Travel Guide: Italy

Italy is probably one of the most AMAZING places I have been able to travel! The whole trip just seems like a dream and I am beyond grateful that I was able to spend time there with the person I love most, Morgan. The lifestyle is so relaxed the food is so delicious (and perfect for people that can’t normally have gluten and dairy… it’s just different in Italy!). This was my first trip to Europe and boy oh boy did it require a lot of planning and researching, which took up a lot of time and took away from us enjoying the Italian culture to its fullest extent! Don’t get me wrong… we still had an amazing time but spending an hour each day finding all the places we want to go is a long time!!!. We tried to book all our accommodations and trains before we left but finding all the places to eat + explore takes lots of time. So let me help you plan your dream vacation to ITALY🇮🇹

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I put together this travel guide so try and save you some time when you plan your next trip! I included some of our favorite restaurants, eateries, and activities we loved!

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Some general tips about Italy I can share include:

  • Be prepared to spend lots of time at each restaurant!
    • Italians love their food and sharing food with friends — plan to spend 2 hours when you go for dinner as they are never in a rush
  • Lots of restaurants close between 2-7pm
    • Make sure you have snacks or find some of the more touristy restaurants that are open during these hours so you don’t go hungry (we found this out the hard way!!)
  • Make reservations ahead of time
    • If you can make a reservation as many of the best restaurants get filled up very quickly
  • Pack LIGHT
    • I know everyone says this but seriously… when you are going between trains and traveling between the different cities you will be thankful
  • Research and organize to get a VAT refund
    • Italy has a 22% value-added tax. If you are not a European citizen you are able to get this money back at the end of your trip
    • If you spend more than 154.94 euro in one store at one time — ensure you get the proper paperwork from that store and take it to the airport to get your money back at the end of your travels
  • When you can take the city bus + tram
    • These still require a ticket but the drivers do not check and or care what so ever — so if you are tight for money you can get yourself a free ride 😉 shhhh I didn’t tell ya that!
    • The metro however you need a ticket to pass through the gates
  • Buy train ticket ahead of time
    • They are like 2-6x time price if you buy them the day-of at the station so if you can be prepared to try and book online beforehand
  • Bring a reusable water bottle
    • Water is VERY expensive in Italy (there is no such thing as free water in Italy)
    • They have several water fountains throughout the cities that are very good and safe to drink — helps save a penny too!

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Rome

Where we stayed

  • Hotel San Paolo Roma — we spent 3 nights here at the beginning of our trip. It was quite affordable ($70/night). It was located a 5 min walk from the metro station or the bus stop. It made it extremely accessible to get around town!
  • San Pietro Suites — we stayed here for 2 nights at the end of our trip and it was amazing! I couldn’t say enough about this place. The price was great ($60/night). It is located in Vatican City and comes with breakfast to your room each morning. I highly recommend!!

Sights we saw

  • Colosseum
  • Forum
  • Palatine Hill
  • Spanish Steps
  • Trevi fountain
  • Vatican
  • Pantheon
  • St. Peters Basilica
  • Museum de Roma
  • Piazza Navona

Places we ate

  • Voglia de pizza ($) — gluten and dairy free menu! We went here the first night we got to Italy and it was very good but then realized the gluten and dairy are different in Italy and did not make me sick… so I indulged afterward 😉
  • Benso 215 ($$) — a bit expensive for what you get but very enjoyable
  • Dar Poeta ($) — a cute little place in Trastevere that has amazing pizza and wine that is cheaper than water!! It is a must. Finish off your evening by walking the night market right by the river
  • Antico Forno Roscioli ($) — pastries + bakery
  • La Rotonda ($) — right in the heart of Roma. Good pasta (sooooo cheesy) and charcuterie
  • La Panetteria ($$) — good dinner place, the service was amazing!
  • Temakinho ($$) — Brazillian Japanese food… sounds so weird right but it was KILLER! Sushi, poké, margaritas + much more!
  • Suppliazo ($) — the BEST suppli in Roma (my fav food in Roma!)
  • Ciuri ciuri ($) — great cannoli
  • Colline Emiliane ($$) — one of the better dinner places in Roma. I recommend the pumpkin ravioli with butter sauce
  • Venchi ($) — gelato chain in Italy but HOLY CRAP its seriously to die for! You can get your cone or bowl filled with chocolate sauce… total game changer!

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Florence

Where we stayed

  • Dimora Salviati — this was my favorite place we stayed throughout our trip! It was a small BnB a 15 min bus ride from the Duomo (the bus stop was literally across the street!). It was quiet and comfortable and the neighborhood was safe and cute! The price was about $100/night 🙂

Sights we saw

  • Galleria dell’Accademia
  • Piazza del Michaelangelo
  • Duomo
  • Bell tower
  • Baptistry
  • Ponte Vecchio

Places we ate

  • Coquinarius ($$) — one word… AMAZING! This was our favorite restaurant for the whole trip. Everything is so amazing and they have a sommelier that helps pair wine to your meal. I recommend the burrata Raviolotti, slow cooked beef cheeks + cheese and pear raviolini
  • Perche no ($) — really good gelato
  • Shake cafe ($) — my favorite North American breakfast food in Italy! They had tons of smoothies, smoothie bowls, + juices. We went every morning we were in Florence!
  • Gilli ($$$) — in the heart of Florence with an amazing view. VERY expensive. Had Roman pizza, which was a cool change
  • Brunelleschi Bistrot ($) — great view of the Duomo. Food was OK
  • Tamarindo Juicery ($) — a cute little place with great fresh pressed juice
  • Budellino ($) — AMAZING panini for 5 euro
  • All’antico Vinaio ($) — great panini with the best bread for 5 euro

Activities

  • Pizza + Gelato-Making Class — with the travel company Florencetown. It was amazing! They took us into the Chianti wine region to a small location where we made our own pizza and gelato. Highly recommend.

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Milan

Where we stayed

  • Enterprise Hotel — this was a very chic and modern hotel… I guess that is to be expected in Milan 😉 It was very comfortable and has a huge buffet breakfast! It was 2 min walk to the tram (which can take you everywhere) and a 10 min walk to the metro. It was $95/night.

Sights we saw

  • Duomo di Milano
  • Teatro alla Scala
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Sforza Castle

Places we ate

  • Calavera ($) — Mexican food with lots of salads, burritos, and tacos + fresh pressed juice and margaritas
  • II Massimo del Gelato ($) — amazing gelato for 2.6 euro
  • Erba Brusca ($$$) — off the beaten track this place was a local farm to table place the locals enjoy. The plates were small and fancy but it was a total experience and I am glad we went
  • Fuoricono ($) — fancy gelato based desserts
  • Ribot ($$$) — themed like the horse races this place was very fancy! They had amazing meat (so many different beef cuts) and gnocchi! To top it all off you get a complimentary chocolate fondue to finish off the meal

Activities

  • QC Terme Milano — hydrotherapy SPA. Go just go. If you don’t you will regret it
    • Between 7-9pm there is an aperitivo which basically means wine and appetizers included in the entry price (40 euro).. so dig in!
  • Soccer Game — at San Siro Stadium we watched Inter Milan + Torino. The vibe at these games is just NUTS!
  • City Life Mall — mall that was near our hotel. It has good shopping and food (that is open all the time… very important!!)

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Varenna (Lake Como)

Where we stayed

  • Regolo House — the view off the patio from this place was AMAZING! The place was located in Perledo, which is up a very very twisty road from Verenna and you can see all of Lake Como right out the window. Apposed from having a nice view, the place was a bit hard to check into as we didn’t have a phone plan and couldn’t contact the owner and there was no AC (Italy is hella hot in the summer!!!). It was $90/night and my least favorite from the trip but the view made it worth it!

Sights we saw

  • Perledo
  • Varenna
  • Bellagio

Places we ate

  • Caffe Varenna ($) — BEAUTIFUL view of the lake. Great wine + drinks
  • La Passerella ($) — great gelato. They had dairy free chocolate that was to die for! They also had lots of cute seating outside the restaurant with pillows on the steps (so romantic)
  • II Cavatappi ($$) — restaurant only has 7 tables so you have to get here early! They had amazing pasta + tiramisu
  • Osteria Quatro Pass ($$) — lots of fish + seafood
  • II Cavallino ($) — cheap wine + good desserts

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Venice

Where we stayed

  • Al Bailo di Venezia Apartments — I LOVED this place so much! We got a 2 story apartment to ourselves, which wasn’t necessary but it was amazing! It came with a full kitchen which we took full advantage of. It was a bit pricey but everything in Venice is ($210/night). It was located right on the canal and had a great view! It was a 10 min walk from the boat-taxi

Sights we saw

  • St. Mark Square
  • St. Mark Basilica Cathedral
  • Doge Palace
  • Rialto Bridge

Places we ate

  • Osteria Alla Staffa ($$) — lots of fish + seafood
  • Antica Locanda Montin ($$) — a hidden gem that has a beautiful outdoor seating surrounded by gardens

Activities

  • Gondola Ride — although it is pricey (when in Venice it is a must… you will regret it if you don’t go!!). Try and go in smaller canals (NOT the grande canal) and it will be a much more enjoyable ride! Cost about 100 euro depending on the time of day you go

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I hope this guide helps you pick some tasty restaurants and amazing BnB’s when on your next trip to Northern Italy! When you take pictures to be sure to tag me at @barefoot.brit

Happy Travels!

XO

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2 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Italy

  1. Wow…great information!!! Cliff & I enjoyed reading about your trip. Can’t wait to go to Italy now and will certainly be using your tips & suggestions!

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