The one-month Italy trip has been planned and was supposed to be completed two years ago. However, it was cancelled first time due to pollen allergy in 2014 after spent two weeks in Paris. Then was again cancelled last year due to failing to reserve a visa appointment time slot. Therefore, I traveled to Banff National Park in Canada instead. Finally in this Spring everything worked out right.
This trip focused on North Italy, covering Rome/Vatican City, Siena, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Milan and Venice.
The long history of Italy creates all kinds of cities with their own unique culture. The whole trip is filled with excitement. While be amazed at how those ancient tradition and architecture being kept in good condition, we experienced local culture, meet with local people. It was an exhausted while interesting trip.
Italy Trip – Food
Italy is an interesting country. From 2pm to 6pm, all restaurants are closed for ‘Napping Time’. As I am an early bird for sunrise and noon sleeper, I have to grab whatever I can find in small shops. With sandwich and a bottle of Coke usually, I enjoyed sitting at the big plaza watching all kinds of people and on-going events. The Italy food is typically pizza and pasta with high calories. With my 30lb camera bag and 30k steps walking in those cities each day for a whole month, I was surprised to find out no weight lose after returning back home. This country is not a place to lose weight.
Italy Trip – Hotels
Compared with US cities, hotels in Italy are indeed not expensive. You can easily find nice ones below USD$200 with great location and breakfast. 4 Euro/night city tax was charged at checking out. Overall, hotels are comfortable and clean. Most ones are in old buildings with high ceiling and feel pretty spacious. There are a lot of rooms at Hotels.com, Booking.com and Airbnb. To be aware that, some hotels are virtually from private apartments. Things could go wrong as they claim never received the booking even I got ‘guaranteed booking’ email leaving myself speechless. Better call those apartment style hotels for confirmation before get stranded and then look for other accommodations which can mess up the travel plans.
Italy Trip – Transportation
Italy has fully developed railway networks covering most locations you plan to go. The schedule and price can be easily found in smart phone application ‘Info Treni’. You need to enter the exact station name, which can be found in google maps or other map apps. Before boarding the train, you need to validate ticket at the little machines in station. Anyone without ticket validation will be fined even you bought the ticket.
The seat and carriage number is printed on ticket. While the ticket is in Italian, it could be easily ignored for the first time. With oversized luggage and be driven around by other ticket holders, it is not fun at all.
Most seat has power outlet allowing you to charge laptop/cell phone. It is enjoyable to play with your cell phone and watching the beautiful view outside during traveling.
Italy Trip – People
People in big cities with tourists speak good English. However, in small towns, the old generation only speak Italian. I would like to highly recommend the powerful app Google Translator (Needs internet connection). It translate voice between languages. That was how I communicate with locals in Lucca, a medieval town. This app is also capable of translating text from camera video into the one you understand, which makes possible to shop in stores with all products with Italian texts. Just point your cell phone to anything you are interested in.
General speaking, travel in Italy is very secure. Attractions with tourists all have army man on duty (not regular policeman, heavily loaded with war filed weapon). It may have something to do with the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. However, watch out pickpocket. Precaution is always preferred to prevent any losses.
Money is not the sole objective to Italian running business. Whenever feel like to, they may stop what they are working on and spend quite some time chatting with you freely. They also take care of their business while holding a glass of wine in hand. Whatever makes them happy, they go for it. However, this casual attitude occasionally causes issues.
The ‘Napping Time’ from 3pm to 6pm is one good example. When we first arrived at Rome, the hotel shuttle driver is not there. After I called the front desk, I was told the driver didn’t feel like to come that day. And they didn’t tell me in advance… $%&@%% One more example, my friends told me they finally arrived at a famous restaurant they spent certain time looking for the location and found that, the door was open but nobody doing business. The reason? The chief had a bad mood that day. In Milan, as I left the key in room to catch the early train, it took me 8 international phone calls and couple of text message to finally get the receipt of the stay.
It might be the driven factor that there are a large number of artistes in Italy as they follow their mood and not struggling to make a living. Nobody knows.
Italy Trip – Photos
Below I would like to share preview photos from the trip. One photo for each location. More stories are yet to come in the near future. Keep an eye on.
The ruin shows the glory of ancient Rome. Colossal seen from far distance.
Songquan Photography is the author of this article and reserve full rights. You are welcome to repost. Please credit the author.
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