Traveling around the boot in 2 weeks. Easy, stressful, rewarding.
After the long time indoors and seeing my year in Italy dwindle down I was worried that I was not going to get to experience as much as I thought/hoped I would. Especially since I was seemingly trapped inside Italy. Since my residence permit wasn’t fully approved or issued (idk how Italian government works) I was scared to leave the country and not be allowed to return. Since USA citizens aren’t allowed to even come to the EU right now.
So what does one do on a budget but wants to get the heck out of Milan? Well, you travel through the whole country of Italy on every mode of transportation possible.
From the start of the planning process to the end of the trip when we stepped foot off the train back at Milano Centrale it was a whirlwind. I will try to keep this at a readable length but there was so much we did and saw that I could talk for days.
First and foremost no matter where you go make sure you have a plan.. or at least an idea of a plan. Otherwise you will be floundering in some places trying to figure out where to go and what to do. The girls and I chose to travel for 2 weeks and chose 10 places to stop in. Spending one day in some and longer in others. Depending on where we were and what we wanted to see.
Destination 1 – 3 : Cinque Terre – Monterosso – La Spezia
First things first when booking your trip.. do not do what we did and go not very prepared travel wise. We looked into a bunch of different ways to travel. By train, car, plane, boat etc. Ultimately we wanted to rent a car and road trip the country but it came to be a lot of extra details and we did not want to risk something bad happening with the car or drivers. So we looked into the EuRail pass for Italy. Our first thought was okay we just have to buy the pass, register for the trips we go on and then it will be okay, get to the train station and go.
We got to the train station for our 8am train out to La Spezia early enough for me to go to Starbucks (lol shocker) and have some time to kill. Full prepared to board the train and head to the first destination of La Spezia to drop our bags at the AirBnb then head to the beach at Monterosso. That was before we tried to get on the train and realized we did not have a reserved seat on the train. Because there was no clear outlining that we had to do an additional step of reserving an actual seat on some trains. Lesson earned the hard way and 2 hours later. Luckily my friends are good at convincing people to let us board and get to destinations (a trend that we saw later in the trip too). However we did have to change trains and lost a day of beach and didn’t arrive to La Spezia until about 4pm.
La Spezia is a small little port town and not too much to do, especially by the time we arrived. But we did get some good recommendations by our AirBnb host. His apartment is very cute and I encourage you to stay here in La Spezia because its easy to get around the coast areas. There is also an amazing restaurant called All’Inferno dal 1905 that was probably the best seafood ravioli I have had in my life.
If you are a brave tourist venturing to the beaches in Italy for the first time ever, and have not prepared yourself before hand, take this as your warning. It is not what you think. Do your research to when the popular times to go are, so you don’t risk not getting a spot on the beach. Make sure you’re prepared to be on big boulders to sit if you don’t get a spot on the actual beach. And always, always, ALWAYS bring shoes for the beach to walk down to the water with…especially on the pebble beaches!
Destination 4: Firenze (Florence)
I have been here a bunch of times, so I have a whole travel list of what to see, whats a waste of time, and where you should eat at… We did none of those. We walked around the city and ventured the Piazzale di Michelangelo to sit for a bit. Drank a beer and enjoyed the golden hour view. Later though we had dinner at a spot I went too with my friend Caroline before, Osteria del Proconsolo. Everyone knows you have to get a Florentine style steak while you are in Florence.. I don’t eat meat, but I highly suggest it. Everywhere you go here is amazing. Next to the AirBnb we stayed at we found a bar that was playing Reggaeton music and of course we had to go and we danced all night.
Destination 5: Roma
OH ROMAAAAA. How much I did not want to go to this place ( I know shame on me ). I have said since before I moved to Italy I really had no intent to come to Italy, and especially not Rome. Especially not Rome in the middle of August. Well that did not last very long. Especially when you plan an around the boot trip to see all that you can in 2 weeks. I will say though.. it was not as bad as I was prepared for.
We lucked out with the weather. It was 70°F (21°C) for most of the day and sunny. However, we were not so lucky with the days events and how they played out before finally getting able to leave the Airbnb. After staying at the train station for an extra hour trying to make sure we could get to the next destination flawlessly, it was already 1:00pm before we left our AMAZING AirBnb to be the tourists we wanted to be. Like I said before, make sure your EuRail pass is loaded with all the right reserved seats before you embark on your trip it will save you a ton of time.
Most people say that you can walk Rome and it is fine or suggest you to rent a Vespa to get around. While those are great suggestions, we decided to try those Bird Scooters. The path to do “Rome in a Day” is fairly easy. If you have been to Rome before, you know the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are all around the same area and form a sort of circle back to our Airbnb which was next to the Trevi Fountain. If you haven’t been to Rome, get a good map, hop on a scooter and just venture around. We enjoyed so much just getting lost on the streets trying to find things. Riding on these scooters around the city was so fun and helped cut down the time down to get from destination to destination.
Since we got a late start on the day we did not actually get to go into many museums and we did not have the opportunity to go to the Vatican City. But if you want tips and tricks for that and another Rome / Italy experience click here and it takes you to my best friends blog about it and her whole Italy trip!
While Rome was never on the top of my list of places to go..Roman cuisine is on the top of my favorites in the world. We enjoyed dinner at Agrodolce Restaurant. It is right next to the Trevi Fountain and it is so good! We got basically one of everything. Please go and get the roman broccoli and for sure the trio bruschetta. The waitress was super nice. She sat and talked with us for a while since it was not too busy and we became friends, and she even discounted our food at the end of the night.
Rome won me over. Rome also gave me the worst sunburn of my life (because who thinks to put sunscreen on when you’re walking around a city?) I’ll go back and live out more of the Lizzie McGuire life.
Destination 6: Napoli
Prepare yourself for Naples. It is an interesting place, with lots of character, very nice people, and a lot of potential to be a great city. It, however, was not for me. The food, yes, my favorite. The city itself.. I was not impressed and I do not know if it was a mixture of me being tired, not really having a real plan for Napoli or the fact the first day I got sick and it just ruined the day. Napoli has a reputation of being a dangerous and dirty city. So when we mentioned to people that we were headed there we got asked a lot of questions (unless they were from there, in which case we got suggestions on what to do).
The place we stayed was right in the center of the historical part and kind of a cool location because its in the street where there was more street food than you could possibly imagine in every direction. Take cash, but not too much, and make sure you give the cab drivers the EXACT amount because they will not give you change. *insert eye-roll here*.
We did a tour of the underworld of Napoli which was super cool. Just make sure you get there for the English tour unless you know Italian well enough to understand what you are looking at. There was a lot of cool information and things to know, and I appreciate Louann for translating for me since I had no idea what was going on.
DISCLAIMER: Do not going on this tour if you are afraid of dark, or claustrophobic. This is not the tour for you. I found this out the hard way. I never considered myself claustrophobic before but I think it was a mix of the heat, claustrophobia and what I ate for lunch that just ended my day early. Shoutout Louann again for getting me cookies and water after I got sick in the street. And sorry to Ale for making us end the tour early.
We will come back to Napoli, but we left for a day to go to our next place to see the most MAGICAL place ever.
Destination 7: Capri
If and when you have the opportunity to go to Capri. GO. If we could have stayed there the whole trip, I would have. It is the most beautiful place I have been to on this earth. The people, amazing. The food, great. The views, spectacular. I do not have enough time to properly do this place justice.
We took the first ferry out of Napoli to Capri and spent the whole day there on the beach, exploring the city and eating some really good food. While it is a very expensive place, it is worth it for what you are getting.
While there are some really pretty private beaches, that cost a bit extra to go too, we enjoyed the public beach that is very close to where the ferry docked.
So you do not have to worry about taking the bus or taxi’s to find your way around. And it was equally as pretty to be on for the day. Make sure you leave enough time for exploring though. You can take the funicolare (incline) up to Piazza Umberto where all the shopping and beautiful views are. Go to Mount Solaro, and you can see every corner of Capri and the Amalfi Coast.
We only spent 1 day here before returning to Naples (against my will but per by wallet’s instructions) but if we could have stayed longer I would have.
Destination: back to Naples
We did our own walking tour of Napoli, enjoyed some really cool street markets, and awesome fried calamari/other things I did not ask what it was. It was very interesting to have the man pick the octopus right out of a tub to try to fry it up for me to eat when I said that was what I wanted to have. I don’t eat meat, I only eat fish, and I know they die for me to eat them but I do not necessarily want to be the reason that particular one died that day. So I passed and went to get calamari from a place I did not have to see it die.
After walking through what seemed like all of Napoli, site seeing, dodging in and out of museums, and looking for the castle, we finally found a place to sit and enjoy some Prosecco to watch the sunset. Eventually finding a better place on some rocks, after Louann threw her phone over the railing almost into the sea. We ended up meeting a group of German tourists there and became friends. We all decided to go out later and proceeded to get a little more tipsy and stay out a little longer than expected, but it was the most fun night I had on the whole trip. The German group plays a crucial role in our trip later.
Destination 8: Bari
Another common knowledge type thing is to make sure not to stay out or drink excessively the night before you have a 5:50am bus from one destination to another. However, we were already pretty on trend for making bad decisions through the whole trip so far, so whats one more?
Getting to Bari was the most challenging experience we had to face. I will point out that we were not of sound mind considering we got back to our Airbnb in Napoli at 4:30am and had to leave at around 5ish to get to the bus stop. Thankful Ale had a grip on life and helped us get to the right place, since we missed our original bus. Still not a fan of the bus driver who was VERY inappropriate to the girls and was trying to fine us 400 euro… but we eventually made it for only 23 euro. Once in Bari though, we discovered this really quaint yet very beautiful place. Once again staying at a beautiful Airbnb with a great location to most everything.
There isn’t much to see, but churches, a castle, and architecture that is just amazing. Its on the Adriatic sea across from Croatia and has an amazing promenade with gorgeous views called Lungomare Nazario Sauro. Watching the sunset here and seeing all the people come out and to life was so cool. The people treat the streets like their living room. Everyone knew everyone, and they did not care that their front door was open and you could see them having dinner or just enjoying some TV. I said a million times that I want to move there because it reminded me of my small hometown.
Unfortunately leaving this beautiful place, I left my travel companion, Snoopy, behind. I take Snoopy with me everywhere and those who do not know it was / is my favorite cartoon. My dad gave me Snoopy and it just reminds me of home and gives the comfort of family..so leaving Snoopy was very, very upsetting. LUCKILY the Germans I mentioned from Naples, were also going to Bari. They also just so happened to stay in the same Airbnb that we did. So they found Snoopy and one of them took him with them back to Germany with him. This leads to another post that will be coming titled “German Getaway” but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
Destination 9: Monopoli
Taking a day trip to the beach to a town called Monopoli. Just there for the beach, but got there too late to get a spot on the beach, we enjoyed our whole time on the rocks, but it was still fun. We brought our own lunch and enjoyed just a pretty time at the seaside. You can’t go wrong when you’re on the seaside of Italy.
If you make it to Monopoli, go and walk around per usual to find what these amazing seaside cities have to offer. There is a castle, a ton of museums and actually the beach we were at had an underwater exhibition. We ate the BEST calamari I have had in my life at Sottocoperta Pub and continued to dance through the streets.
FINAL Destination 10: Venezia (Venice)
To my favorite city in all of Italy, Venezia, you have my heart forever and ever. I had been here before our trip too, so I did not venture to the touristy locations and things with the girls. My motto… pay to see it once and then you’re good. So I spent my days by myself for the most part. Getting lost on the streets, but loving every second. Seeing the prettiest views, and drinking a lot of Spritz.
While here, though, you should obviously do the most touristy things you can get your hands on if you have never been. If that means paying 80 euro for a gondola ride through the canals, do it. Eat all that traditional food that you can — baccala mantecato, risotto al nero di seppia and Bellini’s from Harrys Bar are my go to things. We did go to the tourist trap places to get a pizza, but it was worth it because we got free prosecco and the pizza was so good.
If you made it to the end of the adventure, congratulations. It was truly an experience I never saw myself taking or embarking on 5 years ago or even 7 months ago going into lockdown. I am blessed that I had good travel buddies who spoke great Italian, liked to drink wine, and put up with me waking them up everyday for 2 weeks.
If you want more details or information about anything that we did/where to go and what to do or where to stay, I linked everything worth doing but shoot me a message as well!! I will go into more details.
For those wondering the fate of Snoopy, don’t worry he’s safe now. Stay tuned to the German Getaway post for that story.