Have you always wanted to visit sunny Italy but you have sadly being put off by the staggering prices that characterise the Italian main cities during most of the year? Say no more, because below you will find how to travel to the country with the most charming accent in the world for around £350 (thanks to careful planning, favourable exchange rates and lower living costs).
Italy on a budget
The route is as follows:
Day 1: London-Milan and visit Milan
Day 2: Verona
Day 3: Venice
Day 4: Florence
Day 5: Rome
Day 6: Rome
Day 7: Rome to Milan, to fly back to London
When do I travel?
Alongside organisation, the timing of your travels is of paramount importance if you want to get some jaw-dropping deals. The cities I suggest dropping by are not near the coast (except for Venice, but I bet you do not want to swim in there), so travelling during the summer is not a must.
Not only by going during the low season you save up a great amount of money on flights –for example, I booked three months in advance a return flight from London to Milan for 25 pounds– and accommodation, but you will also save yourself from the eternal queues to visit the Vatican or being packed like sardines in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. I would recommend travelling in October, first weeks of November or April, when the weather is warm and sunny, and you will avoid all of the aforementioned.
Where do I stay?
Undoubtedly, hostels are your best option. To save up some money, you can also book in advance, and you will only have to pay a tiny percentage beforehand, around the 5-10%, and then the remaining when you get there.
You can even cancel your booking and avoid any fees up to 2 days before your adventures. Prices vary from place to place, but you can expect to spend, on decent accommodation, around 10-15 pounds per night.
Because hostels in Verona are quite expensive, there is not much offer and the city is not that big, I would recommend taking an early train, enjoying Venice at night during the second day of your trip and sleeping there for two nights.
How do I move from one city to another?
The cheapest, easiest and fastest way is by train, using Tren Italia. You can get your tickets here (http://www.trenitalia.com/), and the priciest can be up to 15 euros. Two things should be taken into account. The first one is that even if you make a reservation for a particular date and time, you do not need to use your ticket then, but you can do it within the 30 days after the date you purchase it for (ex. If you get a ticket to travel on the 1st of May, you can travel with that ticket until the 31st, but only once). The second one is that, because of this, you need to “validate” your ticket before getting on the train. If the ticket inspector comes and you have not validated it, you will be in trouble. In addition, trains tend to be packed so get to the train station in time just in case you cannot find an available seat!
Moreover, I would recommend travelling at dusk when most of the attractions are already closed –they close around 7pm– and it does not suppose a huge waste of your reduced time. And if you travel in the morning, many hostels will not let you check in until 2pm, so you will have to carry your bag with you. The distances between each city do not exceed the 3 hours, except from Florence to Rome and from Rome to Milan. In the latter, my advice is to take the last train available on the 6th day. It takes around seven hours to get to Milan, so this way you save a night at the hostel and have more time to spend in Rome during the day.
What do I do in each city?
I do think that in less than 24 hours there is time to visit the “must-sees” and a little bit more in each city, if your health allows you to walk fast. To see the main attractions that you will find in every guide about Italy, my suggestion is to join one of the free walking tours that are so popular nowadays. A local will walk you around, give you a short history lesson, share with you some fun facts and you will pay as much as you want to, because they only accept tips! You will find these tours in Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome; and these ones are pretty good (https://www.freetour.com/destination/italy).
In my opinion, the best thing about Italy, apart from the food and the weather, is the architecture. In Milan, you should spend some time checking the masterpiece that the Galleria Victor Manuele building is and enjoy some breath-taking views from the Duomo roof. In Verona, go to Castel de San Pietro to get the best panoramic of the city –the Aige river and its multiple bridges, such as the Castelvieggio one, which is the main access to the city centre. In Venice, by taking the vaporetto and line 1, which starts at Piazzale di Roma and costs 7 euros for an hour (29 euros if you get a day pass), you get to see the Grand Canale. During this 35-minute journey, you can see the well-known Pointe di Rialto, Ponte di Scalzi, Ponte dell’Accademia and the Academy of Fine Arts, Santa Maria de Salute, a huge Baroque church which dates back to the 17th century as well as many palaces, such as the Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande, a good example of High Renaissance architecture in the city.
In Florence, even if you are not a massive art fan, do not leave without spending at least three hours at Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the largest and best known art galleries in the world. Not only it is an incredibly beautiful palace, but it also holds impressive collections, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. Among other artwork, you will be able to admire “The birth of Venus” by Botticelli. And finally, in Rome, definitely visit the Vatican. Enjoy a good panoramic view from St Peter’s square and visit the breath-taking and unforgettable St. Peter’s Basilica and the amazing museums, such as the Michelangeo-decorated Sistine Chapel. You should also visit Pigneto, Rome’s best alternative neighbourhood where you will find loads of chic restaurants, cafés and shops or walk to the Giardino degli Aranci to get some nice views of the city.
Hope you have found this article useful and…divertiti in Italia!
Article by Angela Martin Cascon for Blog About Holidays