Your Destination Anywhere

9 Perfect Days in Italy

By Alysse Harrison

So, Italy is on your bucket list; mine too! I mean, is there anything more comforting than a gigantic glass of wine and a bowl of mouthwatering pasta or freshly made woodfire grilled pizza while overlooking the Mediterranean? Or what about the incredible history. Rome is the foundation of the Latin language and Roman architecture can impress anyone. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to build something like the Colosseum without all of our power tools and modern conveniences?

When my husband and I decided to travel to Italy, we were living in Angola at the time and the easiest flight for us to get to Europe stopped through Germany. We decided to spend two nights in Munich because it is an amazing city and my husband loves sausage, sauerkraut, beer and all things German. If you have never been to Munich, the Hofbräuhaus is an absolute must. My suggestion is to not just stop in for a drink but to have the full experience. Make a reservation for dinner and the show, it will not let you down. You will have beers that are a full liter, a traditional German meal and live entertainment. Beware, those drinks can hit you hard and then you may or may not miss your train ride the next morning through the Alps.

Known as one of the most scenic train rides, the next morning we embarked on a roughly 8-hour train ride from Munich to Venice. This train takes you through the beautiful hill country of Austria and you will have breathtaking views of the Alps. We packed ourselves a bag with fresh bread, cheese, and meats from a market in Munich and had an amazing picnic while riding through the countryside and mountains.

When we arrive in Venice, you walk out of the train station and you are there, right in the heart of everything. Our hotel was a very short walk from the train station, so we dropped our bags and headed out to explore.

Traveler tip**when traveling to multiple locations on a trip, you do not want multiple bags or heavy bags**. Try to pack light with things that can be worn a few times or washed and dried easily.

While in Venice, make sure to check out St. Marks Basilica, and Doge’s Palace, take a gondola ride through the lovely canals, and get lost in the beautifully decorated alleyways. Seriously, GET LOST! Put your phones and navigation away and just enjoy all that awaits down the random alleys. You will see stained glass, window flowers, antique doors, and beauty everywhere. If you are looking for a free activity to do, hail a water taxi to the Murano factory where you can tour their world-class glass-blowing facility. You can watch the artists working live and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces to bring home with you. Two nights in Venice was plenty for us to see and do everything we wanted so we hopped on a much shorter train ride and headed to Florence.

Florence acted as our “hub” for the next four days. From here you can get to Tuscany, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Cinque Terre and more. Firenze (Florence) was my absolute favorite stop in Italy. We took a day trip to Chianti and had fabulous wines. We even nearly got ran over by George Clooney on his bike. The wineries in Chianti have the delicious wines you expect and the beautiful Tuscan Farm views you coundn’t even dream of. My favorite winery we visited was literally off the path (we went off-roading). There was a huge family style table that we all enjoyed a fabulous Italian meal as well as some of the best wine I have ever had. This winery is frequented by George Clooney himself.

From Florence, we also took a day trip to Cinque Terre (5 towns) which is one of the most amazing landscapes I have seen to this day. The colorful buildings on the edge of cliffs hanging over the Mediterranean are a view I never want to forget. The tour we booked allowed us to hike in between two of the towns and take trains or boats between the others. Enjoy popping in a random shop and snacking on some gelato or grabbing a coffee at a local cafe. While in Florence, we had the BEST pizza of our lives at Ciro & Sons. Bonus if you have a gluten allergy because their pizzas are gluten-free but that doesn’t even matter…it is still hands down the best. I can’t remember the name of the pizza we had but it had buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil pesto. Simple and delightful. Seriously, we went back 3 times it was that good. Florence is a great place to go shopping. Beware that most of your traditional souvenirs are probably from China but if you pay attention you can find some fabulous stuff. I brought back a cashmere poncho from a street vendor and both my husband and I brought back some new leather bags. While in Florence, my husband was able to rent and drive a Ferrari through the streets of Tuscany, something he still talks about!

Our last stop on our trip to Italy was in Rome. This was my second time to Rome and while it is extremely popular with tourists, the history behind it is unsurpassed. You absolutely must make time to check out The Vatican. I recommend purchasing a ticket that grants you access before the crowds of people so that you have time to enjoy all of it. The artwork in the Sistine Chapel is remarkable. We happened to take our trip over Easter and so we were able to attend the Pope’s Easter Service at St. Peter’s Square outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. If you ever get a chance to be in Rome for Easter, it is a true Bucket List experience. Easter service is performed in Latin as you stand in a square with tens of thousands of friends from around the Globe.

Our hotel in Rome over looked the Pantheon. We loved opening our windows and listening to the street artists. Then when all the tourists went home for the evening, we had an unmatched view of this beautiful relic. If you can only afford to hire a guide for two tours in Rome, my suggestions would be for The Vatican as well as The Colosseum. You really need someone standing there with you telling you all the amazing stories and history behind each and every corner. You will leave in awe for sure.

One more helpful tip today I wish I had been more careful while we were in Rome. Do not put your phone in your pocket. This is not specific to Rome but rather a general rule of thumb when you travel to high tourist destinations. Ladies, carry a cross-body bag with deep zipper pockets. Gentlemen, carry your wallets in your front pockets and have your hands over them while on public transportation. Always, zip your phone and wallet up. If it is a colder time of year, put your purse under your jacket. Pick-pocketers are professional…it only takes half a second for your items to be stolen.

If you liked what you read and would like to purchase a 5, 7, or 9-day traveler-approved itinerary or are interested in working together on a fully customized vacation of your dreams, please e-mail me at

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