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.