The sun is shining today and I’m hoping summer is on the way. I’ve been focused on working hard and saving so that I can visit as many places as possible this year. It’s so important to take a break from work, even if you have to take your laptop away with you (I always do). I always return from a trip full of motivation and excitement for my work, it helps to give me a clear mind and to really focus on my business.
In today’s post I’m going to be sharing 3 of my favourite places to visit in Italy. I adore Italy and have had many trips there over the years. I even studied Italian for 1 year after I finished university. I don’t remember much of it right now but hopefully P and I will have the chance to visit soon and I’ll be able to practice.
Let’s dive into the list:
Rome: I’m sure you’ll all be aware that Rome is the capital of Italy. In my opinion it’s a must visit city and one I hope to go back soon. It’s a little pricey, but which capital city isn’t? On my last visit we took a guided tour around the Vatican, it was very interesting but it’s one of those places that you only need to visit once. The Spanish Steps are always busy but it’s totally worth a walk through the city to find them. Before you reach the steps you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of tiny streets with designer shops. The shopping in Italy is fantastic, even if you’re just window shopping. While you’re near the Spanish Steps be sure to head in the direction of the Trevi Fountain, it was very busy when I was there but it was a nice place to stop, relax and people watch. I’d like to go back and see it lit up in the evening.
What I enjoyed more than anything else was walking around the city, looking at all the ancient ruins and architecture and eating good food. Sometimes that’s all you need from a city break Rome, it’s essentially an open air museum. You don’t need to spend a lot to get a good feel for the city.
I must also tell you about Trastevere which is situated just across the Tiber river. It’s close enough to walk into the city centre but keeps you tucked away from the hustle and bustle. Trastevere is a lovely neighbourhood with lots of independently owned hotels, I stayed at Hotel Santa Maria. I highly rate this hotel and it will be my number one choice to stay at when I’m next in Rome. The staff are friendly and helpful, the location is perfect, the rooms are very comfortable and the breakfast and afternoon tea are spot on. In Trastevere there’s lots to do. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Basilica Di Santa Cecilia and wondering around the lively square. There are also lots of lovely little restaurants to enjoy in the evening.
Verona: This beautiful city is famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. If you want to see Casa di Giulietta, the house which is said to have inspired the play then be sure to arrive very early or later in the afternoon. We arrived around lunch time and it was very busy. Although this wasn’t at the top of my list to visit I’d say it’s worth popping to if you’re doing a walk through the city, the balcony is pretty but we didn’t pay to go inside.
We stumbled into Piazza delle Erbe as soon as we arrived. This stunning square is filled with market stalls selling the best looking fruit I’d ever seen, a variety of different foods and of course, souvenirs. Amongst the many tourists this is where you’ll also get a chance to experience the locals buying fruit or sipping their morning espresso. Around the outside of the square are historical buildings with coffee shops and restaurants. It’s a good spot for lunch and people watching. If I go back I’d like to visit the square again in the evening.
I didn’t stay in Verona but in close by Sirmione and it was very easy to take public transport to and from the city.
Sirmione: This historic town is situated in Northern Italy by Lake Garda. This was more of a relaxing trip than a fast-paced city trip. We visited just before the summer season so it wasn’t too busy but there was a lively and happy atmosphere within the town. There’s Scaligera castle to visit or simply just gaze at the architecture. Don’t forget to visit the oldest church in Sirmione, Chiesa di San Pietro in Macino. I managed to miss that they have thermal baths in the town, this would have been perfect as the week before I’d taken part in a 47 mile walk for charity. This is a reminder to always do you research before you go away.
I always think taking boat trips to other towns is a nice way to explore. I’d also highly recommend a visit to Bardolino, a very cute and much quieter town. It’s still full of life though and when I was visiting they were hosting an Ironman triathlon. With a little research there’s plenty to do.
The only downside to Sirmione was the lack of good restaurants. Most of the ones we found were aimed at tourists with high prices and poor food. Something I’d never experienced before in Italy. Don’t let that put you off though, our hotel did fantastic food and we stumbled upon a cafe which served up the best pizza in town along with other dishes. It was called Crazy Bar Café, I know, the name doesn’t sound the best but trust me, if you want quality service, a relaxed setting and a good pizza give it a try. This place became our go to for our evening meals. We then spent the rest of the evening deciding which gelato to have.
We stayed at Hotel Porto Azzurro in Sirmione. The staff were very friendly, the pool was clean and the rooms were very comfortable. The breakfast and evening meals were very good too.
My bonus suggestion for Italy is Isola Del Liri. If you enjoy getting off the beaten tourist path then you’ll adore this little town. It has two magnificent natural waterfalls and you can see the big, beautiful mountains and forests from the town centre. It’s a very peaceful place and one I highly recommend visiting if you find yourself near by.
I really fancy seeing more of Europe, especially Italy. P and I have been talking on and off about ticking a few places off our list with a cruise. Neither of us have been on one before but we have a few friends who love them. I think it could be a good way to see a lot of places in a short amount of time. I also get the feeling it would be a very relaxing trip too. As much as I love a good inter-rail or road trip they often come with a lot of organising. I’m reading to let someone else plan everything out so I can take a good relaxing break while exploring a few new cities.
Have you ever been to Italy?
Thank you to Thomson for inspiring this post.