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This past fall C. Smith and I took a much anticipated trip to Italy. Although C. had been on the past, I have not and the clock was ticking, I needed to see Venice before it completely sank underwater (for those of you who have never been, turns out you have some time before that happens).  I wanted to write about the trip sooner, but life, work, moving (more on that another day) etc. got in the way.  Now my friend and her hubby are about to head to Italy and I was re-invigorated talking to her, so here are my random tips and observations of what was truly a fabulous trip.

Use a guidebook. These things are really handy, I have used them on previous trips and for some reason decided I did not need one this trip?!?!  Most of tips I am about to impart were probably in said guide book, but alas I did not bring one, so trial and error was my best friend.

Rome is dirty. Cars, cigarette butts, rotten fruit…I am not sure who the genius was that decided to line the street of Rome with fruit bearing trees, but ick.  I am sure it is beautiful at some point in the year, but in the fall it is rotten fruit everywhere.


Ok, it was not all dirty, this was a pretty solid view at lunch.

Grab a slice in Naples. Not a lot to see or do in Naples from what I can tell, but if taking the train through, make a pit stop for some delish pizza.  Drop your bags at the far end of the train station, there is a luggage storing service there, it will cost you a few bucks but it is better than lugging it through the streets.  We found a great spot a few short blocks from the station on Via Nazionale – they did not speak a bit ofEnglish, but we shared the language of food and all was right.


Fold that slice in 1/2 and chow down.

Use Porters. So here is where I imagine that guide book would have come in super handy.  If you travel to the Amalfi Coast or Capri by boat they have porters at the dock who will take your luggage up the hills/cliffs/inclines to your hotel.  Turns out you do not have to roof it halfway up the hill sweating it out carrying your bags.


You will not be smiling if you have to hoof it up these stairs with luggage.

Finish your meal. Turns out Italians are very offended if you do not finish every last morsel of food on your plate.  I left one lonely little ravioli and I was accused of “hating” the dish.  I left the crust of 1 slice of an entire pizza and was told “at least they like it” as my server tossed it to the birds.  So remember your eyes are often bigger than your stomach and order wisely.

Sometimes tours are best. When considering a day trip from Venice to Murano and Burano we looked into a tour, but ugh it was 4 hours and it left at 10:00 am and that just seemed early…but never fear, we are smart, we will just take the water bus ourselves.  Um, 8 hours later, traveling from Venice to Murano back to Venice to Burano to Lido to Venice, that tour sounded AMAZING.


I went all the way to Murano and all I got was this string of glass.

Use the water bus. When in Venice, of course you must do a gondola ride and a water taxi is great but pricey.  The best deal for getting around Venice is the water bus.  You can get a pass right as you exit the train station.  The best part about the pass is it is good for a full 24 hour time frame from the first time you scan it.  So if you do not arrive until 3:00 on Monday and are leaving at noon on Thursday, you only need a 3 day pass – rock on.  Bonus tip, if the lines are long as you exit the train station, hang a right and a short stroll down the Grand Canal takes you to the next water taxi stop where there was no line.


But you do look like a celebrity when taking the water taxi.

Watch out for the photo dudes. At any major attraction you are going to find the guys dressed in costumes who are more than happy to grab your camera, slap some part of their costume on you and start snapping pics.  It is all fun until they ask for cash while still holding your camera.  I would do it once, mainly because it is hysterical to see your hubby dressed like a gladiator, but after that hold on to your camera and politely say no thank you.


Yep, you should do this at least once.

Have an afternoon spritz. There is nothing better than taking an afternoon break from all the sightseeing and enjoying an Aperol spritz – light, refreshing and surprisingly delicious. I am not sure what I loved more the actual spritz, or the snacks that accompanied it.  Every place we stopped we were also served some type of chips or nuts, which was a perfect size snack to appease me until dinner. Bonus points go to Gran Caffe on the piazza in Capri for serving olives along with the chips and having some of the best people watching in all of Italy.


A man and his spritz (and his gal and her chips!)

Bring cheap flips. You envision it in your head, laying on the beach in Pasitano, looking out on the yachts in the Mediterranean.  They you get there and it is everything you imagined, except the beach is rocky.  Now you are hot and want to take a dip – ouchy.  If only I had some $3 rubber flip flops that I could ditch when no longer needed.  Next time Pasitano, next time.


Glorious view as expected.

Dine on Cicchetti. When in Venice find a local watering hole that serves Cicchetti, otherwise known as awesome little bites of goodness.  We stayed in the Academia section of Venice and had 3 great spots all in walking distance.  Walk in, head up to the counter and point out a few items that strike your fancy, grab a glass of wine in a to-go cup and head outside.  Enjoy your snack while watching the world go by.


Perfect little morsels with a great view.

Hang on to your shit. Even the most cautious traveler can be subject to the pickpockets and gypsies that are notorious in Italy.  Get a good day bag that is like Fort Knox to get into so that you do not get pick pocketed in the train station or tourist spots.  Keep said bag strapped across you at all times and never set it down between you and your traveling companion when seated against a brick wall with a table in front of you.  I promise you it will make like Keyser Soze and {poof} it is gone.


Author: Jennifer

Scholar. Lover of fine wines and cheeses. Expert in formal wear. All-around classy broad...

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