I just came back from my Italy trip and I was blown away by the rich culture and all the beauty in ever corner. Italy has always been on top of my list to visit ever since I was young, but I never thought I would actually set my foot in Italy. I've dreamed of cruising down the Grand Canal in a gondola with a gelato in my hand (so cliche I know) for as long as I can remember. A rush of emotions came over me once I landed and I told myself not to have high expectations because I didn't want to be let down. Sadly, I wasn't able to go to Venice this time although I had already booked tickets since there was a strike taking place at the airport when we arrived. Instead, I decided to spend most of my time in Rome and one day in Florence. I overestimated Rome because I thought I could just spend a couple of days in Rome and see everything, but there is just so much to see and do. I also underestimated how busy it would be. I didn't expect that many tourists, but I can see why people would flock to Italy. I thought I would share my tips and a list of places I visited during the first two days.
-I would check the hours of the museums or places you're trying to visit, because some museums are closed on Mondays.
-Download the app myTaxi, it's like an uber app in Italy. Uber is illegal in Italy although I'm sure you can still find some drivers but myTaxi is very convenient if you need a taxi. I used it to get to the airport and also after a long day of walking around. Very efficient.
-Wear comfortable shoes because you'll be walking everywhere. Almost every tourist spot is within walking distance to each other.
-Wear a crossbody. I brought totes on this trip as well and didn't have an issue with pickpocketing, but always be aware of your surroundings.
-Sometimes photos don't do justice, take a mental photo of everything.
-Wander around and get lost. You can find hidden gems. I found a beautiful street empty of tourists, a peaceful moment away from all the hustle and bustle.
-Don't eat next to a tourist spot, instead go walk a couple of streets away and you can find amazing local spots that are authentic and cheaper.
-Rome actually has water fountains you can drink from. You can actually bring a water bottle and fill it up, there are several fountains around Rome you can fill up from. Water is sourced from their aqueducts and are safe to drink from, but you can also go to their grocery stores and pay about 20 cents for a water bottle.
-If you're trying to visit the Vatican museum, book tickets ahead of time online or if you're planning to go the day of I would go early in the morning and wait in line. I stood in line at 8:20 am (it opens at 9am) and there was already a line, but I got in around 9:15am. There are people dressed up outside of the Vatican and St. Peters Basilica, but they do not work for the museum or church. They are trying to sell you tickets to "skip the line" for double the price. If you're an early bird I would go to St. Peters Basilica first, it opens at 7:30am and then go stand in line for the Vatican. St. Peters Basilica was empty with only a few people when I passed it to go to the Vatican museum. They are right next to each other and it will save you a lot of time instead of spending your time waiting in line for hours. However, April is the beginning of tourist season so I'm not sure what it's like in the upcoming months. I personally think the Vatican museum is worth visiting, especially the Sistine Chapel where you can see Michelangelo's work. Just breathtaking.
WHERE I VISITED:
-Campo de' Fiori: I stumbled into here accidently while getting lost looking for Piazza Navona and there were market stalls lined up fresh with food, flowers, and souvenirs.
-Piazza Navona: so beautiful I visited three times
-Pantheon: entry is free but it's very crowded and I was a bit underwhelmed. surprised at how small it was compared to what I imagined
-Trevi Fountain: I came here during the day and it was packed. I did hear it was beautiful at night and not as crowded, but it's a beautiful sight.
-Spanish Steps: great place to sit down and people watch and also a great place to shop.
-Vatican Museum: I would go here at least once, so much history and astounding artworks. I recommend renting an audioguide because a lot of the artworks don't have much information and you end up clueless as to what you're looking at.
-St. Peter's Basilica: The highlight is the view from up top. You have an option to take an elevator and then walk the rest (about 200 steps or so) or walk all the way up (550 steps), but remember they only accept cash. Michelangelo's Pieta sculpture (Mary holding Jesus) is also at the Basilica.
Florence post will be up shortly!