For those of us who love to travel, when visiting a new place, we hope to get the most out of our time and money. Undoubtedly, social media is a convenient and helpful resource that can make a huge difference on a traveler’s wallet and itinerary. Personally, I refuse to travel before reading the typically-reliable reviews, on websites such as tripadvisor, of those who have already “been there and done that”.
Scott and I went to Italy in August 2013. I had spent months planning an itinerary, reading reviews, as well as dialoguing and negotiating (via email) with Italian hotel managers and excursion tour guides. I wasn’t in the best health when we traveled, and we could only go in August (the hottest month of the year in Italy); so I was extra careful, in the planning stages, to do as much homework as possible so as to make best use of our time and energy, as well as our budget.
I’m happy to say that we had an extraordinary experience! We visited the regions of Tuscany (Siena, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignan), Campania (Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Capri), and Lazio (Rome).
Sure, there were a few mishaps along the way (excursions and restaurants not worth our time or patronage, getting lost on very small and confusing roads with mopeds zipping by at ridiculous speeds, giving me near heart failure, especially when driving along the coastline,and having to cross off a few things from our list due to the heat or just being exhausted)… But here, I’d like to share only the highlights of our trip, so as to make your next trip to Italy extraordinary!
Since this is a picture-heavy post; we’re going to break this up in 2 parts. Starting with the region of Tuscany. But, before we get to that, let’s start with a few general travel tips.
Italy Travel Tips
- First off, if you think you can be comfortable driving in Italy, rent a car. The advantage in having your own car is that you can come and go as you please, and branch out in any direction from your hotel. Think about it, at least.
- If you have the flexibility, please visit Italy in the spring or the fall. If you can only travel in the summer, be sure to break up your sightseeing schedule with time to rest and/or cool off at the hotel pool. (Yes, a pool is a must in July and August!)
- Use Trip Advisor! There are hundreds and hundreds of recommendations that Scott and I found 99% effective. If you can help it, ONLY visit the hotels, excursions, and restaurants that have an abundance of raving reviews. It can literally save you time, and energy, and money!
- A few weeks prior, visit your local library and check out books and videos on your destinations. Specifically research the history, geography, and culture so you can narrow down the aspects that interest you most. For example, before visiting Florence, be sure to read (or watch a video) about The Medici; Godfathers of the Renaissance, Michaelangelo, Brunelleschis, Botticelli, Leonardo, Galilei, etc. That way, you can put a story to the sights, the art, the architecture, etc.
- Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes, and break them in! You’ll be doing so much walking that you’ll be able to eat whatever you want. (I ate like a queen and actually lost 5 pounds, because we walked so much!)
Itinerary for Region of Tuscany
(You’ll drive straight from the airport in Rome and stop for lunch along the way. It’s a 2.5 hour drive, but presuming you slept on the over-night flight, you’ll be ready to go.)
–Duration: No less that 4 full days. Do try for a full week, or even more, if you can!
–Accommodations: We loved Frances Lodge in Sienna. But, if your stay in Tuscany is long enough, stay in Florence, as you’ll want to spend more than one day here.
–Must See Cities: Sienna, Florence, and Lucca.
–Maybe Cities: San Gimignano, Pisa, Cortona…
And, I leave you with a few more pics of the best in Tuscany.
Until next time, Ciao!