“Trips to Venice get they winters replaced with…” | Jay- Z x Allure
First, belated Happy New Year wishes! Everyone is probably well on their way to achieving their new resolutions, some successes may be farther than others, but best wishes for a successful 2015.
I replaced my winter [including NYE] with not only Venice, but Rome and Florence, Italy as well. The sights, food, people and of course wine, definitely created a holiday to remember! I would definitely like to return during the warmer months. Here are some of my travel takeways from a first timers point of view.
Visiting three Italian cities as tourists presented minor challenges, such as not knowing the stops on the bus or not knowing the times the metro train stopped running. Other than that, Rome was very easy to navigate with the help of maps, one of the easiest I’ve come across in my travels. I also, suggest purchasing a Roma Pass so that you can have unlimited travel between metro trains and buses. To travel from FCO (Rome’s airport) and to major cities like Venice and Florence, the Italian train system is also easy to use. Once you arrive to your respective cities most tourists and locals alike, travel by foot. Taxi stands are also available to indicate where to catch legal taxis. Venice also has water taxis and bus stops clearly marked. The wait for public transportation was also very reasonable, although I imagine during peak months it can be more hectic.
Visiting Italy in the winter months has its advantages and disadvantages. As with visiting any country as a tourist, you always want to make sure you have comfortable layers and shoes for walking. In Rome, the weather was consistent at about 45 degrees in the morning, then getting up to the low 50s by lunch time. On the other hand, Venice and Florence were COLD. It actually snow/rained in Venice, which was misery! I had to buy an ugly umbrella. Florence had more of a dry cold. Unfortunately, temps never rose above low to mid 40s.
What can I say about the attractions? It is Italy after all so really what I say won’t do any justice! Everything I experienced was definitely worth viewing in person. As cliche as it may sound, the architecture and historical sights in each city were breathtaking. I do recommend using sites with personal reviews like TripAdvisor to sign up for tours in advance, especially if you are a first time visitor. Also, I thought I would never say this but bring/buy a selfie stick. If you don’t have one believe me, there is someone within 15 steps waiting to bombard you with “SELFIE! SELFIE!” encouraging you to purchase one. They look really cheesy, but it’s a good way to make sure you take pics without asking for help from others. I also recommend asking for advice from locals or others who have visited to determine what’s worth seeing depending on the length of your stay.
In addition to attractions, of course there are also tons of boutiques and shops showcasing local goods like Tuscan leather and Murano glass, wines and Limoncello, but there’s also many high end fashion houses featured including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Furla, Missonni and Moschino to name a few. If high end designers don’t catch your eye, there are also shops like H&M and Zara dotting most high traffic streets, especially throughout Rome and Florence.
Food & Beverage
Honestly, this could be it’s own separate post. You realize the simplicity of Italian food after eating authentic Italian. Each pizza, plate of truffle pasta, cone of gelato, glass of wine was delicious. Of course after almost 2 weeks, I had a few favorites, but overall my tastebuds were shocked [in a good way]. I highly recommend experiencing Italian wine tasting tours. Vinicultural tours was my absolute fave! I felt like I was getting the local experience with a very knowledgeable and down to earth tour guide. Visiting in the winter also means you can drink hot beverages including mulled wine and hot chocolate. Both were nothing short of luxurious. My favorite hot chocolate even had a chocolate rum truffle at the bottom. YUM! I will also add, although I love Margherita pizza, the best I had was a slice — Naples style in Venice, across from the 1 euro store.
Italians have lots of love and patriotism for their country and their respective cities. They don’t mind suggesting places to eat or see and were very helpful in navigating, even when using limited English. There are also a lot of similarities between Italian and Spanish, so if you are familiar with conversational Spanish, simple words and phrases could be easier to grasp. Overall, brushing up on simple conversational phrases would incite smiles from locals, but not 100% necessary to enjoy your experience.
So after spending about 10 days in Italy, I am adding it to my travel list again. I feel like there is still so much I would like to see and experience. Until next time Italy, Ciao Bella!