Advice about Italy?

posted 3 years ago in Honeymoons
Post # 2
Member
1072 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Depends what you are interested in and approximately how long you have to visit. Rome, Florence and Venice are probably the big three towns, but there are plenty of other amazing places like Capri/Sorrento, Pompeii/Herculaneum and Milan.

Would you say you are most interested in history, scenery, beaches, relaxation, fashion or food?

Post # 4
Member
8025 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

For scenery… I think Tuscany is just unbeatable. So much incredible art/history/shopping in Florence, then outside of it is the gorgeous rolling hills, and amazing wine.  If you guys are the active type you can do a bike tour of the vinyards! That  could be your northern italy leg, then you can head south for Rome then father south for beaches… so much to see.

But my biggest advice is dont get involved in any drug-fueled murderous threesomes or you’ll never hear the end of it!

Post # 5
Member
8025 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

Also, if you can swing it.. a full two weeks is ideal I think, or atleast 10 days. With one week, you lose 2 days to travel, are in a jetlagged jog for another day… by the time you settle itll be time to go!

 

Post # 6
Member
2018 posts
Buzzing bee

MrsGatito:  Venice is, without question, my favorite city in the world, but it presents a minor challenge for the following reasons:

1.  Very few people actually live in Venice, leading the charge that the city is nothing more than a “living museum” or a “fake” city set up only for tourists.  The awful cruise ships (sorry, but the cruise ships have had a demonstrated negative environmental impact on the lagoon and I make a rude gesture at every single one I see near the city) dump thousands of people into the city during the day who all go to the same places and eat the same food and buy the same things.  Visiting San Marco/the Campanile/the Rialto during the day in the summer is awful, and I say this as an unreserved lover of the city.

2.  Venice is Venice, it is not peninsular mainland Italy in the way that Florence, Rome, etc. (which, to be very clear, were their own entities for much of their history as well) are: the Venetian Republic was an autonomous entitity until 1797 and was joined to the Kingdom of Italy in a bit of haste in the late 19th century.  Venice was a commercial maritime republic that, for much of her history, looked east and not toward the mainland for trading partners, aesthetic inspiration, etc.  Most people who visit don’t fully understand this and thus fail to really “get” what they’re seeing.

3.  It’s really easy to get lost in Venice and what you should be eating in Venice is not like what you should be eating in Rome or Florence, so a lot of people end up eating mediocre to bad food in the city.  Also, to be fair, really good food in the city (for a full sit-down dinner) can be expensive.

If you can avoid going in the height of summer tourist season, (this is important) stay in the city at night, which is when the comparatively few residents of Venice actually do come out, do a bit of extra reading about Venice’s history, and remember to eat seafood (people actually go to Venice and don’t eat seafood!!) instead of pizza, you should have a wonderful time. 

No city’s scenery can compare!

Post # 7
Member
1072 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

MrsGatito:  Personally, I much prefer Rome and Tuscany/Florence to Venice, which I find a bit of a tourist trap. However my friend adores Venice, so each to their own I guess?

Rome and Florence both have great historical sightseeing, and Tuscany is stunning for scenery. You can get pretty good food in either of those places but there are a lot of crappy restaurants aimed at tourists. Steer clear of those!

I would try to aim for at least 3 days in each place, on top of travel. You can do Florence in a day if you want to do it very superficially since it is comparatively small, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So if you want to visit 3 cities, leave at least 10 days, and adjust according to what you really want to see. Personally I adored going down from Rome through Naples (do not stay in Naples, it is dodgy as hell but the museum is excellent), Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento and Capri, but I would prioritise Florence if it is your first trip.

Post # 9
Member
2018 posts
Buzzing bee

I have some typos in my previous post, but I can’t edit it anymore.  Venice was an entity, not an entitity.  LOL

MrsGatito:  Sorry for mutliple replies, but I have a lot to say on this!  😉

Florence needs no defense for the serious lover of Western culture and art, though, quite frankly, I have more fun eating and drinking in other Tuscan towns (this is not to say that there aren’t great places in Florence).  My absolutely biased thoughts on major Florentine sites:

1.  Pay the money to see the real David; it makes the replica in the Piazza della Signoria look sad.

2.  The San Lorenzo complex can be a bit of a chore and the Chapels are terrible: I prefer to dwell on the Michelangelo works at the Museo del Duomo, Bargello, and Uffizi, and if I want Brunelleschi, I go to Santo Spirito.

3.  The Duomo is ‘eh,’ particularly on the interior.  Walking up to the top of the dome is good, of course (but if the line is intolerably long the top of the Orsanmichele, which is never busy, also offers a view–but it is not as good), but Vasari’s Last Judgment fresco on the interior represents everything I hate aesthetically about the late 16th/17th centuries in one work of art.

4.  On the other hand, the Baptistery is fantastic and its mosaic is in my top 5 favorites works in the city.

5.  My favorite work in the city is in Santa Croce’s museum, and Santa Croce is my favorite of the big churches.  Be careful of the guides offering their services independently–at no other site in Florence can I recall hearing so many flatly incorrect claims coming from the mouths of guides.

6.  The arch in Piazza della Repubblica is up there with Vasari’s fresco as one of the worst things in the city; the Mercato itself manages to convey enough of the sense of the “Florence as capital of Italy” era for me.  If you can get into the Piazza della Signoria when it isn’t crawling with people, you can get a sense of the 14th and 15th century energy and glory of the city.

Post # 11
Member
2018 posts
Buzzing bee

MrsGatito:  I can talk about Florence and Venice at even more length–I’ve organized trips for groups to both cities.  (My work never brings me as far south as Rome so I can’t comment on it in any way that would be helpful, with the exception of being able to talk about some of the works in St. Peter’s/the Vatican Museums.)  I’m happy to try and answer pretty much any question you might have (sites, transportation, etc.) either on this thread or via PM.

Post # 12
Member
1072 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

MrsGatito:  Awesome, have a ball!

Surprisingly, there is quite a lot of very affordable accommodation in Rome, especially the Termini area. Definitely go to St Peter’s and see the Pieta, it is free and one of the most beautiful works of art you will ever see. Last time I popped over in the evening a bit before closing and there was no line at all.

The Castle of the Angels and the river are close by and are gorgeous to walk near at sunset. Personally I wouldn’t bother to go into the Castle of the Angels – it is really not that interesting. The statues outside are worth a look though.

The Pantheon is also free and it is breathtaking. Colosseum and the Forum are well worth the money in my opinion, and they also have free entry some Sundays. The Vatican has some amazing stuff but it is an overwhelmingly large collection so a guide is probably worth it (you get to skip the lines that way too).

Post # 13
Member
1083 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

We just got back from our honeymoon and had two stops in Italy! We were in Rome first and then went to Florence. We packed our Rome trip with tours and sightseeing and honestly it was exhausting. Rome is also quite a large city and not great to walk around. However, there are obviously numerous sights and I don’t regret going there first. If you want to do a Vatican tour, I highly recommend the early morning one. You get in to the Sistine Chapel ahead of the general public and our tour guide was awesome. We learned all these really interesting and scandalous facts about the Vatican.

I also recommend getting a hotel room more in the center of Rome. It will be more expensive but it is worth it to be closer to everything. Finally, my husband and I spent an afternoon in the Trastevere section of Rome and it was so fun. Lots of great little shops and the restaurants were delicious and much more reasonably priced. That is another thing- don’t feel pressured to eat at the restaurants right in the center of the piazza’s or right near big sights. If you walk just a couple blocks away, the food is more interesting and the prices are much cheaper.

Now, our next stop was Florence and we probably could have spent our whole honeymoon there. I’ve been to Florence before and remembered loving it and it certainly was just as I remembered. We stayed at the most amazing hotel practically next door to the Duomo (which I found amazing and not “eh” at all). We walked to the top of the Dome and it was amazing.

I also recommend purchasing the Firenze card. It is 72 euros and lasts three days and gets you onto public transportation, into museums, etc. Basically you can hop right into the reserved or ‘have tickets’ line and just show your card when you get in. Some places, like the Dome, have a priority line for Firenze card holders too. It also gives you access to WiFi hotspots all over the city, which was useful since we were trying to keep our cell data down. 

We also took a day and went into the Tuscan hills for wine and olive oil tasting. That was amazing and beautiful. Definitely try to do that! 

I could probably say tons more about the city but this would turn out to be way too long. Either way, you will have a wonderful time!

Post # 14
Member
8 posts
Newbee

Florence and Venice are extremely beautiful. I spent the summer there with family.

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