Manarola, Cinque Terre
I think Italy was always a country at the top of my list. Without a doubt, my first trip back to Europe would have to involve at least several weeks here. 25 days later, and 7 destinations crossed off the list, I think I have gotten a fair look at the country…
I spent time in Milan, Turin, Cinque Terre, Lucca, Bologna, and Venice. I also cancelled cities like Genoa and Florence, last minute. I’m sure I’ll see the south one day as well.
Random street in Lucca
Italy brought a mixture of emotion, as well as some surprises (which I’ll touch on later). For now, I’ll be nice (as I should). Italy has been a dream come true in several ways.
I’ve met too many people to remember names, but none more friendly and warm than my hosts from Airbnb. I kid you not when I say every host was great.
My favourite host was Giancarlo, in Turin. I’ll add a link later, but his room would be titled “Emergency Room for Globetrotters”. It cost me a little over $30(CAD)/night. Here’s the view from his place:
I got to know Giancarlo, and it started over a dinner that he graciously made me. Something that nobody else had done here (it wasn’t expected). He opened a bottle of good wine, made fresh pasta, and we shared stories from our hometowns. I’ll never forget my stay there. I highly recommend him. He’s also a superhost.
Italy got better the further away I got from the cities (with exception of Venice).
Milan was okay. The hostel “Ostello Bello Grande” was superb, and the Duomo was easily worth the price of admission.
On top of the Duomo (Milan)
Turin was exponentially better as I found myself more confident and walked a large portion of the city. It’s very recreational and provided some amazing views of the alps.
Looking towards the Museum of Cinema (Giancarlo’s) (Turin)
Cinque Terre was a treat. I’m glad I went in shoulder season as I was able to hike any trails during the day, and eat at the best restaurants at night. Cinque Terre was so beautiful that my hands shook every time I put my camera away.
Resting in the harbour (Vernazza, Cinque Terre)
Lucca was a suprise. I loved wandering the city and getting a little lost. The sprawl of the buildings and the ramparts are something to experiece. Do yourself a favour and relax over 3-4 nights here.
On top of the ramparts (Lucca)
Bologna was a suprise. I mean, I was told to come here for the food and nightlife, but I loved the porticoes even more. By the time I got to Bologna, I fell in love with street art as well! Bologna brought my second favourite hosts (Gabriele and Maria), and they were some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Porticoes for days (Bologna)
Venice was a long time childhood dream, and I fell in love with this place as my train inched it’s way across the bridge/road into town. I got lost, but I never got irked by that. Venice is astonishingly beautiful both early morning and after the sun goes down. As long as you avoid the main streets, this city will have the same effect on you.
San Marco at 10:30 p.m. (Venice)
I think we can all obsess over countries that we are familiar with. That’s Germany, for me. I think it’s because I can speak the language. At least, well enough to get around without issue. For that reason, I’m still more excited to go back in December.
However, Italy has not dissapointed. The cities each had their own little surprises. The hosts were amazing. The trains were delayed constantly. The gelato was better than expected. And people argued over the funniest things, I loved listening to that. I just saw the tame version of Italy, as I didn’t go south of Florence. I can’t wait to see how crazy it is in the south, onde day.
Italy, thank you for being you. Even if that means you constantly telling me NON CAPISCO, NO AMERICAN 😉
San Marco at 6a.m. (Venice)