GETTING TO SEE THE MOST OF ITALY, BACKPACKING
A year ago today Hubby and I were arriving home after a long sleepless flight from Italy. It was sad to say goodbye to Europe but I was more than ready to see my little munchkin, Mochito. I missed my comfy bed, my makeup, and straightener. I know it sounds vain but when you backpack for a vacation you give up a few little things. Well many!
It has been a year since our adventurous Italian trip. When we started with the plans for our trip and for me to do a study abroad in Italy, the research nerd (ME) was glued to the computer for days. This was not just a major opportunity for me to study art but for a vacation with my hubby, after the I completed the school trip of course. I mean I would already be there and all we had to do was buy another ticket to get him to Italia. So a lot of research and TripAdvisor is always your friend. It was just not fair for me to fly across the ocean to a beautiful destination and Mr. Husband stay behind just taking care of my puppy. Yup, we decided to make this our second honeymoon, especially since our first one was just OK.
I still can’t believe it has been an entire year since we walked the adorable streets in San Marino, took in the breathtaking views in Venice, ate amazing pizza in Salerno and had mass at the Pantheon in Rome. Time goes by so fast, actually, that’s how life works so you should do exciting and fun things as much as possible.
Hubby arrived two days before my study abroad program was over. While I was finishing up he toured Florence on his own. He got the very rushed version unlike me, who had been there almost a month, I was a local already! But we had a mission, to see as much as possible of Italy as we could see. Why do it this way? Well back to the previous paragraph, life is short, you never know what will happen. I make my entire life an adventure, and in the event that we don’t return to Italy, hey at least we saw plenty. If life gives us the opportunity to see it again at least we know what areas we want to return to explore.
- Leave Florence and head to Pisa
- Train Station Firenze S.M. Novella to Pisa Centrale
- Map from train station to Leaning Tower
Pisa was one of those places that has been engraved in our minds since we first study about the famous leaning tower. So it was a must stop for us. We knew it would only be a small trip, my true destination that day was Genoa. Well, it was a small trip, but not as simple as we thought. It is quite a walk from the train station to the tower. Normally it would be a piece of cake but remember we were being backpackers. This explains why we ate a lot of carbs (pizza & pasta) and actually lost close to 10 pounds!
- Leave Pisa and head to Genova
- Train Station Pisa Centrale to Genova Principale or Brigole
Our silly mistake, we took the first train from Pisa to Genova. It ended up being the furthest from our hotel. But it was a happy accident because we walked through the middle of the city, seeing so much that we may have missed if we would have arrived the other to other train station. The other train station was right by our hotel but a distance away from the middle of the city. Genova to me is one trip I want to go back to and stay in a really nice hotel overlooking the water. Hubby and I were being typical tourists, one with a map (to understand what we were looking at) and the other (me) with a camera snapping away. There was so much beautiful architecture and history written all over the city.
- From Genova to Milan
- Train Station Genova Principale or Brigole to Milan Centrale
Our original plan included a stop in Milan. For me, it was to see Da Vinci’s last supper and to shop. But the more I read about how the lines were and knowing we wanted to see so much we decided to skip it and make it back on our next stop to Italy. We still had to make a quick stop to catch the next train to Verona, which had more to see. Yet our family back home thought they knew our itinerary, thought we were in Milan when the earthquake happened. We missed it by one day.
- From Milan to Verona
- Milano Centrale to Verona Porta Nova
I did my research and Verona was a place both of us wanted to see. We even had plans of staying 2 days there and contemplated on a third because there was so much. It was nice but to us not a place to spend an extra day or even two. It’s beautiful, lots of history and plenty of touristy things to see and do, just not our cup of tea. They charged ridiculous prices for hotels and they did not match what you were paying for. It was more of a snooty crowd than what we care for and not to mention when you are backpackers you are limited on your stuck up attire. So we decided to head out to Venice early.
DAY THREE & FOUR
- From Verona to Venice
- Verona Porta Nova to Venezia Santa Lucia
I personally loved Venice, I spent 2 days with our study group and couldn’t wait to show my hubby this gorgeous place. Santa Lucia train station dumps you off literally in front of the Grand Canal. I wish I would have taken a picture of him when he saw it for the first time. So it’s safe to tell you that the day we cut off in Verona got used in Venice. We spend 2 1/2 days in Venice and still didn’t see everything we wanted to see. We know we will be planning a trip to Venice, maybe for one of our anniversaries, but definitely worth a 2-3 week stay.
I booked a hotel near the train station, remember we were doing the whole heavy backpack thing. There was no way we could go across Venice with so much on our backs. I had stayed in a small hotel with my school, of course, they were completely booked. But I booked an even better hotel on the same street, not to mention that the staff was so friendly they gave us tips and suggested places to go. We will give you all our in detailed Venezia adventure in another post.
- From Venice to Rimini
- Venezia Santa Lucia to Rimini Train Station (Then bus stop to San Marino)
I know Rimini is supposed to have a pretty beach, but to me, San Marino was calling my name. The artist in me was telling me how I could take amazing pictures for my artwork. My inner voice was right, but it didn’t tell me that I was going to really work for it.
- Rimini Train Station to Bologna Train Station
- (Final destination Salerno)
This was not planned, I didn’t think we would have been at Rimini that late after San Marino. We assumed we could get an overnight train and just sleep our way to Salerno. Being that we were winging some things based on if we liked where we were, being spontaneous with the train didn’t work in our favor. We took the train to Bologna. Where we eventually got a train to Salerno. We will discuss our interesting San Marino trip in on another post.
- From Bologna to Salerno
- Bologna Train Station to Rome Train Station to Salerno Train Station
Salerno was the Hubby’s choice and after experiencing it I enjoyed it as well. It reminded me of Genoa. It was by far not touristy at all, I think that’s why we liked it. The typical tourist stays in the main major places in Italy and we like to mix with the locals. I booked a hotel the night before in walking distance from the train station. Remember by now we are exhausted with our backpacks.
We arrived pretty early that we got to really take our time and sightsee. If you ask Senor Foodie he will tell you that Salerno was the best Pizza he had in all of Italy, he wanted to order another to take with him. Make sure you stop by and taste and let us know, it is called La Madegra. We had gelato in the park with all the locals and saw brides and grooms getting their pictures taken. It was like being in a small town in my country (Guatemala). It was so relaxing compared to some of our other stops. Salerno is another place we would like to return and explore with more time.
DAY SEVEN & EIGHT
- Salerno to Rome
Rome is a place that everyone no matter their religion wants to go to. We were not the exception, but I was willing to give it up to stop somewhere else, but the Hubby really wanted to stop here. I figured he had carried my bag along with his in San Marino that I figured it was the least I can do for him.
Maybe this was a trip we should have done earlier on our trip and maybe we would have had more energy and patience. I booked a hotel again in walking distance of the train station, thank God since Rome is not the easiest city to walk around in. We saw so many things, I’m sure all major things to see, it’s hard to miss when they are everywhere. But at the end of our first day of Rome and we had scheduled 3 days in Rome, one of us had enough, and it was not me. We only did 2 days in Rome and I think that is cutting it really short. There was more for us to see but the body was close to exhaustion. So we contacted our friends at the hotel we used for Hubby’s stay in Florence and told them we were arriving a day earlier.
- Rome to Florence
We felt like we arrived HOME when we got to Santa Maria Novella Train station. To me, it had been home for almost a month, but I was surprised Mr. Husband felt the same way. One he was completely tired and two people in Florence are super friendly to tourists unlike other places on our backpacking adventure.
This was the original day that we were supposed to be arriving in Florence and we didn’t have anything planned. We decided to take it super easy. We went shopping for us and we spent the day being little food bees, tasting here and there. I finally had my gelato on a waffle! I had been eyeing it since day one of my trip. It was not that great, I guess I waited too long and the anticipation killed it.
The day we go home, a bittersweet goodbye to Firenze. I loved this place, I could walk around and actually not be lost. Back home to Mochito!!!