You can count on a rogue to try and be as efficient and money saving as possible, so it should be no surprise that when we decided to take on Italy’s most historic cities we did it with a timeline and a budget. 5 days and $600 on ground was the goal – did we pull it off? Of course.
We landed in Florence, Italy. It’s important when you’re planning an ambitious trip that includes a handful of cities in only a few days to try and be as aware of geography as possible. It’s most efficient to work your way from north to south, south to north, or east to west, or west to east. Whichever direction you pick, if you’re efficient about following the order you’ll save a ton of travel time, and also money. Unfortunately we picked a flight to Florence at the last minute (cause that’s how we roll, duh, haha) and on the way there decided that we wanted to do as many historic cities as possible. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the geography off the top of your head, Florence is North of Rome, but South of Milan and Venice.
Florence is a 1-2 day city. It’s beautiful and ripe with some of the best art in the world, but after you’ve seen it, well, you’ve seen it. If you’re bemused by religious art the Uffizi can’t be missed. Fresco after fresco adorn the walls in this giant museum filled with centuries of Italian and religious culture. Beware: cameras are not allowed, and they are very strict about it, so don’t even try to sneak a photo!
After we wrapped up a morning and early afternoon in Florence we grabbed a train ticket to Rome. We arrived in Rome in the evening, had dinner, and went out for an evening stroll which we highly recommend! Many of the tourists have gone to bed for the night, but the buildings are beautifully lit and if the weather cooperates it’s a wonderfully time to sneak a peak at the usually bustling sights. Beware: Pickpockets are swift in Rome so make sure if you’re out at night you’re with a buddy.
One of the most amazing things about Rome is how they built a city around their history. Contrary to many historic cities where you have to take a bus from the metropolis, the Roman Forum, Colosseum etc are all situation between the most regular modern buildings that were built around them. We grabbed a map and walked around the city all day and were able to see everything with enough time for a relaxing dinner and gelato! Beware: The cathedrals are strict about dress code. Plan to wear pants if you’d like to tour, and bring a scarf to cover your shoulders if you’re wearing a tank top.
We took an overnight train to Milano… we’d originally planned to take an evening train, but they were sold out! So we highly recommend reporting to the station and buying your ticket as soon as you know your itinerary. Train travel is extremely easy and therefore very popular in Italy, so trains fill up fast. After arriving we stored our bags at the train station for the day in a locker and ran around the city. Milano is a little more sprawling than Rome so we decided to use the public bus system which helped us stay on budget. If figuring out public transport is not your strong suit, plan to spend a little extra on taxis! In the evening we hopped on a train to Venice.
We arrived in Venice early in the morning (and needless to say we were pretty pooped, so if you’re not the energetic type skip one of cities to avoid the overnight train rides in exchange for sleeping in a bed. If we had to recommend a city to skip it would be Milano, it’s the most Western feeling of them all). Unfortunately there was nowhere in Venice for us to store our bags so we kept them on us (this is why we insist on packing light!). We wandered around the beautiful streets picking up pastries and coffee along the way. Venice is also small and beautiful and can be easily traversed by foot. That evening we hopped on an airport bus and flew back to NYC.
Voila! Our cheap quick trip around the historic districts of Italy. If you feel like this fits your style, but have never done it before, we highly recommend taking at least a day off when you return home before jumping back into your schedule. Once the excitement of travel wears off and you’re back home after running around for 5 days straight exhaustion and jet lag can hit you like a ton of bricks. Now get out there!