Italy – the food, the history, the people. It was a dream come true.
It was a last minute decision, we found Air Canada Vacations’ Wonders of Italy tour, which took us to Rome, Florence and Venice. Our package included flights, hotels, breakfast, train transport between the cities, and more. So we didn’t need to plan much, except for activities and food!
Tips – bring comfortable walking shoes, there is a lot of walking! Bring reusable water bottle, you can fill it up. We went in October, which was great. Not very busy, and weather very pleasant.
We started in Rome – a city with history at every corner you turn. We checked into our hotel, left our luggage and went off to explore the city. Starting with lunch, we opted for our first authentic Italian meal! After lunch, we walked around the neighbourhood where we’ll spend the next two days. Then picked up coffee from Caffè Trombetta and I was absolutely blown away at how good it was. I gave myself permission to drink all the coffee on this trip 😛
Next we activated our 24-hour hop-on-hop-off bus pass (came with our package), and took a ride all over Rome. Driving around the city at sunset was magical, and we earmarked all the places we wanted to visit the next day. The night ended with more food, and our first gelato from Gelateria S.M. Maggiore, which lived up to the amazing reviews! If you’re in Rome, I highly recommend you go here!
The next day started bright and early, with a taxi to Trevi Fountain to take our pictures before it filled up. Then we wandered around and stumbled into the plaza with the Pantheon! It was literally on our way to another place, but we changed the plans to just sit and enjoy a cappuccino with a view. Sitting in front of a Roman temple from 25 BC, later turned into a Catholic Church in 609 AD, the experience was surreal. Then we were off to Piazza Navona.
Main attractions – Colosseum, do yourself a favour and get tickets online to avoid all the people trying to sell it outside.
The food in Rome was great, but the options can be overwhelming. I recommend reading the reviews, and trying things they were best known for! This also helps avoid “tourist traps” where everything looks nice from the outside, but there’s nothing special or authentic about the food.
Reel video on Rome here.
We took the high-speed train from Rome to Florence. As soon as we got out of the station, we could tell how different Florence was to Rome. Capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, the city of Renaissance Art, we fell in love! We checked into our hotel, and came right back to meet our tour guide for a walking tour of the city. We learned the history of the Medici family, she showed us where they lived, the churches they built, the politics at the time and we were absolutely encapsulated by her stories. Highly recommend getting a walking tour if you’re in Florence!
The next morning we took a taxi to the Piazzale Michelangelo (we started on foot, but the uphill climb was steep lol!) to watch the sunrise over the city, lighting up the Duomo. The view was breathtaking. Then we trekked over to the Duomo, about a 20 minutes walk, to see it up close while enjoying a coffee. After learning the history of the building, how it took 142 years to build, and an infamous crime scene that shook the city (an unsuccessful, but violent, assassination attempt)!
We walked over to see the David of Michalangelo, which is absolutely unreal to see in real life. Then we went through the leather market to pick up gifts (something Florence is known for), and on to the main market that carries local products, where we got some spice mix for our family. This is another place our research helped, there was a whole another floor that was the food court, so we tried gnocchi, pizza, and some drinks here.
We took the train from Florence to Venice, listening to DDJL songs (if you know you know 😉 ). We walked out to the most beautiful train station platform with a glimpse of the canals. There are no roads connecting all of Venice, you have to walk or travel by water boats/taxis. But we soon realized our hotel was not on the island, but on the main land, “Venice Mestre”. Definitely recommend getting a hotel on the island to make it easier to get around Venice.
After a little stroll in Venice, we took the train back to the main land ($2 per ride), grabbed some lunch and spent time in our hotel. Other than the location, we really enjoyed our hotel! For dinner we found a Bangladeshi place that had the best pakora (place is called Baishakhi) and we watched Harry Potter and called it a night.
We started the next day bright and early, took the train back to Venice island to spend the day there. It’s a lot of walking on cobble stone streets and alleyways, lots of stairs to cross the bridge, so wear comfortable walking shoes!
For lunch I really wanted to sit somewhere with a view, and found Ristorante Terrazza Sommariva right by the Grand Canal, with a view of the famous Rialto Bridge. The food was okay, but the view was incredible and so worth it!
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the island, grabbing some coffee and taking in the views that you only get in Venice.
Our trip wrapped up with a train ride from Venice to Rome, where we stayed one more day (that’s when we visited the Colosseum), before our flight back to Canada.
My Instagram shows more of the sights and sounds from this trip. Don’t forget to check out the highlight tabs!