7.01.2012

va, pensiero

i just realized that i need to tell you something.

in a week from today, i'll be on a flight to rome!


i'm headed to meet my brother there and then we're headed for a two-week backpacking adventure through italy and france.

we're planning on going to rome, then up through tuscany to see those lovely towns, and then headed to the cinque terre (!!!!), then over to venice. from venice we'll head to paris and end up there.

this was a trip that we planned when i was 16, but we never did it. but now's the time. we're gonna make it happen.

i'm suuuuper excited, even though that's a lot to pack in to two weeks. i know that i can't see everything, but if you have advice for sights/experiences in those places, please leave a comment! or just europe advice in general. or advice on how to pack light?! orrr just life advice. whatever you'd like. i was so appreciative when i got all of your NY advice and i loved hearing everyone's experiences.

in one week.
seven days.
perhaps i should think about packing?

18 comments:

--jeff * said...

i love that it's a trip that you've been planning since you were 16. is that what "up" was all about? : )

i've only been to belgium, so i can't give too much euro-advice, but i one thing i've learned from running around various parts of asia is that you can't do "everything", so don't try to and don't feel bad that you can't. instead, slow down and savor what you are able to do.

i'm seriously dang excited for you.
{!}

Maria Mercer Adams said...

Complete agree with Jeff! Savor what you can! Also, Italian trains are NOTORIOUS for being late, so if you plan on taking any make sure to plan for something not to go right! Also, when in Venice eat something! Just don't do it near the Piazza di Rialto (the area around the Rialto Bridge) or along the main tourist traps. YOU WILL BE POOR! But there is a lot of dang good food if you just meander around the city. Take a water taxi if you want a boat ride and avoid the gondolas (though picturesque, not worth the euros). Buy some Murano glass, it's dirt cheap in Venice as the island where its made is next door. You can tour one of the glass factory's if you want. Don't know how much time you will have there. It's so much fun. Florence is in Tuscany and is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Make sure to buy yourself a lovely leather bag while in Italy... you can usually find a nice one from the shops or the market stalls. Avoid the knock off Guccis and Pradas--while fun, they don't last terribly long. Also, never be afraid to haggle the price! Half the time they will lower it to ridiculous proportions. I haven't been to France, just a brief stop on the Riviera and it didn't really count. My main expertise is the UK, so if you ever go there let me know! But have so much fun, dear! Just relish the experience!

Maria Mercer Adams said...

Oh, last thing. Keep your money close, and when you think its safe, keep it closer. My aunt was robbed 900 bucks in Spain off the Metro and she was wearing one of those hidey things you put around your neck. Not to frighten you, but make sure you have locks or something on your backpacks and never leave ANYTHING valuable in your hostel room. (I assume you are staying in hostels?)

Nathaniel Gustafson said...

What I've learned: (SE Asia may differ from Europe in some regards..)

- Essentials of Passport, some money, wallet in safe inner pocket free from bag-slashing or snatching.

- Packing light: If you can keep it to one (small?) backpack, AWESOME. Only two sets of synthetic (not cotton) clothing, wash the day's in the shower at night and hang up to dry, sleep and take the next day in the other (clean dry) one. Leave laptops and such at home. Bring COMFORTABLE shoes, you're always on feet. Europe (vs. Asia) a light synthetic jacket may be nice? Check weather.

- Take a small travel journal and use it.

- If you're traveling with someone, I'd HIGHLY recommend couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org). You should schedule places PRONTO if it's in a week though, at least a week's notice, or two, is customary. I've loved all of our CS hosts. Hostels? I've never done them, they also sound good.

- Don't plan _too_ much... Have a few places to see but be up for seeing places your hosts(?) recommend. You can usually get some kind of maps there. Travel books are heavy so bring with good judgment.

- Have so much fun. :D Eat new things, don't take candy from strange men, make friends, be wise, stay awesome.

Oh, and know how/where to withdraw money as needed, and the associated fees. I'd recommend not carrying any more than you're willing to have stolen off of you at any given time. Having a higher-security cache on the inside of your bag with _most_ of your on-hand money, and then a more accessible pocket with a small portion available for food and such is nice.

I'm so excited for you.

Spencer Hawkes said...

sam and i just started our 2 month USA backpacking trip, and we received some great advice which I will pass on to you.
Pack all of your bags 2 days before leaving. then relax! Inevitably you end up remembering things you should have packed and you'll save money and stress by having the extra time before leaving.
also when packing think back to all the times you've traveling and brought more t-shirts than you needed to. bring less, and if you find you need more, buy it. the extra weight probably isn't worth it if you're hauling your stuff around most of the time.
have a blast!

Anonymous said...

This probably isn't your min concern, but the Euro is floating about $1.27 (the lowest it's been in a long time) so excellent timing there.
As for europe advice in general, I'd probably mention:
-public transportation is great; use it.
-be careful of street vendors and more careful of drunken beggars (i know that sounds harsh, but two years in southern Spain teaches you a few things).
-make sure you have your top priorities that you WILL do and some others that you are willing to compromise on.
-and of course my all time favorite: DON'T BE STUPID

Be safe but HAVE FUN!!!

-NED-

Lyndsay said...

Paris is SO great. So many things to see. If you're there on Bastille Day (July 14), though, be extra careful--there will be lots of partying and not-so-safe people around.

I find that the RER metro is the best way to get around. There are lines that go pretty much everywhere. They have a couple of different pass options that you could consider (1 day, 1 week, etc).

The Eiffel Tower is a must, as are any number of museums that you happen upon. My favorites are the Museé D'Orsay and the Museé de l'Orangerie (where Monet's Water Lilies are housed) and of course the Louvre. Depending on how many museums you want to visit, a museum pass may be a cheaper alternative. There's one that I think lasts for a week and gets you into all the major museums.

There are a hundred different gardens that you would enjoy and they are all free. The Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens would probably be my favorites. There's a crepe stand in the Luxembourg that is my favorite of all time.

Boat rides on the Seine are a good way to see a lot of sights for one price. If you take one, I would do it at night when you can see everything lit up--Paris at night is so pretty!

Also, take a trek up to Sacre Coeur and Montmatre. It's the old artist colony and I think you would love it. There are lots of gypsies especially around Sacre Coeur but they are pretty recognizable. Just avoid them.

ALSO, go see Notre Dame. At least the outside and the rose window inside if that's all you have time for. But if you have the time, climb the bell tower about an hour before sunset. It makes for a spectacular view. There are dozens of other churches/cathedrals around Paris that are also worth visiting if you like that kind of thing--especially Saint Chapelle.

If you're going to be there on a Sunday, the ward in Paris is so great and pretty easy to find--it's just across the street from the Pompidou.

Also, stop at every boulangerie and patisserie you see and eat some croissants and pastries for me. :) Have so much fun!!

Jess said...

Well, I have never been to Europe...but I do have something to say. I know what "va, pensiero" means. My advice to you is...keep using PHS choir songs as your blog post titles. Oh yeah, and don't do anything that I wouldn't do. At the same time, DO do things that I would do. These include: singing at the top of your lungs in public, pretending to speak a language that you've never heard of before, asking people to hold something for you while you take a picture (then give them your hand), wink at random men on the street, ask a restaurant for a dry cup of water on the rocks, when visiting someone's home ask them where they're from, and so and and so forth.

Madelynne said...

Oh Rome musings! How I love thee! You definitely want to go to the small chapel at the bottom of the park and see Caravaggio's paintings of The Conversion of St. Peter. Also, the pieta. I loved the underground burial rooms that are decorated completely with human bones. Also, the pizza with no sauce - Southern Italy style. I would buy Fromer's guide and tear out the pages you might go to, and staple them together by city. Even though you can get on the internet, you don't want to waste time! In Venice I think its definitely worth your time to feed the pigeons. Also, eats lots of gelato! Try fresh pasta, plain, with lots of grated cheese. I loved going out to Murano. Also there are several small but very influential galleries in Venice. I've hosteled all over the world, and highly recommend it, but take a padlock and pack light because the lockers are small. Also, ask about air conditioning before paying for your room. Some of those places will bake you alive!!!

Chelsea Stebar said...

• Look for street artist named Ziod at the top of the Spanish steps
• “Bone Church” aka Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini (specifically the crypt of the Capuchin friars). Right down the street from the metro stop Piazza Barberini (same stop as Trevi Fountain)
• All the usual “centro” stuff (Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, etc)
• Piazza Navona (near Pantheon), know that most of the artists aren’t legit, but it’s still one of my most favorite places
• Vatican (make sure you climb the “cupola” and see the view from the top) and Vatican museums
• Basilica di San Paolo (baptismal font for the dead and stuff, I think it’s on the way to Ostia)
• Ostia Antica (awesome ruins of ancient city, south-west corner of Rome, take the train)
• Villa Borghese (magical gardens and stuff, visit especially the galleries, lots of sweet Bernini stuff – you need a ticket, it’s free, but you have to reserve a time to enter)

Diana said...

May I help you pack, please? :) My phone is... well... on the fritz (I'm sure that's pretty surprising to you), but I'll try getting it to work tomorrow. So exciting! (Your trip not my phone). Xoxo

Hector Garcia said...

A. Is that still your number? haha

B. I couldn't be more excited for your trip to Europe! It's freaking sweet! Italy has been AMAZING! It's safe to say I've been everywhere in this country! Some pointers/advice....

1. Rome is freaking sweet. I went to Rome before I started my study abroad in Siena (which is in Tuscany....I'll elaborate more a little later) and it was the time of my life. As I studied architecture for my undergrad, I was essentially in Disneyland! It is an amazing city! So amazing that I'm going back there this weekend! My first time around I stayed in an apartment with my 2 friends but this time we just booked a hostel. Apartments are nice if you're staying for at least 3 nights, otherwise hostels do just fine. We are only paying 35 a night (which is pretty good for a big city) in a good part of town (by the train station, close to public transportation). Pretty stoked. The only things you really need to pay to see are the Colosseum and the Vatican....everything else worth seeing is free! Buildings are free to look at!

2. Siena is amazing. Greatest city in Italy! I spent 5 weeks there learning Italian and it will always have a place in my heart! Such a beautiful little town! It's super old skool (300 years)! I loved it! Very charming, the BEST gelato in Italy (trust me, it is!), and the food is fantastic! It is definitely worth it to stay the night or at least make a day trip from Florence!

3. Florence is freaking sweet! One of my favorite cities so far! Charming, clean, big, awesome, amazing, everything in between! Tuscany in general is super nice! Lot to do in Florence, though! If you have time, Lucca (45 min on train) is a cool city in Florence! It's close to Pisa (not much to do except the tower)! Tuscany is cool, though!

4. Venice was pretty cool! Spent 2 nights there (probably could have done it in 1, unless you're going to Murano)! Gondola ride was cheap (there were 6 of us, so we split 80 euro 6 ways). Food was AMAZING. Clam spaghetti! Give it a shot!

5. Cinque Terre has been my favorite spot so far! It has breath-taking views, delicious pesto, awesome hiking, and the best vibe! It's cool to have a mix of ocean and mountains! Freaking amazing! I've been twice and plan on going one more time! I live in Genova right now so it's pretty close!

6. Genova is cool. It's a pretty big city.....you can bypass it though and spend more time in other cities. I like it but it's kinda smelly and not that great.

7. Verona is a very girly city to see close to Venice. It has some pretty cool architecture, though!

Hector Garcia said...

(continued)

C. If you plan on slowly making your way up Italy, I DO NOT recommend buying a EuroRail pass. It is only worth it if you plan on making LONG DISTANCE trips in one day. It sounds like you're going to spend like 2 or 3 days in a city then leave. Train tickets that way won't be very expensive. "Frecciabianca, Frecciarossa, and Frecciagentro" are the bullet trains that will get you from A to B relatively quickly but they are much more expensive. "InterCity" trains are decently quick and less-expensive than the bullet trains. "Regionale" trains are the regional trains and are the cheapest. They are the slowest but train rides are kinda cool some days.....but they save money. You can get from Rome to Florence for about 30 Euro doing Intercity/Regional tickets vs 50 euro for the fast train. You can do research before you leave. Go to www.trenitalia.com to see the prices. They also have specials sometimes. You can get train tickets from the "Self-Service" machines, which is what I do, or you can get tickets from the ticket window.

Alternatively, you can take buses from city to city. They are generally cheaper than taking the train but take a littler longer. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. You can make it cheap, though. When are you landing in Rome?

D. Food can get expensive! I would honestly avoid eating at restaurants in the bigger cities for 2 reasons......1. The "coperto" (which is the cover charge) can be 2.50 to 3 euro. It does, however, take care of the tip. You don't really need to tip at restaurants anyway. 2. The drinks are ridiculously expensive. You can find pizzerias everywhere! Or local bakeries! Eating can be pretty cheap! It's when I eat out that I spend the most money. All the food is good! I have yet to not like anything.

E. Take a water bottle with you! Every city in Italy has free fountains! The water is absolutely DELICIOUS! Just DO NOT drink from waters that say "Acqua non potabile". If it does not say that, you're good to go! The water in Rome is freaking delicious. Do not be afraid of that water. It is soooooo good! I'm excited to be able to drink it again this weekend!

F. Pack light and bring light colored clothing. Italy is FREAKING HOT right now. Like, ridiculously hot right now. I try to only wear one layer and shorts. It's super humid in a lot of cities too. Beware, though, if you want to go inside churches and the Vatican. In religious buildings, women need to cover their shoulders and wear something past their knees.

G. Places to stay.....I noticed someone suggested "Couch surfing"....we're not allowed to couch-surf on weekend trips so I don't know much about it. I DO know, however, that hostels are cheap. Most of them are clean.

H. H is for Hector, cuz it's an awesome name for an awesome person. haha

I. Good shoes are a must. There are cobblestones everywhere! And hills! And awesome mountains to hike! Some sporty shoes will be fine

J. Take a look at my pictures to decide where you want to go! I've been to a lot of places!

K. Don't be afraid to call! I can give you details on a lot of things!

L. Bring like 16gb or 24gb worth of memory cards! Pictures eat up a lot of room! You WILL want to take lots of pics!

Devin Moody said...

Places of Interest, City Specific (in order of my favorites):

ROME:
1. The Colosseum & Roman Forum (Arch of Constantine & Titus)
2. Burghese Museum (*Bernini's David, *Apollo and Daphne, Rape of Persephone)
3. Vatican City - St. Peter's Square and Basilica (*Michelangelo's Pieta, Bernini's Baldacchino, Cathedra & St. Longinus)
4. Vatican Museum (*Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel,*Raphael - Transfiguration and School of Athens, *Carrivaggio - Entombment of Christ, Da Vinci - St. Gerome, *Laocoon, Polykleitas - Spear Bearer, Augustus of Primaporta, Lyssipus - Scraper, Apollo Belvedere, Giotto Altarpiece, )
5. Pantheon (Isolated a mile or so away from the main ancient rome sites, but A Must See)
6. Capitoline Museum (*Dying Gaul, *Statue of Marcus Aurelius, *Giant Constantine Sculpture, Romulus and Remus Bronze)

--All of the Above work great if you are limited on time because they have multiple great artworks/sites in one area.

--Here are some extras that are still worth seeing, but might logistically limit you because they are single artworks/sites or less well known.

1.Burghese Park (Best place to just chill in Rome hands down, Unimaginably big and many diverse spots to explore, can access from the Piazza del Popolo Metro Stop which is a really cool Piazza and shopping area)
2.Basilica of St. John the Lateran (Cathedral of Rome), has 12 amazing sculptures of the Twelve Apostles that line the nave done by the Bernini School)
3. Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps (near the main metro stops
4. Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers (in the cool race track shaped Piazza Navona)
5. Santa Maria Della Vittoria (surprisingly small church that holds Bernini's incredible Ecstasy of St. Teresa)
6. San Pietro in Vincoli (holds the Tomb of Pope Julius II done by Michelangelo, *Michelangelo's Moses)
7. San Luigi Dei Francesi ( 3 Caravaggio's, *Calling of St. Matthew, *Inspiration of St. Matthew)
8. Column of Trajan and Imperial Forum (Across the street from the Roman Forum)
9. Barbareni Palace/Museum (3 Fantastic Caravaggio's, amazing Grande Ballroom ceiling fresco)
10. San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane (Coolest pure Baroque style architecture exterior and interior)
11. Santa Maria Del Popolo (Carracci's Madonna in Glory, *Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul)

--I've written too much, I know, but Rome was my favorite and I was there for 2 weeks. It is worth spending more days here than any other city in my opinion.

Devin Moody said...

Places of Interest, City Specific (in order of my favorites):

CINQUE TERRE:
(5 Beautiful Seaside City's, in order north to south: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniligia, Manarola, RioMaggiore)
(You need to buy a Cinque Terre Card, about 10 euros, which allows you to use the train which connects the 5 cities and hike the interconnecting trails.)

Here is the actual timeline of the 1 AMAZING full day I had in Cinque Terre.

1. Morning Hike from Monterosso heading south to Vernazza (BEAUTIFUL coastal path 1hr 30min, note: not the inland path)
- Took Train from Vernazza to RioMaggiore
2. Hike from RioMaggiore to heading north to Manarola (coastal path, all paved, called the Via Dell'Amore, Love Walk, easy 15- 20min)
- spent 30 min having fun jumping from a giant rock near the water, about 5 minutes into the hike)
3. Had lunch in Manarola (amazing Pesto Lasagna)
- Took a bus from Manarola to the Volastra, bus is free with the Cinque Terre Card, bus stop picks up right by the post office.
4. Hike from Volastra to Corniliga (The beginning of this hike was the MOST BEAUTIFUL part I remember from all of Cinque Terre, it was more than just the coastal flavor, it was mixed with the classic Italian vineyard scenery, Breathtaking)
- Took train from Corniliga to Monterosso
5. Enjoyed the Beach at Monterosso (really its the only city with a true sandy beach, great place to chill)

--I provide this timeline because it was in my opinion the perfect way to travel between and see all 5 of the cities, without just using the train to get to them.

--I stayed in a place called La Sfinge (the Sphynx). It was a camping area where they provide these cool tents with two beds in them, it was something like 15 euros a night, cheap. There are showers, bathrooms and a little shop with food and other items. Really a perfect little area if you're ok with a little bit of an outdoor feel.

-- La Sfinge is in the city of Deiva Marina. Just north of the last Cinque Terre town (monterosso) is a city called Lepanto, just north of that is Deiva Marina. They are all connected on the same train. We took the train to Deiva Marina and La Sfinge had a shuttle service from the train station to their camp area. If you are bringing a phone, you can call them anytime to pick you up, free service, no cost. The same shuttle will take you from the camp area to the station. I thought it worked out perfect. At nights when the shuttle service had ended we'd walk about 30 minutes from the station to the camp area, nice and cool with fireflies in the bushes as you walked. Anyways this is just the one cheap option we found. I'm sure you could find others, maybe cheap hostels or something.

Devin Moody said...

Places of Interest, City Specific (in order of my favorites):

FLORENCE:
1. The Academy Museum (*Michelangelo's David, Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures from the Tomb of Pope Julius II)
2. Uffizi Gallery (*Simone Martini - Annuciation, *Gentile da Fabrino - Strozzi Altar, Adoration of the Magi, *Filippo Lippi - Madanna & Child, *Da Vinci - Annuciation, *Bottticelli's Birth of Venus and La Primavera (Spring), *Raphael's - Madonna of the Goldfinich, *Michelangelo's Doni Tondo, *Parmigianino - Madonna of the Long Neck, *Gentileschi - Judith & Holofernes, Caravaggio's Bacchus and Medusa, UNBELIEVABLE COLLECTION)
3. Florence Cathedral (Duomo), Baptistry and Tower (Ghiberti Gates of Paradise, Amazing 13th Century Mosaic ceiling in the Baptistry)
4. OrSanMichele - famous sculptures on the outside, some are the duplicates, but still (*Donatello's St. George and St. Mark, Ghiberti's St. Matthew, Verrochio's Christ and St. Thomas, Nanni di Banco Four Crowned Saints)
5. San Lorenzo (*Michelangelo's Medici Chapel, *Michelangelo's New Sacristy, Michelangelo's Library)

--Again I have listed the big names and places that you can see multiple things in on area. But there are still some fantastic things to see if you have time.

--Here are some extras

1. Church of Santa Maria Novella (*Masaccio's Holy Trinity, groundbreaking fresco for his time, *Ghirlandaio's Apse Fresco, Ghirlandaio was Michelangelo's painting mentor, you can see how his Sistine Chapel fresco builds off of Ghirlandaio's work)
2. View from Piazzale Michelangelo, the best view of the city of Florence.
3. Famous Buildings/Places you can or inevitably will walk by - Medici Palace, Rucellai Palace, Strozzi Palace, Pitti Palace, City Hall (*Rape of the Sabine Women is in the city hall Portico area), Ponte Vecchio (famous bridge)

-- These next two are GEMS that not many tourists see

4. Church of Santa Felicita, Capponi Chapel (*Potormo Deposition, coolest Mannerist painting ever)
5. Church of Santa Maria Del Carmine (*Masaccio Tribute Money and Expulsion of Adam & Eve)

-- If you have time there are some cool nearby cities you can visit: FIESOLE and SETTIGNANO. Buses will take you there if you want.

FIESOLE is cool little hill top town right next to Florence, I actually just ran there from my hotel in Florence (it was only like 4 miles, but it was uphill), some great views.

SETTIGNANO is the quite hillside town that Michelangelo grew up in and where he learned to sculpt. I am not lying when I say it just is classic Italian beauty up there. Every shade of green God has created is found in the hillside views. I had the most peaceful experience, roaming through the TINY city streets running parallel along the hillside. It is worth it if you have the time, I anticipate you won't, but at least it was nice to reminisce.

Devin Moody said...

Ok, Now I'm down to the Final Destinations (Still in Order of my Favorites):

ASSISI:
It is the most GORGEOUS, BREATHTAKING, Perfect/Ideal Hilltop Italian city you can imagine. Seriously. It ranks ahead of Venice in some categories for me.
1. Just walking through the city makes it worth it.
2. St. Francis Basilica - Assisi is where the Franciscan movement began, St Francis wrote "All Creatures of Our God and King", Nativity scenes began here. (*Frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue)
3. Basilica of St. Claire
4. Hilltop Castle

VENICE:
1. Like Assisi, just walking through the city makes it worth it. (And I kind of disagree with that girl, Gandola rides are worth it if you can split it between 5 people)
2. St. Mark's Cathedral and Square (it's not underwater at this time of year so thats a plus, the entire interior is Mosaics, such a rare beauty)
3. Peggy Guggenhiem Collection (I stumbled upon this gem in Venice, great modern art collection (*Picasso, *Pollock, Rothko, Giacommeti, Chagall, Braque, *Magritte, Dali, Kandinsky, Klee, Boccioni, Delauney, Duchamp, de Chirico, Mondrian, Ernst, Miro, De Kooning, Bacon)
4. Murano Glass (cool to see that actual factory and watch them do it)

SEINA:
Siena is a real gem, totally an unexpected surprise. Loved it there. Worth a day trip in my opinion.

1. Siena Cathedral - in my top 5 Cathedrals/Basilica's, the striped pattern of the two local stones (white and black) is just incredible to see. The adjoining baptistry has Donatello's Feast of Herod bronze relief.
2. Piazza Del Campo - loved this piazza. Its shaped like an open fan with 9 triangular slices (representing the Council of Nine who helped establish the city). Such a cool place to relax, chill, people watch and eat gelato. I had my 3rd favorite Gelato in Siena, that's saying something (it was a gelato place that is connected to the piazza itself).
3. Palazza Pubblico/City Hall - main buiding in the piazza del campo, cool bell tower. (inside, *Lorenzetti - Effects of Good an Bad Government)

MILAN
it's a city you can experience in a day. Maybe you won't be going through that part of Italy, but I think it is so worth a day trip.
1. Da Vinci's LAST SUPPER, one of my absolute favorites! It has such a spiritual tone apart from all of the aesthetics. So glad I saw it. You have to preorder tickets if you even want a chance to see it.
2. Milan Catheral (Duomo), the most gorgeous Gothic cathedral ever. You can even pay to go on the roof top and see an incredible view from there.
3. Castello Sforza (*Michelangelo's last sculpture, an unfinished Pieta) The castle connects to an amazing park, Sempione Park, it's so alive with people and fun to just sit and relax.
4. There is a cool Opera House you can visit close to the Milan Cathedral as well as an amazing place to have lunch called LUINI's (seriously it was one of the highlights of MIlan). They sell whats called Panzerotti and their cheap 2.50 euro. It's like an italian stuffed scone sandwich (a total Milan original).

Devin Moody said...

TIVOLI
this is an area a short train ride from Rome. It has the most beautiful gardens you can visit. We went to the Villa d'Este and saw the Estes Garden. So cool! There is also Hadrians Villa in the city with it's fantastic gardens.

PISA
also in the Tuscany region, we visited there for a couple of hours on our way to Cinque Terre (a couple of hours is enough I think). All we did was walk from the train station down the main street (20-25 min walk) to the Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistry. It's fun to see, but other cities had more of an impact on me. Could be a possible quick visit like we did.

In short if I had 10 theoretical days in Italy I would spend them as follows:

THE MUST VISIT CITIES
3 days in Rome
2 days in Florence
1 FULL day in Cinque Terre
1 FULL day in Venice
1 day trip to Assisi (train from Rome)

---

EXTRA - IF YOU HAVE TIME
1 day in Milan (train from Venice on your way out of Italy)

(It totals nine days, but travel time eats away an entire day in essence)