Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Travel Recap - 2 Weeks in Italy



Happy Tuesday Noobs!  I almost feel as though I've talked about my recent trip to Italy to death (see previous posts on what I packed here, here and here), but I thought that I would give a bit of an overview of the trip, share a few photos and give you some tips and suggestions that will help you plan your own Italy trip.






First, the itinerary:  My husband Brian and I flew into Rome and took a cab to our hotel in the Campo Marzio area, where we stayed for 5 nights.  The hotel and hotel location were fantastic! We were so close to everything that we very rarely, if ever, had to rely on public transit- we just walked everywhere.  We spent our days exploring and sightseeing, and nights sipping wine at the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, or Campo de Fiori.  Rome really comes alive at night, and we enjoyed mingling with locals and tourist alike in these dimly-lit, energy-packed pockets of the city.



Next, the part of our trip that checks off another task from my 30 before 30 list: the road trip! We picked up a rented car at the Termini station in Rome, and headed to Sorrento.  Brian and I had bought a European GPS on our last trip to Portugal, and it proved invaluable when navigating the Italian highways and city streets.  We had no issues getting to Sorrento - however finding out hotel was a different story.  We must have drove up and down the same street three times before we found the tiny little pathway that lead to our hotel.  The experience was a little frustrating at the time, but now we look back on it and laugh - it all adds to the experience!

The view from our balcony in Sorrento
Once we arranged parking through the hotel, we set out to explore Sorrento - which was a very busy little town, jam packed with tourists.  I enjoyed our time in Sorrento, it was very modern and we had some of the best meals of our trip at the local restaurants.


After our first night's sleep in Sorrento, we were up bright and early to catch a boat to Capri.  I had heard tales of Capri's beauty, and had very high hopes.  I'll have to admit, when we first got there my heart sank - it was again very touristy and similar to Sorrento.  Little did I know that you had to travel further up the mountain to experience Capri's beauty, and once we got there I was completely overwhelmed - it was gorgeous!  Brian and I spent the day getting lost in the picturesque neighbourhoods in this ritzy Italian vacation spot.  We will definitely make a point to spend a few nights in Capri on our next trip to Italy.


About to catch the boat back to Sorrento


After our final night in Sorrento we grabbed our rented Fiat, jumped in and headed to Positano for 2 nights.   Positano was the destination that had me most excited while we were planning our trip, and it truly did not disappoint.  Image a beautiful, picturesque village built right into a cliff that overlooks the sea.  Our hotel was near the top of the town, which meant that we got absolutely beautiful views right from our balcony!  The fact that we chose to stay higher up, as opposed to being closer to the beach, meant that we experienced a bit more of the local culture.  It was a completely endearing experience to be sipping on your morning espresso, as a group of Nonnos play cards right beside you, and neighbours wave good morning to one another.  As amazing as Positano was during the day, nothing compares to it at night.  I was completely awestruck.

Positano at night -no photo can ever do it justice!


After our relaxing time on the coast, it was time to jump back into our Fiat and make the drive back to Rome, drop off the car, hop on a train and head to Florence.  I really do love Florence - it's a little bit more modern than Rome, but is still so rich in history.  We stayed in Florence for 3 nights total, and I think that it was a good amount of time.  We were able to hit up all of the most important museums and sights, while still feeling like we were able to slow down and experience the city's culture at night. By the end of our stay, I was ready for our next destination: Venice!



Venice really is a marvel to see.  This would have been my third time visiting this city on water, and it still always knocks me off my feet - it's just so beautiful!  We stayed here for 2 nights, and that was more than enough time as we were just wandering as opposed to having any itinerary.



After our stay in Venice, we flew back into Rome where we spent one last night before flying back to Toronto.

Phew - what a recap!  If you've made it this long, take a look at some tips that I gathered to make your trip to Italy more enjoyable

Tips


  • Research your meals - Italy is not a place that you can just waltz into any restaurant and get good food - there are tourist traps everywhere!  Brian and I are "foodies" (I hate that expression, but I guess it's true), so eating well is very important to us.  We would research the restaurants in the city, look at their ratings and reviews and would gather a list based off of this.
  • Make Reservations - We were surprised by how busy the better restaurants were, and learned quickly that you need to make reservations to be guaranteed a spot.  We would have our hotel call the restaurants and make reservations for us each and every night.
  • Don't be afraid to drive in Italy - We had been cautioned about how crazy and dangerous that the driving in Italy could but, and we honestly didn't have any problems.  I think that if you're used to driving in a big city, then you should be fine.  
  • Always make sure the meter is on in cabs - we had been warned by our first cab driver in Rome that some cabbies try to scam tourists by not turning on the meter and claiming that the trip is a flat rate (which is grossly overpriced).  We generally had good luck with this, but did catch one cab driver trying to pull this scam on us -  be cautious.
  • Unlike Paris, where dressing to fit into the Parisian culture is very important, the big cities in Italy seem to have no dress code - just put on your biggest smile when talking to people and you will be treated well.
  • Slow down every once and awhile - Many cities in Italy, Rome particularly, reveals itself to you in the quiet moments.  Brian and I found that once we stopped frantically running from one sight to another, we really started to get a sense of what the city was all about, and understood it on a totally different level.  Someone once told me that Rome reveals itself to you in layers, and I couldn't agree more.  By the time we left this ancient city, I was completely smitten and still cannot wait to visit again.
If you've made it this far - thank you!  I hope you enjoyed reading this recap of our wonderful trip through Italy.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or wanted any recommendations for your trip to Italy.

xo Joëlle
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8 comments

  1. Wonderful pictures Joelle!! Looks like you had an amazing trip!

    Kris | www.love-loft-life.com

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  2. This made me want to go back to Italy so badly. I also went to Rome, Sorrento and Capri - then off to Greece for the rest of the time. This post brought back a lot of great memories. Thank you for the amazing recap! :)

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  3. Love this! Your photos are beautiful and make me want to go to Italy PRONTO :)

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    1. Thank you! I definitely recommend it, I had a great time!

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  4. Your photos have me reminiscing about my own trip to Italy! I studied abroad there three years ago and can't WAIT to go back. I'm dying to go to Positano now after hearing about your time there!

    xo Kimi

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    1. Wow, studying abroad in Italy sounds amazing - lucky you for being able to experience that! Positano is so beautiful, definitely worth seeing!

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