Again, you’re on a time budget so you only get one day in each major city. Things to do, food to eat, adventures to be had:
You need to take a day to Venice because as a city on water, it may not be around for long. Once in Venice, start with a ferry ride over to Burano. Burano is a small fishing village off the coast of Venice made up of 7,000 people. The boat ride is roughly 40 minutes, but it is definitely worth the ride. First off, the views while on the boat are gorgeous. Seeing Venice from the water is magical. Harbors around every curve, buildings glistening in the sun, couples walking hand in hand with gelato in their other. Once you’re off the boat in Burano your eyes are hit with vibrant buildings. Every single one is colored. Not a classic tan or gray house in sight. Instead, you’re blessed with pink—hot and light, blue—baby and royal, purple, yellow, green, red. Every color of the rainbow is seen on the houses and buildings. You cannot walk around the village and be upset because the colors are so bright and cheery with sidewalk seated restaurants.
After you’ve explored Burano (it really only takes an hour or two, unless you decide to have a sit-down meal) head back to Venice and walk toward the Grand Canal for sunset. Climb up on the bridge and take in the views of the sun kissing the river while the sky heats up in hues of red and orange.
You definitely need a day to visit the ever fantasized about city of Rome. The history, the beauty, the wonder of the city calls anyone and everyone there to explore. First things first, head over Vatican City—the smallest country in the world because it is independent of the country of Italy. So, grab your marker and add to the number of countries you’re visiting on this trip!
It is best to buy tickets for the Vatican beforehand. You buy them online and can either pay for the three-hour guided tour or you can pay to simply skip the line to get in. If you don’t pay for either of these, you will stand in line for hours waiting your entrance into the Vatican. And you don’t want to waste your precious time standing in line. Once you are in the Vatican City, tickets in hand, you’ll head to your meeting point. You’ll either meet your guide for the tour or you’ll meet your guide that will bring you to the front of the line.
If you are a history buff and want to learn many details about the Vatican, then I suggest doing the guided tour. However, if you just want to wander around where you please and admire the work without someone talking your ear off, then I suggest the skip the line ticket. With the skip the line ticket you still have access to the Sistine Chapel.
Upon walking into the Sistine Chapel, I was overcome with awe at the beauty and detail of the paintings by Michelangelo. If you look up, you will see the painting that is considered the most famous in the Chapel. The Creation of Adam depicts two gentlemen reaching out and touching fingers. In this painting, God is giving life to the first man—Adam.
After you have exited the Chapel, begin your journey to the Colosseum. You have the option to pay to enter the Colosseum and see the stadium in its glory or you can simply walk around it and imagine the gladiators fighting on the inside. I chose to walk around 1 of 7 wonders of the world. The size, durability, and grace that the building holds made me stand still for several moments. Staring at the building thinking about the brutal and deathly events that went on inside, but you would never know from staring at the peaceful building from the outside. It really is a wonder of this world because it has lasted all these years and is still just as mesmerizing as it was in the beginning.
After admiring the Colosseum, walk towards the Trevi Fountain. There will be crowds, but wait your turn to get up there and toss your coin in. Notice: the fountain is farther away than it looks. You might miss your first time – I did, but that’s okay but I got it on my second time. Wishes still come true if the coin doesn’t hit water, right?
After a busy day of walking and admiring all the sights, walk the Spanish steps to sit down and reflect on your day. You’ll be among other tourists who are doing the same thing and it’ll feel like a nice little community of relaxation and appreciation.
Last but most importantly, it’s dinner time! Just a five-minute walk away from the Spanish steps is Ristorante 13. Head on over there and order the pumpkin gnocchi or the fine herb risotto. The flavors will explode as the food melts in your mouth and you can wash it down with a glass or two of wine. And for dessert, the beloved gelato at the many shops placed around Italy. You will not be disappointed in the smoothness and abundant flavor choices.
Another city to hit in Italy if you’re on a bit of a budget is Naples. You will have the coast line and cute little city streets like in Amalfi or Positano, but of course at a much cheaper price. I had one full day in Naples so I decided to hike. A couple friends and I took a taxi to Bomerano. In Bomerano, you will find the trailhead for a hike called Path of the Gods. This hike will take you from Bomerano to Positano. You will walk through rocks, see the coast line, make your way through some trees, and see some horses walking the trail as well. The views get better with each turn. As far as difficulty goes, the hike itself is not bad. A tiny bit of rock climbing and some small inclines here and there. The most difficult part of the hike is to 2,000-2,500 man-made steps down to the road of Positano. If you do not regularly work out, your calf muscles may begin to shake. But once you’re down to flat ground and can shake them out, they will go back to normal.
Upon reaching the main road, you have a couple of options. First, you can buy a bus ticket and head to Amalfi coast. Secondly, you can walk the 3 miles on the road to get to the heart of Positano and the beach. Or you can take a bus to the center of Positano. Thirdly, walk about a mile down the road towards Positano and find numerous cozy restaurants on the sidewalk that have stunning views of the colorful houses nestled up against the water. If you start the hike during the morning, you will have enough time to hike it back out. However, I started at 2 pm and after dinner at Bruno (a lovely restaurant overlooking the coast) it was dark outside. Therefore, we hopped a bus back to Naples to avoid the 2,500 stairs back up and hiking in the dark isn’t very safe. So, if you stay late, I suggest buying a bus ticket.
Italy is a country that you could spend an entire month in and not see all of the sites. There is so many beautiful things to do, so do your research and plan your time carefully because there are many things to see and do. But I am sure that you’ll be back one day to finish what you started on your first trip.
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