Italy…

Let’s go on holiday abroad. Where should we go? Italy is close, it’s beautiful as well. Then let’s go to Italy!

It is uncertain whether it is because it’s close to us, or that it looks like us or even because of the style of the country that makes us curious,
It is one of the first countries that come to mind of those who plan to go abroad. But how couldn’t it be? it is a wonderful place surrounded by the sea from all sides where we can go swimming, do nature tourism in the north of the Alp mountains which are drenched in oxygen, a place where you can see two other countries in one , each one of it’s cities is a separate piece of art.

So let’s start talking about our memories
First of all, let’s agree on that Italy does not really consist of a few cities that we all hear about . Big Italy tour, small tour, whatever the name of the tour was .
those are just a few of the must-see places.
But what I really think is if you want to say I went to Italy, I lived Italy and I liked Italy those tours are not enough. There’s so much more to see, therefore, I suggest you to plan your own tour by renting a car, which I  always recommend, this offers you the best opportunity to travel all the country. Deal ? Ok deal !

We start going south to this beautiful country with our rental car from the Austrian Alps. Our plan in Italy is to go down right the boots then go up left and continue to France.

We continue from the Alpine Mountains to the sea level, through a wonderful view and lush forests. After a while the ‘Dolmabahçe’ kind of roads are replaced by highways. The highways in Italy are quite a lot and extremely comfortable. Its usage is paid as it is in our country.

When you insert and remove your credit card at the box office, it gives you a ticket, and that’s all you have to do. Do not leave without hearing the “arrivederci” good wishes that comes from the vending machine which Özlem liked it so much.

Our first stop is Venice, the pearl of the North. A city which is formed from parts on the mainland and islands attached to the mainland. It draws us like a magnet with its unique channels. We reach our house, which we rented on the mainland. We meet our host and we start to get those very valuable tips.

The place we want to see the most is, of course, the part surrounded by water and connected to the mainland by a bridge. With the warning of our host, we park our car in a parking called green park and reach the island by buses passing right in front of it. Fortunately we did this, because the island is so small, and there is a bridge to it, traffic is heavy and the parking lots on the island are incredibly exorbitant and it is almost impossible to find a place. In this way, we got to the island, saving both time and money.

It is as if the whole world is here! Very crowded, but there is enough beauty for everyone. We’re heading towards Marco square. Whoever you ask about it, shows it to you , but the small pointer arrows will help you the best.

As we pass through the narrow streets we relax by coming out to this big and magnificent square. The first thing we see; luxury cafes, bell tower, St. Basilica of Marco, Palace of the Dukes casino games and of course the pigeons. We immediately sit down for a coffee in a place we liked. Drinking coffee while watching people from all over the world is really enjoyable here.

By passing the Basilica of the Dukes, the Palace of the Dukes (don’t you) which has kilometres long line, we go up to the bell tower, which has the less long line. A great place to see Venice from a bird’s eye view. We continue our tour in narrow streets. We arrive at the Rialto bridge, which we were looking for. One of the biggest and most spectacular bridges in Venice.

It’s time for the Gondola tour. The price of all gondolas is standard. Also there are no pirate gondolas either. So you can go to any of the lines. Here, the price id given for the gondola it’s self, not per person. You either ride as 2 people or the maximum of 8 people. In our time, we shared the price, which was 80 euro, with a Far Eastern couple. You can also do the same and find yourself a friend while waiting in the line to share it with them. After visiting the gondolas place, we return to our home from the road we came from and have a well rest.

The next day we start our day by purchasing our tickets from one of the easily found piers to Murano and Burano, two cute and beautiful islands. The colourful houses, glasswork and gifts on these two islands are really worth seeing.  We turn those upside down.  You can’t go back without seeing this wonderful city at night right? We are on our way to the house by fulfilling this plan, accompanied by wonderful lighting and street artists. There are roads waiting for us to go through the next day.

We jump in our car in the morning coolness.  Our direction is San Marino, one of the micro states.  We reach this small country at noon.  This 60 square kilometer country is built on mountains and can be entered without any borders.  The castle, which is the symbol of the country, welcomes you with all its glory as you approach.  After a short climb, we enter San Marino as if we were in a town in Italy.

So ,What to do here? you can climb to the castle by teleferic, and have a full view from above, walk around the streets of the castle, buy some of the products that are relatively cheaper than in Italy and perhaps you can do what we liked the most which is printing a San Marino stamp on your passport for a very small amount of money by going to any tourist office. This tiny country has very sweet people who never see themselves as Italians. We chat with some of these beautiful people and have a good time then leave.

Our route is our summer camping on the Adriatic Sea coast, which I have already reserved. It is already hot, we are a little tired too, we are impatient to reach the sea as soon as possible. We reach Camping Bellamare around Porto Recanati in the evening and immediately set up our tent. By saying that we deserve to go swimming now, we get in before the sunset.

The campground is extremely modern and fun. There are plenty of activities and playgrounds for children. It does not only have a beach but also a huge pool. We became friends with our neighbours in the tent next to us, and spend 3 beautiful days, getting enough of the sea and the sun we leave to continue our route.

Our Direction now is Bari. We have a 5-hour road. Again, we set off in the morning and continue on our way with a wonderful Adriatic view. Bari is a city in southern Italy. It is not as touristic and crowded compared to and other cities. But it is not a problem for us anyway because we are here to see the town of Alberobello which is built from wonderful houses 50 km further south, and not for Bari.

After resting for a while, we continue our way by visiting the Grotta Palazzese hotel and its magnificent restaurant built on a rock, where the price is expensive for us, but may be suitable for you. This place can be really suitable for marriage proposals, trust me 🙂

We reach Alberobello, a wonderful place, or we can call it the village of the Smurfs. The view we encounter immediately washes off all our tiredness after this long day. Living it’s night, the next day after breakfast we visit the narrow streets and different houses of this beautiful place. Since this place is in a faraway location, do not think it is not preferred or unknown, it is like we are the only ones who didn’t know about it before. After spending two wonderful nights, Fortunately, we have came to the west coast of Amalfi.

Southern Italy is another beautiful place. Through the numerous olive trees that accompany us along the way, we reach another hidden paradise of the country. Amalfi coast. Imagine a mountain range, and the tip of the mountain goes down to the sea. And imagine the little places that are formed by beautiful, colorful houses overlapping the foothills of this mountain, and welcome to the Amalfi coast.

Believe for a while I couldn’t find the words to describe this amazing view formed by the towns along the coastline. After an already wonderful road, reaching such a beautiful place immediately increases our happiness. The place we will stay in since I wanted it to especially feel like it’s over the sea is Furore, a high place.

We immediately park our car, settle in our room, jump to the blue buses and go to Amalfi without losing any time. It’s Cathedral, beach, bazaar, fountain etc. their beauty fascinates us. We travel all around, regardless of the crowd, for the first time we have the opportunity to see the famous lemons that are unique here and each of them can reach the size of a large melon. They are just like the lemons we know but one can weight a few kilos.

Because of their plentiness those lemons are the main gifts material. Lemon soaps, creams, shampoos and more. The liqueurs they call Limoncello are one of the most demanded products.

Next day we went after place that I saw its photo on a magazine cover and I liked. Here Villa Rufolo is the host of the place we are looking for. The Villa itself is worth seeing and those cute pine trees posing in front of the sea, amazing!

well and of course bringing Ozlem here means lots and lots of photos. Then as we do every day we grab our ice cream and head to Priano. On our way we noted Cala di Furore as the point where we’ll go swimming. In Priano, we reward ourselves with a nice dinner after our longing themed photos with bougainvillea in the background.

Its time for positano, it might be the star of this place, but it really deserves to be ! It extremely romantic and photogenic. In this respect, it is more crowded and naturally more expensive compared to other places but travelling around and taking photos is free.

While we are here, we are wondering about Capri Island, which is the popular spot of jet society, but we are surprised by the exaggeration prices of ferries so we settle for greeting the island from afar.

Now it’s time to say goodbye to the Amalfi coast. Özlem is extremely happy because of her beautiful photos. Next is the ancient city of Pompeii. On the way to Pompeii on the coastline, we pass the city of Gragnano, the main place of Italian pasta, which we learned later but could not stop by. If you are a pasta lover like us, we couldn’t eat it, but you should definitely stop by, maybe eat it for us?

With all its glory from a distance, the Mount Vesuvius begins to show itself to us. We understand that we are approaching Pompei then. We park our car right in front of the carrefour and get out of the parking lot tearing up because of the exorbitant price of the parking and then continue to enter the ancient city. It is much bigger and crowded than we thought. It has a different atmosphere and an impressive side. But my advice to you is to do research and watch documentaries before going to Pompei. It really helps a lot.

We go around checking everything closely, then jump into our car and immediately enter the highway that takes you right to the entrance of Pompei and head towards the capital city, Rome, which is the first think to come to mind when it comes to Italy. We pass the city of Naples this time with feeling bad, as we know we will come here once again! Sleeping along the way, Özlem opens her eyes in the parking lot of our hotel in Rome and our Roman adventure begins.

After a nice breakfast, we start to visit this city, which is the heart of Italy. We were always thought that history is in Istanbul. It turns out that half of them were in Rome. In this city, which hosted the Roman Empire, one of the most rooted histories in the world; There are numerous masterpieces such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, Villa Borghese, Campo de Fiori, Navona Square, Castel Sant’angelo.

Besides so many historical monuments, the Vatican, the center of the Catholic sect of the Christian religion, is also located in Rome. You can find Vatican, another country behind those walls. When we say a country, don’t you think of a huge place and a wide area, this is a small place where you can go all over the country in a few hours. But if you are interested in history, art and architecture, few hours will not be enough for you, know that in advance.

There is something that you should be careful about here; Entrance to churches in the Vatican is prohibited for women, men, wearing revealing clothes such as short shorts, skirts etc. You will be asked to cover up with any cloth, if you do not have it with you, you are given an apron and then allowed to go inside. After waiting so much in the queue, no one likes to get this surprise at the door of course so pay attention to this! Our outfit were approved and we entered the church. If you are thinking where else to go; the San Pietro Basilica, the Vatican Museums, (especially the Sistine Chapel, where you cannot take your eyes off the ceiling) and the wonderful Vatican Gardens.

I strongly advise you to buy the entrance tickets from the internet in advance, or you will return with only an outside view. Before I forget do not return without seeing the Vatican soldiers consisting of only Swiss Catholics and taking photos with them wearing colorful uniforms.

It is such a torture to travel by car and search for a parking lot in the city, which becomes inoperable due to the overpopulated tourists population in the summer. So the best way to travel Rome is to walk. We walked on foot until we got tired, then we took a break for food and ice cream and then walked over and over and completed Rome by ourselves.

We continue to go north, from the left of the boot. Florence is waiting for us. But before we will come across Siena which we could never ignore because of its incredible beauty.

Where the buildings are coloured in red and brown toned which creates an atmosphere from the Middle Ages, the narrow streets and the artworks make it one of the top tourist destinations in Italy. It deserves its title to the fullest. It fascinated us too.

We park our car in one of the parking lots which has time limit for parking. Do not say I will finish my work quickly. This city is not the kind that will leave you in such a short time, so buy a long-term parking ticket and travel comfortably. Otherwise, you will have to go back to where your vehicle is parked and have to buy ticket again.

We sit in Piazza del Campo square in the heart of the city, and watch the crowd. Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia next to us take us back to medieval times. Then, we take our ice cream, which is our motivation source, to go to Duomo and Palazzo Salimbeni. Meanwhile, Özlem’s eyes are on the shops on our way. Because the shop windows are really attractive and the products look really nice. Even I could not stand it, I forced Özlem into a store or two and got some things. I think the medieval air must have hit me 🙂

Even tho it is difficult, we are leaving this wonderful city. on our way back a village that we couldn’t leave without seeing Gimignano, one of the most beautiful villages in the Tuscany region that we are in. As if Siena was not enough, this place takes us away to the Middle Ages. It is as if someone built this wonderful place on the computer with the game Age of Empires. It is a narrow streets, surrounded by walls, with huge towers.

It is possible to climb to the top of the towers to see the view of the vineyards grown in the fertile Tuscany region. When it comes to vineyards, of course, wine production comes to mind. It’s a priceless cellar for the ones who are interested in it, trust me. We will not be able to reach Florence with this departure. We settle in the house where we will stay with the sunset.

The sun rises for us in Florence, the capital of the Renaissance. Even if we are not completely relieved from our tiredness from yesterday, we cannot stay at home and we go outside. This time, let’s not travel a lot, not walk a lot, says Özlem rightfully because we are still tired from yesterday. I immediately say okay without even thinking about it.

How can we travel less in this extraordinary city, which has an open-air museum, beautiful churches, squares and historical monuments? But to our luck, all the sights to see here are close to each other. We start exploring by taking the Duomo square as our centre point. It would be a shame if we did not choose the huge domed Florence Cathedral (Duomo) as a centre anyway.

They say that the view from the top of the Bell Tower (which we hope to get to) standing right next to us is beautiful. St. Giovanni Baptistery is another important building in this square. We are walking slowly; the next square is Piazza della Repubblica. To be true, the stores around us seemed more interesting, so we leave quickly.

The place we are trying to reach is Signoria Square and the statue of David located there. As I said, we reach the planned place with a short walk because they are close to each other. The statue of David in this square is enough for us, even if it is not the original one. But if this is the copy, we are wondering how beautiful would the original one be.

Michelangelo’s made, In order to see the original statue measuring 5.17 meters and almost in a perfect human size, we find it right to be content with its copy so as its better than waiting for hours in a line.

We get enough of the Ufizzi Gallery and Vecchio Palace from the outside and head towards the Arno river. Our goal is to reach the Ponte Vechhio bridge on the river. But we just realize that we are tired while eating our pizza in the restaurant we set in. We visit this bridge and the shops on it, then we head towards the market where we hear that the famous leather products in Florence are affordable.

Ozlem, whose battery was running out, is re-born from her ashes. How wouldn’t she with all of these great bags and shoes calling her: buy me, take me. Then we take the road to our house.

We understand that we are very tired that we both do not want to get out of bed in the morning. Fortunately, since we have left little plans for today, we can sleep a bit more. Our plan today is Piazzale Michelangelo, where we can see the magnificent view of Florence, and where the statue of Michelangelo master is located.

With the advice of our host, we plan to go in the afternoon and watch the wonderful sunset, creating an opportunity to rest well. Located in a somewhat high place, this square is really worth seeing with its shops, peddlers and unique Florence view.

We have understand the reason why Renaissance started in this city where  art and artists were born, then we are on the way to Pisa. We have approximately 1 hour road. We look forward to being able to do that pose when you are trying to straightup the tower. We arrive at the small city of Pisa and park our car at one of the parking lots, which is free due to the weekend, and head towards the tower. But as we get closer, just seeing that we’re not the only ones, we speed up with the fear that there will be no room for us to do our cliché pose.

Oh my God! Everyone trying to get into shape to try to straighten the tower, We are in front of the famous Tower of Pisa. It is so crowded that if the people here put their hands, they can easily straighten the tower.

We also do our pose. In fact, the pose Özlem created, which is completely her own, is liked and copied immediately by the people around her, thereby laying the foundation of a new trend. Congratulations for Özlem. Sitting on the grass area around the Pisa tower and watching  the people around for some time is really fun.

We leave Pisa and set off again. La Spezia is waiting for us. We arrive at La Spezia, where we will stay for Cinque Terre, one of the places we want to see and wonder about it in Italy, so we settle in our house. Cinque Terre means 5 villages. This is a place formed by rows and rows of rainbow-like villages, which are established on steep slopes along the coastline.

We choose the house especially close to the train station. The reason is that it’s the only transportation to Cinque Terre, where we will go the next day. But without waiting for tomorrow, we find ourselves in Portovenere, the only place we can go to by car. We watch the wonderful sunset from the castle and take a rest in the evening, having our dinner accompanied by a concert on the beach and having fun.

After our breakfast, we take the path of the station with our marine kit. There are different types of tour tickets, but in our opinion, the most logical one is the ticket that provides unlimited get in-get offs. In this way, we can visit the villages in turn and we do not get stuck with the time limit. Our first station, Riomaggiore, a tiny but looks like a watercolor painting, we see what awaits us closely. After a while, we say let’s get on the train again and get off at Manarola. This village, which is just like a desktop screenshot, is perhaps the most beautiful among them. We go to the place where we can see the village right across the street and take many pictures of it, and we proceed to the station again. Next is Corniglia. Our least favourite place and we jump on the train again. Vernazza is waiting for us. It welcomes us to a place that is beautiful enough to compete with Manarola. We can not pass here without a coffee break, though. There is also a point where you can take a picture of Vernazza from a hill, you can reach there by asking and take great photos.

Our train appears at the station to take us to Monterosso. The biggest among the villages. We tour it’s bazaar for a while and immediately throw ourselves to the beach. It is not easy but in this hot weather, we visited 5 villages in a row. Now it’s sea time J We have our sandwiches, enjoy the sun and rest well. Now it’s time to go home. We return to our home, leaving Portofino, which we did not want to visit because of the lack of time, to another spring Portofino. I strongly recommend you to visit it though, but since the train journey is about 2 hours, it will be useful to spare 1 day.

It’s time to say goodbye. We determine that there are really 5 villages in Cinque Terre, and we set off from La Spezia to southern France. This is also our departure from Italy. As we planned, we entered from the right side of the boots and left from the left. We have to leave other pearls of Italy (Milan, Turin, Lake Como, Verona, etc.) that are not on our route for the next time.

We liked every corner of you Italy! And as you told us when we were buying our highway tickets, this time we tell you; “arrivederci”…

Leave a comment