It really is a shoppers paradise. Even I was tempted to buy some clothing! After coming from the other cities in Italy, I was shocked to find a more ‘European’/less ‘Italian’ atmosphere, and that the clothing stores and boutiques are actually affordable (and not just targeted at rich tourists from Asia, as Venice and Florence seem to be). Milan was made more special by the fact that I was able to meet up with a friend I had made in Chiang-Mai (Thailand).
Venice is unbelievable! I know it’s been said to death – but you HAVE to visit here. I’ve been pooh-poohing Venice for sometime (in my mind), and was almost going to give it a miss. All that came to mind when I thought of Venice were those news articles like this one: Why Venice should charge tourists 30 Euros or perhaps getting hit with a ridiculous bill of over 100 Euros for 4 coffees, or the articles that tell us that Venice is literally sinking under the weight of tourism.
Bologna is called ‘The Red, The Fat and The Learned’. It’s also the place I would most likely come back to and stay for a while, if I ever do come back to Italy. The ‘vibe’ of the city was just so friendly, so relaxed, that I really felt like this could be a place to stay for a while. The food was great, but even better, it was AFFORDABLE! Between 6 and 7 euro for a giant pizza, little supermarkets everywhere for picnic supplies, and fruit vendors everywhere selling incredibly cheap fruit (how are bananas cheaper here than in Aus?).
Most of Bologna’s walkways are undercover, which is awesome if it rains, or if its really hot in the sun. This used to be a law back in the day, that all new buildings had to have covered walkways. They now have a 3.7km stretch of covered walkway, which leads to a beautiful church and amazing views. The only problem – it’s mostly uphill (well, we did want views!). I would recommend you stay in Bologna over a long weekend (Fri-Sun). That’s when the best markets are on 🙂
Lets just say that Florence was probably the city I liked the least out of all the ones I visited in Italy – I’m not sure why it’s such a desirable tourist destination. Its museums and and churches have nothing on Rome, and it feels even more touristy! Sure the historical city is beautiful, but it has nothing on Venice! The atmosphere is very touristy, and even Italian tourists ask you for directions. When you compare this with the relaxed, friendly, not touristy atmosphere of Bologna, there’s very little left to recommend for Florence.
Here are some pictures I took. It is lovely, and if you go, I would definitely recommend you visit the historical centre and the Piazza Michelangelo (which is up on top of a hill, with great view of Florence). Make sure you visit during opening times if you want a look inside the Duomo.
My first stop in Italy was Rome, where I spent a full on week exploring some of the history on offer by the city. I doubt you could see it all in a month, let alone a week, but here are some of the places we visited.
The Colosseum was our first visit. It was great doing a tour, as they really went into the history of the place (and the palace next to it) in an interesting way. We only did two guided tours in our entire time in Rome, but I would definitely recommend them. This tour was in English (which my aunt didn’t really understand), then we did the Vatican tour in German (see below).