One of the most interesting countries in Europe, for its people, food, and culture - The leftovers of the Roman Empire are still very visible today. This article will be about the 10th largest country in Europe, known for pasta, wine, and nice clothes, to name a few...Italy!
Getting to Italy
Although it is depending on where you are coming from, getting to Italy is very easy as it is one of Europe's biggest hubs. There are at least 10 daily flight options to Milan from London, around a dozen to Rome, and about five to Venice, just to name a few. It is also very accessible by road from its neighbouring countries, namely France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia.
I think my cheapest trip flight was flying from Stansted to Milan Malpensa for around £40. There are loads of opportunities to bag if you are looking for a quick and cheap getaway in Europe.
Where to stay?
I have tried both staying at hotels and AirBnB, and have pretty much enjoyed both. I particularly liked the VIU Hotel in Milan but also stayed at the Carlo Goldini. In Rome, I tried the Gigli d'Oro and Villa Rosa hotel. In Venice, I went rogue and just booked the first thing that was available on AirBnB so feel free to book whatever works for you and wherever in the country.
Because Italy is a little under 2 hours away from the UK (and quite cheap ~ £50), my itinerary around the country had been one of the most haphazard and unstructured. I would advise you to do some research to make a good use f your time.
Finding a list of things to do and places to visit in Italy was quite easy and information so readily available you can plan your trip on the plane.
Known as a global capital of fashion and home to the national stock exchange, Milan is the 2nd biggest city in the country. It has its own way of expressing its "Italianness" and has a way of standing out from the other cities of the country.
Not really a landmark but I think it is as worthy a visit as any other landmark. The reason? It serves the biggest variety of Italian dishes in a buffet fashion, however not compromising on taste one bit - Perhaps I am not a real connoisseur but that's not the point... It was great!
Very much the most known landmark of the region and arguably, of the country, the cathedral took around 600 years to be completed (not a typo!). It displays the magnificence of Italian gothic architecture and the multi-tower structure sits right at the heart of Milan. You cannot say you have been to Milan if you have not been to Duomo Milano.
Even though its original design has been modified, the castle very much displays a great deal of authenticity from the era it was built. In addition to being an impressive edifice, Sforza castle also houses a museum with a large collection of artifacts.
I don't know what is the origin of the expressions "All roads lead to Rome" or "Rome was not built in a day" but Rome definitely is my favourite city, despite my love for Venise and its uniqueness. The ancient buildings, the hilly brick roads, Vespas and people gathering outside restaurants and bars form Rome's identity. To make my trip as authentic as the era allowed, I rented an Abarth from the airport and think I could not feel more Italian while driving it around, my belly full of pasta.
What is Rome without the ruins of the Roman empire? Probably not as appealing as it is today. The Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater of its time, with a capacity of around 80,000 spectators - AC Milan's stadium, San Siro, has similar capacity and was built almost two millenniums later.
I think this photo pretty summarises my trip to Rome.
Fontana di Trevi
Another must-see while in Julius Caesar birthplace, the Trevi fountain has been built by a chap named Giuseppe Pannini and the only reason I remember that fact is because his name sounds like "panini". The almost 300-year-old fountain is one of Rome's main attractions.
A few interesting facts:
The reintroduction of gambling in Rome was the main source of finances to build the Trevi Fountain.
It is made from the same material as the Colosseo
A few thousand euros are thrown into the fountain every day and the proceeds all go to charity
It is illegal to steal from the fountain
A country in its own right, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world, occupying only 0.2mi² of space - If you recognise Užupis (Lithuania), that makes Vatican the ex-aequo smallest country in the world.
One of the most romantic cities in the world, or just beautiful to me, because I love water. The floating city is a 3-hour train or 5-hour drive away from Rome. The cars are replaced by gondolas and bridges become the norm around Venezia. On this occasion, I happened to have a talented photographer to travel with me this time around...
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
The church is probably the first landmark you will get to see as soon as you cross the bridge leading you into the city. The church is over 330 years old and has a very unique history. As the plague had killed over 80,000 Venetians, the Senate had made an appeal to the Madonna in 1630 and promised a church in exchange.
The Grand Canal
The canal is essentially Venice for you cannot roam around the city without seeing it. It is also the host of a lot of entertainment activities.
Some random photos around the Canal and the Venetian "streets"...
Piazza San Marco
I happened to be lucky enough to visit Venice during the carnival time and was spoilt by colours and elegance.
Going to Venice during the carnival is just the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the local culture.
The Venice carnival usually takes place over 2 weeks and ends with the celebration of Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter.
I have only seen three cities in the country however recommend a visit to Sardinia, Cagliari or Naples. It is definitely one country I am likely to go back to post Covid-19.Once again, thank you a million for taking the time to read me.