Monthly Archives: April 2016

How to find best destination in itally and affordable is of course

With its colorful alleys, charming architecture, and miles of porticoes, Bologna is a city like no other. Despite its landlocked location, I immediately found myself daydreaming about planting roots in this laid back city — waking up to the smell of garlic, spending the day walking from cafe to cafe, meeting friends for Aperitivo, and immersing myself in the culture.

Loneliness often creeps in at some point during a visit to a new city — but in Bologna, I never felt lonely. I didn’t mind wandering the streets alone, browsing the street markets, requesting a table for one, or finding my way around the busy train station.

I found Bologna surprisingly easy to navigate, even for this directionally-challenged traveler. Despite Scott not joining me this trip, my days were never boring. I don’t think I would ever grow tired of making the 3.8 km trek to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca or gazing at the expanse of orange-colored buildings and miniature buses from the Asinelli tower.

Besides wandering the streets and exploring the cafe culture, I grew fond of my daily trips to the grocery store — a two-minute walk from the apartment — where I always knew I would find the freshest cheese and Prosciutto. Just next door stood a small pizza shop, with margarita pizza for a mere 2.5 euros and a line of locals out the door. Osteria dell’Orsa (another local favorite) was just around the corner for a taste of the traditional Tagliatelle al Ragu.

 

 

I think Bologna is often overlooked because of its location. It’s sandwiched between three of the most popular cities in Italy — Milan, Venice and Florence. This city is perfect for travelers who have had their fill of the traditional sightseeing spots in Italy. If you want to really get to know Italy and immerse yourself in the culture, then Bologna won’t disappoint.

 

 

This post was brought to you as a result of the #Blogville campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tips Before Visiting In Venice

With its historic buildings and gorgeous canals, Venice is one of Italy’s most famous attractions. This floating city consists of a group of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Planning a trip here can be overwhelming, but keeping these tips in mind before you depart will make your trip much easier!

TOP TRAVEL TIPS FOR VENICE, ITALY

FERRY TICKET TIPS & TRICKS

A one-way ferry ticket costs 6.50 Euros and it is good for 60 minutes — including switches. If you can’t find a ticket machine, you can purchase a ticket onboard for 1 Euro more, but you must tell the staff immediately upon boarding. Failing to mention it upon boarding will result in a hefty fine of 60+ Euros. If you do purchase your ticket at a machine, you MUST validate it by running it through a machine at the water taxi stop.

If you plan to use the ferries often, look into purchasing Venice’s all-inclusive transport pass before your trip.

BOOK A HOTEL NEAR A WATER TAXI STOP

I highly recommend staying at least two nights in Venice Proper and booking a hotel near a water taxi stop. Trust me, you do not want to drag your luggage very far in Venice.

I stayed at Hotel Palazzo Vitturi, which is within a 5-minute walk from both the Rialto and San Marco water taxi stops. This hotel is in the perfect location for exploring the top spots in Venice — including the Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs.

The rooms are HUGE, the WiFi worked great, the staff was extremely helpful, and I was amazed with the spread they served for breakfast — which is included in your room price. I stayed in March and it was just over 100 USD per night. Keep in mind, prices everywhere in Venice increase during the summer season.

HEAD TO THE OUTER ISLANDS

Some of the most photogenic places in Venice are on the outer islands. The small islands of Burano and Murano are not to be missed. I recommend spending the day island hopping and plan on having lunch on one of these islands. Fish lovers must try Gatto Nero on Burano. For those searching for more of a sandy beach experience, head to Lido!

WHERE THE LOCALS EAT

Do your research beforehand on the best restaurants frequented by locals in Venice. If the locals eat there, that usually means it’s authentic. Yelp is a great app and usually the first thing I check when I arrive in a new city. For a few specific restaurant recommendations, here are four local eateries near the Rialto Bridge.

BE PREPARED TO GET LOST

Even the most directionally gifted travelers get lost in Venice. Google maps will even lead you astray, giving directions to a dead end down a small alley. If you just plan on getting lost, you’ll be much less frustrated. You never know what you might accidentally find.

DON’T IGNORE THE TOP TOURIST SITES

Places like Piazza San Marco, Riva Degli Schiavoni, and Bridge of Sighs are popular for a reason. Don’t ignore these tourist hot spots in Venice. I also highly recommend a trip to the top of Campanile di San Marco for a bird’s eye view of the city. Plan on getting there when the building opens for the shortest wait time.

SPEND SOME TIME OUTSIDE OF THE MAIN TOURIST AREAS

This is where getting lost will come in handy. Wear comfortable shoes and spend the day walking to the lesser-known areas of Venice. A few of my favorite neighborhoods include Cannaregio, Santa Croce, and Dorsoduro.

GET UP EARLY

I’m usually up before sunrise when I travel and Venice was no exception (this is also where jet lag comes in handy). I practically had the place to myself — even the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square) was empty! When I visited the square in the afternoon, I could not believe the crowds and I didn’t even travel to Venice during the busy summer season.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST GELATO

I mean, can you really come to Italy and not eat gelato?? Even if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, most good gelaterias make fruit-based sorbetti, which is also delicious!

In Venice, I met up with a local who gave me the inside scoop on how to spot good gelato in Italy. Since making gelato out of pure fruit is more time consuming and expensive than using flavor extracts, you’ll want to take a look at the colors of the fruit-flavored gelato. If the banana is a bright yellow or the berry flavors are a light shade of purple, then the gelato is made with artificial flavors rather than pure fruit. Similarly, the pistachio should not look bright green.

Oh, and Alaska Gelateria is said to have THE best gelato in Venice.

PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR VENICE

If you are looking to avoid the summer crowds and visit Venice in the spring or fall, then you’ll want to prepare for cooler temperatures. In addition to the usual Europe packing list, make sure to bring these essential items:

  • Travel Umbrella: Regardless of the time of year, don’t forget your travel umbrella!
  • Mosquito Repellent: I did not experience mosquitos in March, but mosquitos are not uncommon during the spring/summer months. This travel size spray pump won’t take up much room in your suitcase.
  • Earplugs: It’s a city, so bring your earplugs just in case you end up in a noisy location.
  • Nice Clothes: Venice is a stylish city, so don’t be afraid to bring some nice clothes. For the women, jeans and a cute pair of boots will be fine. For more travel packing tips, visit our guide on how to stay stylish while traveling.

Simple and happiness tips to visit in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

We spent time in Cinque Terre, Italy this year and while researching for our trip we noticed a lack of online travel guides for this area. So, we put together this complete guide with our best Cinque Terre travel tips.

HOW TO GET TO CINQUE TERRE, ITALY

The closest airport is Pisa and it’s about a 1 1/2 hour train ride from Cinque Terre. If you fly into Pisa Airport, take the train from Pisa Airport to Pisa Centrale. (Insider tip for flights: Momondo is the first place I check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines.) At Pisa Centrale, you will take a connecting train to Cinque Terre.

If you are arriving by car, it is highly suggested to stay in the neighboring towns of the 5 Terre region, such as Levanto. You will have a much easier time finding parking. Our hotel, Villa Margherita B&B, offered free parking for guests. To see a full review of this hotel, visit our post on where to stay in Cinque Terre — Villa Margherita B&B Review.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

You may be tempted to stay in one of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, but our advice is to stay outside of these towns (we highly recommend Villa Margherita B&B) and take the train or ferry. Accommodation is cheaper and many of the neighboring towns (besides La Spezia) are less touristy and have more of an authentic feel.

We stayed in Levanto and fell in love with this small town. To learn more about the town of Levanto, read about our experience in Levanto, Italy.

Be aware that Italy train travel can be frustrating because it seems like they are having a strike almost every week. If a train strike occurs during your stay (which it did for us) then you may be stuck without a train out of any of the five villages. We met a couple who had to take a 60 Euro cab ride to a neighboring town in order to catch a train to get back to Rome.

If you have your heart set on staying in one of the villages, be prepared to spend more money. If you are traveling in summer, book FAR in advance. We traveled in May and had an extremely hard time finding any vacancies in the villages.

If you want to stay right in Riomaggiore (our favorite village) and you are booking in advance, I have heard amazing things about Zorza Hotel and Apartamento Rio Maggiore.

HOW TO GET AROUND IN CINQUE TERRE

You have a few different options for travel throughout the 5 villages. You can either hop on one of the many trains that link each village, take a ferry ride or hike the trails. There is also a taxi service in Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola.

HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

At least three days is needed to see all of the villages, preferably more. If you try to visit too many villages in one day, you may find yourself spending too much time at the train stations and not enough time enjoying the beaches, restaurants and hikes.

BEST PLACES TO EAT IN CINQUE TERRE

Riomaggiore is a great place for dinner. We met quite a few people who ended their day in Riomaggiore at A Pie’ de Ma’ (spectacular views!) or at one of the many restaurants along the main strip.

We ate at the restaurant right below Mar Mar Hotel and a few others along the strip. These are just a few suggestions. Explore the area and hop into the first restaurant where the menu catches your eye. Most likely, you won’t be disappointed. After all, you ARE in Italy!

FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN CINQUE TERRE

If it’s hot outside, we highly recommend spending a few hours lounging by one of the gorgeous beaches in either Monterosso, Manarola or Riomaggiore.

Watch the sunset with a bottle of wine and a fresh pizza pie.

Taking photos in Cinque Terre is a must. Just be prepared to plant yourself early if you want to capture any of those postcard-perfect sunset shots.

Hiking any of the Cinque Terre trails is a popular thing to do while visiting this area. Two of the trails were closed during our visit due to the devastating floods, but we were able to hike the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, also known as “Italian Lover’s Lane.” This is by far the easiest and shortest hike and the views are simply stunning.

BEST TIME TO VISIT CINQUE TERRE

The best time to visit Cinque Terre, Italy will depend on your preference. Most travelers obviously visit in the summer to get the best weather for swimming and lounging on the beach. I always tell people to visit in either the late spring or early fall to avoid the summer crowds. We visited in May and it was hot enough to swim, but not too hot to walk around. If you are not scared of a chance of rain, then April, May and September are the best months to visit Cinque Terre.

WHAT TO PACK FOR CINQUE TERRE, ITALY

This will depend on the time of year you visit, but here are a few things to keep in mind when packing for a trip to Cinque Terre, Italy.

— If you want to hike any of the trails, make sure to bring a good pair of hiking or running shoes.

— Bring layers. I packed a couple of cute tunic tops and a cardigan to layer over my dresses or short-sleeved shirts.

— For the ladies, leggings are never a bad idea, plus a pair of comfortable shoes to go with nicer outfits. These are my favorite travel shoes. They have plenty of cushion and I’m always getting compliments.

— I always bring a sarong to wear over a swimsuit and it can even be used as a towel.

— If you visit in the colder months, these boots are perfect to wear with dresses and leggings.

— In my opinion, the most important thing to bring to Cinque Terre is a decent camera. You will want to capture these memories. To find out what camera gear we bring on our trips, visit our travel photography camera kit.

— If you visit in the spring or fall, you might want to bring a light waterproof jacket.

For more information about what we pack on our trips, visit our Europe packing list for women, our packing tips for world travelers, and our tips about how to stay stylish while traveling. To learn more about how to travel in Italy, visit our post with our best travel tips for Italy.