast was a basket of bread, it wasn’t good. It’s not until I got home that I looked at the reviews in more detail and saw that most of the reviews were negative. Do your research!
- Buy a Florence cathedral ticket. When we went, it was only 15 Euros and it gets you in to every part of the cathedral – the cathedral itself, the dome, the bell tower, underground and in the baptistery. Well worth the money as you get lovely views of the city from the top of the dome and bell tower and you get to see the beautiful interior of the cathedral and the baptistery.
- Walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to experience the best view in the world. The view from there is just breathtaking and well worth the walk. You’ll end up with some amazing photos.
- Sit down for coffee by the cathedral. Late afternoon is the best time to sit down for some proper Italian coffee and a gorgeous dessert. I had cannelloni every day whilst we were in Florence because it was just so delicious. Sitting by the cathedral in the late afternoon sun is so relaxing and as the sun sets and shines on the side of the building, it really brings out the pastel colours of the cathedral.
- Visit the Accademia Gallery, where the statue of David is housed, early in the morning. We went near to when the gallery first opens, about 9am. There are still quite a few people around but by going at this time, you avoid the crowds that form around David if you were to go later on.
- In Venice, go up the bell tower when the bell chimes. We didn’t plan this, but it just so happened that we were at the top when midday struck so we got to witness the massive bell swinging over our heads. Don’t do this if you don’t like loud noises though – it leaves a ringing in your ears!
- Eat at one of the restaurants by the Rialto Bridge. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but we crossed the bridge from the right side of the river and then turned left once across and it was the third restaurant down. They do the most amazing pasta there and the service was great.
- Finally, if you are travelling home from Venice and need to get to the airport, be prepared and leave plenty of time. Like normal people, we left a good three hours to get there but unfortunately we were given the wrong ticket for the water taxi, had to buy another one and wait for the next taxi which was an extremely slow one. It ended up taking us an hour to get to the airport when originally it should have taken us half an hour and we only just made our flight. Do your research, make sure you buy the right ticket and know which boat stop you need to be at and at what time!
I hope all these tips are useful if you are planning to travel to Italy! I truly had an amazing time and I hope you do too. Thank you to everyone for reading this series of blogs. If you have missed any, you can read them by clicking here. Tweet me your tips and photos of Italy @SheWhoLives1