TVH Team Trip: Italy in 10 days!
We've planned and then had to cancel this trip twice in the past, so it's been on the to-do list for a while. Lucky for us, the third time was the charm, and we finally got to do our whirlwind Italian trip! Our travel philosophy is to basically cram as much as possible into a trip, so in 10 days we visited Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Florence, Tuscany, Venice and The Vatican. We'll go into more detail in subsequent posts, but for those of you that are interested here is a general idea of our itinerary.
Day 0: Arrival in Rome
The first evening we didn't really do anything, just got to the hotel and crashed, face down. Those overseas flights are brutal, no?
Day 1: Ancient Rome
We started the day by visiting many of the famous piazzas in Rome, then moved on to The Roman Forum and then had a special underground/upper level tour of the Colosseum. At the end of the night, we took the train to Naples.
Day 2: Amalfi Coast & Ravello
After breakfast in Naples, we took the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. We then took the bus down the Amalfi coast through Positano and Praiano to see Ravello and Amalfi town - both beautiful!
Day 3: Capri & Pompeii
We took the public ferry to Capri today and explored both Anacapri and Capri Town. We actually hiked all the way back to the harbor from town and it was definitely a great workout! We also went to Pompeii in the evening, and it was even better than we anticipated.
Day 4: Sorrento
After 2 days of running around we took a leisurely day to relax in Sorrento. We spent a few hours at the small beach - the water was SO clear and beautiful - then had a fantastic lunch, and took a walk around town. We caught a direct train in the evening from Naples to Florence.
Day 5: Tuscany & Pisa
This was our first (and only) group tour on this trip, and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. Our tour of Tuscany went to Siena, a working farm and vineyard for lunch, San Gimignano and then to see the leaning tower in Pisa. The wine was flowing at lunch, and the day was spent in a pleasant buzz.
Day 6: Florence, Galleries Uffizi & Accademia
Skip the line tickets are a must for both of these iconic Florence museums and even though I'm not an art connoisseur, I really did enjoy both these museums. Michelangelo's David is amazing in person and the rest of the sculptures were really fascinating. In the afternoon, we took a pleasant walking tour around Florence, learning about the history of the city and its best buildings. Late that night, we took the train to Venice.
Day 7: Venice
Having spent the night, we got a very early start - highly recommended. We had the first timed entry tickets to Saint Mark's Basilica and it was very opulent, and unlike any other cathedral in Europe. Not at all what we were expecting (in a good way)! We went on a walking tour of the city that got us off the beaten path to explore the neighborhoods and get a feel for what life used to be like for Venetians. Then we spent the rest of the time in Saint Mark's Square before wandering and walking the busy streets of the city through the University district back to the train station for our return to Florence.
Day 8: Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Medici Chapel and San Lorenzo Church
It was the first Sunday of the month when Florence's attractions are mostly free and we enjoyed some lesser known gems in the city. The lines weren't too bad and we managed to see quite a bit in a short day!
Day 9: The Vatican & Saint Peter's
Getting an early start at The Vatican is highly advised and we definitely agreed. We had the earliest entry tickets, but even then the crowds were enormous and, at times, claustrophobic. To see it before it got too crowded, we went straight to the Sistine Chapel and then pushed back through the crowds to go through the museum galleries afterwards. There is a "secret" way to St. Peter's Basilica (which we found) from inside the Sistine Chapel that allowed us to skip the security line from the square - we highly recommend this! The Basilica is fantastic inside, and we finished our visit by taking the roof tour to the top of the dome for a view of the city. We ended our time in Rome by taking a slow stroll through the Trevi fountain and Spanish steps to see them lit up in the evening.
Day 10: Return from Rome
On our last morning, we took our time at breakfast and then caught the train to the airport, sad to have to say goodbye.
A few thoughts about this trip - be prepared for a lot of walking; our step tracker said we walked 96 miles over 9 days! We also ate a ton of pizza, pasta, gelato and cheese - the food and wine were fairly inexpensive and delicious. Two of our favorite meals were actually in sandwich shops rather than cafes on the main square, so don't be afraid to eat like a local! Lastly, many places aren't air conditioned (like The Vatican) but you still have to wear appropriate clothing if you are planning to go into a church. I recommend carrying a light scarf or sarong to tie over shorts or drape over bare shoulders.
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