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10-day Italy Trip Summary!

RS friends: I thought I'd share my trip recap with you since you were helpful with my trip planning! My husband and I visited Italy April 4-13, and this was our first time there.

Day 1 (Venice): Arrived mid-morning. Headed to lunch and got lost (LOST) with a horrible paper map and no Internet. We had gelato at Gelato di Natura that afternoon and loved it. Dinner was at Impronta Cafe, where we ate the BEST tiramisu of our whole trip.

Day 2 (Venice): Saw the Rialto Bridge in the morning. Lunch was at Enoteca ai Artisti, and the food and service were both phenomenal. Saw St. Mark's Square and did the touristy thing and took a gondola ride. We asked our gondolier questions, which made the ride very informative.

Day 3 (Venice/Cinque Terre): Ate incredible pizza for lunch in Venice at a place with no name. Took the train to Manarola. Arrived in Manarola and ate dinner at Marina Piccola with great steamed mussels. I wanted to drink the lemon butter sauce!

Day 4 (Cinque Terre): Hiked the red trail Manarola-Volastra, then Volastra-Corniglia. That hike was tough, and we're in-shape people! Ate lunch and gelato in Corniglia, then hiked the blue trail Corniglia-Vernazza. Once in Vernazza, took the train to Manarola and got take away for dinner.

Day 5 (Cinque Terre): Took the train to Riomaggiore, then the boat to Monterosso. Ate lunch in Monterosso. Took the train back to Manarola and ate dinner at Trattoria dal Billy's. Husband ordered sambuca as a digestif. No. Never again.

Day 6 (CT/Pisa/Rome): Walked around Manarola at sunrise, then had brunch before catching the train. Stopped in Pisa and saw the tower. Spent 3 hours there, per RS' suggestion, which was perfect. Then back on the train and arrived in Rome in the evening.

Day 7 (Rome): Toured the Colosseum with the RS audio tour. After that, we saw the Roman Forum. Ate lunch at Il Bocconcino and relaxed at the hotel that afternoon. Had dinner at Ristorante Sacco, and the service and food were excellent.

Day 8 (Rome): Attended the 7:30am Pristine Sistine tour with Walks of Italy. Worth every penny! We also climbed the dome of St. Peter's. Saw Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps in the afternoon. (Too many people!)

Day 9 (Rome): Scratched our Trastevere plan (we were so sick of crowds) and went to Osteria dal 1931 for lunch since Anthony Bourdain had eaten there. I knew more Italian than the owner knew English, but he was really excited we were there because we saw the restaurant on Bourdain's show. This was off the beaten path, and we never heard any other English all day.

Day 10 (Rome): Said goodbye to Italy!.

A few takeaways were:
- Trains: They're SO simple. Don't overthink them. Riding on trains was new for us but was incredibly easy.
- Shady people: We had no issues. Husband kept wallet with only day $ in front pocket; I carried a full-zip cross-body purse (regular purse; not an anti-theft purse). Carried passports in money belts. The most "annoying" people were the rose salesmen, bracelet salesmen, etc.
- Rome: It's CROWDED. Forget what you heard about April being a less-touristy month. (Venice and CT were not crowded for us.) Rome was my least favorite spot we visited.
- Language: I took an online Italian course prior to the trip. I found it helpful, but I could have navigated just fine with only English.
- Espresso: You will love it so much that you will be purchasing an espresso machine for home after your trip, like I am.

:-)

Posted by
3356 posts

Thanks, Lauren, for posting your trip report; I love Italy, too!

I smiled reading your Day 1 Venice info. ...Got lost....had gelato. Yep, good solution! : )

Rome was one of our least favorite Italian cities from our first experience, focused on those main tourist spots. When we returned and saw other parts of the city & participated in a wonderful cooking class, we enjoyed it much more.

My hubby also said at the end of our last Italy trip that we should immediately purchase an espresso machine when we returned home. Nice to bring a little Italy home with you!

Posted by
1650 posts

That's a wonderful review! Thanks for sharing your experiences. We may incorporate your itinerary next time we're in Italy.

Posted by
11613 posts

Such a nice, detailed report! Thanks.

Posted by
1714 posts

Lauren--

You know why Rome was so crowded? Because you went all the places where the tourists are!

Seriously, though, we were in Rome for 6 days a month before you, in early March. Yes, there were quite a few people, but mostly locals & not so many tourists, except at the usual suspects like St. Peter's, Trevi & Spanish Steps. We saw the latter two for literally minutes and moved on, taking the bus back to our neighborhood near Campo de' Fiori where it was much more pleasant. But I hear even that area gets full during the tourist season.

Rome simply fascinated me for the business-like way people go about their lives, but are always happy to help out. Had quite a few interesting conversations on the crowded buses (certain routes are that way all the time!) Although I've never been there in high season, it just seems like because of its size, Rome can handle and integrate throngs of tourists better than a place like Florence.

Posted by
5637 posts

Rome was probably extra crowded due to Holy Week. We found it uncrowded in mid October but our prior trip in mid to late Sept was crowded and beastly hot. Give Rome- and Travestere- another chance.

Posted by
120 posts

Hi Lauren,

Thank you for such a wonderful review. A big thank you for your takeaways! I think I need to stay off the scam boards. It's funny, I go to NYC & use trains/subways, but am more fearful about doing it in Italy. So thank you for calming my nerves! I can put those fears at a bay & just be excited for my trip in October.

So glad you had a great time! Katie

Posted by
11497 posts

Nice report, Lauren! Thanks for sharing!

You know why Rome was so crowded? Because you went all the places
where the tourists are!

Amen, Jay. Everyone I know who didn't like Rome gave her too little time and spent all of that at the Top 10 with everyone else crossing those off the list! Now that you've been there, done that, you can dive into corners that didn't make that list. That's the fun stuff!

Give her another chance; spend a week; get to know her a little better? I'm betting you may feel differently after the next go-around.

Posted by
963 posts

We felt exactly the same about purchasing a Cappuccino machine after visiting Italy, it did pass and we did not purchase, but we are back to Italy next month and I have a feeling that need to purchase will return.

I love the hustle and bustle of a city, probably why I love Rome so much and all the quietness of it when you venture one street over, go down one alley, sit in a piazza and watch it all go by. I know what you mean about the steamed mussels with the lemon butter sauce...one of the main things I can't wait to eat again, we had them in Monterosso but I am sure we can find them in Sorrento.

Posted by
104 posts

Thanks, everyone! I failed to mention in my original post that my husband was sick on Day 9. We would have liked to explore more of the "locals only" areas of the city that day, but going out for lunch was our only adventure since he woke up that day with a sore throat and sniffles!

As interesting as the Colosseum and the Vatican were, I honestly thought out last day was more enjoyable than the others. And you're correct -- because there were less tourists. :-)

Posted by
524 posts

Fun trip report, thanks! We went in the middle of September 2015 and the weather was lovely, so you never know from year to year. We went to all the tourist spots and I didn't feel like it was overly crowded, and I hate crowds. I liked it because it was the school season and hardly any kids. We never had to wait on restaurants either.

I think what one considers crowded another doesn't....all in perspective? I don't know. I was also really nervous about the trains because we don't have trains/subways...mass transnit in my city not many people do. The trains were so easy! For the other poster, NY subways aren't bad to finally figure out, but are more confusing than the trains.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you for the detailed report! I've found that it can be hard to find up to date info online and always appreciate info from someone with recent experience.

I will be going to Cinque Terre at the beginning on June and was wondering about the boats between towns. Is it pretty easy to figure out the day of or is it something that required advanced planning? Were you able to just show up and buy tickets or did you need reservations?

For hiking, did you have to buy a trail pass? If so, is that something we can just buy the day before or will we need to do that ahead of time?

Thanks!!