How to plan your Italian holiday

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries to bask in as you enjoy your summer. We took a ten day trip and while it was not really cheap by any means, we also did not break the bank. Europe turns out to be more expensive for us Indians mainly on account of the vast difference in our currency value and the flights which tend to be super expensive. You need to use your own judgement on what you are happy spending a little more on and where you would rather save a penny. We went with the trusted airbnb hosts and chose places that had better connectivity because we wanted to make sure we were not left lugging heavy suitcases and walking long distances at night. We also spent quite a bit of time researching flights and ended up working our way up to the capital even though we could just as easily have begun from Rome. I shall refer to how it made more sense for us as we go on.  We found eating out and drinking to be quite at par what we would pay in Bandra for a meal, sometimes even cheaper. Same for the money we paid using public transport and what it would cost us to uber to any part of Bombay. I have tried to write down our itinerary to the best of my memory and hopefully it shall help you plan yours.

Our trip started with booking our flight. We took a flight to Rome via Amsterdam. This was via Jet, which is now unfortunately, not an option. At the Rome airport, we got ourselves some water, coffee and snacks. We also made use of the lavatory. Much more comfortable than the plane as always. I’m sure there are plenty of others to choose from still. From Rome, we had a shorter flight on a much smaller plane to Naples. We took the flight  because it worked out to cost us as much as train travel would have. We also chose to begin our trip from the South instead of Rome because it was going to be cheaper for us when we worked out the transport costs. We also ended up saving an entire day of travel.

Once we reached Naples, we got our first taste of Neapolitan pizza and proceeded to get tickets for our bus to Sant Agnello.

I am prone to getting migraines and TMJ pain on long haul flights so if you suffer from anything like this, make sure to keep your NSAIDs and muscle relaxants with you. Ditto for neck pillow. Stay hydrated because long haul flights can be very dehydrating.  We already had the bus tickets but we needed print outs and we got those at a place right opposite the bus stop. You can save yourself the hassle and take printouts before you are due to travel. We took the Autolinee curreri viaggi shuttle bus service. While the end destination was Sorrento, we had to get down at the Sant Agnello stop. It took us around 20 Euros per head. We had made prior reservations through  airbnb for our stay. Our host Anna had been extremely helpful with giving us detailed instructions on where to get off the bus and had sent us the map and her address with landmarks. We spent the next two and half days exploring the local area as well as Sorrento. If you need more details on the town and map, once you get to Sorrento, they have a tourist centre with extremely helpful staff. We got our local sim with their help. We chose to get the TIM and it served us well. While the network works fine almost everywhere, it never hurts to save maps offline while you travel. We took the local train service to get to Sorrento and back each day. Again, our host helped us with maps and instructions. The train we took was the Circumvesuviana. Always check the passes for trains. If you intend to stay for a longer time or take multiple trips, as you shall see when I tell you of our travels further on, it tends to work out cheaper and is much more convenient. Even when you are taking the longer train rides from one city to the other, always check if booking ahead will get you a better price. And again, always try to book through the government sites instead of private ticketing sites. They might charge you more than the government controlled railways sites.

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Locals making these beautiful designs out of fresh flowers as we made our way to the bus station on our way to positano from sant agnello.

The third day we had to leave for Positano. We took the bus from the local bus station to reach our next airbnb. We had researched enough to get a place right opposite the bus station.  Whilst in Positano, we again took the local buses to get to and from the Amalfi coast. Keep in mind that the steep stairs of Positano can get to be a bit too much if you’re not used to walking. We had a really good laugh with quite a big bunch of tourists, all of whom, like us,  had decided to walk up the stairs. On the third day we had to leave for Florence. This turned out to be our longest, most tiresome journey. We had plans of taking a cab to Sorrento but our host absolutely refused to let us pay for an expensive cab ride. In fact, he helped us get on a SITA bus to Sorrento. From Sorrento, we took the Circumvesuviana to Naples. From Naples to Florence we took the fast train, Trainitalia was the name of the one we took.

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The view at the bus stand as we waited for our local bus in Positano.

We reached our Airbnb pretty soon, because as in all the other places, we had made sure to take places as close to the train station or bus stops as possible.  In Florence, you don’t really need any transport apart from your feet. After three days in Florence, we had to move on to Cinque Terre. We took the fast train to La spezia. From La spezia we took the local train to Vernazza.

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Our train to Florence

Once in Vernazza, we had a short walk to our Airbnb. To get around in Cinque Terre, we got a pass made which would allow us any number of trips between the five towns. This is so convenient that I cannot stress on it enough. Saves you the hassle of having to spend any time booking tickets and is cheaper than getting fresh tickets each time. After a most fabulous two days, we left for our final destination – Rome. We took the local from Vernazza to La spezia and took the fast train to Rome.

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Walking out of the train station In Cinque Terre
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The Cinque Terre Pass which helps you get around

 

In Rome our airbnb was again very close to the station and with clear directions from our host, finding it was no problem. We got around in Rome using the local train  and while crowded, it was pretty easy to do. There are also plenty of hop on hop off buses as well as local buses that you can take. After two days, we took a bus to the airport. Again, we had plans of taking a cab and even booked it, but the cabbie went incommunicado at the very last minute. Not so very different from India, you see ;). This is what you need to be prepared for during travel. Last minute hiccups which cannot be predicted and have to handled with a pinch of salt. Our flight to Bombay was via Paris and through one of the most mismanaged airports we have been in . Since this was the only time I have been at the Charles De Gaulle airport, fingers crossed it was just a bad day/ time. We did manage to get a ten minute break to pick up some chocolates for family and make a quick visit to the washroom but that’s about it. Whatever else we saw was from a never ending crazy queue. We were lucky enough to get to our flight on time but we saw quite a few other people miss getting on theirs because of sheer mismanagement. Again. just a small reminder that it is best to have your international travel insured because you never really know what might go wrong. While travel is always fun, sometimes you have to be prepared for sudden changes in plan that you have no control over, and make sure to not let it put a damper on your holiday.

Hope this helps you plan that much awaited trip to Italy!

 

P.S : Please feel free to ask me if there is any way at all we can help you plan your trip better. Also, there are a lot of videos from our trip that are uploaded on my instagram page : shwetaa358 . Please have a look.

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