Sooo last week I gave a breakdown to all that was London, and this week I'm giving you a breakdown to all that is Italy (well... Rome, Venice, and Florence to be exact). I asked everyone near and far for their recommendations on the best things to do in each of these places so here I go again bestowing my wisdom on the things I did, places I'd recommend and more.
Back at it again with my Air BNB recommendations, I'd once again totally recommend going the Air BNB route for all your stops in Italy because there was honestly nothing more perfect. I had asked a bunch of my Romanian expert friends about where the best location would be to try and stay in and they had recommended either by the Colosseum or Trevi Fountain / Spanish Steps as those are the two main hubs of where everything is happening. I ended up going with the Trevi Fountain / Spanish Steps route and found the cutest and most chic little Air BNB. The owners of the place not only helped coordinate a private car to pick us up from the airport (it was totally worth it and probably around as much as a taxi would have been), but they were super quick in responding to emails and messages about any questions we had about the place. And for amount of days to be in Rome? I was there for 3 days (2 and a half to be exact) and I thought that was the perfect amount of time.
Again, you obvi don't want to miss any and all of the #tourist attractions that Rome has to offer, and there are definitely quite a few of them! What I'd first off recommend doing before hitting the ground running is to check out all of your favorite spots is to map out where they are compared to where you'll be staying so you can see what makes sense to do together and on what day.
You can't make a stop in Rome without venturing to the Colosseum. What a crazy and breathtaking view this was to see in person! This was literally the first thing I did once after I landed from London to Rome and got settled into my Air BNB. Since I decided to stay around the Trevi Fountain / Spanish Steps area, the Colosseum was a bit further, so I decided to dedicate the afternoon I landed to walking over to it and making that "Colosseum Day" (a lot of Rome is easily walkable so this walk only took like 10/15 minutes max from my place). To enter the Colosseum you need to either buy tickets ahead of time (to cut the line) or you can wait in line and pay upon entry. Of course just my luck, as I was about to enter the Colosseum, they shut down the line for the day so I didn't get to go inside (so make sure if you don't have a ticket, get there before 4/5 PM to ensure entry).
TREVI FOUNTAIN, SPANISH STEPS
Probably the thing that I was MOST excited to see while in Rome was the Trevi Fountain-- hello Lizzie McGuire movie, duh! (because that was the absolute best movie ever and any chance I can get to pretend I'm Lizzie is well worth it to me). The Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are really close to each other so they're something you can do hand-in-hand and do a quick stop by and take some photos and snapchats. The Spanish Steps were under construction when I was in Rome but hopefully it'll be up and running when you're there. And don't forget to throw a coin and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain!
This wasn't originally on my list of to-dos and must-sees because others for some reason hadn't put that on their list of recommendations to me, but it is DEFINITELY a top recommendation of mine. The owners of my Air BNB had highly recommended it for me to see as it was really close to our apartment, and it gave you the most breathtaking view of all of Rome. From where I was staying it was a super quick walk to it and all you had to do was climb up the hill (make sure you're wearing good shoes) and then you can see everything from the top.
There are definitely other places to check out for sure while in Rome like the Vatican that I didn't go and check out, but I'd definitely recommend it if you love some good art.
So basically, once you hit Italy, about every single restaurant there is AMAZING, so you can't really go wrong. For the most part, I'd just walk into any restaurant that seemed cute from the outside and sat down and had an amazing experience each and every time. But there were definitely a few good stops that I were memorable and I'd recommend for you to look out and try.
PIZZERIA LE GROTTE
While I do believe you can't go wrong with any restaurant in Italy for some good pizza and pasta, this one by far surpassed any of the restaurants I had tried out and gone to throughout all my stops in Italy. I can't say what it was about it exactly, but the simple margherita pizza and spaghetti with marinara that I got was something I talked about and compared to throughout the rest of my journey in Italy. And this was somewhere I had randomly stumbled upon too!
Address: Via Della Vite 37 - 00187 Roma
I mean.... when in Rome, right?! Even though this is totally a Paris thing, how can you not visit this macaron heaven when it's in Rome as well? I sat down and had a full on cute meal at the cafe there with an amazing caramel coffee, french toast, and obvi some macarons. But if you're not looking to sit down, you can definitely get some treats to go.
Address: Via Borgognona, 4 - 00187 Roma
In addition to there being pizza and pasta everywhere you turned, it's safe to say that a gelato shop was just as common lurking around the corner. And while I'm sure you can't go wrong with any of the gelato stands in Italy either, there was one place in particular that stood out amongst the rest. First off, Quinto Gelateria is open until 2 AM which was KEY for when I had a gelato craving late at night and everywhere else was shut down. But on top of that, it definitely looked like the most legit gelato place in all of Rome (again, another recommendation from my Air BNB hosts who clearly knew what was up).
Address: Via di Tor Millina 15,17 (located in Piazza Navona)
So next up, I headed from Rome to Venice by train which is superrr easy to do throughout Italy. You can buy your train ticket last minute (I ended up buying them at the actual train stations) but I'd recommend trying to purchase them up to a day or two before your next stop because I was rushing to the train stations hoping that the train I wanted wouldn't be booked.
I debated if it was worth it to go to Venice or not because I only had time to really take in three cities in Italy and heard mixed reviews about including Venice as one of the stops. And let me just say, it is definitely one you can't miss out on because it's just so unique and different from the rest-- I mean, the whole place is surrounded by water! Venice is tiny and easily walkable (yet sooo easy to get lost in with all the little canals and alleyways). As for how long to stay in Venice? I was there for a day and half and thought that was more than enough time to get a feel for everything it had to offer.
Since Venice is so small, you can't really go wrong with anywhere you're thinking about staying within the city. I came across this fabulously colorful and fun apartment that had the cutest little floral rooms that I died for in the best way possible. From the train station I took a waterbus to get to this place but that's something you probably wouldn't go around doing for the most part depending on where you're staying in relation to the train station. The hostess was super friendly and nice and this was actually one of my fave Air BNBs out of the whole trip! In addition, there was an ELEVATOR to take up my luggages which ended up being superrr key for me since I had the hardest time navigating my luggages from city to city (#overpackingproblems).
When you think Venice, you instantly think gondola rides. And while you may think that's so corny and cliche to do, I think it's totally apart of the experience and something fun! They cost around 80 euros so make sure a) you have cash on you and b) that you don't get charged more than you really should.
PIAZZA SAN MARCO
There was a day that I was just roaming around Venice-- getting lost through the different canals and alleyways, when I ended up in this beautiful plaza. I was surrounded by this gorgeous open space that had all these cute little restaurants circling it and even witness a little mini live orchestra play in the middle of the day in front of one of the restaurants as people were sipping on some wine and enjoying the view. My kinda afternoon! But then, as you head to the end of this amazing plaza, you're struck by the most beautiful and amazing church-- St Mark's Basilica. Open and free to the public, this was soo pretty and something worth checking out.
Trying to find what there is to do during the nighttime in Venice, I asked around from shop to shop to see what was up and finally got an answer from one of the young and happening Venetians who said it's all about Piazza Margherita. This is where all the youngins' of Venice head to at night to bar hop, karaoke, and when I was there, watch a good football (soccer) game.
There weren't too many places that stuck out to me as recommendations for dining in Venice but there was one place in particular that was BEYOND amazing. It helped that this place was around the corner from my apartment, but the pizza and pasta there were actually so good that it came a close second to the place I recommended in Rome.
Address: Sestiere Cannaregio 5525- 30121 Venezia
Last, but certainly not least-- Florence. Everyone kept talking about how amazing the views were there and how enchanting the city is and I didn't fully understand it until I finally got there.
Throughout the whole trip from London to Rome to Venice, all I kept talking about and dreaming about was the Air BNB I was going to be staying at in Florence because the view (as apparently seen in the photos from the owner) was going to be incredible-- and there was noo let down with this! The apartment was RIGHT on the corner of the Duomo so basically the view from my window was the Duomo. The building used to be owned by the King of Florence back in the day as the apartment owner was giving me the scoop, and the King even lived in one of the units. So basically, I was staying at the most royal place of them all. The apartment was an 8 minute walk from the train station-- which was even doable with my heavy duty luggage. Plus, the Duomo is very centrally located to everywhere you want to go throughout the main part of Florence so it was a very convenient apartment.
When you think Florence, you mostly likely probably most instantly think of the world famous Statue of David that's there-- or at least that's what I think of. So the first thing I had to do when I first got into Florence was befriend my homie David. The line to enter the Academia was pretty short and tickets were around $15 or so. And obvi there were other art pieces for you to admire as well while you're there.
As mentioned when raving about my Air BNB, the Duomo is definitely a must-see while in Florence. Everyone had recommended heading to the top to take in the breathtaking view but the line was so long while I was there that I didn't have the time to do that. But if you do have time and the line isn't long, I would definitely recommend going in and heading to the top.
While heading across the bridge from one side of Florence to the other, one set of bridges leads you to the pretty bridge filled with the Love Locks. If you don't know what that is, it's when people would head to the bridge with their significant others and place a lock on the bridge with their initials and throw away the key in the river. So cute right?! Well, you're not allowed to put locks on the bridge anymore, but it's still well worth to see... and take a cute picture #obvi.
Well something I didn't know prior to heading to Florence was that there are TWO Statue of Davids up in there. The main one that we all know and love is located in the Accademia Gallery as I mentioned before. But then there's a second (one that's bronze and green) that's located in the Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a little bit of a walk up as there are a bunch of stairs to finally get to the top, but it's so worth the hike because of the amazingly epic view you get from it.
I don't know what it was about Florence, but it really seemed like the gelato stores there were just on another level. Like all were super above and beyond fancy and amazing. One of which that stuck out to me was Venchi which I could tell was one of the more upscale gelato places in town (I mean, there was a chocolate WALL behind the ice cream bar, need I say more?!).
Someone had recommended this to me as the cute cafe to go to in Florence. While it may be the touristy go-to spot, the ambiance was fun and the eclair that I had there was on another level.
Address: Piazza della Repubblica 28 - 50123 Firenze
Recommended as having the best pasta and pizza, I went there and tested out all of the incredible different mozzarellas it had to offer as it was a mozzarella bar after all! Soo good and soo recommended.
Address: Via de' Tornabuoni 16 - 50123 Firenze
The thing to do in Italy is to aperitif which is basically the happy hour of Italy where you get bomb drinks and appetizers for half the price. We met up some local Florence friends on my last night there for a little aperitif session and they took me to this amazing and quaint little bar that had the best drinks. I would totally recommend this as a spot to go to on one of your nights out.
Address: Via Delle Seggiole 12 - 50122 Firenze