Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome 18′

Stayed: airbnb in each city                       Duration: 7ish days 
When: in late February                             Good For: honeymoon, history buffs, foodies

I’ve always wanted to travel throughout Italy. A  reason I hadn’t gone to more places in Italy other than Milan before was because I was waiting for the time and opportunity to be able to travel around the county. Well the opportunity came when a  friend of mine from college invited me on her Italy-trip. Within this trip we were able to travel between Venice, Florence and Rome, spending 2-3 days each and allowing a day trip to Bologna (strictly for the food )

The Stay

Generally we stayed in the more residential areas not too far from the center of each city. I recommend this, ALWAYS, if you’re looking for a more authentic visit and have time to explore both the tourist side of the cities as well as the local. For our visit it benefited in some ways (like food, which I’ll get to), but for this trips purpose was more inconvenient. These were very superficial visits, and for that I ALWAYS recommend staying in the center or a very popular area so that it’s easy to get up and explore and easy to stumble back home (along with remembering where it is). Traveling between cities we took the regional trains both Italia Rail and Tren Italia

Venice
Our Airbnb was located on Campo S. Giacomo, it was in the center of the island, which was about a 15minute walk from the central train station, as well as San Marco, the busier more touristic area. The thing with Venice is it’s constructed in almost circles, and because it’s a city on water there are many bridges to go over and to get around it can be a bit of a labyrinth (this is NOT a handicap friendly city). This didn’t take away from the beauty of it but made it a bit difficult to navigate most times. What I think adds to the charm of the city is the fact in itself, that it is a city on water.

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The life of this city is entirely done using these canals. There were water boat taxis, mail/shipping boats (think Fedex), construction boats, and just simply boats as a means of travel. There were no cars nor bikes permitted in the center and even the delivery men would be toting huge carts/barrels up and down the stairs of bridges and through the narrow corridors.

Florence
IMG_2301In Florence we stayed in an airbnb across the river from the embassy’s in Piazza Gaddi, about an easy 20minute walk from the center train station Santa Maria Novella. The airbnb was in a quaint residential area of Florence, although the neighborhood was nice, cabs were a bit scarce and the major shopping/bar area was about a 30-40minute walk away.

Rome
We stayed in Vatican City. Although close to the Vatican and Sistine Chapels, at least a 20minute cab to the Colosseum. This could be all fine and dandy during the summer, but in an almost snowy Rome, with suitcases most days, this wasn’t ideal. Again a pretty residential area. I probably would not stay in this area again nor recommend it, simply because the time it took to get back to the center on bus was about 45minutes, and even a cab ride was about 30minutes. With most vacations you want to maximize your time even if at times that means sacrificing money (which i touched on partially in my Ibiza post).

The Food

Now if there’s one thing we did do, it was eat. I OVER-ATE (probably aided in my post january 15kilo weight gain), simple because I felt Italy is known for their food and specific meals, and who am I A PASTA LOVER to not try the original dishes in their home towns and country. Spain has a siesta, but what I didn’t know is that Italy has one as well and they follow theirs WAYYY stricter than here in Barcelona. This fact didn’t become apparent to us until we got to Bologna mid-day in the search for a feast, and got met with all closed doors.

Venice
Everything closes down early in Venice, this includes resturants. We tried to find a nice place to go to dinner our first night in Venice, after being turned down by 4 resturants closing before 9:30pm we finally found a restaurant not closing called La Zucci. These people were the GOAT, not only was the food hot, made fast, and tasted fresh, but they also translated the whole menu in english by mouth. We had tortilla de patatas con queso, an eggplant and mushroom lasagna, and lamb roast.
Dinner 2, we went to Bacaro Jazz. Mostly because they advertised a happy hour 2 for 1 drinks.. we were gonna drink 2 drinks anyway. We got spaghetti with cuttlefish in a black sauce, spaghetti alla carbonara, and gnocchi. The food was really good, and the drinks were made excellently, and I’d recommend it, even without the free shots.

Bologna
So as I mentioned in the beginning, we only went to Bologna to eat, and as I said in this section we soon realized we came here at this time for that purpose wrongly. We came directly at siesta time (not sure what the Italians call it) and no resturants was open… except one place.. which for lack of a better description was a fresh handmade-pasta fast-food type of place. The cucutterey was great (probably not the best) and we order the torettline and ragu alla bologna. the pasta was a bit hard. i wouldnt take our visit here as a testament to how Bologna is , but for a few reasons I will probably never go back.

 

Florence
IMG_2313We stumbled into the best mom and pop resturants near our flat called “Gastronomia Ciacco”. They were a small little place but packed, noone spoke any english and I spoke very bad Italish, but they had very nice service. We ordered risotto alla prescatora, tortellini al ragu, calamari ripeni, 3 desserts that the waitress recommended, and coffees. All of this and the bill came out to about €34 total.

We also found ourselves at Il Mercato Centrale, a food market that for me was probably more like an excursion than to talk about the food lol, but a very cool place. Actually I think I will speak more on it in excursions (it’s a tourist attraction).

Rome
Tempio Di Iside Bistrot- came here when i first reached into Rome, and stumbled onto the block leading to the colosseum. With time to kill, free wifi and work to get done decided to grab a caffe at this spot. The service was great, the worker spoke italian, english, and spanish which put me to ease speaking to her in spanish. The coffee’s and food were priced very well (especially for being so close to a tourism area). And being there for a good 2hours seeing the different crowds go in and out it seems to be a local favorite.

Soon as we came to Rome we were starving, and stumbled on this restaurant called “Buona Forchetta” – all of the pictures above are from there, we feasted, the food was amazing and we were stuffed. From what I remember we spent a bit more than we wanted to, but we also order ALLLOTTTT, appetizers, entrees, dessertsss. So I recommend, go and eat. I mean there are probably other places closer to wherever and cheaper or whatever but I remember being very satisfied.

The Club Scene

Venice
Soooo, maybe it’s because we came at the beginning of the week, but Venice doesn’t really have a club scene, according to me and according to yelp/tripadvisor. Nothing really came up when I searched for parties except for maybe 3 bars which were more inland than the “city of Venice”. In any case, our first night we didn’t venture off, and our second day we stayed at the restaurant mentioned above named Bacaro Jazz that had a 2 for 1 happy hour, pretty decent food, and was a fun atmosphere; then went back to our flat.
To be fair, we did walk around looking for pizza and saw a bunch of people at a bar which seemed to be having an event but that’s about it folks.

Florence

IMG_2249.JPGNow Florence was fun. really fun. They have a lot of options and most of them are in walking distance from each other once you get into the area. The picture to the left with the pink lights was “Colle Bereto” a bit techno-ish, I enjoyed it, seemed like it had fun people there who seemed cool, there was some type of private thing going on upstairs that I was determined to get into,

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but we left.

We stopped into King Grizzly which was nice for some draft beers and where we ended up two nights in a row was “Babylon Club“. One night a pretty relaxed mixed hip-hop/top 40/reggaeton club , but then the following day, Friday transformed into a proper packed club. Crowd was a bit young but the music was good and the crowd was fun. The entrance also had a sign that had a special price for “American Students” i’m not sure if that was a better or worse deal than the rest, I dont recall what or if I paid. If you’re looking for any music thats not techno this would be the place to go, and cheap drinks.

I have absolutely no pictures from these nights lol, but a bunch of videos which are too embarrassing to post (and you know I be posting whatever).

IMG_2309Rome
So we had full intentions on going out in Rome, assuming it was probably the most lit of the 3 places; but by the time we got there we were tired and not with it. Decided to stay in. So I got nothing for ya.

Excursions

Venice
We attempted to do a walking tour, which if you follow my blog AT ALL know I always do and why, but nonetheless we missed it. So rather we walked around and small city ourselves. In doing so we walked to “Piazza San Marco”, the most popular square. There we saw the basilica and Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower).  Although we were able to see practically the whole island, I do wish I got to hear a bit more about the history of it.
I wanted to ride on the Gondola, I feel like similarly with London, if you didn’t take a picture in a red booth were your really there, if you didn’t ride on a Gondola were you really in Venice? Well I’ll let you in on a little secret.. you were ! So yeah, I didn’t ride in one. But for a few reasons, 1. it was really cold 2. it was minimum €35/per person for 30mins (which isn’t horrible but ehh) 3. I honestly just wasn’t as pressed as I probably should have been. In the end, do I regret not have going on one? – only for the photo op.

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Florence

In Florence, we shopped. Italy is suppose to be known for their leather, and we found a strip of stores and vendors near the Il Mercato Centrale, so we shopped a bit (I definietly had to do an ATM stop). There were these really sweet guys who we chatted it up with, gave us free t-shirts etc. I really wish I remembered their store name or theirs for that matter, but sweet guys. Then inside the Mercato,  was just a disneyworld of food, different type of food but with an italian influence. Obviously I was in my element. We saw a bunch of stuff too but like I’m tired of writing lol… google tourist attractions in Florence *insert me*

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Rome

The Vatican, Sistine Chapel,  Colosseum, Arc de Triomphe, some other things

All in all

Venice was beautiful, the way the city is structured is captivating and very quant. I’m glad I got to experience it, but I doubt I’d go again, or probably only with a significant other as part of a romantic getaway, and probably as part of a fuller trip.

Florence i just had a really good all around time. But this could be due to us spending the most time there so we got to do more and experience it more. It was a horrible weather, so generally I’d like to go back to Tuscany to experience it in better climate.

I loved Rome, it’s very rich in history, while also very touristic. For me it was surreal almost to see such historic places (in all their “ruin”), right in the middle of modern day traffic lights and stores. I wouldn’t mind going again

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