Finally getting around to this! I've been meaning to post some Italy travel guides as both a bit of a travel diary for myself and to help out any of you who are planning an Italian vacation!
My husband and I went to Italy for almost 3 weeks this past spring - the last week in April and the first two weeks of May. We picked this time because it is shoulder season, the weather wouldn't be too hot or too cold, and my 30th birthday was May 1st! It was still very touristy and quite warm (except Venice... more on that below), so I'm not sure I'd want to go in the dead of summer!
Here was our itinerary:
1) 1 night in London (we picked an extended layover as we had never been to London before and wanted to see it, even if only briefly!)
2) 3 nights in Venice
3) 3 nights in Florence, including a day trip to Tuscany
4) 4 nights in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, including day trips to the other 4 towns in Cinque Terre
5) 5 nights in Positano (Almafi Coast), including day trips to Capri and Ravello
6) 3 nights in Rome
If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing! I think we had the perfect amount of time in each area. We moved around quite a bit, staying in 6 different places in a relatively short period of time, but it didn't feel too hectic. All the areas we visited were so vastly different that it felt like we had been on several vacations by the end of the trip!
Keep in mind that we love being near water and purposely chose to spend half of our time in seaside towns (Monterosso and Positano). We also did this when we visited France, with half of our time spent in Nice and St. Tropez. If you are more into history, art, etc. then you might want to spend more of your time elsewhere. I am just obsessed with the Mediterranean Sea and consider it to be my favourite area in the world!
I will be posting separate travels guides to each of the 5 places we stayed in Italy and will link to them in this post when they are up. For now, here's some general Italy travel tips that we learned along the way:
1) Learn how to say grazie (thank you) correctly. It's not grat-zee, it's grat-syeh. The locals will love you if you pronounce it properly! I also found it really helpful to know that "ci" is a chee sound and "chi" is a kee sound. For example, ciao (informal greeting) is "chow" and chianti (type of wine) is "kee-anti" I used this phrasebook... possibly bought because of the cute cover, not gonna lie.
2) Wear comfortable shoes, especially in Rome (the cobblestone is so uneven and has spaces between the stones). For spring, I brought a pair of lower-heeled ankle booties, a relatively cute pair of sneakers, supportive sandals (Birkenstocks), and a pair of strappy sandals. I thought that was perfect! I considered bringing heels, but scrapped them last minute. I'm glad I did as I probably wouldn't have worn them. However, it would have been nice to have a pair of comfortable wedges for nice dinners, so maybe pack that if you have them! Wear the ankle booties for traveling as they are the heaviest and it's always so cold on planes!
3) For April/May, consider that the weather might not be super warm everywhere you go. It was actually much cooler in Venice than I was expecting and it rained a few times (glad I had those ankle booties!), but was warmer in Florence and then even warmer in the coastal towns and Rome. I definitely didn't have the right outerwear for Venice. My warmest jacket was a jean jacket, so I literally had to wear my husband's clothes (not cute!) and even had to seek out an H&M to pick up a coat. My recommendation would be to bring a trench coat for this time of year - you may or may not need it, but you'll be happy to have it if you do! For spring and our itinerary, we really needed everything from a bathing suit and beach wear to sweaters and coats!
4) I'm a huge foodie, so one of my #1 tips for any trip is to research what the local cuisine and drinks are. I'll go over this in more detail for each separate travel guide. You must try an Aperol Spritz if you haven't already (they are getting pretty popular in Canada). It consists of Aperol - an orange Italian liquor so bright that you can't miss it! - and prosecco. We may or may not have had them every day... so refreshing!
That's it for now! Cheers!