I mean let’s be real, it’s just not possible to see Italy in a week. But if you’re looking to stay within a budget and not leave your puppers🐕 for too long, then I’ve gathered some good do’s and dont’s for you to consider!
When I decided to take a trip to Italy it was initiated by my mothers work, which gifted her two round trip tickets to any destination. This was something I was NOT going to pass up! Now you may have come here wanting advise on how to find the best travel, but travel is the easiest part of a vacation if you ask me! Make sure you download the Hopper app and keep your eye peeled on flight rates, but don’t get fooled by the ‘Spirit Airlines’ of the world who make you pay to use the restroom! Just kidding, but no really, they charge you for everything!
Planning where to go, what to see, where to EAT, and the best places to stay; now these are the things that take time and effort to research. I was able to plan everything in a pretty reasonable amount of time, being that I only had a month and a half till take off 🛫
I planned this trip in such a short amount of time on a pretty small budget, but we definitely had some hiccups along the way. So, here are my do’s and dont’s for you to learn and book the best trip possible!
- Utilize Pinterest!
Their are so many bloggers who have spent time talking about there itineraries or the best way to get around while in a foreign country, which can really help you in the long run!
- Book Hotel’s before all else
The last thing you need on a trip is to already have fights booked, day trips scheduled and everything in order and then not be able to find an adequate hotel available for the nights you have scheduled.
- Priceline, Hotels Tonight, etc. are your f r i e n d s !
Read review, examine photos and make the sites compete with each other for your business! I ended up using Hotels Tonight in Rome, but Priceline in Florence. Whoever offers the best deal for the best stay, GRAB IT!
- Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci was a dream come true (Florence)
Talk about quality for value. The customer service in this hotel was like staying at a Ritz, the bar and out door balcony terrace were enchanting and the rooms had a memory foam mattress! I will be going back to Florence and I will only stay here!
- Get a SIM card!
If your phone is unlocked I HIGHLY recommend having a SIM card. For maps alone and finding your way around town, it was a life saver! But being able to pop on instagram while waiting in lines is always nice too 😉
- When in Rome you MUST have gelato from Giolitti
Open every day till 1:30am, Giolitti’s has the best gelato I had in all of Italy! This is not a debate you MUST go! Address: Via Della Maddalena 40
- Need a tour guide? Paulo Penco is your guy!
Paulo speaks Italian, English, Portuguese and Spanish and is like a walking Wikipedia page! And he’s a ton of fun to hang out with as well! He’s based in Rome but is also available for Florence tours as well! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tell him Robin the flight attendant referred you!)
- Steelers Fan? Well you’ve gotta have a drink at Giovanni’s ‘la Botticella’
Yes you read that right! Steelers bar in Italy 🇮🇹 Address: via Tor Millina 32 (Piazza Navona)
- Travel by Train
This is by far the best way to get around from city to city! (Just make sure you read your departure times correctly so you aren’t chasing down a train conductor to let you on! Haha yes this happened to me!) There will also be people walking around the stations offering assistance. They do not work there so they will expect a tip for their assistance, but if it’s your first time it can be extremely helpful for a few euro!
- TripAdvisor Day Trips ✅
Of all the hiccups we experience on my trip, this was not one of them. I booked ‘Tuscany In A Day’, and though we could have used more time in some of the cities, our guides were great, we had lunch and wine tasting included and got to see some of the best parts of the country side! If you’re short on time like I was, this is a must.
- Spend as much time in Florence as your trip can afford
My biggest regret of my trip was not having more time in Florence. I fell in love with this city the moment we checked into the hotel and I am already planning my next Italian vacation: just Florence/Tuscany. This city is extremely clean, has amazing architecture and has a laid back vibe that will have you entranced and in love with its beauty.
- Michael Angelo’s David is a MUST see
If Florence is on your itinerary after I’ve gloated about how amazing it is then you must see David. Photos or words do not do this work of art justice.
- Find someone to split a Gondola ride fare in Venice
I feel a Venetian Gondola Ride is a must while in Venice, but they aren’t cheap. It’s rough $100 for a 20min ride. So, if you can find someone else who is looking, ride together and split the fare!
- Burano is a must go!
It’s about a 20 min ferry ride over to Burano from Venice, but it’s well worth it! One of the highlights of my stay in Venice!
- Get a ferry pass for your duration in Venice!
It’s €20 for the first day and €10 for every day after, your feet and brain trying to navigate the canals will thank you!
- ItaliaPass is a no no!!!
I scheduled almost every though through a site called italiapass.com; a subsidiary of ItaliaRail.com where you purchase train tickets. Trusting this company to do there job was my biggest mistake in planning this trip! Everything that went wrong on my trip was due to this company. I order car service from the Rome Airport to our Hotel and they showed up 1hr and 45min late. I bought a pre-paid SIM card and spent half of my first day in Rome tracking down a store who would accept the redemption code, to find out none of them will and I had to buy another. When I got to Florence I had a front the line guided tour pass to enter the Accademia Galleria to see David. The meeting point was a bust and had to buy new passes from another tour company (italiapass is still ignoring my emails about giving me a refund for these tickets!) The only thing which I purchased from them that worked was our pass the the Colosseum and our train tickets. If I can do you any favors, it will be to make sure you do not use this company and make sure you tell all your friends the same!
- Spending more than two days in Rome
Rome has a great history and seeing the Colosseum, Vatican and Borghese Galleria should all be on your list to To Do’s. But you do not need more than two days to do these things. We spent 3 nights here, but our first day started out rough with our driver being late and not being able to redeem my SIM card redemption. Learn from my mistakes and you can easily see the highlights of this city in two days and have an extra day in Florence.
- Spending more than one day in Venice
Some people may crucify me for this but I could have skipped my entire second day in Venice and been happy. On day one we explored Murano & Burano, walked the canals, saw the Rialto Bridge and had a lovely dinner. If we would have fit a gondola ride into day one I could have left this city happy and had an extra day for Florence!
- Stay up trying to get your air conditioning to work
Italy has an eco friendly clause that turns off all air conditioning after midnight and for the duration of the evening. We spent multiple nights up trying to get it working with no success. This is why!
- Trusting review which read ‘adequate enough’
I don’t want to sound snooty, but your adequate and someone else’s may be very different. So keep this in mind when reading reviews about hotels. I thought I found gold when finding a place by the train station and for under €120 in Venice (Hotel St. Lucia). But little did we know there was large mold spots in the bathroom behind the bidet which they called ‘dirt’ when responding to my review. There were bugs everywhere because the maids turned the air off and left the windows open after cleaning our room (Not to mention have no screens and anyone could have come into our room and stole our valuables because of this). And because they turned the air off and we did not return to the room till after 11pm we had 1hr of air before it shut itself off and we spent half the night trying to figure out how to turn it back on. And this place has 4 1/2 stars on TripAdvisor. So make sure to read just as many bad reviews as good to find out if a place is ‘adequate enough’ for you.
I am so happy I was able to put together this trip and experience such an amazing country with such history and culture. I hope my do’s and dont’s help you in planning your next trip. I know I’ve learned a ton and can not wait for my next trip! Maybe I’ll get to experience Lake Como and Cinque Terre or southern Italy like Naples and Sicily 💞