Hello there! My husband and I have just come back from Europe and I am ready to share the first part of it – beautiful Italy. Last year we visited only Rome and Naples, so the plan for this trip was to explore a little more. The adventure turned out to be pretty busy because of the complex itinerary. However, when you fly from far away, and you have been saving your “vacation” days for this one trip, you try to see and do as much as possible. So, if you’re considering visiting this part of Italy, today’s post is for you.
Our itinerary included:
– 1.5 days in Milan, Italy
– 2 days in Florence
– 1-day trip to the city of Pisa
– 2 days in Bologna
– 1-day trip to Modena
…and the train from Bologna, Italy to Munich, Germany.
Arriving in Italy:
Milan is among the cheapest airports in Italy, so, after I determined the places I would like us to visit, we booked the flight from Austin, TX to London Heathrow Airport, and then another one to Milan, Italy.
P.S. if you have plenty of time in London and travel with a carry-on, you can always save some $$ if you fly from the airport other than Heathrow International’s Airport. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Wyzzair offer really good deals.
Getting around Italy:
One of the reasons I really enjoy visiting multiple places in Italy is their railway system. There are two major companies operating in Italy railways: Trenitalia and ItaloTreno.
Last year we had our first experience with a privately operated company called “ItaloTreno”, and we excited to use it again as well as give “Trenitalia” a try. The difference between these two companies: the level of comfort, traveling time and price.
Traveling time for our itinerary:
– it takes 2 hours to get from Milan (Mi Centrale) to Florence (Firenze SNM) with ItaloTreno;
– 35 minutes to arrive in Bologna (Bologna Centrale) from Florence (Firenze SNM) using ItaloTreno;
– the train from Florence (Firenze SMN) to Pisa Centrale will take anywhere fro 47 minutes to an hour with Trenitalia.
– the trip from Bologna (Bologna Centrale) to Modena (Modena Centrale) will take about 30 minutes.
How much does it cost?
Both trains are relatively cheap comparing to, let’s say, “Amtrack” in the USA. For example, if you book with “ItaloTreno”, a round trip ticket Bologna-Florence during high-peak travel season costs €12.90 per person. “Trenitalia” will be even cheaper but may take a little longer to arrive.
Accommodation in Italy:
When in Italy, we stayed at the hotels and B&Bs. Try to book in advance and stay outside of the city center, so you can also experience the non-touristic areas and find the best cafes and restaurants. However, you may need to take a bus to get to the main attractions.
Local transport in Italy:
– Italy has really amazing public transport network including buses and metros. The tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands and Tabacchi shops. One way ticket costs up to €2, and you must validate it when entering the bus. After that, it is valid for 75 minutes and can be used in any bus or metro. An important thing to remember is that services are limited during the weekends. There are always options like 24-48 hour pass and tickets that are good for any 10 rides that can save you an additional $$.
To get to/from the airport:
– Since the airports are far from the cities, you will have to use a train to get to the center and it may cost you anywhere from €11 to €13 per person.
– In order to avoid getting into touristy traps with frozen pizzas and poor quality of food, I would highly suggest trying to find the places where locals (or both tourists and locals) eat. Make a list in advance, ask a friend who lives in Italy or your apartment host for recommendations.
And the last, but not least:
– plan ahead of time;
– investigate where you can withdraw the money with the lowest interest rate based on your bank;
– don’t try to do too many things at once: it really easy to overload the trip and go for quantity over quality;
– always validate your bus/train ticket. The fees are really high, and Italy doesn’t forgive mistakes.
To read “WHEN IN ROME: 10 TRAVEL HACKS”, press here.
In my next posts, I will be talking about each and every place we visited in Italy and will share all the tips and tricks we learned along the way. So, make sure to subscribe!