Rome, Venice and Milan
Where would you go for a romantic holiday; Paris, New York? A week in Italy is somewhere I would definitely say is perfect for all kinds of travellers; hot weather, delicious food and amazing culture and history. A few years ago I spent a week in three parts of Italy; four days in Rome, two in Venice and one in Milan. Whilst it was a very quick taster of the places, just a fraction of the things I did there made it one of my favourite trips in the big wide world.
Grabbed a gondola in Venice
Of course this iconic way of getting around the stunning canals of Italy is a must do and we actually managed to get a free ride with our InterRail pass at the time. It was a bit rickety with six of us and we frantically held our bags high up in case we toppled over but having a gondolier whistle to us as he steered us through the narrow lanes whilst taking in the scenery, was a great way to see the city authentically.
Went vintage shopping in Trastevere, Rome
Unlike some vintage shops in Europe, Rome was the real deal when it came to authentic pieces. With cheap Doc Marten's (not weather appropriate of course) designer sunglasses, retro American music; I even picked up a Max Mara military jacket for €60. You can easily find a bargain and where better than in Italy's finest fashion distric?
All day every day, as it was hands down the best ice cream I have ever eaten. Unlike the rest of the world who use an ice cream scoop, this creamy goodness is slapped onto a cone with a spatula, and has the most intense flavours you will ever have and never replicate anywhere in London. I recommend the stracciatella; a chocolate chip if you will, and even better; dipped in chocolate which hardens into a shell.
Explored the Colosseum, Forum and Pantheon, Rome
Even the non-history buffs will be amazed by the grandeur and history of some of Italy's ruins. The Colosseum alone is something so huge and spectacular that a whole day there is barely enough. The audio tapes are definitely recommended, as they explain fascinating little tit-bits, such as did you know that they used to raise the whole floor for the gladiators to emerge from? Another great fact was about Nero, a Roman Emperor whose first half of his reign could be remembered as 'pretty good'. However his second half? He had his mother murdered, his first wife killed, his lover kicked to death, and he then committed suicide. Not so great, but interesting nonetheless! Always check for deals as well, as at the time we went, you could see both the Colosseum and the Forum for €7.50 (and don't forget a quick visit to the Trevi fountain to throw in a penny for luck!)
Got stuck in train strikes
It's always great to hear that as you're passing through Italy with your train pass, they are having train strikes. Which meant long bus journeys, sleeping in Metro stations and attempting to understand what 'supresso' meant (FYI: cancelled). But trains are always interesting to experience, even more so when they split to go to different parts of the world halfway through your journey, and your 'six person sleeper' is more of a three person or even a six half people sleeper. A trip isn't a trip without a bit of chaos, amiright?
Got lost in Venice
The way to see Venice is to get lost. It's a small place that after a couple of days walking, you'll feel like you know the area pretty well. Having booked an apartment near the train station, it meant that no matter how lost we ever got, we could find the signs to the station and voila, we were home again. But the narrow side streets and canals mean you never know what you may find, and beats map trekking any day.
Saw the beautiful architecture in Milan
Whilst only staying there a day, something that was pretty insane was how beautiful and clean the architecture was there. The huge Milan Duomo was magnificent and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele's glass plaza was on another scale when it comes to buildings with the intricate glass ceiling and ornate flooring. Both things to definitely experience, and if it gets too much, head out to the beautiful parks they have and take in the buildings from afar.
Seven days was definitely not enough as there is so much on offer, with its crazy history, stunning culture and tasty food. Next time you're planning your holiday, don't forget to add Italy to your bucket list.