12 Tips on traveling Italy

When most people plan their European holidays, much like us, Italy is without a doubt, right on up there with one of the ‘must get to countries’. Morgan & I hadn’t realised until we were filling in our travel insurance forms & answering ‘country which spending the most time in’ – something we had to go away & work out! – was in fact Italy. We ended up spending a little over 3 weeks there and although not even a year would be enough to see all that this beautiful country has to offer, we feel, from one backpacker to another, we learnt a lot in our short time that might help you when planning your own Italian adventure. 
So here are the 12 tips in all their glory – the good, the bad, and the ugly that may – or may not – help you when it’s your turn traveling Italy.


No.1. If backpacking 3 weeks is long enough. I wouldn’t do any longer, but I wouldn’t have done any less. After 3 weeks of really only having pizza & pasta as the option and getting itchy travel feet you will generally feel ready to move on.

No.2. Be prepared to put on weight – no amount of stair climbing or planking will disguise the fact that living on pasta, gelare, pizza, free bread at EVERY meal, wine and croissants is going to pack on a few kg’s around the ole’ waistline. In the same breathe, don’t let that stop you ordering and enjoying Italian food – it was the best we’ve ever eaten.

No.3. Get to the Amalfi Coast – even if it means you have to save a little more, it’s worth it. We only did 4 nights & that wasn’t enough. The best towns to stay in are Ravello & Positano. Both Morgs & I didn’t rate the town Amalfi as that amazing but adored Positano. If you are going, have it as your rest week and stay 6 nights ..

No.4. Put Bologna on your ‘to visit’ list! We had two nights in Florence and did the whole town (we felt) in a day so decided to day trip out to Bologna which ended up being one of our most fun, most delicious days in Italy! It has amazing shopping, fantastic food & is the home town of Spaghetti Bolognese, do I need to say anymore?

No.5. If you are going to Naples there are only 2 things you need to know. 1) Don’t have ANY expectations of the place. You will either like it or not. We didn’t, but it might turn in to your favourite town. I was just shocked at how much litter and graffiti was everywhere. 2) You HAVE to eat Pizza in the birth place of Pizza and if you do, eat it here…best & most popular place in Naples we found by mistake which was the best mistake we could have ever made…& lastly…3) Use it as a base to visit the isle of Capri..  Getting to Capri was a must for us and we’re so glad we did it. The island boasts some of the most magnificant scenery & views we’ve seen the whole trip & the day trip across was well, well, well worth it if even for the Blue Grotto experience.

No.6. Give yourself 4 nights in Venice. We had 3 and I would have given anything for one more. This place really truly is magical and rain, hail or beautiful sunshine is a joy to explore and get lost in. It has SO much to offer either if you do tourist things or just wander and get lost in. 3 nights was just one night short for me and I think you will find that too!

No.7. Don’t do any less than 4 nights in Rome. That’s what we did and we found it the perfect amount of time (as backpackers with a timeframe). We could have easily spent weeks there, or even a few more days but certainly managed to cram everything your average tourist does in this beautiful city plus a little bit more. Any less than 4 nights I believe you’ll rush through it and not really get to experience all of Rome’s magic.

No.8. Walk the Cinque Terre – I had planned my WHOLE trip and it wasn’t until lunch with a friend that she mentioned this strange sounding ‘Cinque Terre’ town. After some quick googling I immediatley fell in love, but obviously nothing can prepare you for the real thing. I’m SURE many if not most have heard of it, but I hadn’t so if you were like me then slap this on your travel to do (& stay in either Monterosso or Vernazza).

No.9. If you are actually there for an extended period of time like us (3 weeks), then BUY A EURAIL pass. Morgs & I had researched this extensively before we left in general. I.e to get one for Europe and worked out it wasn’t worth it. For Italy specifically though? Its VERY worth it. Trains are not cheap in Italy and it will save you hundreds (I mean that) of euro’s if you do it eurail not as you go. To give you an example, traveling the same distance in France, costs us between $4 – $6 euro….that in Italy was costing us $25 – $50 euro. Ca-ra-zy. Eurail is worth it people. Write that down.

No.10. In Venice, if you’re going to drink coffee, drink it standing! As soon as you sit in a cafe, they tack on a less than desirable service charge…plus standing for coffee is such a fun experience & makes you feel like a local.

No.11. If you’re in Italy for more than a week, buy a sim card. We did this & it was the best thing we ever could have done (we just went to the local phone shop – “Tim” over there – & it cost us $15 euro for the sim plus wayyy too much data which was plenty). It helps you navigate your way around every city without paper maps, and you have much quicker access to places you might want to see or where to eat.

But most importantly? (Because I always have a most important)…

No.12. Ignore all of these tips & find your own groove, path, vibe, whatever you call it…find it. I think one thing Morgs and I have learnt best is that everybody can experience cities differently. Places people told us we’d LOVE & were their favourite, we didn’t like at all, and places people said they hated and we should miss all together were our favourite. The same will happen for you no doubt, so take any advice always with a grain of salt…we found the above worked for us perfectly & hoped it would just give you a general guidance….but hey –

treading your own path & finding your own adventure is what it’s all about.

Love & Light,

Anna xx

An open letter home about Rome

To all the other visitors to the blog other than my mum, hello, I hope you enjoy my letter home. I felt the whole 4 days in Rome the very best way to describe our experience is how I would tell my mum about it so I wrote her a letter sitting in our Rome apartment with the intention of her reading it when you all did, on the blog – everybody has heard everything there is to know about tourist attractions in Rome & Rome itself so this is my different take on this beautiful city …. So here is my open letter to Mum xx. 

{ I just felt this was ‘so Rome’ ma – Vespa, red no less, in a bustling Rome ally way }

Dear Mum,
Can you believe we’ve been gone 2 months already? We can’t quite work out if we believe it or not. It’s the strangest feeling when you’re over here, like time is as slow as you’ll ever experience it in the best way possible but that it’s also whizzing past. We still have another 2 & a bit months ahead of us and I have just hit a bit of homesickness – I think mainly for our coffee dates & long chats, plus Nate’s Sunday Roasts – I’d say yours but in all honesty Morgs & I are now well aware Nate is the chef behind them! 
We have just had 4 of the most awe inspiring days of our trip to date in Rome ma & I am bringing you back here one day without a doubt. 
Our apartment has been amazing, really huge & literally on the doorstep of the Colosseum  I didn’t realise just how cool that really was until at the start of every day, and at the end of every night, when we got to walk past it & were seriously wowed every.single.time. The whole area where we’re staying as well is FULL of these gorgeous restaurants, cafe’s & bars so in our family terms it’s “soooo us”. We have this cafe as our neigbour & got to try out our first Italian sentence in there! “Due cappuccino & cornetto Grazie” which is simply ‘2 cappuchinos & croissants thanks’ – we had ordered in English the first day & on the 2nd day when we did it in Italian they cheered us & we got our stuff cheaper from then on in. Brilliant. Pretty sure we think we’re Italian already just from learning about 5 words. 
We have been THE biggest tourists in Rome & if you were here you’d tell me to slow down, but there is just too much to do & to see & to take in. 
Our first morning we ventured to the Vatican early to start our sight seeing & when we arrived realised it was the day the Pope comes out & gives his Palpal blessing – can you believe it?! You will be pleased to know I was in jeans & a tshirt so my knees & shoulders were covered as is the correct dress for the vatican. No legs or boobs that day no siree – & don’t worry, you’ll get to watch the whole experience when we’re home as Morgs managed to get me on film yelling “oh gosh Nanna & mum would be so proud!!” remarking about my appropriate dress. The polish people next to us loved it don’t worry. As luck would have it as well – or Nannas work from above – Morgs & I somehow got seats close to the front AND right near the barrier where we had no idea, but the Pope drives passt, so one minute we were sitting gawking at the crowds & debating why religious people are so happy, next minute, along plods the Pope in his Pope mobile right past us. We just looked at each other like ‘is this really happening’?? It really is like Hollywood for religious people ma, and although we didn’t plan any of it, we had the time of our lives!!
The Vatican itself along with the Museum & Sistine chapel were also really cool experiences but it’s VERY touristy & you are just pushed through it all. Morgs & I love all that stuff more so to find symbols and regularity with all the historical pictures – there are so many stories in all the paintings over here it’s unbelievable. We’ve been googling some of the hand symbols that keep popping up in all the religious paintings & you wouldn’t believe the things you can find on it. 
Speaking of the Vatican, or more specifically the Sistine chapel, don’t get mad, but we totally took photos to show you. You’re not meant to take photos in there but we figured God wouldn’t mind – if his the one that even made the rule but to be honest I don’t think it was. It is quite surreal to be in there. I didn’t find that because it felt holy or anything, I felt it more because I could feel Michaelangelo’s pain in his paintings. He seemed like a tortured man mum. We learnt he almost went blind & cripple from the 4 years of painting the roof as the position he stood in. The one drawing I was intrigued by was a picture of a giant with it’s head cut off. The head was being carried out on a platter but the giant’s head was in actual fact a self portrait of Michaelangelo himself. It’s said he did that as he had lost his soul by finishing the Sistine chapel and I just thought it was so sad. 
A highlight for me in terms of sight seeing though, apart from the Italian food & wine, & ice cream..anddd croissants, which might seem strange,  was, or is, the Pantheon  There wasn’t anything specifically jaw droppingly amazing about it – apart from everything – but I was just really drawn to it. I think for you, you would just love the streets themselves, and the people & really, well…everything. 
We of course did the Trevi fountain & I got to throw my 3 coins in! One for luck, one for marriage, & one to return to Rome – I actually threw a 4th one in and that was a 2nd ‘return to Rome’ for you. 
Catching up with Uncle Dale & Auntie Pauline was literally the biggest highlight of all and I adored going for dinners & drinking Italian wine with them – we seriously had THE best time with them. 
I forgot to say as well – one of the restaurants we went to on our first night after turning down an ally way turned out to be a restaurant from the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – how fabulous I know. I naturally made Morgs take photos of the whole experience while I oohed & ahhed that we were really there. Morgs ended up loving this particular restaurant & night as well as a random ‘busker’ if you will came right near our table and started to sing the most beautiful opera song in the deepest voice you’ve ever heard – truly a pinch us moment. I was genuinely surprised at how much Morgs loved the Opera busker experience – it was adorable.
Really though ma, everything you hear about Rome, is true. I had SO many expectations, hang on no. Wrong word. I had so much excitement? Hope? Whatever, about Rome. I’d heard amazing things I suppose and knew of ALL the things I suspected I wanted to see, and the great thing is we did. And we loved it. It really is very touristy though so when we come back, it’s early starts and long days I’m afraid but it makes the experience all the more fun & seriously adventurous. To nutshell it in a non what you’d expect / exactly waht you’d expect way … It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s busy, the food is the best we’ve ever tasted – we doubt we’ll ever be able to eat Italian food in Perth again – & the wine is delicious. Basically, our family is meant to be from Italy. I knew it all along!

Travelling together so far has been perfect – well, nothing in life is perfect so I can’t say that but I suppose we’re surprised at how much we don’t fight. We thought we’d have at least fake broken up 3 times by now but you’ll be happy to know we’ve been Fine with a capital F. We’ll still call the occasional time out but generally within half an hour we’re both wondering what the other is up to and venture back to each other wondering why we wanted the time apart.

Dead set missing you though mum and can’t wait to have beach dates (with your cups of tea) over the Summer when we’re home. 

Give ALL my love to the boys & B (and the biggest cuddle to Delilah)
Miss you most & love you millions.

{ Staring up at the Sistine Chapel mural & some of the roof – this was the last mural he painted in his old age }

{ Left: Our very first Italian food in Italy & we were like excited kids on Christmas Eve mum you SHOULD have seen us. Just a simple Bruschetta & red wine but it was the best Italian ‘stuff’ we’d ever tasted! Right: The best ice cream we’ve had on the trip – just next to the Trevi Fountain. Ice cream is primarily to blame for my growing belly, I’m not going to lie }

{ The Colosseum by night, this was us walking back to our apartment after dinner – our apartment was one of the top floors in the buildings you can see in the left of the photo mum! }

{ Outside the Vatican – chuffed as cheese – is that the saying? Probably not – at my respectable shoulder & leg coverage }

{Left: The roof as you are walking through the Vatican Museum – our guide said it’s so lavish through each Pope’s vanity. Her words not mine. Rather interesting if true, but definitely beautiful. Right: A photo I snapped walking out to adventure one day of two nuns walking past the Colosseum, I loved it }
{ Inside the remarkable Colosseum – we did the guided tour just with audio mobile hand held things ma & do I have stories to tell you when home that we learnt that day – so amazing }
{ Dinner with Auntie Pauline & Uncle Dale – yes we’re boozed, no I haven’t emailed it to them yet, Yes I will  shortly }

{ Us at the Trevi Fountain – by the by, there is a Gelare place on the other side of the fountain that we had the best ice cream of the whole trip at }

{ Relaxing & enjoying people watching at the Spanish steps. We googled why everybody sits on them and there is absolutley no significance! ha! The steps are however the widest in Europe, so that was interesting }

{ Being silly at the Pantheon – it really is such an amazing city – ALL of these tourist attraction type places are literally in back allys, it’s just amazing }