Italy is a fountain for rich culture, long history and exquisite food. In April 2019, I visited Italy for the second time with my mum. On my first visit, I was able to visit Venice, Pisa, Rimini and bits of Milan so on my second trip; I wanted to see more of Central & Southern Italy.
My mother is a serial planner when it comes to holidays, so we drew up an itinerary for a journey down from Piadena, a former commune in the Province of Cremona (where we have family), to see Milan, Rome, Vatican City, Naples and Pompeii in the span of 5 days.
The best part? We put together this itinerary after we had landed in Italy, so all the suggestions and tips below are truly tried and tested.
1. People Watch at the Spanish Steps
One thing I love to do when on holiday is people watch.
I find it fascinating to see how people interact, especially abroad, because it means a new language, new mannerisms and also observing how tourists integrate themselves among the locals!
The Spanish Steps is such an iconic landmark and on a trip where we were cramming every spot in Rome in two days, it was a nice change to sit on the Spanish Steps, relax and just observe. (Rome wasn’t built in a day, so allow yourselves at least two to see everything, three would be ideal but we were on a tight timeline!)
Sephora is one of the many shops near this pavilion (as well as the Dior & Prada flagship boutiques) if you are a beauty & fashion aficionado and shopaholic, like me. Although; do avoid making a scene by dropping a liquid highlighter on your suede trainers,
as I did.
Travel Tip: You are not allowed to eat or drink (except water) on the Spanish Steps, so be sure to finish your gelato before you head there.
2. Admire the Fountains in Rome
As you may be able to tell from my highlight photo, the Fountain of the Four Rivers is a beautiful spot to capture your holiday shots (
with the help of a few helpful filters & editing on VSCO). Another famous fountain in Rome is the Trevi Fountain: only fifteen minutes’ walk away. Are you really a tourist if you aren’t casting a wish upon a coin into one of these fountains?
The best thing about Rome is that it is actually quite a small city. So a lot of the tourist attractions are easy to get to on foot or by bus.
Travel Tip: Grab a multi-day bus pass to travel around Rome. We purchased a 48hr bus pass and it made travelling to and from our hotel to sites like The Colosseum (which is slightly out of the way of other locations) much easier and cheaper.
3. Go to Pompeii while in Naples
Make the most of exploring and discovering history in archaeological sites like Pompeii. We easily spent an entire day exploring the ruins. From just outside the Napoli Centrale train station, we caught a bus to Pompeii (about 40 mins) for just over £20 per person.
And if you enjoy your hikes: Mount. Vesuvius is on the same route on this bus tour, so plan an early day, catch the first bus and get walking!
Travel Tip: Grab a packed lunch from Naples before you head to Pompeii, the restaurants on site are either extremely expensive or unimpressive. There is no in-between.
4. Visit the Museums in the Cities
One of my favourite parts of my visit to Naples was going to the National Archaeological Museum. There are some … let’s say, interesting, exhibits but overall there is an impressive collection of classical marble sculptures and mosaics recovered from the ruins of Pompeii, dating from 100BC (which just blows my mind).
There are museums in most major cities in Italy, so do your research beforehand and figure out which ones you want to visit the most.
Travel Tip: Free Museum Sundays (first Sunday of every month) are no longer a ‘thing’ in Italy but this has been replaced with free museum weeks so tourists and locals alike can visit Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome or even the ruins in Pompeii for free. Make sure you look up your travel dates to see if museum weeks are on during your trip. But don’t worry, on the days where there is no free entry, travellers between the ages of 18-25-year-olds can take advantage of the €2 entry-fee at state-run museums. Bargain!
Now for my top five travel tips in Italy:
- Use night buses to travel between cities. I found that it cut our costs by nearly 55% and saved travel time by commuting at night (and they’re pretty comfortable!).
- My diet, while I was in Italy, was Pizza, Gelato & Repeat. Ever since I was introduced to pistachio gelato by my uncle, I’ve never looked back and it is always one of the scoops that I choose … (
when you have an option of three scoops, why settle for just one?) Gelato is such a popular treat that the flavour selection was overwhelming. One thing I learned? Don’t be shy to ask the gelateria vendor for a spoon of the flavour so that you can sample it before committing to a scoop( s).
- Travelling during the summer? Cities like Rome and Venice have free, clean drinking water available town squares. So stay hydrated and save yourself £££ by carrying a reusable water bottle around with you.
- Try Italian food in regions where they are a specialty! For instance, Naples is known for their pizza, Tuscany is the best place for delicious steak and Sicily is known as the oldest Italian location on record for pasta! (The pizza in Naples is to die for!)
- Cappuccino, caffé lattes and any other milk-based coffees are strictly considered a breakfast drink in Italy. Don’t order these drinks late in the morning, especially not in the afternoon and most certainly never after a meal. If you attempt to order one after 11 AM, people will generally assume that you are weird, or have just woken up after a long night out. (