If I had a glass of wine for every time we said FOCU MEU...
If you read my last post, you're probably very curious to know how my 10 day trip to Italy panned out. Was it enough time for the amount of places we saw? How was it travelling with my mom and my aunt? Was that budget realistic? And of course, was it worth it? Here's my honest review of the trip:
Air Transat really blew us away, and I think the flights we took were actually considered the best I've taken so far. We flew directly to Rome on an Airbus, which was so nice and spacious, and then spent an additional $60 on seats with extra leg room- LET ME TELL YOU, it was a GAME CHANGER! Our seats were just behind first class, and it was so comfortable. For someone like me who can never sleep on planes, this definitely saved me. The next time you fly to Italy, spend a bit more on that extra leg room, it's SO worth it!
My Travel Buddies
This was the first time I had ever travelled with my mom and my zia, and it was truly an experience. They were always up for a good time, a glass of wine, and great food- what more could I ask for? We shared the same interests when it came to balancing sightseeing and shopping, which was absolutely perfect. *This is the most important thing I can stress about travelling, you need to go with the right people. If you're the type who enjoys exploring historical sites, and your friend only wants to explore the local shops, IT AIN'T GONNA WORK! The biggest problem I faced travelling with my mom and my zia was that they made me spend money!!! All the women in my family have a shoe and purse addiction, ESPECIALLY my Zia Nat, so it didn't take much for her to convince me to get everything I laid eyes on. Then, when it came time for my mom wanting to "take a peek" in a cute store, my credit card just magically slipped right out of my hands, and into the terminal. Now, my second struggle was something I didn't think much about going into the trip, but actually dealt with everyday.. They had no eye for photography! Every time I wanted a photo in front of an incredible backdrop, I would get a clear shot of my shoes while my head looked double its normal size. I don't know why, but both of their instincts were to point the phone down EVERY TIME! I thought for sure I would get a few questionable photos, but I actually only counted a handful of decent shots of me from the trip. Lesson learned though, next time I travel with my mom and my zia, I gotta pick up a selfie stick. Looking back though, I don't think I've laughed harder with them, and that trip was definitely one we'll remember forever.
We roughly spent two full days in each place, which was a bit tight, but we made it work. The key here was to prioritize our time, and make sure that we had a plan of what we wanted to do before we reached each place. With every destination, we made some great memories, and met some pretty amazing people.
Varese- This was the first stop, and might I say it was the perfect start to the trip. Varese is a city that is one hour train ride from Milan, and home to one of our cousins. During our visit, we got the chance to see the annual Christmas market that takes place in Rasa, a small town within Varese, and see a breathtaking monastery overlooking the alps called Eremo di San Catarina Del Sasso. Our cousins also took us to Lugano, Switzerland which was incredible, and SO CLOSE! It was so crazy to see how just a 45 minute drive could have you end up in another amazing country.
Milano- I know Milano relatively well, so I knew exactly what would be worth seeing. I took my mom and zia to the Duomo di Milano (cathedral), which they absolutely loved. We also enjoyed a great lunch at the Aperol Terazza, which is a photoesque restaurant overlooking the Duomo. Of course, we hit the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele and shopped till we literally dropped, and had an amazing aperitivo experience at my favourite spot, La Proscuitteria. Places we missed: Leonardo di Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, and Teatro alla Scala- a breathtaking opera house.
Torino (Turin)- Our third stop truly blew me away. Torino was a one hour train ride from Milan, and may have been one of the highlights of the trip. Here, we visited the first ever Eataly, the Palazzo Reale di Torino, and explored the historical streets. Both places had us stunned, to the point where we couldn't handle more museums or beauty overload of any kind. There was an incredible variety of shops in Torino, and some of the most amazing food we've ever had! Lunch at Pastificio De Fillips, and dinner at Ristrot Guviol will forever be a highlight of this trip- you HAVE to eat there! Places we missed: National Cinema Museum, and the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile (National automobile museum).
Siena- Our fourth stop was the furthest from the other places we'd seen, but it was absolutely worth the trip. To get to Siena, we took a train from Torino to Firenze, and then a bus to Siena. This time visiting Siena was so special because I got to show my mom where I stayed during my summer exchange, and some of my favourite restaurants and shops. With all of that sightseeing, we took it easy with the historical sites, and visited the Duomo di Siena, which my mom and zia absolutely loved. Our amazing meals included lunch at Antica Trattoria L'Aquila, and dinner at Osteria Nonna Gina and Il Biondo.
Rome- We spent only one day at our last stop, since we had our return flight home the following day. We took a bus from Siena to Florence, and a train to get to Rome. Our plans for this visit to Rome included getting our last minute shopping done, and having our last gelato fix.
With each place we visited, we seemed to get better at choosing the right location for each hotel. When travelling in Italy, there are certainly some places that you just can't really drag a luggage around, and that's something we really took into account on this trip. You need to figure out the perfect balance between how close you are to a train station, as well as the main area you're going to spend most of your time. Here are the hotels we stayed at:
Hotel Bianca Maria Palace (4 star), Milano: Fantastic hotel, with a great rooftop terrace. It's a 20 minute walk to the city centre, and a 10 minute cab ride to Milano Centrale train station. I would definitely stay there again! https://www.biancamariapalace.com/en/index
StarHotels Majestic (4.5 star), Torino: PERFECT LOCATION. This hotels was probably the best we stayed at in terms of location, comfort, and cleanliness. It's across the street from Torino Porta Nuova train station, and walking distance to major shopping strips and museums. It doesn't get any better than this place! http://starhotels-majestic.h-rsv.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-6bdkvDg5gIVg_7jBx2g6wkWEAAYBCAAEgIZvvD_BwE
Hotel NH Siena (4 star), Siena: This hotel was exactly what we needed, with Siena being a hilly town with cobble stone roads. It's steps away from the bus station, and was amazingly quiet. Considering that the best way to see Siena is by walking, the location was great. My concern here was to make sure we weren't dragging our bags across the city, and this hotel saved us! It was comfortable and clean, and exactly what we were looking for. I'll definitely be back. https://www.nh-hotels.com/hotel/nh-siena?campid=8435708&utm_campaign=paid-search_brand&utm_source=google&utm_term=english-all&utm_medium=paid-search&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiv-zpPDg5gIVxsDACh1WtQiKEAAYASAAEgJC6PD_BwE
Hotel Relais Trevi 95 Boutique Hotel (4.5 star): This is the first boutique hotel I've ever stayed at, and I really enjoyed it. It's about a five minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps, which in my opinion is where you need to stay while visiting Rome. It's a 15 minute cab ride from Roma Termini train station, and about a 45 minute drive to Roma Fiumicino Airport. NOTE: When getting to the airport from this hotel, it's better to take a taxi directly, than taking the train. You'll spend about 20 euros to get to the train station by cab, and another 20 euros for the train to the airport. It's about the same just to take a cab from the hotel directly to the airport, so save yourself the hassle. http://www.relaistrevi95.com/en/index.php
Here's the breakdown of what we spent:
Food: 50€/day (70€ including wine with lunch/dinner)
Train: 25€-70€ per ride (booked on Italo) *this expense definitely hurt us, but that's because we chose to go to so many places, and get there FAST. If time isn't an issue, you can travel very cheap by train across Italy. If you're going to see multiple places, the travelling costs in between will add up quickly, especially if there's a great distance in between.
Accommodations: $470 (booked on Hotels.com and Expedia)
Flight: $775 (booked through AirTransat)
10-12°C with rain almost everyday
My Italy 2019 trip was one I'll never forget. I ate well, shopped well, and laughed every single day. I think seeing Italy in 10 days can be absolutely worth it if you plan carefully, and have the right people with you. As long as you're in good company, FOCU MEU, it'll be a trip you'll never forget. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to like it below, and let me know if you have any questions about my trip!
Fa la brava,