January 1st, 2020, Randy and I hopped on a train at 5am in Ulm, Germany to head toward Rome, Italy! Some of our dearest friends were already in Rome and we were planning on meeting them there to "train-trip" together through Rome, Florence, Venice and then back to Germany.
Flying into Italy from America, the most reasonably priced flights I have always found were arriving into the “Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport" (this is the largest airport in all of Italy.) If you do plan on flying in or out of Da Vinci airport, it is about 40 mins away from the center city of Rome, so make sure to leave enough time to get to the airport or you may even want to stay your last night at a hotel close to the airport if you have an early flight.
I think that the train transportation through Europe is amazing. Randy and I were on a train, went through 3 countries and around 10 hours later we were in Rome! All of our transportation was by train. If you have the opportunity to travel by train through Europe make sure you have a sleeper car for long train rides! Randy and I got lucky and because we were on such an early train from Munich to Bologna we found a sleeper car that wasn't reserved. We got 6+ hours of sleep on that train, such a life saver!
Once we got to Bologna and switched trains to Rome, the Italian train lines were packed, a tad less comfortable compared to the sleeper cars.
To get from Rome to Florence then to Venice we also took the train. The train from Rome to Florence is only 1 hour and 36 minutes. Then from Florence to Venice is 2 hours and 50 minutes.
A few things to note, make sure to pay extra to choose your seat on the train. Also, when traveling to Venice make sure your final destination is into the Santa Lucia train station. The first train station in Venice is the Venice Mestre but Santa Lucia is actually on the Venice island.
We booked all of our train tickets through Trainline and Omio.
Places to Stay:
I have not stayed at these places but I read good reviews and the location is nice!
Extra-bright designer apartment in the city center - 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 3 beds, 3 baths
Trevi Fountain Superior 3 bdr apartment - 8 guests, 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 3 baths
Via Angelo Brunetti | Spagna 2BR+1SB - 8 guests, 2 bedrooms, 5 beds, 2 baths
Albergo d’Inghilterra (Via Bocca di Leone, 14)
Augusta Lucillia Palace (D'Azeglio, Via D'Azeglio, 24) - This is where we stayed, great location!
Hotel de Rusie (Via del Babuino, 9)
Hotel Hassler Roma (Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6)
Things to Do:
If you have the time, take a guided tour of the city. We did not have the time to do all of these site seeing things during our 2 night stay in Rome but I wanted to give suggested of places to visit and thing to see.
The * items are the places we did get to visit.
*Altar of the Fatherland (we just stood outside, but it so beautiful)
Borghese Gallery & Gardens (Piazzale del Mueso Borghese, 5)
Climb the Basilica
Campo de’ Fiori (Piazza Campo de' Fiori)
*Capitoline Museums (we walked around it at night)
*Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum - (buy your tickets in advance, it saves time having to wait in line)
*Pantheon (Piazza della Rotonda, 12)
Saint Peter's Square
*Spanish Steps (Piazza de Spagna)
*Vatican City & St. Peter’s Basilica - (buy your tickets in advance, you could spend all day here)
Ride a Vespa
The history in Rome is so amazing. There is nothing like walking through the streets and seeing the Colosseum that was built around 80 A.D. There are areas throughout Rome that are gated off because they are still under excavation. In the process of building new buildings or adding on to the subway, so much history is still being discovered.
Places to Eat:
Eat all of the gelato!!!!!
Agrodolce Restaurant - (Via dei Crociferi, 25) Very close to the Trevi. THE BEST FOOD I ATE IN ALL OF ITALY. Get the Gnocchi The restaurant offers pasta making classes as well!
Ai Tre Scalini (Via Panisperna, 251) – When the weather is nice, this place is great because it is outside in Piazza Navona
Al 34 (Via Mario de’ Fiori, 34) - Near the Spanish Steps
Amedeo Ristorante- (via principe amadeo 16) - Amazing bruschetta and pasta
Amorino – The most amazing gelato ever!! They form the gelato scoops into roses
Dar Poeta - (Vicolo del Bologna, 45) - Second best pizza in rome, good for lunch (trastevere)
Gioliiti & Old Bridge Gelateria- gelato
Hostaria del Moro da Tony (Vicolo del Cinque, 36/37)
L'Insalatta Rica (multiple locations all over the city) - Any kind of salad you want
Pizzeria Da Buffeto - (Via del Governo Vecchio, 114) - Absolute best pizza in Rome
Taverna Trilussa - (Via del Politeama, 23/25) Expensive, but so good
Note that Pisa isn't in Florence. If you want to see the leaning tower of Pisa, you have to take a bus or a train toward the coast, it is a day trip away. If we had the time, we would have done it, I know it's worth it!
Also, Florence is located close to the Tuscany region of Italy, the perfect area to take a wine and oil tasting at a vineyard. It is a must do if you have the time!
Places to Stay:
Airbnb's in Florence
Dimora dei Cerchi, between Duomo & Uffizi - 6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1.5 baths
Giulietta Apartment - 6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1 bath
Modern apartment in the heart of Florence - 4 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 2 baths
Pepi Charming Apartment - 6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 1.5 baths (This is where we stayed. Great location & perfect for 5 people)
Sweet Home Tornabuoni, in Florence historic center - 6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1 bath
TORNABUONI APARTMENT - in OLD TOWN center FIRENZE - 4 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1.5 baths
WelcHome in Italy: Mozart regal Duomo a/c, lift - 8 guests, 3 bedrooms, 3 beds, 2 baths
Airbnb's in Pisa
Casa Laurentius (ground floor) - 4 guests, 1 bedroom, 2 beds, 1 bath
Intero appartamneto in centro storico - 4 guests, 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 1 bath
Hotel Ginori al Duomo - (Via de' Ginori, 24)
Hotel Spagna - (via Panzani, 5) Between the train station and the Duomo. Great location & inexpensive
J.K. Place Firenze Hotel (Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7)
N4U Guest House Florence (Via del Proconsolo, 5) – Across from Duomo, beautiful and cheap; its like apartments so bring your own shampoo
Things to Do:
Boboli Gardins and Pitti Palace – Other side of the Ponte Vecchio; it is where the Medici’s lived; the gardens are beautiful; go on a nice day and be prepared to wait in line
Duomo – Middle of the city; Climb it
Piazza di Santa Croce
Piazzale Michelangelo – An amazing full view of the city
Santa Maria Novella – Houses the Trinity
The Statue of David (Via Ricasoli, 22-red) – Galleria dell’Academia. Takes max 15 minutes, you walk in, see him, and leave. Make sure to buy tickets online before to avoid lines
Uffizzi Gallery (Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6) – Art museum. Buy tickets before.
Via San Michele delle Campara – Pronounced Mikelle. A hill with the most amazing view of Florence. They have a very special but pricy restaurant, supposed to be the most romantic thing in Florence
Places to Eat:
4 Leoni (Via dei Vellutini, 1r)
Angels Roofbar & Dinning (Via Calimala, 2)
Il Latini (Via dei Palchetti, 6R)
La Giostra (Borgo Pinti 12R-18/R)
Osteria Dell’ Agnolo (Borgo S. Lorenzo, 24)
Osteria il Ghibellino (Via dei Pellegrini, 26)
Ristorante Acqua al 2 (Via della Vigna Vecchia, 40r)
Ristorante Buca Mario (Piazza degli Ottaviani, 16r)
Ristorante Danny Rock - American Food
Ristorante Mamma Gina (Borgo S. Jacopo, 37/R)
Ristorante Pizzeria Lorenzo de' Medici (Via del Giglio, 49/51r)
Tijuana Messicano - Mexican
Trattoria 13 Gobbi (Via del Porcellana, 9R)
Trattoria Sostantza Troia (Via della Porcellana, 25) – Oldest restaurant in Florence
Take note that Venice is a very old city, but so romantic and beautiful. We went in January and it was freezing but still enjoyable. I do look forward to the day when we can visit again in the warmth!
If you don't have a lot of time, only one night in Venice is enough.
Places to Stay:
Ca' Badoer - San Rocco - 4 guests, 1 bedroom, 2 beds, 1 bath
Cozy & Comfortable Apt. San Marco Square, WiFi - 4 guests, 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 1 bath
Fascinating home on the canal - 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2 baths
Luxurious entirely renovated 2-bedroom apartment - 6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 2 baths
Most Charming Venice - 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2 baths
RIALTO DELUXE - 3 bedrooms, washer, a/c - 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2 baths
Santa Lucia, Central & Charming Venetian Home! - 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1 bath
Bellini Hotel - This is where we stayed for two nights. Perfect location. Randy's grandmother had suggested this hotel after they had stayed here a few months back. The hotel is located right outside of the train station. It is not in the "main" area of Venice but trust me, you don't want to pull your suitcases through Venice to get to your hotel. Also, get the breakfast in the morning, great addition to our stay!
Things to Do:
Basilica San Marco (Saint Mark's Basilica)
Casino di Venezia - Visit the oldest Casino in the world. Very expensive tables but a cool experience
Climb the Campanile di San Marco - Bell tower of Saint Mark's Basilica (highest point of Venice)
Glass Factory - Murano island
Gondola Ride - Cheapest right outside of Hard Rock Café
Guggenheim Museum (Palazzo Venier del Leoni, Sestriere,Dorsoduro 701)
Murano, Burano, Tortello – Take a boat to go to these islands; they are really cute and fun to walk around
Ponte dei sospiri
St. Mark's Square
Places to Eat:
I dont have many suggestions for restaurants but there are places to eat all over the island. Just walk by and read the menu then make a reservation.
Randy & my favorite treats were the meringue cookies and cannolis in the tiny bakeries!
Gelato di Natura - the best gelato we found in venice!!!
There are so many other places in Italy I want to visit. These three places were all that we had time for but the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pisa and Milan are on the top of my list.