Florence: Our Favourite Experiences

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Florence is one of the most romantic, artistic and historically rich cities in Italy and all of Europe. Immerse yourself in the city where the renaissance was born. Here are our top experiences to be had.

Explore Florence on foot

Beautiful architecture and art awaits you as you explore the streets of Florence

The streets of Florence has a timeless beauty to it and you’ll find yourself admiring the beautiful streetscapes, picturesque views and incredible architecture all around you. Once you’ve shared your appreciation of the main remarkable attractions with other tourists, you can easily slip off onto a side street to escape the crowds and explore other beautiful finds.  Florence somewhat feels like a work of art in itself and you’ll sense this as you aimlessly wander around this sophisticated city.

Get a true taste of Florentine & Tuscan cuisine

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the cuisine in Florence

Go on a food excursion and try all sorts of Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. Tuscan food is famous for its local produce and meats, traditionally cooked based on the Italian concept of “cucina povera” or  “poor cooking”. You’ll find the dishes here are hearty and high quality, made with simple ingredients that bring out the natural flavours. Some Tuscan foods you must try include affettati misti (antipasto of cured sliced meats and cheese), woodfired pizza, Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), Paparedelle al Cinghiale (long flat pasta with wild boar) and Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with truffle mushrooms and procini mushrooms).

See Ponte Vecchio bridge

Ponte Vecchio bridge

Go for a stroll and see one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Ponte Vecchio. The name translates as ‘old bridge’ as it is literally the oldest standing bridge in Florence. Clinging to the bridge are jewellery shops, art stores and antique boutiques. This enchanting bridge truly makes you feel curious about the history of it, so perhaps organise a walking tour and learn about it’s impressive history. The view of the bridge along the river bank is most spectacular during sunset, as the sky lights up and the whole surrounding looks like a painting.

Admire the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

The Duomo (the iconic dome attached to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by traditional Tuscan buildings, however it is unmissable. The architecture, details and colours of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo are as grand in real life. The exterior of the church is an impressive piece of architecture, and you’ll want to walk around and step back to take it all in from all angles. Entrance to the cathedral is free however, you'll need to plan and book tickets ahead if you want to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome.

Visit the Uffizi Gallery

The cathedral and Duomo is beautiful from all angles

Go on an art journey at one of the top art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. The collection is extensive so it is best to plan at least half a day to view and admire the  thousands of unique paintings. The gallery showcases some of the most important and famous works by Italian Renaissance artists Botticelli, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Organise tickets and plan your visit/viewings ahead for a smooth and unforgettable visit.

Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

Michelangelo statue and Ponte Vecchio in the distance from atop

Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a terrace situated on a hill south of the Arno River where the third (bronze) version of Michelangelo’s David is displayed. The Piazzale Michelangelo offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and is best experienced at sunset. Sunset viewing is popular here so ensure to get to the terrace early and beat the crowds. Grab a beverage, pick your viewing spot and take it all in. You won’t be disappointed!

Have dinner at Mercato Centrale

Evening at the Mercato Centrale

On the ground floor of Mercato Centrale, you’ll find a market of fresh produce and meats. Above that is a huge food court, which is open until midnight and was a great dinner experience we had in Florence. The atmosphere at Mercato Centrale is vibrant and the aroma coming from traditional and modern food stands smells delicious. We enjoyed dinner at the food court (there are plenty of tables and seats) however if you want to soak in the afternoon sun and local ambience, you can take away your food and enjoy it outside in the Piazza di San Lorenzo (across from the market) or Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (a short walk away).

Enjoy gelato at one of many gelaterias

Gelato from perché no!

Gelato is a classic Italian sweet treat and Florence is one of the best places to try the creamiest and rich-flavoured gelatos. Some gelaterias specialise in unique flavours, some are known for flavoured cones and others offer classic traditionally made gelato. Enjoying a gelato whilst watching the sunset behind the Ponte Vecchio became a late afternoon tradition for us. We recommend Gelateria Perche, however we’re sure most gelaterias in Italy would be pretty good anyway!

Wander around Boboli Gardens

Overlooking Florence from Boboli Gardens

If you have time and prefer to spend it away from the crowds, wander around and explore the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The garden is a huge open air museum with beautiful landscaping, significant fountains and historical sculptures on display. Follow the path and find yourself at peace while being surrounded by lush greenery. As you climb to the top and reach the terrace, you’ll be able to take in the stunning panoramic views of this incredible city and the countryside in the background. Tickets can be purchased at the site.

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Rome: Our Top 10 Things to Do

Tips & Articles

Rome, the Eternal City, needs no introduction. The cultural capital and an essential stop for anyone visiting Italy. These our are top 10 things to do:

Go on a free walking tour

The Colosseum in the distance and street signage in the Monti area

Find your bearings and get immersed in this incredible, historic city by going on a free walking tour. We recommend: Rome’s Ultimate Free Walking Tour

The Colosseum

The exterior of the Colosseum from a different angle and the interior

See one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum. Two thousand years on and this ancient gladiatorial arena is one of the world’s most recognisable buildings in the world and Italy’s top tourist attraction.

Vatican City

A Vatican City guard and the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the smallest independent state in the world, the Vatican City. Vatican City is best known as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is free to visit, however, there is an entrance fee for certain buildings. Check out the following places in the Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Apostolic Palace.

The Pantheon

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

See the former ancient temple and now a church, the Pantheon. This cherished monument holds a fascinating history, art and architecture, which you can learn more about through a guided tour.

Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo in the distance beyond the bridge

See the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is located on the banks of the Tiber River beside the Vatican City. The thick and round structure of the castle is instantly recognisable and impressive from afar. This old fortress offers interesting history and spectacular views of Rome as you climb to the top.

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)

Admiring the artwork at the Borghese Gallery

Admire art in a beautiful space without the crowds at the Borghese Gallery. The gallery features one of the world’s greatest private art collections by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in his former 17th-century garden villa. Ensure you organise reservations and tickets beforehand as it runs on a timed reservation system.

Roman Forum

The remnants of what once was at the Roman Forum

Wander around and admire the ancient ruins at the Roman Forum. This historic site is where several temples, memorials, civic buildings and public spaces were once situated during different times in history. Some highlights include the Arco di Settimio Severo, the Curia, the Tempio di Saturno and the Arco di Tito.

Palatine Hill

Ancient ruins at Palatine Hill

Visit one of the most ancient parts of Rome, Palatine Hill, located at the centre of the Seven Hills of Rome. Discover Rome’s ancient history and take in the spectacular views while walking through this beautifully atmospheric landmark. Some highlights include the Stadio (stadium), the Domus Flavia (imperial palace) and the Orti Farnesiani.

Quartiere Coppede

The distinctive architecture of Quartiere Coppede

Escape the crowds and explore one of Rome’s most enchanting neighbourhoods, Quartiere Coppede. Discover unique architectures, artistic details and visual treats designed by Gino Coppede. Keep an eye out for the impressive entrance archway, an intricate outdoor chandelier, the golden spider on the Palazzo del Ragno, the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs) and the Villini delle Fate (little houses of the fairies).

Explore Trastavere

Locals enjoying an evening drink at Bar San Calisto and Pasta at Da Enzo Al 29

People watch and soak up the ambience in Trastavere whilst trying the many restaurants and bars the area is famous for. A few of our favourites are:


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Venice: A Short Stay ft. Canals & Cichetti


Venice would be our first stop during a 2 week trip to Italy and our expectations were high. Venice is, after all, one of the most romantic cities in the world. It has a fascinating history and beautiful architecture, all sitting on top of a unique city map of winding, maze-like canals that is, unfortunately, in the process of sinking thanks to mass tourism and climate change.

We arrived at 3 am after a delayed flight from Santorini. With no time to make our way into the main part of the city, known as the Sestiere (The part that Venice is famous for).

We spent the night at a nearby guesthouse and hopped on a bus in the morning that would drop us off close to St Lucia Train Station. This station is how most people arrive in Venice. It sits alongside the Grand Canal and where you will easily be able to arrange onward travel.

View Our Summary

Day 1

Day 2

  • Exploring Dorsoduoro — Venice’s University district
  • Cicchetti and gelato excursion throughout town
  • Dinner at La Zucca

Day 3

  • Early morning walk to San Marco and Rialto Market
  • Departure by train to Florence


Day 1: Our first glimpse of Venice

A typical view in Venice

It’s hard to put into words the energy and wonder that surges through you as you look over the Grand Canal for the first time. It’s quite surreal. ‘This is it! This is what you have seen in the photos! And its right in front of you!’ is more or less how my train of thought went.

However, before long you’re zapped back into reality as you notice absurd amounts of tourists pulling along their suitcases and taking photos with their selfie sticks.

One thing that's certain is that everyone is excited to be here. There is a mystical sense in the air of this strange and beautiful city.

Our Bed & Breakfast

Our guesthouse was located a 10-minute walk away (from where we were dropped off) in Cannaregio, in the north-east part of the main town.

Upon arrival at Venice BB Venezia, we were greeted by our incredible host Alessandro. He was quick to offer us some bits and pieces to eat and some beer to drink as we settled in. We were treated to some delicious cheeses and the best bruschetta we have ever eaten (Still to this day, in fact).

Alessandro gave us a map and marked out his recommendations for cafes and restaurants in the area.

Looking back on our stay in Venice we can say with certainty that Alessandro elevated it greatly. Have a look through his reviews on Trip Advisor and you will see that he’s left that impression on a lot of people.

Walking Tour & Tourist Chaos

People, architecture and sculpture work throughout Venice

We had a walking tour booked in with Venice Free Walking Tour (creative name, right?) that afternoon, so after a brief rest, we made our way towards the meeting point in San Marco.

San Marco is the busiest and most touristic area in Venice, being home to the San Marco Basilica and Doge’s Palace. As we crossed the oldest bridge in Venice, The Rialto Bridge, into the area we felt the true impact of mass tourism here. The general area itself is beautiful and not to be missed but we recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds. This is what we ended up doing on our last morning, as the crowds on this day were unbearable.

We made our way to Campo Della Fava, the meeting point, to begin the tour. In expert fashion, our guide took us through backstreets, shortcuts and around the crowds to hidden gems with excellent historic backstory on each place we visited. As usual, we don’t want to spoil too much on what you will uncover throughout but there was one moment in particular where we audibly gasped as a certain structure was revealed.

Bars and Restaurants along a canal in Cannaregio

The tour ended in the Jewish Ghetto. The word ‘Ghetto’ derives its origin from this place. It’s still culturally active as a Jewish centre in Venice, although a lot of the Jewish community live away from this area.

There is an excellent buzz along the main canal in Cannaregio nearby, where you can enjoy cheap cicchetti and spritz with the locals and do some people watching.

Evening boat ride down Grand Canal

Approaching the Rialto Bridge from Alessandros boat

The evening of our first night we got very lucky and were offered a boat ride through the canals by our host Alessandro. A truly unforgettable experience that took us through the Grand Canal and through some quieter canals to his main home.

We stopped in his neighbourhood, hopped off the boat and climbed through his window. He gave us a quick tour of his charming home. His bedroom window sat just a few feet above the canals. He told us stories of his home flooding and that it was a common occurrence. An unfortunate reality of what may become permanent in the upcoming years.

We thanked him and shared a Campari Spritz together at Majer Venezia. He suggested some cicchetti to try and was on his way. Cicchetti are similar to tapas. Essentially small side dishes typically served in bars. We couldn’t have been more thankful and chuffed with what we got to experience thanks to him!

The remainder of our evening consisted of snacking, drinking and strolling towards our guesthouse. The city transforms at night and takes on a slightly eerie feel. It’s delightfully atmospheric and there are no cars or bicycles around. The only sounds you hear are the gentle stream of the canals, laughter as you pass osterias and trattorias and the shuffling footsteps that echo throughout the alleyways.

Day 2: Exploring Dorsoduro — Venice’s University District


We didn’t have much planned (apart from a dinner reservation at La Zucca) for our second day outside of exploring and immersing ourselves in Venice.

We started by heading south towards the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. A quieter area that also serves as the university district. The area is more laid back, offering relaxed and unpretentious bars, cafes and restaurants. Like all of Venice, the architecture is gorgeous and there is rarely a dull moment whilst simply walking.

Aside from getting lost down alleyways numerous times, we managed to make a stop at Cantine del Vino Schiavi, a legendary tavern famous for their offering of cicchetti. The venue was relaxed with locals and tourists alike enjoying their snacks and spritz in the sun. The inside was filled but there was plenty of space outside along the water.

After we made our order we joined the people outside, oblivious to the valuable lesson we were soon to learn. Mere seconds after we put our plate of delicious looking cicchetti alongside the canal a seagull swooped down and consumed an entire one. We were more protective after that.

Overall, we enjoyed the more laid back nature of this student area and would certainly return if we ever came back to Venice, preferably at night time.

More Drinks, Cicchetti and Gelato

Spirits for sale outside Cantine del Vino Schiavi, gelato at Gelateria Alaska and ciccheti at Cantine Do Mori

What we really loved about Venice is how you can just walk everywhere. There are so many different paths to take and places to discover along the way. We made a couple more stops en route back to our guesthouse.

The first one being Cantine Do Mori. This place had a slightly more upmarket feel to it than the previous one. Maybe due to its location as being closer to the main tourist areas. Cantine Do Mori has supposedly been around since 1462, which is mind-blowing to consider that an establishment like this has been providing food and comfort to people for over 550 years. Despite that, it still feels modern.

Next up was Gelateria Alaska, an unassuming gelato shop offering a wide range of interesting flavours. According to the reviews, the quality has seemed to drop off recently, but this was once known as being the best that Venice had to offer in this space. Regardless, we loved it!

Evening Drinks and Dinner at La Zucca

We had made a reservation on our first day at La Zucca. More inclined to snack our way throughout town than jump between fancy osterias, we only planned on doing one whilst here. Our bank accounts would also be thankful for this.

The setting was perfect. A charming establishment sitting alongside a street corner, a small bridge nearby with water flowing below and candlelit tables outside. There was a rather intense man dealing with reservations outside. It was quite a busy night at La Zucca.

Upon sitting down we realised the menu was in Italian. With some help from Google Translate, we managed to find our desired dishes and enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal. Our first proper osteria experience in Italy was a success!

Day 3: Early morning walk to San Marco and Rialto Market

A fisherman in the Rialto Market, the distinct arches of Doge’s Palace and a charming seagull

We had a train reservation at 12:25 pm to take us to Florence. We woke up extra early this morning so we could have a proper walk through San Marco without the crowds.

We highly recommend doing this as the city's beauty truly transcends without the hordes of tourists and selfie sticks. The early morning mist adds another layer of atmosphere and you start to feel like you’re exploring the real Venice.

Gondolas along the pier at Doge’s Palace

We made our way to the San Marco Basilica and Doge’s Palace. There isn’t much to be said regarding the architecture that hasn't been articulated far more effectively in the past, so all we’ll say on that is that they are wonderful and not to be missed.

The Bridge of Sighs is also nearby, and with such an evocative name, we couldn’t miss seeing that either.

In the end, for us, the highlights were the surrounding streets and views of the city from across the Grand Canal. With this last outing, we wrapped up our trip to Venice and gave it one last ‘Ciao!’ before moving onto Florence.

A quiet moment overlooking The Bridge of Sighs

Last thoughts

Overall, we were very satisfied with how we approached Venice. We felt that 2 full days was the perfect amount of time to get a taste of what it has to offer.

The city rests in our minds as a mysterious place that we would love to visit again one day, many years from now. Hopefully, environmental issues don’t cause this beautiful city to vanish forever.

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