One of the things I loved most about Venice was the evenings. Unlike Rome (which was always busy), the evenings in Venice were so tranquil and relaxing. We spent them lingering over our food, drinking plenty of wine, and on one unforgettable evening we watching the sun set over the sea. Beautiful memories, ones which I doubt I will forget.
It’s now been nearly two months since we set out on our trip (time has seriously flown by!), and we’ve had chance to reflect on our planning, what we missed out on, what we should have done. Of course, this is the perfect opportunity for me to type up some advice and get it out to you. So here goes, my top tips for planning an Italian holiday to Rome or Venice…
Make sure you budget, both for the trip itself (flights, hotels, transfers) and spending money. We found Rome was wonderfully cheap once all tickets had been bought. Venice not so much!
If you have a few attractions you want to see, it definitely pays to book in advance. In Rome, queues for the Vatican were at least three hours long, and probably similar for the Colosseum. Buy in advance people!
With Venice, the one thing that probably tops everyone’s’ to-do list is a gondola ride, and rightly so. Yet be careful about planning this. Find a starting point which doesn’t mean your time is just spent on the Grand Canal, and budget accordingly. These gondola rides don’t come cheap!
Make Your Own Lunch
This is something I can’t stress enough. I don’t mean going to the nearest supermarket and grabbing packets and crisps and biscuits (just no!), but go to a supermarket with a good selection of fresh produce and build your own sandwiches. On frugal days we picked up rolls, salami and fruit (coming in at €4 for the two of us), on splurge days we grabbed ciabatta, speck ham and mozzarella alongside cherries (coming in at a bank-robbing €6 for two). You’re still getting the Italian experience, but at a fraction of the price of restaurants.
Italian supermarkets are just superb. Ask the bread man what is freshest, ask the woman at the cheese counter what she recommends to go with your meat – we discovered a fab creamy cheese that was a little like a firmer mozzarella. Ask what meat the assistant likes best, watch what the locals pick. Everything is so, so fresh – and it’s just a much nicer experience than your standard UK Sainsbury’s trip!
I never want to waste money on a bad meal, so I will always have a search on Trip Advisor before going somewhere. For our first night in each place we went with guidance from our hotel – and both were fine. We dedicated a bit of time the next day to wandering around and looking at menus, before researching during siesta time.
It definitely pays off – the restaurant we visited on our second night in Venice was so good we returned the next night!
Likelihood is you will be doing a LOT of walking, so make sure you are prepared. If you are going in the summer also beware that comfortable shoes may not be so comfortable in the heat – I definitely regretted not taking plasters out and about with me! I would also recommend taking waterproof clothing – read this post to find out why..
Water fountains are pretty common along most streets, so take bottle out and about with you. Restaurants charge for water in Italy so make the most of whatever free water you can find – save the money for wine!
Have you ever been to Italy?