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Trip Report: Italy and France (3 weeks of fun)

Just got back from Italy/France on Oct 22nd and had some time to recover from our 3 week trip, so I thought I would do a little trip report and if anyone had questions they can fire away!! We went to Italy and France that was delayed from 2020 and celebrated our 16 year wedding anniversary and my wife's 41st B-Day

We left on Sept 28th flying out of PDX. Had our COVID test (BinaxNow Home test), passports, CDC card and DPLF Form all ready to go and had no issues checking in, everything was good, and we were on our way to the gate. We flew Delta and upgraded to Delta one which was an amazing experience.

Sept 29th:
Arrived in Venice at 9am and went thru passport control which was super easy, got our stamp and walked to our private water taxi that was waiting for us to take us to Rialto stop. It was a longer walk than expected and took a bit to get our bearings. Only thing that was frustrating was our roaming service would not connect from our phone carrier and had some issues with that but was able to use WiFi to contact our VRBO person checking us in on WhatsApp that we were on our way. Amazing boat ride to Venice and we were just in aw the whole way as this was our first trip to Europe. Arrived met the person checking us in (Still no phone service so it was hard to contact him, but found him and got settled in around 11:30am. Hit the city and went to Frari Church, Accademia, La Salute, Rialto Bridge. And just got lost in Venice our first day wandering around.

Sept 30th:
Headed to St. Marks square for late breakfast and we ate at Caffe Florian which was cool and the oldest caffe in the world so we had to. Even though the prices were a little high. Afterwards we wandered around the area as we had a tour with Walks of Italy at 2pm for San Marco/ St. Marks/ Doges Palace. We were super happy with take walks and enjoyed the history and knowing what we were looking at and the backstory.

Oct 1st:
Headed to Murano for the day to explore the island

Oct 2nd:
Took and early train to Florence and checked into to our VRBO around 11am that was by the dome and visited, Uffizi, Galileo Science Museum, and Palazzo Vecchio. If I had to do it again I probably would have skipped Galileo but it was definitely interesting.

Oct 3rd:
We visited Bargello in the morning, Brancacci Chapel and Santa Croce church in the afternoon. After that we walked to Piazzale Michelangelo for a late lunch to take in the view and it was breath taking. Afterward walked back thru the Ponte Vecchio and dinked around and climbed the bell tower at the dome.

Oct. 4th:
This was our day trip and we took a tour with Best of Tuscany with WalkaboutFlorence and we visited, Siena, Fattoria Poggio Alloro winery for wine tasting and lunch (they have a meat and vegetarian options), San Gimignano and Pisa. This was a fun tour and I would highly recommend it if you are considering a day trip from Florence! We left at 8am and got back around 8:30pm.

Oct 5th:
Another walks of Italy tour, we visited David at the Academia, and visited the Duomo tour. Academia was one of our favorites with the history and how Michelangelo was an amazing and confident individual. His sculpture of the 3 slaves and how he made them that way were fascinating and how he made David. At the Duomo we visited and was able walk to the top of the dome and the terraces.

Oct 6th:
Took an early train and headed to Rome and we were stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood. I have to be honest when we settled in our room and were walking around my wife and I were disappointed with how dirty and rundown Rome seemed to us compared to Venice and Florence. I was so excited for Rome and when we got there we just felt letdown and underwhelmed by it. Where we stayed was great for restaurants though which was nice. But Rome was our least favorite city. Romes history of the forum, colosseum and history aspect were hands down the best but the city as a whole was disappointing to us.

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We spent 5 nights in Rome and now looking back 4 nights would have been plenty and we would have added a night to another part of our trip if I had to do it over.

Oct 7th:
We headed to the Borghese Gallery which was our favorite museum in Rome. Went to the Spanish steps, the capital building and the view from there was amazing to see the colosseum and roman forum, amphitheater's in the background. We also did the Dolce Vita Stroll from Rick Steves guide

Oct 8th:
We did the Early am Pristine Sistine tour from Walks of Italy and it included breakfast as perk and free add on for us but I think now you have to pay for it. Crowds were very low at the Vatican and in the Sistine Chapel you could walk around freely and take it all in. After the tour we grabbed lunch and then we started the Heart of Rome walk from the Rick Steves guide.

Oct 9th:
Was the VIP underground Coliseum tour, Palatine Hill, Forum and Arch of Constantine from walks of Italy and it was just jaw dropping doing the tour and seeing it. Went underground and then headed up to the ground floor and then went up the 2nd level so we were able top see it from bottom to top. After that we tried to visit the Capitoline museum but they were sold out when we arrived which was a bummer as I didn't think it would be.

Oct 10th:
Was kind of a free day we visited the Capuchin Crypt, the Jewish Quarter and visited the mouth of truth and we still have our hands :)

Oct 11th:
Headed for Positano and took the train to Naples. We were picked up by our driver from 1st choice Sorrento which I highly recommend and our driver took us to Pompeii for 3 hours, after Pompeii we headed to Positano for the rest of the day.

Oct 12th:
This was suppose to be our chill day but the forecast was questionable the next couple days so we decided to do the Path of the Gods hike from Aegerola to Positano. We hired a driver to take us to Aegerola to start the hike as we just wanted to get there instead of figuring our the bus schedule and route. What an amazing hike as the views were phenomenal. It was sunny and clear the entire hike. Saw goats, pigs, cats, and a few dogs enjoying the view. At the end of the hike we stopped at Lemon Point for a slushy which was delicious. We made reservations to La Tagliata which is a family style restaurant with and amazing view. And come hungry if you get the full lunch. 6 plates of appetizers, 5 different types of pasta, 8 different kinds of meat, and 3 desserts. Includes wine. It was 45 Euros per person but was well worth it.

Oct 13th:
We went to Capri for the day our 9:15am ferry had mechanical issues so we didn't leave Positano until 10am. Seas were kind of rough but ended up getting to Capri around 11am. We were taking the late ferry at 5:25pm but had to take the 4:15pm ferry since the weather was starting to turn. Had a great day on Capri just wish we had more time like we planned on bu oh well.

Oct 14th:
We hung around Positano for the day and went to the church and to the MAR Villa Romano Archeological site which was really cool.

Oct 15th:
Got up at 3am and got a ride from our same driver that dropped us off in Positano to Naples Airport for our flight to Paris Orly which left at 7:20am. No COVID test needed and only showed our CDC card, passport and they didn't even look at the France waiver form. Arrived in Paris with no issues, rented a car to drive to Bayeux which was about 3hrs or so. When we arrived which was around 2pm everything for food except a few places were shut down. We were getting hangry and trying to find some grub as we have not had an issue like that. But luckily we got some food in us. We stayed at Hotel d' Argouges which was a nice hotel and they served breakfast buffet every morning which we took advantage of.

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Oct 16th and 17th:
We did 2 all day tours with Overlord and they were great. They picked us up at the hotel just after 8am and we did the Bradley Tour which covered D'Day one day and the footsteps of Easy Company and also some of the 82nd as well. Seeing all the places we visited and trying to imagine what they went thru was bone chilling and so many great/ sad stories were told on our tour. The whole tour gave my wife and I goosebumps.

Oct 18th:
We headed for Paris and driving back and we dropped the car off on the outskirts of Paris. Had the fun adventure of driving thru a few circles to get to where needed to drop the car off but forced my way thru. Got to stay and be aggressive :) We then took a taxi to our hotel where we were staying at Hotel Brighton which was an amazing place. Tuileries was just across the street and our room had the view of the Eiffel Tower, the gardens and the Louvre. After checking in we set out for Saint Chapelle church, walk around the Latin quarter and the Pantheon. My wife loves books so while walking we stopped in at the Shakespeare book store which was really cool.

Oct 19th:
We set out for the Arc and were able to go inside and check out the view. Had construction going on at the Arc. Afterward we set out for the Eiffel Tower. Went thru security and the lines for Elevator tickets were over 2 hours long so we opted for the stairs which was only a 45min wait. Got our tickets to the top and headed up to an amazing view. Afterwards we set out for Rue Cler for lunch and looked around. Afterwards we still had some time so we went to the Rodin Museum to finish out our day. That evening we did our COVID test in our room for our flight home which was easy.

Oct 20th:
at 9:30am we had reservations for the Orsay museum which was amazing. And had 2pm reservations for the Louvre. After Orsay we grabbed some lunch and headed to the Louvre. At both museums we did the audio guide from Rick Steves. Which was nice and afterwards we were able to just look around after seeing the highlights from the audio guide tour. At the Louvre we started in the Denon wing. The Mona Lisa had about a 30min or so with the lines to see her but was worth it to us. After the Denon wing we headed to the Sully wing. And I loved the Egyptian history, the sphinx etc. After going thru the Sully wing they were starting to close and before we knew it, it was 6pm.

Oct 21st:
Our last day in Paris and we had originally set out to go to the Palace of Versailles. But we called a last minute audible the night before as we were both museumed out and headed to Disneyland Paris instead. In May this year we went to Disney World with our kids which was a blast as we all love Disney. We thought about it and said how cool would it be to say went to Disneyland Paris and Disneyworld in the same year. So we set out for Disneyland. Weather wise it was really the worst weather we had our entire trip. It rained all afternoon but we were prepared for it and it didn't ruin it for us. By far Disneyland Paris has the best Space Mountain ride we have been on. We did both parks in one day which was doable since we didn't have our kids with us.

Oct 22nd:
We headed home from our amazing trip. No issues at CDG with checkin and headed back to PDX.

Things we would do over is one less day in Rome and one less day in Positano. We would have added 1 day to either Florence or Bayeux to visit Mount Saint Michel and definitely another day in Paris. Paris was amazing and one of our favorite cities. Italy looked at our CDC cards and Passports everywhere we went and France scanned our Health Passes. In France definitely recommend getting the health pass!! Phone Apps that helped us out big time was City Mapper. It gave you walking directions, train schedules, bus scheduled etc. I highly recommend it! It was an amazing trip and we are already planning our next adventure ! Fire away if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them!

Posted by
44 posts

Great synopsis of your trip! Thanks! Did you spend any time in Naples? We are now in San Gimagnano (about an hour south of Florence for those not familiar) and looking to move south toward warmer weather, so maybe Naples?? I may have more questions for you…

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223 posts

We did not spend anytime in Naples so I can’t help you there. Positano was great if you decide to go south. Have you had the world champion Gelato from Dondoli? That was my favorite Gelato in Italy :)

Posted by
5149 posts

Thank you for the trip report. We're planning (hoping!) to visit France and Italy next year, so this was definitely interesting to us.

Posted by
1124 posts

I'm curious, as a physics major, what didn't you like about the Galileo Space Museum? It's always been a point of interest for me for Florence someday, would love to hear specifics.

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223 posts

Aimee,
Don’t get me wrong it was cool museum but for you as a physics major you would probably enjoy it way more than I did. I would have replaced it with Medici Chapel which we did not visit do to the hours and our schedule. That’s all! Nothing wrong with it. If you love maps, globes, scientific instruments than it’s the place for you!

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you, a very interesting report. Give Rome another chance, though, if you can. That city can definitely be an acquired taste. I didn't care for it much either the first time I visited, many years ago as a college student. Now after a number of subsequent visits, it's one of my very favorite cities in Europe.

Posted by
1337 posts

Wow what a fantastic trip! Thanks for the report. Your first visit to Europe is so very special and it sounds like your good planning really paid off. We did a lot of the same tours you did, the Walks of Italy and the Walkabout Florence, and like you, we highly recommend both. I agree with the poster who said give Rome another chance, I LOVE Rome but Florence is my Husbands favorite (He has to get his Bisteca!) and you just can't go wrong with Paris.

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223 posts

For sure on Rome it was our first impression that kinda set the mood for us. But after going to the forum area and seeing that part it was really nice.