Rome is Italy in a nutshell. Universally agreed upon as one of the most romantic and inspiring cities to live in, Rome is an exhilarating blend of historical ruins and vibrant streets. The city's artistic heritage is paralleled by only a few across the world; some reasons for this are the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and the Byzantine mosaics throughout its geography. A trip to Rome could also be either religious (a day at the Vatican) or completely dedicated to fashion owing to its dolce vita culture. You can randomly sit at any roadside cafe or bar and watch the sun go down with your partner by your side, or you can follow the hordes because when in Rome...Free things to do while here: Pay homage at St. Peter's Basilica where you can find the iconic Pietà statue by Michelangelo. Visit the Bocca della Verità and tell a lie – legend has it that the huge face will bite you if you fib, so keep your fingers out of the way. You must already be aware of the iconic Trevi Fountain in which you throw coins and seek a wish; that's a must-visit place.
The capital of Italy is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe since it is filled with as many historical insignias as its modern counterparts. Being the administrative capital of Italy, Milan is also understandably bureaucratic to some extent. What's really enviable here is the beauty of everyday things. The roadside cafes and bars are designed to welcome and not merely swindle. The overall humour is deadpan, but hilarious. It's an outstanding city and a relatively cheap European destination from India.Free things to do while here: Duomo di Milano is one of the most iconic symbols of Italy; also known as the Milan Cathedral, one can climb up to check out the city view from the top by paying a nominal fee. If you've watched enough Italian cinema, you might have developed preconceived notions about the country – a visit to the tiny old alleyways of Brera will validate your ideas and you can click a thousand Instagram-worthy pictures here. Finally, take a stroll down the most fashionable street in world – Via Montenapoleone; if you are travelling on a budget, it'll obviously be difficult for you to buy anything here, but window shopping will be a treat to your fashion desires.Where to eat: Here are three cheap but outstanding places to eat in Milan: 1. Macelleria Equina Da Vito at Via Lorenteggio, 2. Piadineria Artigianale Pascoli at Via Niccolo Paganini, 3. Mr. Panozzo at Via Enrico Noe. The first one has gluten-free options available, while the other two have vegetarian as well as vegan options.Where to stay: Unlike contrary beliefs, one can actually stay in Milan on a budget. Here's one beautiful option to consider.
After a joyful week at the school, I then flew Italy loosing my favourite peach lotion and some nervousness, back at the Bremen airport. I remember the long cab ride to the hotel located around the coast of Naples, cold wind and a fast pumping heart and eyes scrolling through the buildings, people, their vehicles and every tiny thing that I could notice and try to remember. A walk to the seashore in the late evening and passing my time with the beautiful view of the city on hills was a soothing end for that day. A big thank you, Celine Lavisse for joining me here. It wouldn't have been this good without you.
Palermo, the regional capital of Sicily, is one of those cities with its own very distinct, almost tangible atmosphere, a place of mystery where reality often outperforms the traveller’s imagination and preconceived stereotypes. Visiting Palermo is still somewhat of an adventure in a world where so many places have become tourist-friendly to a fault. You won’t find many restaurants with menus translated into 5 different languages, you may have trouble communicating in English in many places, and some parts of the old town center have remained untouched since they were bombed during the war.
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The best way to see the island of Ortigia is just to wander. It’s difficult to get lost (it measures just 1km by 500 meters and has lots of little streets that all look the same), but packed with over 2,500 years of history. We often come here at night as its a great place to soak up some Italian nightlife, wander past the harbor showcasing the yachts and sailing boats of the elite and also drop by the famous fountain of youth (La Fonte Aretusa). Half a dozen Greek poets wrote the tale of the nymph Arethusa, who was bathing in the Alpheus River in Greece one day when the god of that river took a liking to her. She begged for deliverance from his advances, and Artemis in pity turned the nymph into a spring, allowing her to escape underground. She traveled under the sea to emerge here, in Siracusa. Alpheus, though, was hot on her heels, and came gushing out in the same spot, mingling his waters with hers for eternity. Apparently this, to the Greeks, was romantic. They used to say you could toss a goblet into a spring at Arcadia in Greece and it would pop up here.
The most active volcano in Europe and by far the biggest dominating attraction in Eastern Sicily, Mount Etna is a must visit. If you head to Etna Sud you have the option to walk around some of the older craters on foot or take a cable car ride to 2,900m, from there it is a 2-4 hour round trip to the summit craters, although there is no need to go that far to get a good feel for the majesty of the mountain. The other point of departure is Etna Nord (Piano Provenzana) from where you may walk or take 4X4 buses up to the observatory at 2,400m. You may walk to the summit craters from there. I would highly advise to not go venturing to the main craters of Etna without a qualified guide.
Torcello, the final leg on our Venetian Island tour is a quiet and sparsely populated island with plenty of green space. The island boast a long 15 minute walking path from the main dock which leads to the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta Isola di Torcello. This beautiful, primitive church was founded in 639 A.D. and subsequently rebuilt in the 11th century. Just beyond the church you'll find a beautiful and serene canal which is the perfect picnic hideaway.
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And an hour away from Naples, is this place to die for! Bus services from Sorrento Central Railway Station is the most feasible option to get here. Spending a day around this place will never be a sad time for anyone. Amalfi Coast did not fail to amaze with its charm and bright colours and a site to breathe easy. "Cold waters with mountains plunged into the sea in a nail-biting vertical scene of precipitous crags, cliff-clinging abodes and verdant woodland." - TLP. Wasn't this pretty Celine? <3
Continue to Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) to find the ancient Ponte Fabriano and the church of San Bartolomeo. In the heart of Trastevere, visit the Basilica of Santa Cecilia and the church of San Crisogono, where remains of a church built in the 4th century were discovered in the early 20th century.
The only active and severely destructive volcano in Europe, Mount Vesuvius stands tall at 1281 metres. Having erupted several times and destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum on one occasion, Vesuvius could well pour its wrath yet again on the thousands of people living around its crater. Walking 900 metres up to the apex could be long and strenuous and the winds could aggravate your troubles, so do go prepared with jackets, bottles of water and walking shoes. Additionally, go only if you are really interested in looking at the crater as there is nothing exceptionally special about the destination, the prices are a little too high and the guides meet you for a minute and give you lesser information than brochures available at tourist offices. You can however expect great views of the bay of Naples from the top. If that wasn't enough of a redeeming factor, I still have fragments of Mount Vesuvius inside my shoes. Getting there: Circumvesuviana trains run from the Naples Central Station to Pompei Scavi-Villa Dei Misteri and the ride is around 40 minutes. You might not get a seat in the train so beware of pickpockets. You have to shell out around 6 Euros for a two way journey and it is a good idea to start a little early in the afternoon. Tickets for Vesuvius are available at the Pompei Scavi train station itself and come for around 20 Euros, inclusive of everything. Buses run every 40 minutes right outside the station and take you to the entrance of the Vesuvius National park where you are transferred into a 4WD style bus which drops you 900 metres below the crater and you are given 90 minutes to complete the trek. Expect a super bumpy but thrilling ride. The last ride is at 4 pm for most of the year, so do keep track of your time.