Back in 2019, I asked our oldest adult daughter if she would like to take a trip to Europe with me in 2020. She excitedly
said “Yes!”, and I gave her the option to pick the country. She quickly decided on Italy, and we had wonderful conversations thinking about what she might like to see & do, and on the flipside, what wasn’t a priority to her. From those discussions I came up with nine different itineraries for her to select her favorite.
As we all know, 2020 didn’t happen, and I wouldn’t take her in 2021 because I didn’t want her first experience in Europe to feel like a Covid requirements recovery tour. So, this trip had been long anticipated! I voluntarily self-quarantined myself for a couple of weeks in August to avoid any possible illness, etc. that might halt her dream of finally going to Europe.
Preparation: She wanted to learn the methods how I travel, so we discussed packing light, the critical money belt (Rome Metro story included below!), speaking the local language, train travel, my criteria for selecting lodging, etc. I still did most of the research since I am retired.
We stayed in 6 cities in 15 nights with four day-trips. This was my 7th time to Italy, and my daughter’s first. Our locations were Venice, Ferrara (day trip to Ravenna), Florence, Salerno (day trip to Paestum), Amalfi (day trips to Positano & Ravello) & Rome.
I paid for our hotels; otherwise, we split everything else equally. For the 15-day trip, my expenses were $3660, and $1030 for my daughter, plus our airfare & trip insurance. These expenses included staying in nicer Italian-style hotels, B&B’s or small apartments in the center of the historic districts, riding the trains & ferries – just an occasional taxi, a variety of activities & meals, plus having the best gelato & tiramisu - yum! Thank you to the person who recommended the Splitwise app. It worked so well to just enter amounts at the end of the day, and the entries helped me remember some of our fun restaurants afterwards.
Advice – whenever I made a timed reservation, I always picked the first option of the day. This repeatedly gave us better experiences – sometimes unbelievably better!
Venice – 3 nights: Ahh, the magic of Venice….and she felt it, too! We took the handy Aliguna boat (10-minute wait) to the Santa Maria Giglio vaporetto stop to stay at Hotel Ala – my third time at that hotel. We checked in and immediately went out to explore the wonderful maze of Venice! What, we ended up at Suso Gelato? : ) During our three days, we participated in the Clock Tower tour, took a ferry from San Marco to Burano for colorful photos, visited St. Mark’s with the earliest timed entry (almost empty!), ate wonderful seafood and we ended our time in Venice sitting outdoors in the piazza at the Florian and enjoying the music & ambiance of Venice. (That unmistakable magic - she got teary a few times even mentioning Venice afterwards.)
Ferrara – 2 nights: I wanted her to experience at least one less touristy location in northern Italy, so we went to Ferrara. We had a large room in the very nice Maxxim Hotel, near the Jewish ghetto. Their breakfast area has an indoor and garden area.
After a local piadina lunch at Farina del Mio Sacco, we walked out to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Ferrara which contains many interesting artifacts from the Etruscan city of Spina – 3rd Century BC. Since we also went to Ravenna, we ran out of time to rent bikes in Ferrara, but we enjoyed going through Castelle Estense – especially the dungeon, and we had our best meal of our trip in Ferrara! I just looked up the name of the restaurant – Trattoria da Noemi, and now my mouth is watering – wow!