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Lately my mind has been wandering with thoughts of our next holiday that we are currently planning for 2017. Lately my feet have been itching to travel overseas to a place that I have been dreaming about for a while now. In fact I have been totally preoccupied and obsessed with everything Italia and every night when I go to sleep I’m dreaming of an Italian holiday!
In 2017 we’re not only embarking on a 12 day cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, departing from Rome and visiting Malta, Sicily, Corfu, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and terminating in Venice; but we are also spending 3 weeks travelling around Italy.
This boot-shaped European country has always fascinated me with its monumental history, its love of pizzas and pasta, grapevine and olive grove covered rolling hills, villages sitting precariously on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, rumble-down Roman ruins, stoic churches, statues and works of art. How can one small country have so many bounties? And where does one even start to plan an itinerary to see all this splendour?
After months of torturous research, gathering brochures, talking to travel agents and friends who have visited this charming country, we decided on an itinerary of sorts. Basically after a few days in Venice, we will head off across the country slightly northwards to Lake Como, spending maybe 4 to 5 days here, then travel south to Florence, Cinque Terre and Tuscany. Followed by a tour down south of Rome to the Amalfi Coast.
Prior to setting off on our cruise we will be spending 3 nights in Rome where we have booked an Airbnb apartment near the Colosseum. We hope to take in the following sights:
Our cruise terminates in romantic Venice, the city of canals and gondolas. We have 2 nights here – one on the ship in port and the other in the city. We are hoping to do the following:
Enroute to Lake Como we travel through fair Verona, made famous by the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. The top attractions in Verona are:
How could I not miss the global city of fashion and design? Milan is also on our way to Lake Como and will definitely be worth a look. We can explore this magnificent city on a historic tram or on a double decker hop on hop off bus tour. The largest and most complex Gothic building in Italy the Duomo Di Milani cathedral will obviously be a must see. As will be a viewing of Leonardo’s Last Supper inside the Refectory at the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The upside down ‘Y’ shaped Lake Como is long (50km), slender and extremely deep. The southern end forks into two long ‘legs’, with the picturesque town of Bellagio situated on the promontory between them. It has been popular as a resort since the days of the Roman Empire and is dotted with lakeside towns and villages.
There is a frequent boat service connecting the central resorts, Lenno, Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta, Cadenabbia, Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna, so it simple and easy to jump aboard and go exploring. We are going to base ourselves in Varenna, an attractive village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio. Varenna is renowned for its picturesque lanes and old fishermen’s houses that are unpretentiously appealing.
After spending 4 days at Lake Como we will be heading south to Cinque Terre via La Spezia, a string of five fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera in the region of Liguria. The five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are linked by mule tracks and are accessible only by rail or water.
The breathtaking views of harbours far below the wild but hospitable coastline of Cinque Terre along with the medieval fortresses and plentiful vines and vibrant colours make this a must see in Italy.
After a few days exploring Cinque Terre we are heading to Tuscany where we will spend a day in Florence. Housing some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world, Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.
The most popular and important sites in Florence include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo’s architectural genius.
Located in Central Italy, Tuscany region comprises of lush rolling hills of vineyards and olive groves and is dotted with Medieval villages, historical towns, castles, country churches and abbeys.
Some of the highlights of Tuscany, include the charming cities of Siena, San Gimignano and Greve in Chianti. I can’t wait to ramble through the Tuscan landscapes with cypress-lined country roads and hilltop villages seeking out little vineyards for a drop of Chianti.
We are intending to catch the speed train from Florence down to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, where there are 13 towns spreading across the coastline. They are connected by the scenic SS 163 road, built in the first half of the 19th century and is considered one of the most beautiful roads in Italy. Following the natural course of the coastline, the route is full of curves, nestled between the rock and the sea cliffs, giving spectacular vistas at the exit of every tunnel or hairpin bend.
Village hopping is extremely popular. Positano, Maiori and Ravello are just some of the names of the beautiful places you can visit. The walking trail called ‘The Path of The Gods’ runs from east to west between the hamlet of Nocelle, the highest neighbourhood of Positano, and Bomerano and the Agerola’s district and affords some of the most stunning views over the Amalfi coastline. Otherwise you can take a day trip to Naples, Pompei or across to the island of Capri.
Once we have spent 5 idyllic days touring the villages on the Amalfi Coast we will be returning to Rome to catch our flight home. My Italian dream will be complete.
Have you been to Italy? Can you recommend the absolute must sees in this Mediterranean country?
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)December 6, 2016
How wonderful for you. I’d love that so much. The food, the art. the atmosphere… I’m turning green.
KathyDecember 6, 2016
I really am totally preoccupied with everything Italian at the moment. I am in the throes of booking accommodation and I’m so in awe of the spectacle of the countryside in this country. April 2017 will not come around soon enough! I would be green too! :)
JanDecember 6, 2016
Kathy, what exciting plans and isn’t it wonderful to start the journey before you get on the plane.
If you have time we would highly recommend a visit to beautiful Lucca in Tuscany. A favourite place.
KathyDecember 6, 2016
Hi Jan, someone else recommended Lucca to my on the weekend, so I will definitely take a drive there during our stay in Tuscany. These are very exciting plans for 2017 and I simply can’t wait! :)
Lyndall @ SeizeTheDayProjectDecember 6, 2016
You already know what a devotee of Italy I am Kathy! No need to convince me of its charms :) My main recommendation is to explore as much as you can early in the day or in the evening. A lot of the main tourist attractions are completely overrun during the day and you can waste a lot of time in queues. The best part for us was not only the scenery, but the food and wine – every meal was just so divine! Enjoy your trip – I’m sure it will be bellissimo!
KathyDecember 6, 2016
I think your blog and another were the inspiration behind this trip. We do like to get up early to do the touristy things. We booked some accommodation in Positano yesterday that is right near the “Path of The Gods” so we’re hoping to do some hiking along this trail. Bring on April 2017! :)
JulieDecember 6, 2016
What a great trip. Florence is my favourite being an art but Cinque Terre is stunning. Make sure you do the walking trail that connects the villages. It’s not too strenuous although a little narrow in parts, the views are spectacular
KathyDecember 6, 2016
I can’t wait to see Florence and Cinque Terre too. We do intend to do heaps of walking, after we’ve been on the cruise for 12 days, we will certainly need it! I’m actually excited about our entire itinerary and can’t wait for April 2017 to come around. :)
All Around OzDecember 6, 2016
Ah this looks like a wonderful holiday Kathy! My daughter and I would like to travel around Italy one of these days.
KathyDecember 6, 2016
Italy has been a dream of mine for a while now. I was following an Aussie blogger who lived there for 12 months or so and she got me hooked. It would be a fabulous place to see with your daughter. I would like mine to come and spend some time with us, so hopefully she can get holidays around this time. :)
SueDecember 6, 2016
How exciting Kathy! My husband was born in Italy although came to Australia when he was four. We visit his cousins every few years and we are going in 2017 also. Looks like a fabulous itinerary and the cruise will top it off. I do love a cruise. Can’t wait for your posts.
KathyDecember 7, 2016
I’m obviously beside myself with excitement during this planning stage of the trip. We are still deciding where to stay in Tuscany as there are so many places here. Otherwise we have pretty much got our itinerary sorted. We like to stay in places for a few days at a time rather than hop from one to another. It gets way too tiring on the go all the time. I envy you having regular trips to Italy. I would love to see much more of Europe. :)
JoDecember 7, 2016
What a brilliant time you will have! Oh, the Amalfi Coast – I’d love to go back and explore some more. We’ve done some whistle-stop exploring of some of the places you’re going to, but I’m sure you’ll be able to spend a bit more time and dig a little deeper. Can’t wait for your photos and stories next year :)
KathyDecember 7, 2016
I know Jo, it is going to be epic! Our aim is to spend a few days in each region and really explore all the little villages, etc. It is very tempting to see some of the fabulous regions, but I would prefer to concentrate on just a few. Before we know it April will be here and we will be off on this amazing trip! :)