Fifteen days on the wrong side of the road (city-hopping Italy)

Fifteen days of driving around Italy has been absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, just when I’ve gotten used to driving on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car, and waving my wrist madly shouting ‘che cazzo’ (at appropriate road rage moments), we’ve had to bid a sad farewell to our trusty little Fiat and re-accustom ourselves with the concept of backpacking.

Started out in Milan where our fantastic hosts Erik and Giorgio gave us a tour of the main city sites like the amazing sushi buffet and the Cartier store (where an Arabian prince was spending up millions), before introducing us to the exciting Navigli area and the hip bars surrounding Arco della Pace where they serve deadly pint-sized cocktails.

Made our way to Venice on day one, with a quick stopover at beautiful Lake Garda for a picnic and swim

before moving on to fair Verona in search of Romeo. Unfortunately we just missed the visiting hours of Casa di Giulietta and could only stare at her balcony from the courtyard below.

Beneath the balcony stands a bronze statue of Juliet which supposedly brings luck with love when you rub her right breast. After standing aside and giggling at all the groping that went on, we decided we couldn’t risk our chances and followed suit.

Lying in midst a lagoon, impressively built on 118 islands or so, Venice is a truly amazing city and unsurprisingly a tourist heaven. On land, the city can only be accessed by foot and can become quite difficult to navigate, particularly after dark. Read: The City of Canals.

Next stop was Bologna where our search for the best bolognese was quickly abandoned upon finding this fantastic buffet.

On to the east coast of Italy, we spent some quality feeding time with my family in Sant’arcangelo di Romagna (near Rimini), and made a side trip to the tiny republic of San Marino.

The Sanmarinese are extremely proud of their independence and unique identity and do much to keep their culture untainted. According to Lonely Planet, they have an amusing regulation “to stop foreign gold-diggers snatching its supply of rich, elderly men”.

With the change in weather and car rental days numbering low, we left for Tuscany where the beautiful countryside had us drop our pace and spare a few extra days. Italy’s confusing roadsigns coupled with my habit of taking a punt had us lost on numerous occasions, proving rather frustrating at times but all the more exciting otherwise. Read: Falling in love with Tuscany.

Took a couple of days out to visit the Cinque Terre in spite of the terrible weather forecast. Greeted by heavy downpour, we spent the morning cursing Italy before our prayers/tears were answered and we received a dramatic turnaround in weather.

A scenic little trek strings together the five picturesque coastal villages. Read: The Cinque Terre

Rome is probably the most fascinating city we’ve visited. However, driving is definitely not the best way of getting around town, and the mass amount of tourists really pushed my patience and could have inspired a game of GTA (in Lay’s words). Its rich history and general prettiness warrants a blog entry of its own which I shall get around to soon.

We also squeezed in a visit to the beautiful Amalfi Coast, and after leaving the car with some memorable scratches on the dangerous death drive, our fifteen day rental ended in Naples. A sad little end but attempting to beat the traffic and lack of road rules in that city would probably have been a bad decision.

3 replies on “ Fifteen days on the wrong side of the road (city-hopping Italy) ”
  1. Hi there! I just read your blogpost on your trip through Italy. A friend and I are looking to do pretty much the same route next summer. We def want to see Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, Verona and Bologna. We are trying to plan a way to visit all those places on the lowest budget possible and I was wondering if you could give us some tips and information of how you guys arranged this trip? We would appreciate it beyond belief! Either way, your trip sounds amazing and I can’t wait to go visit Italy myself. 🙂 You can email me at juliedekeyser@hotmail.com. Any tips on low budget travelling would be tremedously appreciated! Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Julie,

    To be honest, the trip wasn’t exactly planned. We more or less threw ourselves into Italy and made plans day by day. We were lucky to land a relatively cheap rental with Maggiore and so got around the country by car. That probably isn’t the most budget-friendly option normally but definitely the best way of traveling if you want to see the Tuscany countryside and other smaller towns and cities out of the typical tourist range. That said, from what I remember, the trains in Italy aren’t that expensive and makes it very easy getting between the big cities. See http://www.trenitalia.com/ for prices. If you plan to do a lot of train travelling maybe consider getting an Italy rail pass. I’ve heard that could save you money 🙂

    One way of budgeting accomodation-wise is to stay on campgrounds. Italy has some amazing campgrounds and you don’t need to set up your own tent or anything (though you could). We stayed with plus (http://www.plushostels.com/) in both Rome and Florence and it was amazing. Same goes with Venice. Stay in a campsite in Campalto as opposed to somewhere on the main island. Bus connections are regular and cheap.

    Good luck with planning!

    Nancy

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