Italy has been on my ‘must-see’ destination list for such a long time; after all it’s the home of pizza, pasta and gelato! Earlier this month I finally got to visit and it completely surpassed my expectations.
I went with Ellie, would you believe it’s our 3rd trip together in less than a year, for a long weekend. We left early on Thursday morning and spent 4 days there; with 2 days in Rome, one day in Florence and our last day In Pisa before an early flight home on Monday morning.
It was difficult to see everything we wanted to in such a short space of time, especially as one of my favourite parts of travelling is wandering around and not sticking to a schedule, but I feel like we packed in a lot.
10 things you must do in Italy
Drink with the bohemians in Trastevere
Trastevere is a quirky neighbourhood a short walk away from the busy tourist spots in Rome. It’s a favourite with locals and tourists alike because of its unique coffee shops, bars and restaurants. We were there on Thursday and Friday night and people of all ages gathered in the Piazza di San Calisto (a pretty square with a fountain) to dance and watch live music. This reminded me of watching the people dancing and singing by the Seine River when I visited Paris (post here.)
Join in with Appertiv
What’s better than enjoying a cocktail while you watch the sun set on piazza navona? Free snacks! Italian bars and restaurants serve you free snacks when you buy a drink between 16.30pm and 7pm (times sometimes vary so be sure to check) and includes a variety of bread, meats, cheeses and olives. Appertiv quickly became our favourite pre-dinner ritual.
View Florence’s magical skyline
If you climb up a LOT of steps towards the Piazzale Michelangelo you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Florence’s skyline and the river Arno. It’s well worth the walk, we also visited a beautiful church and walked through a very old cemetery.
We went in the day, but I can imagine the view would be even more magical at night.
Discover hidden streets
Italy is a photographer’s dream, everywhere looks so interesting and beautiful! Wandering down streets and finding places away from the beaten track is something every tourist should do.
Rome’s streets are very narrow and cobbled with ivy cascading from the top and religious pictures featured in the walls. While Florence is much wider and more Venetian in their architecture, featuring big window shutters and washing hanging down. On the other hand, Pisa is more colourful, open and less cobbled.
Try a negroni
There is one drink you MUST try when you are in Italy, if you dare! A Negroni is a traditional Italian cocktail consisting of one-part gin, one-part vermouth rosso and one-part Campari, garnished with orange peel. Let me tell you, it is not like an Aperol Spritz!
See the sights up close and personal
You can’t visit Italy without seeing some famous landmarks! If you’re in Rome you should definitely visit the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain; we also saw the Spanish Steps, the Vatican and the Pantheon (although I was refused entry because of my white vest top…)
Laugh at tower tourists
Speaking of famous sights, if you visit Pisa you must see the Leaning Tower. Pisa is actually really tiny and although it has lots of gorgeous marble architecture, there isn’t a great deal to do apart from visit the tower and admire the beautiful buildings close by.
We had a great time watching all the other tourists try and get the perfect leaning tower picture. I found it quite difficult to get a good shot so just opted for a normal one instead. Could you do better?
Spot 10 sausage dogs
I was surprised and delighted at how many dachshunds I saw during my trip to Italy. Although they are popular in England, I have never seen as many in such a short space of time! There were also lots of poodles, chihuahuas and spaniels (I have no pictures of the puppers!)
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I would absolutely love to return to Italy, especially Rome, and would highly recommend it to anyone.