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Italy
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Italy


Italy is among the top 5 most visited countries in the world. Only France, USA, China, and Spain are above. When you travel to such country, you need to consider some nuances that are not relevant to most other countries.

Route

The number of interesting places in Italy is huge and it's impossible to visit even half of them in one trip. So you need to prepare the plan of the trip. When choosing between public transport and rented car, we selected the last one. The car was rented here, although Italy has all major rental companies.

We decided to divide Italy into many parts. First time we visited the northern part of the country and Rome in 2 weeks by car, next visited Sicily by public transport. Even with the car we were able to see only the most known places. In Italy you can come even to one region for 2 weeks and there'll be enough to see, believe me.

Transportation

If in Germany we could reach 90% of the planned locations by train, in Italy you should often use a bus. It will be quite difficult for those who don't speak foreign languages, as there's no common websites with all kinds of free transport (like bahn.de). You have to look for websites of regional carriers, many of which are not translated into English.

Roads

All highways in Italy are paid. Price depends not on mileage, but rather on the construction costs as in the mountains we paid more. The highways cost us about 200 euros in 2 weeks.

Parking

There are free urban parkings (white lines), paid (blue), and yellow (not for you). The blue lines are also free on weekends. Besides, always look out for signs "Only for residents".

You cannot enter the central parts of cities without special permission. It's not easy to understand where the prohibited area begins. Look out for signs "Zona a Traffico Limitato".

Mobile Telephony and Internet

There are three main operators: Tim, Wind, and Vodafone. We bought Tim and paid about 40 euros for two SIM cards and prepaid Internet volume.

Museums

The number of tourists in Italy is huge, so it's important to make a list of desired museums and buy tickets online. The most famous museums are:
 - Uffizi Gallery, Florence (tickets)
 - The Last Supper by Leonardo, Milan (tickets)
 - The Colosseum and the Roman Forum, Rome (tickets)
 - Galleria Borghese, Rome (tickets)
 - The Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome (tickets)
 - Doge's Palace, Venice (tickets, you need Museums of St. Mark's Square)

Our route around the north of Italy (part 1 and part 2 on the map):

Day 1 - Venice
Day 2 - Verona, Sirmione, Malcesine
Day 3 - Varone Waterfall, Milan
Day 4 - Courmayeur
Day 5 - Fenis Castle, San Remo
Day 6 - Monaco, Genoa
Day 7 - Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscan Riviera, Florence
Day 8 - San Gimignano, Siena, Bagni San Filippo, viewpoint near Sorano, Pitigliano
Day 9-10 - Rome, Vatican
Day 11 - Marmore Falls, Park of Monsters in Bomarzo, Bagnoregio
Day 12 - San Marino, Rimini
Day 13 - Bologna

Day 1 - Venice

We flew to the Treviso airport, where we hired a car and drove towards Venice. To save money, we stayed overnight in Mestre, from where we went by train to Venice (10 minutes) and walked there until late evening.


The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge Yuriy Buriak


Two symbols of Venice: Rialto Bridge and gondola
Two symbols of Venice: Rialto Bridge and gondola Yuriy Buriak

Day 2 - Verona, Sirmione, Malcesine

In the morning we went to Verona.

Verona
Verona Yuriy Buriak

Then we went in the direction of the Garda Lake, the most beautiful Italian lake, which is quite popular with tourists. At first we visited Sirmione.

Sirmione Castle
Sirmione Castle Yuriy Buriak

And then we went by a scenic road along the lake to Malcesine, where we had booked the next hotel.

Malcesine
Malcesine wikipedia.org


Malcesine
Malcesine Yuriy Buriak

Day 3 - Varone Waterfall, Milan

The next morning we had planned to climb the mountain by cable car in Malcesine. But we had to change our plans because of the rain and drove around the lake to the interesting Varone waterfall, which is located in a grotto.

Varone Falls (Cascate del Varone)
Varone Falls (Cascate del Varone) Yuriy Buriak

After the waterfall we continued to move along the west side of the lake, a place where the best episode of the "Quantum of Solace" movie was shot.

After lunch we came to Milan, settled into the hotel and went for a walk around the city.

Duomo Cathedral
Duomo Cathedral Yuriy Buriak


First seven-star hotel in the world - Seven Star Galleria
First seven-star hotel in the world - Seven Star Galleria Yuriy Buriak


Tram in Milan
Tram in Milan Yuriy Buriak

Day 4 - Courmayeur

In the morning we visited the "The Last Supper" fresco in Milan and went into the mountains. The road to Courmayeur is long and picturesque. Having passed through the tunnel under Mont Blanc, we went to the mountain Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m) by cableway from Chamonix. Then we returned to Courmayeur and walked through the town.

Courmayeur
Courmayeur Yuriy Buriak


Courmayeur - Mont Blanc view from the hotel window
Courmayeur - Mont Blanc view from the hotel window Yuriy Buriak

Day 5 - Fenis Castle, San Remo

On this day we travelled to the coast in San Remo and visited the Fenis Castle on the way.

Fenis Castle
Fenis Castle Yuriy Buriak

And in San Remo we walked around the city and rode a bike on the best bike path we've ever seen.

San Remo
San Remo Yuriy Buriak


Our hotel in San Remo
Our hotel in San Remo Yuriy Buriak


Cycling Riviera bike path
Cycling Riviera bike path Yuriy Buriak

In San Remo we were surprised by a "generous" cheese plate in one of the local trattorias.

Cheese plate in San Remo
Cheese plate in San Remo Yuriy Buriak

Day 6 - Monaco, Genoa

In the morning we went to Monaco and passed through the territory of France.

View of Monaco
View of Monaco Yuriy Buriak


View of Monaco from the old city
View of Monaco from the old city Yuriy Buriak


View of the harbor and old city in Monaco
View of the harbor and old city in Monaco Yuriy Buriak


Expensive cars in Monaco
Expensive cars in Monaco Yuriy Buriak

The next city was Genoa. We didn't expect to see such beautiful architecture in the city. Here we tried the unusual and delicious Spaghetti Genovese.

Ferrari Square in Genoa
Ferrari Square in Genoa Yuriy Buriak


Garibaldi Street
Garibaldi Street Yuriy Buriak


Port of Genoa
Port of Genoa Yuriy Buriak

Day 7 - Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscan Riviera, Florence

In the morning we went in the direction of Florence and visited several places on the way. First, we stopped to see the Leaning Tower.

Tower of Pisa
Tower of Pisa Yuriy Buriak

Then we swam at the beach in Marina di Massa, one of the towns of the Tuscan Riviera.

Pier in Marina di Massa
Pier in Marina di Massa Yuriy Buriak

After lunch we came to Florence and walked around the city until the evening. Here we faced another feature of the local cuisine - siesta. At lunch all cafes and restaurants were closed, so we had to wait until 4 pm.

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio Yuriy Buriak


Views of the Ponte Vecchio from the Michelangelo Square
Views of the Ponte Vecchio from the Michelangelo Square Yuriy Buriak


Basilica of San Lorenzo
Basilica of San Lorenzo Yuriy Buriak

Day 8 - San Gimignano, Siena, Bagni San Filippo, viewpoint near Sorano, Pitigliano

All day long we traveled around one of the most beautiful and famous regions of Italy - Tuscany. This region is quite popular with motorists because of the deserted roads and picturesque landscapes. Come to Rome, hire a car and hit the road.

Driving in Tuscany
Driving in Tuscany Yuriy Buriak


Tuscany
Tuscany Yuriy Buriak

First we arrived at San Gimignano, the town of medieval skyscrapers.

San Gimignano
San Gimignano Yuriy Buriak


San Gimignano
San Gimignano Yuriy Buriak

Then we saw one of the best medieval squares of Italy - in Siena.

Siena
Siena Yuriy Buriak


Siena
Siena Yuriy Buriak

After that we stopped to swim in the thermal pool in Bagni San Filippo.

Bagni San Filippo
Bagni San Filippo Yuriy Buriak

And in the evening we visited one place, about which we had accidentally learned from the Internet. This is the place on the map, it offers beautiful views of Sorano and is located exactly 2 km from Sorano. Look for a small parking lot and the church. Here you can also explore the famous Etruscan tunnels.

Sorano
Sorano Yuriy Buriak


Sorano
Sorano Yuriy Buriak


Yuriy Buriak


Etruscan tunnels
Etruscan tunnels Yuriy Buriak

We stopped overnight in the neighboring town of Pitigliano and admired the evening lights of the old town.

Pitigliano
Pitigliano Yuriy Buriak

Day 9-10 - Rome, Vatican

The next two days we walked around Rome and Vatican.

Colosseum
Colosseum Yuriy Buriak


View of Rome from the Altare della Patria
View of Rome from the Altare della Patria Yuriy Buriak


Altare della Patria
Altare della Patria Yuriy Buriak


Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain Yuriy Buriak


View of the Piazza del Popolo
View of the Piazza del Popolo Yuriy Buriak


Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Yuriy Buriak


St. Peter's Square
St. Peter's Square Yuriy Buriak


Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum Yuriy Buriak


View of the St. Peter's Square
View of the St. Peter's Square Yuriy Buriak

Day 11 - Marmore Falls, Park of Monsters in Bomarzo, Bagnoregio

This day we went to the east coast and visited three interesting places. First we stopped at Marmore, the tallest man-made waterfall in the world.

Marmore waterfall
Marmore waterfall Yuriy Buriak


Marmore waterfall
Marmore waterfall Yuriy Buriak

Then we visited the unusual park of monsters in Bomarzo.

Park of Monsters in Bomarzo
Park of Monsters in Bomarzo Yuriy Buriak


Park of Monsters in Bomarzo
Park of Monsters in Bomarzo Yuriy Buriak


Park of Monsters in Bomarzo
Park of Monsters in Bomarzo Yuriy Buriak

Next place was Bagnoregio, the most beautiful rocky town in Italy.

Bagnoregio
Bagnoregio Yuriy Buriak


Bagnoregio
Bagnoregio Yuriy Buriak

We spent the night in a small town of Badia Al Pino near Arezzo. Here we finally found authentic Italian pizza. This is how it happens: we had traveled nearly 3,000 km across the country and after that finally found the real tasty Italian cuisine.

Day 12 - San Marino, Rimini

Before noon we visited San Marino.

Fortress of San Marino
Fortress of San Marino Yuriy Buriak


Panorama of the coast from San Marino
Panorama of the coast from San Marino Yuriy Buriak


Government Palace of San Marino
Government Palace of San Marino Yuriy Buriak

And then settled in Rimini and had a rest there.

Rimini
Rimini Yuriy Buriak


Rimini
Rimini Yuriy Buriak

Day 13 - Bologna

In the morning we went back to the airport of Treviso and visited Bologna on the way.

Tower in Bologna
Tower in Bologna Yuriy Buriak


Arcades in Bologna
Arcades in Bologna Yuriy Buriak

Our route around Sicily (november)

Day 1 - Palermo
Day 2 - Erice, Palermo
Day 3 - Cefalu
Day 4 - Taormina
Day 5 - Taormina
Day 6 - Catania
Day 7 - Syracuse, Catania
Day 8 - Etna
Day 9 - Palermo

Day 1 - Palermo

Arrived in Palermo, take the bus to the center, settled in the hotel and went for a walk around the city.

Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak

In the evening went to the mountain of Monte Pellegrino, watched the sunset over Palermo.

Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak

Day 2 - Erice, Palermo

In the morning went on the bus to Trapani and then by cable car to Erice.

Erice
Erice Yuriy Buriak


Erice
Erice Yuriy Buriak


Erice
Erice Yuriy Buriak

Returned to Palermo and strolled around the city.

Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak

In the evening met the sunset on the terrace of the hotel.

Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak

Day 3 - Cefalu

In the morning walked on the promenade.

Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak


Palermo
Palermo Yuriy Buriak

On the train got to Cefalu. Settled in the hotel and spent the evening in the old town.

Cefalu
Cefalu Yuriy Buriak


Cefalu
Cefalu Yuriy Buriak

Day 4 - Taormina

In the morning strolled on the seafront of Cefalu

Cefalu
Cefalu Yuriy Buriak

By train and taxi got to the hotel in Taormina. Walked around the city and watched sunset over the Etna volcano.

Taormina
Taormina Yuriy Buriak


View of Mount Etna from Taormina
View of Mount Etna from Taormina Yuriy Buriak

Day 5 - Taormina

Early in the morning met the sunrise on a viewpoint near the hotel.

Sunrise in Taormina
Sunrise in Taormina Yuriy Buriak

All day walked around Taormina. Went by taxi to Castelmola and returned back on foot.

Ancient Theatre in Taormina
Ancient Theatre in Taormina Yuriy Buriak


Taormina
Taormina Yuriy Buriak


 The observation deck in Castelmola
The observation deck in Castelmola Yuriy Buriak


Taormina
Taormina Yuriy Buriak

In the evening again watched the sunset over Etna.

View of Mount Etna from Taormina
View of Mount Etna from Taormina Yuriy Buriak

Day 6 - Catania

In the morning went at the terrace of the hotel to see the morning Taormina.

Taormina
Taormina Yuriy Buriak


Taormina
Taormina Yuriy Buriak

A taxi got to the train station and went to Catania.

Catania
Catania Yuriy Buriak

In the evening we wanted to take pictures of Etna from the terrace of our hotel in Catania, but the volcano was hidden behind the clouds.

Catania
Catania Yuriy Buriak

Day 7 - Syracuse, Catania

In the morning went to Syracuse, where spent half a day in the old town

Syracuse
Syracuse Yuriy Buriak


Syracuse
Syracuse Yuriy Buriak

Returned to Catania

Day 8 - Etna

Early in the morning went to the Mount Etna, where spent the whole day.

Etna volcano
Etna volcano Yuriy Buriak


Etna volcano
Etna volcano Yuriy Buriak


Etna volcano
Etna volcano Yuriy Buriak

Day 9 - Palermo

In the morning, got to Palermo by train and then went to the airport by bus.

Useful links:

http://www.trenitalia.com - Italy's railways, schedule, prices
http://www.italotreno.it - ​​another website of railways, competitor of Trenitalia 
http://www.seat61.com - very useful website about the railways in Italy
http://www.slowtrav.com/italy - a lot of useful information about Italy
http://www.ilmeteo.it - ​​weather in Italy and archive of past years
http://www.mit.gov.it - ​​planned strikes (oddly enough, it's true for Italy)
http://www.autostrade.it - ​​Italy's roads, you can see the traffic on the roads, toll rates on the highways, and exact distances.
http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps - map
http://www.agriturismo.net - agrotourism, search and placement
http://www.camping.it/english - campsites in Italy
http://www.summerinitaly.com - rentals in Italy
http://www.homeaway.co.uk - British website with apartments in Italy
http://www.bed-and-breakfast-in-italy.com - cheap hotels in Italy
http://www.italialodging.com - accommodation booking system with many small apartments
http://www.italyrents.com - apartments and villas
http://www.initalia.it - ​​another website with hotels
http://www.andyhayler.com - reviews of expensive restaurants in Italy
http://www.gamberorosso.it - rated restaurants, you need to register
http://www.navigazionelaghi.it - navigation on the lakes of Italy
http://edemsami.com - Here you can download audio guides to major cities.
http://www.italyguides.it - virtual tours and circular panoramas
http://www.outletmgz.com - outlets of Italy
http://www.communitywalk.com - shopping centers of Italy
http://www.virtualelba.it - ​​website about the Elba island

Some movies in which you can see Italy:

Angels & Demons (2009) - the most popular movie about Italy. Despite the fact that the story is connected with the Vatican, all the major events are taking place in Rome. There are many fan sites, which describe the routes in the capital along the filming locations (video).

The Godfather (1972) - one of the best films in the history was shot in Sicily. Filming locations have become cult, crowds of tourists visit Savoca village because of the famous Bar Vitelli, where the film was shot (video).

Life is Beautiful
(1997) - tragicomedy by Roberto Benigni which has received all the major awards. The film is shot entirely in different beautiful cities of Italy (video).

Under the Tuscan Sun
(2003) - romantic comedy, filmed in the most beautiful region of Italy and received the "Golden Globe" for Best Actress (video).

Way of the Dragon
(1972) - best film with Bruce Lee, shot entirely in Italy. The most impressive moment is the final battle with Chuck Norris in the Coliseum (video).

Passion of the Christ (2004) - historical drama by Mel Gibson, grossed $600 million with a budget of $30 million. Filmed in Italy (video).

The English Patient
(1996) - drama by Anthony Minghella, which received 9 Oscars and a bunch of other prizes. Filmed in Tunisia and Italy (video).

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) - another famous film by Anthony Minghella, a psychological thriller about a swindler, filmed entirely in Italy (video).

Cliffhanger (1993) - action adventure with Sylvester Stallone, shot entirely in Italy. Must see for mountain lovers (video).

To Rome with Love (2012) - Woody Allen's romantic comedy, filmed in Italy (video).

Casanova (2005) - adventure romance with Heath Ledger, filmed in Venice (video).

Quantum of Solace (2009) - a smart chase in the beginning of the film was shot on the northwestern shore of Lake Garda (video). Actually, almost every Bond movie has scenes shot in Italy.

The Tourist (2010) - movie with Johnny and Angelina Jolie about tourist in Italy who accidentally appeared between gangsters and police.

The American (2010) - drama with George Clooney, except the first scenes filmed entirely in Italy.

Name of the Rose (1986) - historical detective story with Sean Connery and young Christian Slater, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Umberto Eco. Action on the story takes place in a monastery in northern Italy.

Star Wars. Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) - a royal palace on the planet Naboo is a Villa del Balbianello on the island of Como (video).

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) - the events of the film starts in Venice.

Teleport
(2008) - one of the major scenes of the movie filmed in the Coliseum.



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