Italy. One of the culinary hotspots of the world. This time I wasn’t swimming the light-blue waters of the Amalfi Coast, I was touring Italy’s greatest cities:
- Milan, one of the fashion capitals of the world, and the economic centre of Italy.
- Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance and home to many wonders of the art world.
- Rome, the Eternal City, one of the oldest cities in the world.
I visited in September. The weather is warm but not overbearing. Here’s a guide on the best times to visit Italy if you are considering an alternative month.
I found the following blogs: Euronews, Finding the Universe, Road Affair and Greta’s Travels helpful for planning my trip.
Day 1: A night in Milan
I flew from East Midlands Airport to Milan Bergamo Airport. My flights cost approx. £80 (including return and 1 cabin luggage). It took 2 hours.
From the airport, I took a coach to Milan’s city centre. It takes about 1 hour and costs €8.
I stayed at Ostello Bello. Its central location meant that it only took 10 minutes to walk to Milan Cathedral. They have a bar/cafe downstairs alongside a few terraces where you can relax. Staff are lovely and helpful. I needed to download an app to unlock the door to my room. It worked but it was tricky to set up. I stayed in a room with 8 beds. Do not expect luxury. If you choose to stay elsewhere, public transport has you covered. Navigating the metro is easy, and you can use contactless payments.
I had booked a ticket to see the Last Supper. Frustratingly due to a mix up with my tickets it got cancelled. A shame as this is one of the major things to see in Milan.
The beauty of Milan though is that there’s lots to see whilst walking its cobbled streets. I made my way to Piazza del Duomo. Here you can marvel at Milan Cathedral and its grand architecture. It was so incredible I had to return at night to see it lit up.
Nearby there’s an art museum - Museo del Novecento. It’s right next to the Cathedral. It showcases 20th century Italian art. Well worth visiting especially if you want to slow down.
Afterwards, I went to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s filled with luxury goods shops and expensive restaurants. If you keep walking past this, you’ll find an oasis of calm at a nearby park. Here you can see a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci.
In the evening, I ate at Zibo. Its pasta was so good I had to order another mains! This was my best meal of the trip as well. Modern Italian cuisine at its best.
Pasta at Zibo
Day 2: Milan to Florence.
I booked a train from Milan Centrale to Florence S.M.N. I used the Rail Europe site. It cost about €30.
I stayed at the Hotel Tourist House. It’s a cheap, no-frills hotel located in a good central location of Florence. I had a good experience at the hotel.
On my first day in Florence I went exploring. I took a stroll along Ponte Vecchio. If you are looking to buy expensive jewellery you’ll find those stores here.
Then I went to Boboli Gardens, the green lung of this city. You’ll get a sense of Florence’s famous history as you walk the garden paths.
Grab a gelato at the famous Gelateria della Passera as you bask in the sun.
After returning to the hotel, I ventured back into Florence for a bite to eat. I ate at I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti. Order the La Cignala, a wild boar salami sandwich, with sundried tomatoes and sheep milk cheese. It’s only €7.50!
End your day with a pint at The Joshua Tree Pub.
Day 3: Uffizi Museum and Piazza Duomo
Start your morning at one of the world’s greatest art museums - the Uffizi Gallery. Marvel at the artwork of Boticelli, Michaelnago and Leonardo. I recommend getting a skip the line ticket because this is a popular attraction. My ticket cost approx £24.
At lunchtime, I went to the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. A fun market with antiques and food stalls.
Visit the Piazza Duomo. This large square contains the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore. This is the most important landmark of Florence. You can go inside but be sure to get tickets beforehand.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore.
In the evening, I went to The Arts Inn for a night cap. A quirky bar located in an art gallery. It’s small but the atmosphere is delightful.
Day 4: Accademia Gallery and Wine Tour
You must visit the Accademia Gallery. Again, get a skip the line ticket as it is popular. Michelangelo’s statue of David is breathtaking. It’s jaw dropping.
Statue of David.
In the afternoon, I went on a Wine Tour. Here you can try local wine from the Chianti region. I found the white wines to be delicate and refreshing in profile. One of my favourite things to also try here at the wineries was their olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you like anything you try, you can get it shipped home.
Other tourists I met told me I must try La Ménagère. A fusion of Italian and French cuisines gives rise to this place. It’s a little expensive but the food is worth it.
Day 5: Florence to Rome
I took a train in the morning from Florence S.M.N to Rome Termini. It cost about €30. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Rome.
I stayed at The Rome Hello. A delightful hostel set in the centre of Rome. It’s got good facilities such as an easy to use laundry room, kitchen and chill out area. The staff are friendly and nice too. This is one of the friendliest hostels I’ve stayed at. It’s perfect for meeting people from all walks of life.
On my first day in Rome I went exploring. You’ll be doing lots of walking and gawking at historic monuments littered across the city. Be mindful of the intense traffic, its frenetic pace can be overwhelming at first.
With music in hand, I made my way to the Trastevere district. I passed so many monuments but the one that caught my eye was the imposing Altar of the Fatherland.
Later, I headed to Bar San Calisto for an aperitivo. I loved the vibe here.
I decided I wanted to get a better view of the city so I trekked uphill to the Piazzale Garibaldi. The views made it worth it but it isn’t an easy trek. As I walked down, I made pit stops at the iconic Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
Day 5: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
I booked a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Colosseum needs no introduction. The scale of its size will leave you wondering about the extravagance of games of old.
Get a glimpse of what life might have been like in the Roman Empire at the Roman Forum. You’ll see many temples, and the Temple of Julius Caesar. Finally the tour ends at the birthplace of Rome, Palatine Hill. The views are beautiful here.
The Roman Forum from a distance.
Please note, if you want to go on the ground floor of the Colosseum you’ll need to buy a specific ticket for that.
In the evening, I ate at La Tavernetta 29. It’s run by an eccentric owner. Order the carbonaro and panacotta. Thank me later. It’s popular so be sure to make a reservation.
Day 6: The Vatican
In the morning, why not visit the Campo De’ Fiori square, one of the oldest open-air markets.
In the afternoon, I booked a tour to explore the Vatican, the smallest country in the world. You start with the Vatican Museums. The sheer scale of the museums means you won’t be able to see everything in one day. It houses the vast collection of the Catholic Church.
Later, revel in the brilliance of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. You cannot take photos here, and you must remain silent. Michelangelo’s dedication and hard work (he painted lying flat!) produced the magnificent Creation of Adam and Last Judgement.
In the distance, you can make out the balcony where the Pope addresses the masses.
End the tour at St. Peter’s Basilica - the largest church in the world. The guide will let you wander the hallowed halls. You can buy prayer beads at the Vatican gift shop. It makes the perfect gift for a loved one.
This was my final day in Rome. I flew out early in the morning so I took a taxi to Rome Ciampino, which cost me €35. When I visit again, I want to see inside the Pantheon. One of the most impressive monuments of Rome.
I hope this guide helps you plan your own trip to Milan, Florence and Rome.