Passing Through Pisa

Planning a weekend trip to Tuscany, I decided to fly in and out of Pisa. Why? Cheap flights from London.

Return, my fare was £35. Steal!

My first night in Tuscany, I stayed in Lucca, a true hidden gem. On my second day, I planned on staying in Pisa and hiking Cinque Terre.

Eager to get to Cinque Terre, I headed to Pisa first thing in the morning to drop off my luggage and see the leaning tower, because, when in Italy.

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My time in Pisa was short, but I don’t feel like I missed anything per se.

My train pulled into central station on a bright, sunny September day. Pro tip: Don’t take a taxi if you’re flying into Pisa- the Pisa People Mover from the airport to Pisa Centrale station takes only 5 minutes.

Once at the central station, it’s an easy 20 minute walk to the tower and other key attractions.

Starting out from the station, I walked in the direction of Keith Haring’s Tuttomondo, a giant mural near the station.

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Then, I continued on to the river Arno, crossing to the other side and walking along it for a while. In the early morning sun, the view of pastel buildings reflected on the water and the mountains in the distance was tranquility at its best.

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Looking for excellent cold brew in Pisa? Head to Filter Coffee Lab.

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Conscious of time, my next stop was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. On the way there, I wound in and out of streets- admiring street art and doorways- Italian architecture is swoon worthy.

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Arriving at the tower, I walked around the yard, admiring it and people watching for a bit. There are typically queues to climb the tower, but I didn’t have time to go inside so it wasn’t something I even looked into.

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Nearing the time for my train to Cinque Terre, I explored other buildings in the piazza- the Cathedral and Bapistry. Both are stunning works of architecture- the Bapistry was where Galileo was baptised. And the Cathedral is among the most impressive in Italy. If I’m even in Pisa again, going inside both will be high on my list. Hand Luggage Only have a nice write-up of the experience with great details.

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Before I knew it, the time had come to head to my train to Cinque Terre. Coming back at night, it was late and in lieu of anything else being open, I stopped at McDonald’s (I know, I know) for a milkshake and fries. Although, I’ve heard there are some good restaurants in Pisa, particularly for pizza.

I would have appreciated a few more hours in Pisa but also didn’t feel like I missed anything critical by passing through.

Have you ever visited Pisa? Did you see anything besides the Leaning Tower?

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Seeing the Best of Cinque Terre in One Day

Cinque Terre, idyllic, quaint, rustic, and perched on a rugged part of the Italian coast.

Five UNESCO protected villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore overlooking the pristine Mediterranean Sea- it’s the kind of places you have to see to believe.

Long on my list of places to visit, it wasn’t until I started planning a weekend trip to Tuscany (flying in/out of Pisa from London) that I first Google’d ‘Can you see Cinque Terre in one day?’

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Everything I read said yes, you could but it would be a busy day. Rationalising I’d at least be able to fit in two of the villages, I decided my decision would be weather dependent.

If the weather looked good ahead of my trip, I’d plan on hiking/exploring Cinque Terre on the Sunday of my visit to Tuscany. If the weather didn’t look great though (rain), I’d head to Florence and wander the city. Having never been to Florence, everyone urged me to visit there instead of trying to cram Cinque Terre into one day. But, I know I’ll make a return trip to Florence soon- I want at least 2-3 days in the city, and have thought about coupling it with a return to Rome and journey to the Amalfi Coast.

Was it possible to see Cinque Terre in one day? Yes, even with leaving Pisa at 11 am. But, it was a long day, and some villages felt more rushed in my effort to at least see four of the five.

Leaving Pisa at 11, I took the train to La Spezia where I bought a Cinque Terre train and trail card, and hopped on a transfer train to my first village: Monterosso.

The Cinque Terre train and trail card will set you back €16, but covers train trips between La Spezia and all the villages, connecting journeys between the villages, as well as free wifi, usage of toilet facilities in the train stations (normally cost €1 each), and access to the trails that connect each town. Worth it, if you ask me.

Originally, I’d planned on hiking between a few of the villages, but with Extensor Tendonitis rearing its head the week before my trip, I ultimately decided to only hike between Monterosso and Vernazza. For the rest of the villages, I took the train between each stop, which only took 5 or so minutes from stop to stop once the train arrived. I noticed the trains stuck pretty close to their schedule, but it was very crowded so I found myself arriving 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled trains to get a good spot on the platform.

The only town I didn’t visit was Corniglia, which I decided to skip because my foot was hurting, and you have to climb 380+ steps from the train station to the base of the town.

All said, trying to cram the best of Cinque Terre into one day was absolutely worth it. Would I love to re-visit someday and take more time in each place? Sure, that’d be nice. But I don’t feel like I really missed out on anything, and found pockets of time to relax while wandering- like spending an hour and a half watching the sun set while sipping spritzes in Manarola.

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The Five Towns of Cinque Terre

As you’re exploring Cinque Terre, you’re likely to find yourself wondering, how photogenic can one place be?

A collection of five villages, ‘Cinque Terre’ literally translates to ‘five lands’. It’s a wonderful place for hiking, eating, drinking and relaxing alongside the coast.

My only complaint is the volume of people visiting- so many tourists crowding into quaint villages (and I visited near the off-season in late September/early October). But, I’ve heard Cinque Terre is going to introduce a new ticket/fee system to help limit tourist numbers, which I’m pleased to hear. I’m grateful I got to visit Cinque Terre, but not if my visit comes at the cost of thousands of others visiting and these villages losing their magic.

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Monterosso Al Mare

The largest of the towns, Monterosso is perfect for beach lovers. There’s a large stretch of sandy beach, and sun beds/umbrellas available to rent.

As the liveliest town, there’s also the greatest selection of bars and places to eat. Divided into an old town and new town, I walked through flat new town, before heading to the slightly hillier old town to explore.

Ready for lunch after wandering town and climbing some of the trails to the gorgeous viewpoints, I settled in at Pizzeria La Smorfia for one of the best pizzas I’ve had- thin, crisp, cheesy, perfection.

I could have spent more time in Monterosso, but was eager to get to my next town- Vernazza. Walking from Monterosso to Vernazza has its steep bits and narrow trail sections, but also affords some great views of the coast. It took me a little over an hour and a half to do, but I was moving at a decent pace. If I could go back in time, I’m not sure I’d do it again- my favourite views of Vernazza are only a 5-10 minute walk outside the town, and could easily be done if you arrived by train.

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Vernazza

Vernazza is the only village with a natural harbour. Arriving in town, I stopped along the trail to take a few shots of the harbour from above, and then found myself heading down into town through steps that wound through back alleyways. The best view of Vernazza is from the mountains next to the town (which you can find via the small side streets).

Coming from the trail, soon, I came out in the midst of the town. To the right lied the harbour, bustling with activity. Kids and teens swimming, others lounging and picnic’ing on rocks- I headed out to the jetty to snap a few shots of the town from below.

Heading back to the town, I popped in and out of shops before grabbing water, a bottled spritz and catching a train to my next village.

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Corniglia

The only town I didn’t make it to, because my foot hurt too much to climb the 380+ steps from the train stain, Corniglia is perched high upon a cliff’s edge, offering stunning views across the coastline. I’ve heard it’s the quietest of the five towns, most oft attributed to the fact it’s not seaside.

Manarola

A terraced town on the side of a mountain, Manarola is unbelievably beautiful. If you arrive by train, you’ll have the choice of going right to explore the upper part of town, or left to head down to the sea. I meandered the upper town for a few minutes before heading down to the sea.

Once seaside, I marvelled at the buildings above me, and then set out to climb a bit higher along the wide path that’s easy to spot. Once at the top, I waited in line at Nessun Dorma, a cliffside eatery that’s been revered by numerous food critics for having tasty bruschetta, refreshing spritzes, and the best dining views in all of Cinque Terre.

Watching the sun set here was a real treat- pink-hued buildings situated above the sea, and watching kids dip in and out of the ocean, waves crash against rocks, and the sun sink slowly behind the horizon. I ordered the classic bruschetta and a limoncita (limoncello, prosecco and mint) as a reward for a perfect day exploring.

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Riomaggiore

The easternmost village, Riomaggiore was my third stop. I knew I wanted to watch the sun set in Manarola, so I headed to Riomaggiore by train after Vernazza.

For most visiting Cinque Terre, it’s the usual starting place to hike between towns.

Tall buildings stacked around a river’s mouth, gorgeous coastal views, steep winding alleyways- Riomaggiore is absolutely stunning. The best views are down by the seafront, which is the opposite direction of town from the train station.

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Post-sun set in Manarola, I hopped on an 8:10 train back to La Spezia, and then transferred to Pisa. Arriving back in the city just after 9:30, I headed to my hotel eager to sleep. It was a perfect day on the Italian cost- couldn’t have asked for a better time.

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Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? Which village was your favourite to visit? 

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20 Photos to Inspire a Trip to the Breathtaking Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, idyllic, quaint, rustic, and perched on a rugged part of the Italian coast. Five UNESCO protected villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore overlooking the pristine Mediterranean Sea- they’re the kind of places you have to see to believe.

Long on my list of places to visit, it wasn’t until I started planning a weekend trip to Tuscany (flying in/out of Pisa from London) that I first Google’d ‘Can you see Cinque Terre in one day?

The short answer is: yes. You can see Cinque Terre in one day, albeit a busy day. It’s unquestionably worth it though, in my opinion.

As you’re exploring Cinque Terre, you’re likely to find yourself wondering, how photogenic can one place be?

A collection of five villages, ‘Cinque Terre’ literally translates to ‘five lands’. It’s a wonderful place for hiking, eating, drinking and relaxing along the coast. My only complaint is the volume of visitors- so many people crowding into quaint villages (and I visited near the off-season in late September/early October). But, I’ve heard Cinque Terre is going to introduce a new ticket/fee system to help limit tourist numbers, which I’m pleased to hear. I’m grateful I got to visit Cinque Terre, but not if my visit comes at the cost of thousands of others visiting and these villages losing their magic.

If you’ve never been, but are thinking about a trip, hopefully some of my favourite shots from the day inspire you to plan a visit.

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Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? Which village was your favourite to visit? 

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Tuscany’s Hidden Gem, Lucca

One of Tuscany’s best kept secrets, Lucca is a charming, beautiful city. Cobblestone streets, homes in warm yellows, oranges and pinks, it’s a place of effortless beauty.

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Keen to spend a weekend in Italy, I was drawn to Pisa because of the cheap flights from London. Realising I could fly in early Saturday and leave on the first flight out Monday, I started planning for two days.

I knew I wanted to see the leaning tower, but had heard there wasn’t enough in Pisa to warrant spending really more than a half day. Looking to the countryside, I discovered Lucca was a 30 minute train ride from central Pisa. When deciding whether to spend the first night in Lucca or Pisa, I ultimately decided on staying in Lucca. Airbnbs within Lucca were more affordable than in Pisa, and I knew I’d be tired at the end of a long travel day.

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A walled medieval city, Lucca has managed to remain relatively free from the hordes of tourists that head to more well known destinations in the area, Florence and Siena.

With only one day in Lucca, I chose to wander the city at leisure.

There’s no shortage of charming alleyways to wander, and if you prefer to see the city from a different height, you can climb ~200 steps to the top of Torre del Guinigi or Torre delle Ore. Not one for heights? The walled pathway surrounding the city, which you can also walk around, is only 30 feet from the ground. Short on time, I decided to climb to the top of Torre delle Ore and take a short walk along the town’s wall.

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When it was time for lunch, I popped into Pizza Alice for a slice topped with potatoes and herbs. Then, it was back to the streets for more meandering cute piazzas and winding alleyways. On your explorations, don’t miss Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a perfectly circular piazza or some of the best gelato in the city at Grom.

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Ready to relax late afternoon, I sat at a cafe, Bar San Michele, outside Piazza San Michele, one of Lucca’s busiest squares and people watched for a while, spritz in hand.

At the centre of piazza is a Romanesque church dating back to the 12th century. The marble facade is said to be one of the most unusual in Italy, with dozens of mythical creatures decorating the top tiers.

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As the day settled into evening, I headed to Buca di S.Antonio for my first homemade pasta dinner. First dinner? Yes, that’s right. Part of the appeal in going to Lucca was the chance to have excellent homemade pasta, and in the end I couldn’t decide between two places.

Homemade pasta dinner uno: Fettuccine in a butter parmesan sauce with black truffle at Buca di S.Antonio. Insanely good. Tip: Go early in the day or the day prior to make a reservation- otherwise, you may be waiting quite a while for a table.

Full, but determined to experience more homemade pasta, I wandered the city streets at dusk for a while before heading to second dinner.

Homemade pasta dinner due: Rigatoni with aubergine in a tomato ricotta sauce at Cibo e Convivio. At Cibo, I loved sitting at a sidewalk table- local wine, fresh bread dipped in olive oil and excellent rigatoni? Beautiful.

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As I finished my second dinner, the streets really began to come alive- dozens of people hanging at outside cafes, sipping drinks or espresso with friends.

There’s a Puccini concert almost every night in Lucca, he was born there and grew up in the city.  While I entertained the idea of going to see a show, I was also exhausted from the day’s travels, and planned on waking early the next day to head back to Pisa before going to Cinque Terre for a day trip.

Lucca re-ignited my love for Italy, and has me thinking about a long weekend in Florence, and possibly Siena next summer.

Have you ever been to Tuscany? Where should I visit on my next trip? 

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5 Things to do in Milan

Milan is one of those cities in Italy that’s often overlooked. Everyone told me I wouldn’t like Milan- too industrial, and not enough like other places in Italy. Milan reminded me of Berlin in comparison to other German towns and cities. Different, but in a good way. A stark contrast to Venice, Florence and Rome, but no less beautiful.

Milan wasn’t high on my list of European cities to visit, but I found myself there for a day and a half during a bank holiday weekend when I also visited Venice. Why? An airfare deal that was too good to pass up.

With only a day and a half in Milan, I focused on seeing some of the city’s well known sights. On a return trip, I’m interested in leaving the city to explore the surrounding area, including Lake Como.

Milan, although only two hours from Venice by train is like another world. As the fashion and business capital of Italy, it feels a lot more like a modern city. However, there are pockets of charm to be found in elegant shopping malls, art collections and Gothic architecture.

5 Things to do in Milan

Linger at The Duomo

The Duomo is one of those places that takes your breath away. Made entirely of marble, it’s one of the world’s largest churches, and took six centuries to complete. The white Gothic cathedral is also home to more statues than anywhere else in the world.

Normally not one for eating at touristy places, I was insistent on grabbing a spritz at one of the restaurants on the piazza beside the Duomo- solely to spend more time admiring its facade.

On the day we visited the Duomo to go inside, it was raining, so we didn’t go up to the roof- but, next time for sure.

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Stroll Through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Duomo is right next to one of the world’s oldest shopping emporiums. Built in 1867, it’s four stories of luxury stores like Prada and Gucci. If you can’t afford to shop here, it’s still worth a visit. The building’s marble floors and glass domed ceilings are spectacular.

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Wander the Brea Neighborhood

Our morning walk through the Brea district was one of my favourite parts of the trip. It’s a different side of Milan and well worth wandering- think gorgeous facades, grand entryways and lovely cafes, like vecchia brea.

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Walk the Navigli Canal

Since we got to Milan on a Sunday, we headed straight to the canal for the Sunday antique market. The market is known as one of the best in Europe- very cool seeing the range of goods up for sale.

The Navigli district is also one of the hubs of Milanese nightlife. We were there on a Sunday, and were surprised by how late some of the spots were open. If you find yourself in the area, I recommend Rita.

Spritz

Is it any surprise spritzing is on my list of things to do in an Italian city? Obvi. My favourite way to enjoy an Aperol spritz is at a cafe sidewalk on a side street, relaxing and people watching.

Although it’s a bit touristy, we also enjoyed the Terazza Aperol, an Aperol sponsored bar inside a small market next to the Piazza Duomo. From the terrace, there’s a great view of the Duomo, and the spritzes we had here were some of the best on our trip.

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A Few More Things…

We didn’t have much time to check out the food scene, but did really enjoy:

  • Luini Panzerotti: Milan’s best panzerroti. What’s panzerroti, you ask? A deep-fried half-moon shaped pastry similar to a calzone, stuffed with cheese and tomato. So good.
  • Spontini: Delicious, cheap pizza. Great for a quick meal if you’re short on time
  • Bulgari Lounge: Gorgeous garden drinks inside a stunning hotel. Cocktails here are definitely a splurge, but you’re also given a bunch of snacks to enjoy while you sip
  • Amorino: Loved their gelato when I lived in NYC, so I was happy to indulge in some when I spotted a location along the canal. Highly recommend the stracciatella.

And, because we were so short on time, we didn’t have a chance to check out Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. It’s located at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, and should come as no surprise visitors regard it as magnificent.

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5 Must-Do’s in Venice

With the most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views every moment you’re in Venice. There’s no place in the world like Venice.

Venice is small enough to wander in just a few days. I arrived in Venice on a Saturday morning at 10 am and left the next day on a 12 pm train back to Milan. Short on time in this magical city like I was? Here’s 5 things you must see and do, even if you only have one day in this romantic, picture-perfect destination.

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5 Things to do in Venice

Stroll Along the Grand Canal

Ah, the Grand Canal, also known as the main ‘street’ in Venice. Watching the gondolas and boats go back and forth on the canals was one of my favorite ways to pass the time.

Make sure you check out the Rialto Bridge. Albeit usually crowded, its design is beautiful. While on the bridge, I noticed a bunch of people standing on the terrace of a nearby building.

Never one to pass on a great view, we decided to check it out. It turned out to be T Fondaco del Tedeschi, a luxury department store, with a free panoramic view of Venice. The catch? You need to get a ticket with a time stamp, which specifics a time to return. Luckily, our wait was only ~30 minutes, so we headed downstairs and had an Aeprol spritz at the lobby bar while waiting.

So glad we waited because the views were unbelievable. To one side, you saw half of the Grand Canal and the sea in the distance, and to the other side, more of the Grand Canal and city’s red-tile roofs.

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Peruse St. Mark’s

St. Mark’s is often called the heart of Venice- it’s a great place to people watch and admire astounding architecture.

The piazza is home to Basilica San Marco, one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Lines to get inside the basilica are often long, but you can reserve ahead of time online.

Also in the piazza, the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower). The tower dates from 1912, it’s an exact replica of the previous tower. Unlike a lot of the monuments with aerial views in cities across Europe, there was a lift in the bell tower, which made it super easy to get up and down quickly.

This was one of my favorite things we did in Venice- the views of San Marco and surrounding islands were incredible. Highly recommend if you have nice weather while you’re visiting.

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Eat All the Gelato & Pizza

I’d heard Suso Gelatoteca was the best in Venice, and it sure didn’t disappoint. I tried the tiramisu and stracciatella- so, so good. 

Another time, while wandering, we were hungry and stopped at a small slice window in between the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s. I don’t remember the name of the place, but as a general rule of thumb, if you see a bunch of locals lingering, it’s usually a good sign.

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Spritz

I didn’t drink Aeprol spritzes too much before moving to Europe, but they’ve become one of my go-to’s, both in London and while traveling- especially in Italy. We stopped at nondescript cafes and bars a few times to take a break and enjoy a spritz, but by far, by favorite experience was at Al Remer.

After dinner, we headed to Al Remer to watch the sun set over the Grand Canal. Here, you can walk up to the bar and grab a spritz to take outside to the pier. Literal perfection.

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Wander

When in Venice, I had a few ‘must-do’s’, but had left plenty of time for wandering. We loved getting lost in the alleyways, ambling across bridges and soaking in all the colorful details.

During one of our aimless walks, we found Al Bottegon, a local favorite known for its cicchetti. What are chiccheti? Venetian tapas. We loved this local wine shop, it’s known as one of the last authentic Venetian places- so glad we found it for lunch.

Neighborhood wise, the Dosoduro was my favorite place to explore. Close to San Marco, it’s removed in a good way. Loved the artsy vibe of Dorsoduro, the less-crowded local restaurants, and how picturesque the canals were.

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More Recos for Venice:

  • Take the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
  • Enjoy Venice’s public transport system by water, the vaporetto. We walked everywhere, but the public transport boats zip around Venice and can help save time
  • Indulge in a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Often hailed as a ‘can’t miss’ experience, we passed on this in favor of wandering side streets and seeing more of Venice on foot
  • Visit Murano: The Island of Murano is famous for its glass furnaces, many of which are free to visit
  • Visit Burano: The Island of Burano may be the further away from Venice, but strolling amongst its colored houses makes it worth the journey

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One Day in Venice, Italy

There’s no place in the world like Venice, it’s an incredible city.

With the most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views every moment you’re in Venice. It’s a city built in another time, when access to water meant access to money.

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Venice is small enough to wander in just a few days, but if you’re really short on time, like I was, you can cover a lot of ground in one day.

I arrived in Venice on a Saturday morning at 10 am and left the next day on a 12 pm train back to Milan. One day was just enough time to get a feel for Venice, and to ensure it remains at the top of my travel list- I don’t know when I’ll make it back to Venice, but I’m eager to explore more of the city while I’m living in Europe.

Short on time in this magical city like I was? Here’s how I’d recommend spending your time in this romantic, gorgeous destination.

One Day in Venice

MORNING

After checking into our Airbnb in the Dorsoduro area, we decided to wander the neighborhood for a bit before grabbing lunch. Dorsoduro, in comparison to San Marco, is much quieter. It feels residential, but there are still plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to pop in and out of.

If you’re into art, the Guggenheim is in this area- we didn’t have time to check it out, but I’ve heard good things about the collection.

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AFTERNOON

Heading into the afternoon, we stopped at Al Bottegon for cicchetti. What are chiccheti? Venetian tapas. Loved this local wine shop, it’s known as one of the last authentic Venetian places- so glad we found it for lunch. Try the ricotta and pumpkin, fresh flower and egg, or brie with anchovy. Also, the house wine here costs €1. For less than €11, we shared a delicious lunch on the canal. Win.

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Next up, we wandered toward the Grand Canal, also known as the main ‘street’ in Venice. Watching the gondolas and boats go back and forth on the canals was one of my favorite ways to pass the time. 🙂

We headed towards the Rialto Bridge, which wasn’t hard to find- it was packed with tourists. Not one for situations with a lot of people, we crossed the bridge and headed to the Rialto Market to browse Venice’s fresh produce and seafood.

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On our way back to cross the bridge, I spotted a side corner, where I snapped a great ‘from below’ pic of the bridge.

Next up? Gelato break.

I’d heard Suso Gelatoteca was the best in Venice, and it sure didn’t disappoint. I tried the tiramisu and stracciatella- so, so good.

Since we were nearby, we headed into T Fondaco del Tedeschi, a luxury department store, with a free panoramic view of Venice. The catch? You need to get a ticket with a time stamp, which specifics a time to return. Luckily, our wait was only 40 minutes, so we headed downstairs and had an Aeprol spritz at the lobby bar while waiting.

So glad we waited because the views were unbelievable. To one side, you saw half of the Grand Canal and the sea in the distance, and to the other side, more of the Grand Canal and city’s red-tile roofs.

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Wandering back through the city, we headed towards Piazza San Marco, stopping for a slice of pizza from a small window shop with a few locals lined up outside. I don’t remember the name of the shop, but there’s a bunch in Venice- choose one where you see locals, and you’re almost guaranteed a good slice.

St. Mark’s is often called the heart of Venice- it’s a great place to people watch and admire astounding architecture.

The piazza is home to Basilica San Marco, one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Lines to get inside the basilica are often long, but you can reserve ahead of time online.

Also in the piazza, the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower). The tower dates from 1912, it’s an exact replica of the previous tower. We didn’t go up on our first day, but vowed to return in the morning.

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With a little over an hour to spare before dinner, we wandered side streets some more, and stumbled across the Acqua Altra Liberia, a unique bookstore. Here, the books are piled in gondolas, and there’s even a staircase of books you can climb for great views of the adjacent canals.

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EVENING

We waited outside of Osteria Alla Staffa for it to open and were rewarded with one of the only non-reservation tables. I had caprese salad and seafood linguine, both were amazing.

Post-dinner, we headed to Al Remer to watch the sun set over the Grand Canal. Here, you can walk up to the bar and grab a drink to take outside to the pier. It’s also a restaurant, and the food looked great.

In the mood for one more drink, we walked over to El Sbarlefo and savored one last spritz before calling it a night.

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NEXT-MORNING

Exhausted from catching an early train to Venice the day before from Milan, we slept in and didn’t leave our Airbnb until 9 am. Our Airbnb served breakfast, so we enjoyed a croissant with Nutella before heading out.

We headed straight for the bell tower in Piazza San Marco. By the time we got there, we had to wait ~20 minutes to go to the top, but it was so worth it. Unlike a lot of the monuments with aerial views in cities across Europe, there was a lift in the bell tower, which made it super easy to get up and down quickly.

This was one of my favorite things we did in Venice- the views of San Marco and surrounding islands were incredible. Highly recommend if you have nice weather while you’re visiting.

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In the mood for a snack, we headed to I Tre Mercanti for what we were told was the city’s best tiramisu. So good.

With a few hours to pass before heading back to Milan, we wandered around back streets and bridges. Venice is a city in which maps are helpful, but not fun. There’s something delightful about following narrow streets to tiny piazzas and canal ways.

As a final goodbye to Venice, we stopped at Estro, a wine bar, for a final spritz.

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On My Next Trip

  • Taking the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
  • Enjoying Venice’s public transport system by water, the vaporetto. We walked everywhere, but the public transport boats zip around Venice and can help save you time
  • Indulging in a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Often hailed as a ‘can’t miss’ experience, we passed on this in favor of wandering side streets and seeing more of Venice on foot
  • Murao: The Island of Murano is famous for its glass furnaces, many of which are free to visit
  • Burano: The Island of Burano may be the further away from Venice, but strolling amongst its colored houses makes it worth the journey

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Photo Diary: Venice & Milan

Even since visiting Italy for the first time over 9 years ago, I’ve been looking forward to a return trip. Having only been to Rome and Pompeii, planning a long weekend in other Italian destinations was at the top of my priority list once I moved to London.

Fortunately, a bank holiday at the end of April provided the perfect time to spend a long weekend in Venice and Milan.

I chose to fly in/out of Milan because I found a great flight deal, and figured I may as well see another Italian city while I had the chance. To get to Venice, I took the train from Milan, which only took ~2 hours each way.

Although my time in each city was short, I’m so glad I ventured to both.

Venice was incredible. The most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine. It felt like I was on a movie set, every corner was full of magic. I’ll write more about our time in Venice, but my advice would be to just wander. With the canals and architecture, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views wherever you are. And, nothing beats pizza, pasta, Aeprol spritzes and gelato.

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Milan, in contrast to Venice, is like another world. As the fashion and business capital of Italy, it feels a lot more like a modern city. However, there are pockets of charm to be found in elegant shopping malls, art collections and Gothic architecture.

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Visiting Venice and Milan reignited my love for Italy, and has me excited to re-visit Rome, as well as other parts of the country that seems to get better with each visit.

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Photo Diary: Rome, Italy

This post is a bit of a throwback, the first time I visited Italy was in my sophomore year of college- so it’s been a while. 😉

Before traveling to Italy, I’d only been to Europe once to visit London. Although London will forever be one of my favorite cities in the world, Italy blew me away.

The history. The art. The landscape and architecture. The food. The wine.  The diversity of the different regions. Did I mention the food?

Being so young and so new to travel, I had a great time on our trip, most of which was spent in Rome, but I didn’t appreciate it to the degree I know I would today. Although, we were blessed by the reigning Pope at the time, so I suppose that’s something. 🙂

Now that I’m living in the UK, I’m excited to plan a few weekend trips to Italy to revisit Rome, and explore new cities. At the top of my list?

The sinking canals of Venice, the southern towns of Positano, Amalfi and Portofino, the bright villages of Cinque Terre, the art of Florence, the olive groves and hills of Tuscany, and the fashion in Milan. Italy is such a beautiful place, can’t wait to explore more of what this stunning country has to offer.

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