Italy

Travelling the west coast of Italy will give a taste of the many regions this delicious county has to offer. With its long Mediterranean coastline this side of the popular European country is the perfect environment to enjoy local delicacies during long, lazy days.

 

From canals to catamarans:

 

Venice – Arriving in Venice, hopping on to a water bus to reach your accommodation has never been such a beautiful way to travel.  Making your way along the canals you will experience up close views of the amazing architecture of the city.  Enjoy a day and night wandering the main island; crossing the bridges of the canals, eating a different flavour of gelato every half an hour, visiting the local delicatessens, getting lost along the narrow passageways of the streets, tasting fine produce and wines and sitting in the warm evening air enjoying the splendor of an evening meal alongside the canal waters.  Take time to visit Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark’s Basilica then attend an opera.  It’s worth taking a water bus over to Punta Sabbioni for a few hours and visit the bustling beaches in this part of Venice.  Top tip – avoid the cliche (and price) of the gondolas and get on a water bus just as the sun is due to set.  Stay towards the rear of the water bus and enjoy the views of the Grand Canal as it descends into darkness and becomes lit by the surrounding buildings.

From Venice take a day trip to fair Verona by train to visit Juliet’s balcony via a stop to take in the awe of the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra.  (4 night stay).

 

Rome – Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display.  It takes around 4 hours to get here by train from Venice which run regularly.  Where to begin? There are so many notable places to visit in Rome; the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Roman ruins, basilicas, museums, galleries, statues, piazzas, markets the list goes on.  Make sure that you allow yourself time to enjoy all of these sights and fit in a visit to the Vatican City.  As touristy as a trip to the Sistine Chapel may sound, it is worth being herding around like a sheep to see the fantastic art pieces on show.  Rome is best enjoy by foot strolling so make sure that you take comfy footwear! (5 night stay).

 

Florence – Oh, wonderful Tuscany!  Florence is one of my favourite cities in Europe.  You cannot escape the allure of the remarkable Renaissance architecture which makes up this city.  One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo which is a useful marker of the main square, Piazza del Duomo.  Florence is bursting with culture and you can easily lose a day trying to visit the many museums and galleries (including that which is home to David’s ‘Michelangelo’).  Stroll through the markets, along the bridge essentially made from tiny shops and find yourself overlooking the city at Piazzale Michelangelo.  The views from here are certainly worth the trek! After your day walking of calories, indulge in Tuscan cheese and Chianti.

Florence has great train links and is a great base from which to visit nearby places.  Spend a day in nearby Pisa perfecting your leaning tower pose then head further south the following day and stroll the gothic streets of Siena.  (4 night stay).

 

Naples – Around 3 hours by train from Florence, Naples is a good choice to use as a base to visit neighbouring towns which are a lot prettier and have more to offer than Naples itself.  I love Italy, but Naples offers little other than tasty food and good transport links.  Buses regularly run to and from the Amalfi Coast which is even more picture perfect in real life: Take trips to Sorrento, Positano and the island of Capri.  The drive along the coastal roads can be rather terrifying if you have a window seat and are afraid of heights but the views when you arrive are worth the white knuckles.  Be mindful that many people chose to travel to the Amalfi Coast for the day and so buses can be busy during park times.  Also, the ferry to Capri runs only a few times a day and the last return journey from the island to the mainland can be packed to the rafters.  Top tip – the main beach in Capri is rocky, has no shade and is very busy.  As soon as you get off the ferry walk straight up the main road and enjoy meandering through the warren of paths dotted with perfumeries and boutiques before cooling off in a lushus park and looking out over the Bay of Naples.

Catch a quick train from Naples or Sorrento to visit Pompeii and feast your eyes on the famous Mount Vesuvius.  (3 night stay).

 

When travelling by train in Italy remember to validate your ticket before travelling! There are small yellow machines near the platforms which will stamp and validate your ticket.