Italy is a dream destination for us. The history, the culture, the food, the amazing destinations and la dolce vita. Along with Croatia, it was my must do destination on our Europe trip.
Unfortunately, it is also a more expensive destination so we kept our trip to a short 11 nights. Nowhere near long enough for this brilliant country! It is long enough to have an excellent taste of what Italy has to offer especially since this was my third trip to Italy and we visited many awesome places.
Below in our Italy travel blog, you will find all the information from our trips – our itinerary from our latest trip, our thoughts on Italy for kids, travelling Italy, our budget and our Italy travel tips.
Our trip was in late August.
Day 1 Cinque Terre
We flew from Paris to Pisa and then took two buses and two trains to Corniglia, the middle town in Cinque Terre. It’s easier than it sounds!
Day 2 Cinque Terre
We explored the 4 other towns and splashed at the beach in Monterosso. It truly is the most beautiful place I have ever been.
You can read more about Cinque Terre in our guide.
Day 3 Cinque Terre
The weather wasn’t good so we spent the day exploring more of Corniglia.
Day 4 Pisa
We caught the train back to La Spezia, picked up our rental car and drove to Pisa (me panicking the whole time – I am not used to driving on the right!). We checked out the Duomo and walked around the old town.
We then drove onto Montecatini Terme (in Tuscany between Florence and Pisa) and checked into our Airbnb rental for the next 5 days.
Read more about Pisa, our apartment and the rest of our time in Tuscany.
Day 5 Lucca
We drove to Lucca and spent about half a day exploring here.
Day 6 Pinocchio Park
The kids had an excellent time exploring Pinocchio Park.
Day 7 Siena and San Gimignano
This was a big day! We drove to Siena for most of the day and absolutely loved exploring this city. On the way back to Montecatini Terme, we stopped at San Gimignano which is an absolutely stunning town and spent about an hour and a half here.
Day 8 Florence
J headed to Florence and I gave the kids a much needed down day.
Read more about our time in Tuscany here.
Day 9 Bologna
We had planned to visit San Marino on this day before checking into our hotel, the Savoia Hotel Country House, in Bologna. However, it was going to be a lot of driving, the kids had kept us awake the night before and we hit a bad traffic jam, so it just wasn’t to be.
Instead, we had a great time exploring Bologna and finished the day with a swim in the pool at our hotel.
Day 10 Bologna
We explored more of excellent Bologna. You can read more about it and our hotel here.
Day 11 Venice
We were up early to drive onto Venice, drop our bags at our hotel (the Hotel Mondial), drop off our car hire and then explore Venice!
We had a great day checking out this city. Read more details here.
Day 12 Time to leave :(
After breakfast, we caught our GoOpti shuttle on to new adventures in Slovenia.
Our kids were 3 and 5 when we were in Italy and we found this an easy place to be with them. They were welcome everywhere, they were already familiar with (and loved) the food and it’s an easy place to travel.
We found Italians to be very accommodating of us with little things – like even in a big group of people wanting to get on a train, they would let us on first – I am not sure that has ever happened anywhere else!
We found plenty to interest our kids from taking silly photos at the Leaning Tower of Pisa to watching how things worked in Venice when there are boats instead of cars. However, we did find there weren’t as many attractions in Italy aimed as kids as we have been used to in other destinations. They did absolutely love Pinocchio Park though.
All in all we are very happy that we came to Italy with kids and I think it will be an even better experience next time we come, when they are a bit older.
Italy is such a popular destination that it is very east to travel to Italy. There are flights, buses, trains or you can drive from neighbouring countries.
We tried a new service when we travelled from Italy to Slovenia – GoOpti. They have an interesting approach where you can pay for private or shared transfers and how much you pay depends on how flexible you can be. We found them cost effective, comfortable and efficient.
Getting around Italy is also easy and you can use all the options mentioned above. We used a combination of trains and car hire.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to hire a car or not. They are surprising cheap (we booked on Carrentals.co.uk), but I was very worried about driving on the right hand side of the road, narrow roads, Italian drivers, driving a manual and that I would accidentally drive into a ZLT – centres of cities often do not allow cars unless you have a permit.
In the end, it was the right choice and it was the best way to get around Italy for us. The driving did not turn out to be a problem after the first couple of days. The main plus was that it meant that we could see so much more. Going to multiple destinations in a day is just too hard for us with kids without a car. You can read some of my driving tips in Italy here.
Trains are also a great way to travel around Italy and we had a very positive experience on the trains we took. I would also look into using GoOpti for Italian travel now I know about them.
We used a combination of holiday rentals via Airbnb and hotels. This worked well for us. Airbnb was usually cheaper but hotels can be more convenient. We especially liked our budget hotel in Bologna, Savoia Hotel Country House, which came with a pool.
You can read more information about our Italy accommodation in our individual guides. If you are travelling to Rome, read our list of the top 10 family hotels in Rome.
I will probably cop some abuse for this, but I actually was not a huge fan of the food. I think I must have been ordering badly or going to the wrong places.
Initially I thought it was great, but over time it got to me. I generally stuck to pizza, pasta and risotto since I am vegetarian. There were plenty of options which is great. However, I found the food either had too much cheese or was very oily. My stomach started to turn up at the thought of it. J felt much the same way. I don’t remember this being a problem on my previous trips.
The kids just thought it was all great although it could be tough as Z is dairy intolerant and there is a lot of dairy used in general.
What I am a massive fan of is the gelato! So good!! We had it just about every day. I also loved the wine.
We did not keep to our AUD$110 a day budget here at all – we did not even try! It would not have been possible.
Since we were letting the budget go during our time in Italy, we did not calculate our exact costs. However, it would have been no more than 180 Euros a day which I think is an absolute bargain.
How could we do anything but love Italy?
It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and it’s easy to see why. There are so many fabulous attractions and it is a lovely place to just be! My favourite moments would have been when we were sitting at an outdoor restaurant, sipping a glass of wine and just taking it all in.
It really is la dolce vita in Italy.
Cinque Terre, in particular, just utterly blew me away. I have been to over 90 countries, a zillion places and NOWHERE has been more beautiful or perfect for me. I love it.
Apart from my disappointment of the food, I really have no complaints at all and I was sad when it was time to leave. I am sure it won’t be too long before we head back again though!
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