Ever since I saw The Lizzie McGuire Movie in the 6th grade I have made it my life’s mission to make it to Italy, secretly become an Italian pop-star and find the love of my life. Spoiler alert: I didn’t become a pop-star, and I’d already found my guy, so you know, everything didn’t go to plan. But I did go to the magical land that is Italy. I made it to four major cities: Venice, Milan, Florence and Rome, and it was nothing short of incredible. Follow me on my journey through Italy!
Venice: The Alternative Island Life
Venice is located in the northeastern part of Italy, and is made up of over 100 small islands. Here you won’t find cars or roadways, but canals and gondolas. It’s a romantic city, filled with little alleyways and beautiful plazas. While you’re there be sure to check out the Piazza San Marco. Here you can take a short elevator ride up the Torre dell’Orologio (the Clock Tower), and see Venice from above. One of my favorite parts about Venice was this tiny pasta place called Alfredo’s, which is tucked away on Calle De La Casseleria. They make their pasta and sauces fresh every day. Don’t be fooled by the size or the fact that your pasta comes in a takeout box-trust me, it’s amazing.
Milano: The Fashion Capital
I’ll be honest here, we didn’t actually get to enjoy Milan as much as we could have. through a series of unfortunate events and frankly terrible planning, we ended up in Milan on Easter Monday…and almost everything was closed. We also didn’t really do our research where things were, so we didn’t have a plan of where we were going or what we were doing. That being said, Milan is one of those places that are forever etched in your memory. The main attraction, the Duomo di Milano is nothing short of breath-taking .Definitely go inside and pay the extra few euros to be able to take photos. It’s worth it. And I don’t even need to talk about the shopping- Milan is a fashion mecca, so go forth and empty your wallets.
Renaissance Magic: Florence
Guys, this is by far my favorite city in Italy. If you’re going on an Italian vacation you absolutely cannot miss this gem. I can only describe it as exactly what I thought Italy would be like. It just seemed like around every turn there was a new exciting thing to see, with a cool back story. Things not to miss: the Ponte Vecchio, Florence Cathedral, Basilica de Santa Croce, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, and don’t forget to rub the Porcellino’s nose for good luck!
This was it,my Lizzie McGuire moment, the moment I was waiting for, where I’d inevitably twirl around the Trevi Fountain and perform a concert in the Colosseum. Dreams shattered because as it turns out, neither of those things are possible. The Trevi Fountain is an incredible sight to see, however you’d be hard-pressed to find enough room near it to take more than a few steps, let alone twirl and dance. And the Colosseum is literally an incredibly well-kept ruin, but you’d never be able to have a performance there. Though these were totally different than I had imagined them, it didn’t diminish how seriously incredible they are. Rome is a place that makes you feel small, and realize we’re all just a blip on the map of time. It’s a cool feeling. Make sure to check out the all the cool ruins, not just the Colosseum, and hit up the street markets because they’re really awesome as well.
Okay, so technically the above picture is from Vatican City, but it’s in the heart of Rome, so if you’re there, you might as well go. It is it’s own country, and the home of the Catholic Church. Soz to say, but we didn’t see the Pope. Definitely, definitely plan for it or try to buy advance tickets if possible if you’re trying to go inside St. Peter’s Cathedral. The line is gigantic, and could take hours. We did manage to go to the museum adjacent to the Cathedral, which is really cool. Warning: do not listen to people who try to sell you tickets to “get into the city.” It’s a scam and you don’t need them.
- Check your train ticket times. Really, this goes for all train times, but especially when you’re on holiday. Trains are a great, reliable way to get around, but their times are strict, and if you miss the train, you’ve lost the money. We totally did this when trying to go to Milan and had to pay and extra $70 to get there. Worth it, but still.
- Cover up. Italy is a very Catholic country, and many of the churches and cathedrals won’t allow you in if you’re not “appropriately dressed.” For women this means having your shoulders covered, not wearing low cut tops, and making sure your shorts/skirts are to the knee at least. For men, tank tops, vests, and shorts are generally not permitted.
- Learn a bit of Italian. This could be just my experience, but we didn’t find many people that could speak English very well. Learning a few key phrases could be really helpful, not only to you but to the people you encounter. If you happen to speak Spanish, try speaking in Spanish slowly-there’s enough overlap that it’s possible an Italian can understand the gist of your question.
- Save your money. Italy, especially big cities, are quite expensive. Be prepared to drop some cash! Protip: Save a bit of money at dinner and don’t eat the bread they give you at the start of the meal. In the US, we are accustomed to this being free, but it isn’t in Italy! You’ll have more room for pasta too, so who’s the real winner here? You.
Italy was absolutely beautiful, and definitely somewhere I’d love to return to. Have you been to Italy? What was your favorite place? What would you recommend? Any and all questions or comments are more than welcome in the comments section! As always, thanks for reading, and stay golden!