A trip to Italy is not complete without a stop in Venice. And you better stop off quick before the water rises and Venice is submerged. Thanks Global warming. There are two options of staying in Venice. The first is to stay on one of the canals in the city centre. Be prepared to pay a higher than average price for a hotel room. The other option is to stay on the mainland closer to Padua and Treviso and catch the train in for around 7 euro.
The main area in Venice is the Piazza San Marco. This square is over run with pigeons, so if you are scared of birds, it might not be the best place to hang around. One option to escape the mass of birds and tourists is to take to the canals on a Gondola trip. They usually last for around an hour and cost on average about 60 euros. Be prepared to negotiate with your captain to get the best price. I used ‘we might come back after something to eat’. They will want the sale straight away and will drop their first price.
Florence and Pisa
Florence is the capital of the Tuscan region, famous for art, wine and magical sunsets. I would suggest wandering the streets, finding a nice pizza shop for dinner and a gelato place for desert. Immerse yourself in the Florence life style by taking a cooking class. For around 75 euros, you will be taught in a group session the fine art of making an entrée, main and a dessert. After all your hard work, spend the night chatting to people from your class whilst you devour the creations you have made.
Throughout Florence, there are many replicas of the statue of David. The real one is located at the Academy of Fine Arts and it will cost you 23 euros to enter. At the city centre you will be awe struck at the Cathedral Di Santa Maria del Fiore. It is highly recommended to head up to the top of the tower to get a view over the city. See what I did there? Highly….top for view…. Any ways, the entry fee is 10 euros and you will be required to walk up 463 steps.
Pisa is located about 45 minutes away from Florence on the train. You will need only a morning to go get the iconic photo of trying to push the tower back up straight again. The train costs around 10 euro one way. From the train station in Pisa, you will need to board the bus to the tower. Follow the crowd.
Sienna is located about an hour and a half from Florence and is a quaint little town located on top of a hill. This is what you want from a country side town in Italy. The narrow streets with balconies facing in, the large square where everyone can meet and little shops tucked away in alley ways.
Il Pailo is an ancient bareback horse race which occurs on July 2nd and August 16th. There are 10 neighbourhoods all competing to have their horse first over the line. Join in on the spectacle and party the night away with the victors. The town plaza is transformed into a makeshift arena with a barricaded centre pit to fit around 30,000 people. This is shut off an hour or so before the race which is due to start at 7pm. Please note there are no toilets located in the Piazza.
All roads lead to Rome so do as the romans do and roam around Rome. Once the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome is now the capital of Italy and is a host to thousands of visitors each year. There is lots to see and do whilst you are in the capital and if you are a fan of history and architecture, there is something on each road that will spark your interests. The most famous of the old building still standing today is the Colosseum. You can get entry to the Colosseum, roman forum and Palatine all for 12 euros. The Colosseum can only accommodate 3000 people at one time due to safety. This may cause a little delay when queuing to enter.
The Trevi Fountain
One of the most famous fountains in the world and one of the largest in Rome, the Trevi fountain has been even more famous as to feature in movies. There is a tradition to stand with your back to the fountain and flick a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand. This will ensure you will return to Rome in the future. It is estimated around 3000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money is collected and used to fund a supermarket for the needy. The fountain area can get quite busy with all the tourists.
This building has stood the test of time for nearly 2000 years. It has also held the world record for the largest unreinforced concrete dome as well. It’s hard to imagine all those years ago, standing under the columns looking out amongst the busy square. The oculus or hole in the domes’ top lets in natural lighting and rain. Throughout the day, the beam of sunshine acts as a sin dial on the floor. Today the building is used as a church and is free to visit.
Vatican City – Sistine Chapel
The Vatican City is in the centre of Rome and is recognised as the smallest Independent state for size and population. It is also home to the Catholic Church and stunning artwork such as the Sistine Chapel. Tickets for any of the museums can be found here. An adult ticket cost 16 euros and it is recommended to purchase these in advance to skip out on the hour long queue.
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