I was lucky enough to spend five days in Italy: Two in Rome and Three in Florence, and those five days were enough for me to understand how incredible this country is. Between the exuberant culture, ancient architecture and art, and the delicious food, Italy is one incredible place.
Rome is a busy place — Think Chicago or New York — But even busier. I went in August, which is one of the busiest times to visit Italy, and it was very crowded. I wouldn’t recommend visiting Italy in August, or even July, as it’s one of the most chaotic times for tourists. There were long lines to visit the Coliseum, and it was hard to just walk around in general, as the streets were packed.
Instead, I'd recommend visiting Rome in May or September, as it’s less crowded and the weather is still warm.
What To Do in Rome
If you should find yourself in Rome, I recommend doing a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get around the main parts of the city. While driving around, you can put on headphones and someone explains what’s around you as you’re driving. It’s a huge city: Don’t try walking everywhere.
In addition to the Coloseum, definitely visit Vatican City.
Even if you aren't Catholic, it's amazing to see how massive this whole place is. You hear about the Sistine Chapel so much, you can't leave Rome without seeing the marvelous ceiling painting, The Last Judgment, by Michelangelo. Make sure to cover up your shoulders and wear modest clothing. The Catacombs are also a great place to visit if you love history.
What To Do in Florence
Since I was in Europe for two weeks, I had to carefully pick where I wanted to go in Italy. Florence was honestly my favorite place the whole trip.
Visit The Duomo, climb to the top if you can
It’s a 463 step climb, but when you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime view.
Rent bikes and watch the sunset
At the top of the main hill in Florence is a huge replica of the Statue of David. My friends and I rented bikes and trekked to the top of the hills to watch the sunset, listen to soft, live music, and eat gelato while wallowing over the beautiful city. I’d go back to Florence any day just for this view.
Wait in line to see the REAL Statue of David
You see this statue in movies and read about it in books. Should you find yourself in Florence, do yourself a favor and see this statue in real life!
Visit the leather market
You can’t leave Florence without visiting the leather vendors. Be careful - you WILL come across fake leather. Don’t forget to bargain. These guys will try to charge you more than you’ll want to pay.
Must-Dos in Venice
I didn't have a chance to go to Venice, but Venice is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world. The ancient city is slowly sinking so make sure to see it when you can! The museums and sight-seeing is great, but "seeing" Venice is all about enjoying the experience. Go for a gondola ride, wander the streets at night, grab gelato at 2am.
Last but not least, you can't leave Italy without eating an entire pizza for yourself, trying the pasta and getting a large gelato cone - you won't regret it. Ciao!
Photo Credit: Lara Walsh