Italy made me very, very happy. This beach-loving, pizza-hogging, wine-guzzling, gelato-crazy, hike-loving, culture-mad, Europe-lover found that this country basically ticked off everything that makes for an AWESOME trip, and can’t wait to go back and explore some more! I never ran out of things to do in Italy, and I’m so sure when I go back, I’ll still find something new and wonderful every single day.
I was in Italy for 16 days. While I can never have enough, I think 16 days is good time for a backpacker or a 9-to-5er to get a feel of what this country offers. It is flush with brilliant food, gorgeous views, bewitching history and an endless number of things to see.
Here are the highlights from my trip to Italy. It’s what I believe you absolutely MUST include in your itinerary when you plan your trip there!
Top things to do in Italy
Rome – go back in time
Rome is a little slice of history sitting smack in the middle of what has blossomed into a cosmopolitan city today. I couldn’t believe I was walking right where Julius Caesar walked all those years ago! The Colosseum is something I have only ever read about (BIG fan of the Asterix comics), so to actually be inside it, looking at the very place all those gladiator fights took place, left me spellbound. The Roman Forum was my favourite part though. I spent almost an entire day there, exploring the ruins of ancient Rome and traveling back in time to understand how grand the city once was!
Pompeii – frozen in time
It’s hard to imagine how one natural disaster can wipe out a city in its entirety, but it happened, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Walking through the city of Pompeii shows how bustling and prosperous the city once was. Looking at the figures of the residents, covered in lava ash, sent shivers down my spine.
Lemon and magic in Positano
The Amalfi Coast is known to be stunningly splendid, and I could see why as the bus I was traveling in turned on a bend and I the blinding blue hit me with full force. Diamonds sparkled off the waves as we got closer and closer to this little town perched along a cliff, and excitement levels rose as the beach neared. The pebble beach is marvellous, and taking in the sunset while bobbing in the water is one of the highlights from my trip! Throw in copious amounts of limoncello and a lemon risotto with a glass of splendid Moscato and my, was I happy!
Wine, and everything fine
I went on a wine-tasting into the Tuscan countryside. This is one of the BEST things to do in Italy, the ABSOLUTE BEST. Turns out the tour involved much country, much gelato and much views along with said wine. Italy is HEAVEN for anyone who loves wine, and the wineries take great pride in explaining how the wines are made and stored. The variety is overwhelming and I was left wanting to try EVERYTHING. The ones we did get, though, were delightful – there was a deep red, there was a fresh and fruity white, there was a dry white, a sparkling rose.. I don’t really need much else 😀
Cinque Terre – my happy place!
5 pretty villages make up this town, nestled right by the Ligurian sea and offering some BRILLIANT views, which are best taken in through the hikes between each village. I started early and did two of the hikes (the other trails were closed) before heading back to town and hitting the beaches. The sunset at Riomaggiore’s rock beach is always going to be my favourite Italian sunset!
I must’ve eaten 2 cones a day! Try EVERY flavour, y’guys, because no one does gelato like the Italians do! Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano has won the award for being the BEST gelato in the world a bunch of times, so you know what I’m talking about!
Cityscapes at Florence and the Vatican
I’ve said this before and I’ll always say it. Climbing all the way to the highest point of a city gives me so much happiness, because I LOVE the views from up there! Europe is full of architectural marvels, and the cities have been designed so beautifully that the aerial view looks like a work of art. Climb up to Piazza Michelangelo in Florence if you want to know what I’m talking about. Climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica to see the Vatican laid out in front of you like a postcard!
Do I even need to mention this. You get the best of the world’s pizza and pasta here, go wild! Of all the things to do in Italy, EAT ALL THE FOOD is highly recommended 😀
A day-trip to the Dolomites
I won’t lie when I say the Dolomites DESERVE more time! It’s beautiful, the air is crisp and fresh, the classic Italian charm exists even in the tiniest of corners in the towns, and above all, this is a GREAT place to get some hiking done!
Florence, and all the art
Florence is so cute and charming and prettyyyyyyyy!!! You can literally walk through the city and you’d have seen everything. This is the hub of art in Italy. I’m not an art connoisseur, but I’m someone who LOVES absorbing the culture of a place, and Italy is a hotspot for art and artists. The Uffizi Gallery housed some amazing work, and it was my first brush with names we’ve grown up reading about – Michelangelo, Boticelli, Da Vinci, among so many others! And also, the statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia left me spellbound.
Stay tuned for more on Italy! Experiences, city-wise itineraries, where to stay, what to pack, it’s all coming up!