- Wedding: April 2014 - Italian Villa
Yay! We did our Destination Wedding and honeymoon in Italy. We did a similar trip, but in reverse 🙂 I’m going to write about stuff in the order we did it so I don’t get confused.
Rome- if you want to see the Vatican and the Coliseum, I would suggest signing up with a tour company that has timed entry, otherwise you could spend all day waiting in line!
Naples/Amalfi Coast area- We weren’t big fans of Naples itself. It was much dirtier and more graffitti-covered than all the other cities we went to. Graffitti is just part of being in urban Europe, but they kept from tagging historical buildings and art. Not in Naples! It was on statues, etc- so much less respect for their city. We did an awesome winery tour nearby at Vino Sibilla, which I recommend. The guide, Vicenzo (who speaks english very well), is on the DOC/DOCG committee in the area, so he knows a lot about wine, and his mom cooked us some nibbles to have while we sampled wine. We didn’t go east to the true Amalfi coast area.
Tuscany/Florence- We were driving to Florence from Naples, so we stopped in Siena for lunch. It’s a really cute historical little town, and I can recommend the restaurant we had lunch at if you like. We also stopped at one of the hill towns along our route to get out and stretch our legs. Florence was lovely, but the most touristy of the cities we went to. Unless you are on the outskirts of town, all the restaurants, etc in town (within the walled area) are catered to tourists and have questionable food. However, we liked our hotel, as it was close to the duomo. If you want to see the Statue of David, make an appointment. We decided against it and found a nice replica in one of the town squares 😀 Good enough for me!
Bologna- we stayed in Bologna on the way to Venice. We took a cooking class here, which was “just okay”, but we liked Bologna in general for being laid back and having great food. It was my favorite city on the trip after Milan. The market (produce, meats, pasta) in Bologna is awesome! It was hard to not buy everything! If you stay in bologna, I might reccommend some place with a little kitchenette so you can buy and sample some foods that might not survive a plane ride home.
Venice- On the drive to Venice, we stopped in Padua (Padova) for lunch. Apparently if you buy a bottle of wine, it’s common to also receive little sandwhiches, olives, chips, etc. So, for the price of the wine, we got a good lunch, too! I believe this is common in Northern Italy (perhaps over the whole country, but no confirmation on that). Anyway, on to Venice. It’s very hard to find a hotle in Venice, because there are tons of them and they are all so small (10 rooms or less), so digging through online reviews can be a toss-up. This is one city I would reccommend paying a bit more than you would otherwise for your room, because you’ll get what you pay for. Warning- Venice stinks. It has that fishy, seaside smell, especially in July and August, so be prepared. We did a cool kayak tour in Venice, which I reccommend, but only if you are fit (we did the half day tour, the shortest, and we were so wiped out). Make time to get lost in Venice, because you will. Maps are useless. It took us about 2 hours to get from the bus station to our hotel (was only supposed to be about 25 minutes) because my maps app on my phone showed we could pass through areas which were actually full canals- LOL! So taking a water taxi is a good idea.
Milan- We ddn’t do Como (didn’t have time!), but I loved Milan. It’s small enough that you can walk just about anywhere, which is nice, because who wants to spend their vacation looking at the walls in the Metro? Obviously the duomo is to die for, but be sure to visit the castle, too.
We did all that in 1 week (well, rome was the week before), so I think with 15 days, you have plenty of time. Just be aware that it will be very hot during your trip, and it’s the height of the tourist season, so it’ll be packed. If I were you, I would try to stay outside the cities and make day trips in.
Italy has a great rail system, so you don’t need to rent a car, but if you do, BE CAREFUL. We ended up getting 2 speeding tickets and 3 restricted zone tickets. They mail them to you after the fatc, and have a year to do so, so we may not be done, yet. Don’t go the same speed as everyone else, they’re all speeding, too. You don’t get pulled over, you just get your photo snapped. Watch out for those restricted zones- don’t just blindly follow the GPS.
I think that’s all I have for now, I’ll come back later or PM you with hotel reccommendations, etc.