When in Rome… (And Florence, Bologna & Venice)

One of my bucket list items was to make a wish in the Trevi Fountain so when the opportunity to go to Italy came up, I jumped at the chance!
We stayed in a combination of hotels and Air B&Bs as we travelled by train from place to place. The train makes everywhere accessible and easily within your reach so no excuses – you really can fit a lot in. (Buy all train tickets before getting on the train. If you try to buy on the train, the conductor may not be very friendly and might fine you. Totally hypothetical – did not happen to us.)
You need to know that the pickpocket danger is real. One person in our group had his phone stolen on day one on a crowded train platform. Be careful! And zip your pockets! Guard your mobile telephones people!
On the first Sunday of the month, you can get free entry for museums, The Colosseum, and many of those things on your Italy to do list. For a full list of freebies check this out.
It really is worth taking a tour bus around – we got ‘hop on, hop off’ tickets so we could see everything that day. You can also buy tickets for 48hrs if you’d like to spread your sightseeing out.
Definitely go and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain (they say, if you throw a coin over your left shoulder then you are destined to return to Rome), and wander round the the little roads nearby to find some gelato. You will find the best gelato. I had pistachio and banana… obviously.
Take the train to visit Ville D’Este, Tivoli. It is huge – one giant garden with fountains for days. When it gets dark, it will all be lit up beautifully. Definitely worth a visit for some wandering, photo ops and admiring pure beauty.
Where should I eat?
Honestly, I think you can find good food turning most corners in Rome. Everyone wants to feed you! We went to La Cucina Nazionale as it was in our area, and the food was delicious. Oh, the pasta.
Florence is absolutely beautiful. It is home to many glorious shops, and will definitely have you parting with some of your euros. You can also check out museums and see the Statue of David. All the sightseeing!
Head over to Ponte Vecchio for not only a cute bridge photo op, but more shopping! We fell in love with the cutest chess board shops – the sets are amazing! If you’re in the market for a very expensive watch, Italian leather shoes or a new outfit, you’re really in the right place.
Where should I eat?
MARIOS. You are going to head over to Trattoria Mario and get yourself some pasta with meat sauce, and it will change your life. They also do the hugest steak I’ve ever seen (definitely a sharing situation) if that’s what you’d prefer. I honestly wish I could have their meat sauce recipe. You have to go! However, they are only open from 12.00-15.30 every day and once they run out of something, they just cross it off the menu. Brutal. So, get there early and nab yourself a table. Thank me later.
Check out Le Botteghe di Leonardo for some amazing gelato and homemade cannolis! We found this little place and were wooed by the sign outside (they do gluten free / dairy free etc. – a lot of options) and once we found it, we couldn’t wait to go back!
For me, there wasn’t much going down in Bologna so one day was enough. The main attraction is two towers you can climb. Honestly though, after our days of walking, I did not want to pay anyone any amount of euros to walk up hundreds of steps. I was good admiring them from the ground… with my gelato. Always gelato.
Where should I eat?
We found a cute little place by our hotel called Ristorante Papa Re. It seemed like a little family place, and the service was faultless. The staff were all so good to us, and the food was perfect.
I really enjoyed being in Venice – I love a boat ride. You can get a travel card for the ferries and get everywhere by boat – simple. Venice is like a postcard – it’s all so beautiful.
Visit St Mark’s Square, obviously pick up another gelato, and explore. Head over to Murano and watch glass blowing, and maybe even buy a souvenir. They sell the most amazing glass blown animals over there… they’ll even wrap it in all the bubble wrap so you can take it home in your case. (If you pay cash and don’t need it shipped, you can knock the price down a little!)
Where should I eat?
There are some cool ‘pasta to go’ places hidden in little maze-like streets… they find you – you don’t find them πŸ˜‰
We went to a few places, and honestly – everything was good. By this point in the trip, we had already been to Marios in Florence, so nothing was going to be mind-blowing πŸ˜‰
Train station stops are (quite obviously – ha!) in Italian. So, whilst you’ve gone your whole life thinking you will go to Florence one day, don’t be alarmed when the train stop list tells you you’re going to Firenze πŸ˜‰
It’s a lot of walking. Italy is not for the faint-hearted. Lots of steps and ramps, winding roads and cobbled streets. It balances out all the pasta you eat – winner.
Google translate goes a long way. I love this app. C’mon, you don’t always have time to learn all the languages. Once you’ve mastered ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, the Google translate lady will help you out with other stuff. (Most people did speak English to us… I think we were always in tourist central. Still, give it a go)…

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