Our first family trip to Italy. 2 weeks. Places covered; Milan, Lake Garda, Venice, Cinque Tera, Florence and Sienna, and Rome.
  • Day16

    Planning

    July 4, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Started planning the trip a bit late about 2 months before travel. I would suggest 6 months.

    Day 1 Land in Milan, checkin and explore. Night in Milan
    Day 2 Explore Milan. Night in Milan
    Day 3 Leave for Lake Garda. Explore. Night in Riva DEL Garda.
    Day 4. Explore Lake Garda. Leave for Venice. Night in Venice.
    Day 5 Explore Venice. Night in Venice.
    Day 6 Leave Venice for Cinque Terra. Stop at Lambo Museum. Night in La Spezia.
    Day 7 Explore Cinque Terra. Night in La Spezia.
    Day 8 Leave for Florence. Explore Pisa and Lucca. Night in Florence.
    Day 9 Explore Florence. Night in Florence.
    Day 10 Explore Tuscany. Sienna and Chianti. Night in Florence.
    Day 11 Explore Tuscany. Night in Montepulciano.
    Day 12 Leave for Rome. Night in Rome.
    Day 13 Explore Rome. Night in Rome.
    Day 14 Explore Rome. Night in Rome.
    Day 15 Leave for US.

    I booked a rental car from last day in Milan to first day in Rome. Park the car in Venice and Florence and use as needed. Lot of people suggest to use trains and use rental cars as needed. I did not want to deal with picking up and dropping cars, and also train stations. Rent a compact car. Travel light so stuff fits in a compact car. It is suggested that you prepay ur rental car. I was not able to even though I had called.

    Day 1
    Land in Milan at 1:40pm.
    Taxi to Apartment. Approx. €105
    Apartment: link to Airbnb reservation. https://abnb.me/dwRzsye2SN
    Check-in and freshen up.
    Explore Local Shops, Brera Neighborhood
    Food - Ristronte Nabucco

    Day 2: Explore Milan
    AM
    Duomo (Cathedral) / Piazza (Main Square) / Galleria
    Food- Panzerotti Luini - Pizza - Lunch
    PM
    Sforzesco Castle & Sempione Park
    For Dinner to the Navigli area.
    Eating options Rita/Mag-cafe in the vibrant Navigli area

    Video-
    https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/tv-show/milan-and-lake-como

    Day 3: Leave for Lake Garda
    Pick up Rental Car from Central Station. Rental car office was not exactly at the train station, took a bit to find it.
    When driving from Milan, go up the west side stop at Limone sul Garda for lunch.
    Restaurant in Limone for lunch?

    From there we will go to the hotel.
    Hotel Savoy Palace - TonelliHotels - Rvia Del Garda
    After check-in Explore and Dinner .

    Day 4- Lake Garda
    In the morning go to the Local Market. Then take a boat to Malcesine.
    In Malcesine we will visit the old town and the castle and take a cable car to the top of Monte Baldo.
    Lunch?

    Come back to the hotel. Drive to Venice.

    At Venice, there are two parking options...
    1) Piazzale Roma (autorimessa Comunale. Garage San Marco). Has the option to pre-book.
    2) Tronchetto and then people mover to Venice. No pre-booking required.

    Day 5
    VENICE
    Visit the Piazza San Marcos, its basilica and the Doge's Palace, lots of museums (the Guggenheim is really great). Walk through San Polo district, crossing the Rialto bridge and visiting its fish market. Walk through Dorsoduro district and try the typical cicchetti (Venetian tapas). Night in Venice.

    The articles below were helpful in planning Venice.

    http://www.way-away.com/italy/venice-itineraries/city-break-venice-in-4-days
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187870-i57-k4603105-4_Days_in_Venice-Venice_Veneto.html
    https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-good-location-to-stay-in-Venice-Italy-to-enjoy-the-city-for-2-3-days-for-under-175-night-for-2-guests-Preferably-a-comfortable-clean-private-room-with-a-nice-bed-that-is-walking-distance-to-many-of-the-nice-areas-to-visit

    Day 6: Leave for Cinque Terra
    Drive to Bologna to Lambo Museum. Have lunch close to the Museum.
    After the Museum drive to La Spezia.
    Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/Kokqhs2zsZF2

    Day 7: Explpore Cinque Terra
    Monterosso: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/monterosso
    Vernazza: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/vernazza
    Corniglia: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/corniglia
    Manarola: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/manarola
    Riomaggiore: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/riomaggiore

    La Spezia to Monterosso: By Train
    Monterosso to Vernazza by boat
    Vernazza to Corniglia hike
    Corniglia to Riomaggiore by train
    Riomaggiore to Manarola by train or boat

    Manarola is the best place to be at sunset. That is why you want to end your day there.
    Dinner: Nessun Dorma in Manarola
    Bar: A Pie’ di Ma’ in Riomaggiore
    Swimwear and quick-drying towels for the beach
    CT TRAIN SCHEDULE: http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-timetable

    https://fullsuitcase.com/cinque-terre-practical-information/
    https://fullsuitcase.com/cinque-terre-one-day/

    Day 8
    Leave for Florence
    Stop at Pisa for photo op
    Stop at Lucca; Explore a bit
    Check in Florence; explore and dinner

    Day 9
    6 hr Walking tour booked with Viator

    Day 10
    Chianti, wine tour and lunch

    Day 11
    Drive to Montepulciano
    Stop at San Gimignano

    Day 12
    Drive to Rome. Return car.
    Vatican tour booked.

    Day 13
    Explore Rome; Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain
    and Shopping

    Day 14
    Colosseum tour booked. Palatine Hill and Roman Forums

    Day 15
    Pack and depart. Flight at 1.30pm
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  • Day15

    Leave back for US

    July 3, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30pm so we had enough time for a relaxing morning. Got up and packed. Breakfast at the Roscioli cafe. The host had booked a taxi that arrived promptly. Both flights were a bit delayed. Reached home about hour later than planned. End to a very satisfying trip. A bit long by a couple of days. We have July 4th to relax and get ready for the grind.Read more

  • Day14

    Explore Rome

    July 2, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    The Colosseum tour was booked for 10:30am. We wanted to get there early to get the physical tickets and get through security. Lots of people heckle you for tickets and offer private tours. Since our’s was a tour at a specific time with a guide, we were told we are early and had to wait. During this time we nearly got swayed by one agent to take a private tour that includes Underground. Then another tried to sell us a private guide and the arena tour, by misinforming us that our tour only included audio guides. We are happy that we stuck to our plans.

    Viewing the Colosseum was a wonderful experience. It’s amazing that this structure was built about 2000 years ago. That is 4 out of the 7 wonders.

    After visiting the Colosseum we went to Palatine Hill. Explored it for an hour and then headed out for lunch. We landed back at Angelico’s where we had dinner the previous night.

    After lunch, we came back to the flat. In the evening we went to the Pantheon again to go inside. Amazing to know it is the oldest Roman building to be standing without any restorations. And this happened as it was converted to a church very early, and hence never plundered or destroyed. After that, we strolled the streets near Trevi Fountain and shopped. Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant followed by Gelato at Venchi. Another iconic Gelato place in Rome. Amazing store, the entire back wall is waterfall but instead of water it has chocolate flowing.
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  • Day13

    Explore Rome

    July 1, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We started a bit late and walked to Piazza Navona; a short walk from our flat. We sat down in a restaurant in the square for breakfast. After one of our first full breakfasts of the trip we headed to the pantheon. We were not ready for what we saw. The Line was at least a mile long, we decided to come back the next day. After that we continued walking to the Spanish steps. They were pretty Grand from the bottom and after we climbed it we realized there was not much at the top. After our adventure on the Spanish steps we continued to the Trevi Fountain. It was much larger than we expected and was truly awesome. At this point we were pretty hungry so we stopped at a nearby brewery. The food was okay. After our meal we retired back to our apartment. Our plan was to see a show at the Roman forums. We ate dinner near the forum at Angelicos. The food was actually really good, we were just in a rush to get to the show. The show was a Recreation of the forums using lights and multimedia affects. They also told stories from their respective times. Two shows. First one you sit at the steps of the ruins. Second one you walk through the ruins. Each about 45 minutes long. The best tour / shows of the trip. Our host asked us to go. Not even crowded. Tickets readily available.Read more

  • Day12

    Drive to Rome

    June 30, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    We woke up early and ate breakfast at the hotel. It was a continental breakfast, it was simple but filling. We had a Vatican tour at 2:30 in Rome and had to drop off the luggage and return the car before that. Once we arrived in Rome, it was a rush. We checked into our apartment while Raghav went and returned the car. After we checked into the apartment, the host informed us that there was a delicious Pizza place right under the apartment. We quickly eat there for lunch and packed some pizza for Raghav. Raghav met us at the apartment and we drove to the Vatican City. It was by far the most crowded place we visited all trip. We learned that over 25,000 people visit every day. We saw the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. They were all grand and beautiful but very crowded. After the tour, we returned to the apartment, freshened up, and headed to Ponte Sisto for the river festival. There was a lot of activity, we played arcade games, shopped, and ate dinner on the river bank. After dinner, we retired to our apartment, a very hectic but fun day.Read more

  • Day11

    Explore Tuscany

    June 29, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    The first stop was San Gimignano- found it to be very beautiful. We walked up to the main square. Kids got pizza which was really good (Ricca Pizza). I got Porchetta panini which was very good too. And bought a nice leather duffle bag.

    Next stop was Siena- walked to Piazza del Campo. It was the start of Palio di Provenzano, a horse race dating back to the 14th century. Horses from the 10 city wards race bareback. There was a lot activity. When we reached they were clearing off the Piazza to put bleachers for the race. About 40,000 watch the race. We enjoyed some wine and snacks while enjoying all the hustle and bustle. Big groups of people drinking and singing...I guess cheering for their horse.

    After that, we headed to Montepulciano where we stayed in an old castle. The place was right in the middle of the ZTL zone. We were allowed to drop our luggage and then had to park the car in an assigned parking lot. Driving through some of the narrow streets was quite an experience. The hotel room at Palazzo Carletti was our best on our entire trip. It was a huge room with 20 ft high ceilings. The kid's room was accessed through a spiral metal staircase. All amenities were very modern. Only 5 rooms. Would love to come back to this hotel.

    This place is a small quaint town with pretty shops and restaurants. And we could walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes. We had dinner at Osteria de Conde. Food was good but the service very slow.
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  • Day10

    Explore Chianti- Castello di Verzzanno

    June 28, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Late start to the day. Spent most of the day in Chianti at a beautiful winery on top of a hill. The winery tour was very informative about Chianti wines. The lunch after the tour was spectacular and very possible the best meal we have eaten so far. On top of the food, the dining room offered amazing views of the vineyard. It was three course preset menu. The Salami platter was good with the pork cheek the best of all the meats. The pure Balsamic vinegar that they served was wonderful. It takes about 10 years to get the best quality. The ones that we buy at most grocery stores are commercially produced and taste very acidic but this one seemed less acidic and quite sweet with no added sugars. The Salami was followed by pasta in marinara sauce followed by pork / wild boar chops. They served us unlimited wine 3 different reds and a couple of white. All that wine made us a bit too happy and we left our backpack with passports at the winery. Luckily 10 minutes into our drive back to Florence we realized our bag was missing and we went back to the winery. We had loved our afternoon and wanted to return in the future but didn’t expect it to be so soon.

    We went back to our flat and slept for a few hours. In the evening we had dinner close to our flat. Our most relaxing day of the trip.
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  • Day9

    Explore Florence

    June 27, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We had a quick breakfast at 7:45am as we were were we had to get to our Walking Tour at 8:30am.
    Walking Tour of Florence started at the Piazza San Marcos and covered the Galleria Dell Accademia, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Duomo, Basilica di Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte and Vecchio bridge.

    In the middle we got 90 minutes for lunch that we decided to get Gusta Pizza. A highly rated pizza place. No place to sit. Ate in front Pitti Palace. Home of the Medichi family. After lunch we completed our remaining part of the walking tour by going into the Uffizi and seeing masterpieces from Michalengo, Donatello, Leonardo Da’Vinci, Jochta and others.

    After the tour we headed back to the apartment to rest with a stop at Perche No! for Gelato, a place recommended by our tour guide. Best Gelato of the trip so far.

    We got back to the flat, slept for a couple of hours, showered and then went out to get dinner. Today, after many days without Indian food we decided to get some. We went to Gandhi Ristorante and the food was surprisingly very good. After dinner we retired to our flat.
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  • Day8

    Drive to Florence- stop at Pisa & Lucca

    June 26, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After an extremely satisfying and tiring day at Cinque Terra, today we had a late start to our day. We left La Spezia at about 11:30 for Pisa. We found a parking very close to the main square and spent about an hour there. Took lots of pictures of us trying to "hold" up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We also walked through the square with the Duomo and Baptistry, which was just as grand as the famous leaning tower. We then headed to Lucca.

    At Lucca, we parked at Piazza Santa Maria and then walked the famous Via Fillungo. We had a nice relaxing lunch in the Piazza San Frediano right beside the Basilica and then walked through the old town. Then we saw the Piazza Anfiteatro. Climbed the 8 large floors of the Guinigi Tower and got a 360-degree view of the town from there. We ended our visit to Lucca with coffee and desserts at the Piazza San Michelle.

    After that, we headed to Florence. Our host checked us in. Provided some recommendations. We relaxed for a couple of hours. Had dinner at Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
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  • Day7

    Explore Cinque Terra

    June 25, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We parked our car at the La Spezia Central Station and took the train to Monterosso to start our Cinque Terra trip. Monterosso is the biggest of the five villages. At Monterosso, we saw the Monument of San Francesco d’Assissi, Spiaggia di Fegina (rock formations in the sea), the Giant (rock sculpture on the side of the hill) and a cemetery. From there, we took the ferry to Vernazza. Short 10-minute scenic ride.

    In Vernazza, we walked through the village. Got Bruschetta and Gelato to share and then started our 90-minute hike to Corniglia. This was a tough hike but every view and picture is a postcard shot. There is a small cafe at the hilltop considered midpoint of the hike. We stopped there for a much-needed break. Not used to hiking in the blazing sun we all were a bit winded and tired. We enjoyed the orange and lemon juice and some splendid views before moving on to complete the rest of the hike.

    As we entered the village we stopped at the first restaurant for lunch. I had spaghetti with pesto which was fresh and tasty, it was gobbled down in minutes. After lunch, we walked through the village. Instead of going to the next village we decided to go back to La Spezia back to our flat to rest and then return later in evening for the sunset and dinner.

    Manarola is supposed to have the best sunset views. We got back to Manarola around 8 pm and headed straight to Nessun Dorma for dinner. It has over 4000 reviews for the best sunset views. And the place surely lives up to it. From a food perspective it only has cafe food which was great but for dinner, I was hoping to get some past and meat. After an amazing time, we took the train back to La Spezia and ended the best day of our trip so far.
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