How to plan the perfect Italian Escapade!

Hi everyone,

So as you’ll probably know, I’ve just returned from yet ANOTHER trip of a lifetime; a wonderful Italian Escapade visiting some of the country’s most beautiful cities. My sister and I flew from London to Venice, and then caught the train to Florence and onwards to Rome before flying back to London. We had an incredible 9 days filled with lots of fun, laughter and SO. MUCH. SIGHTSEEING!

We effectively did three city breaks all in one go and, you know the best part? We planned it all totally by ourselves! No fees, no appointments in store, everything was booked online ourselves and we saved £500pp compared to quotes we received from a well known travel agent! £500pp?! That’s a whopping £1000 between the two of us – say whaaaatttttt?!-  I’m here to show YOU exactly how we did it, without the need for a travel agent! And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to, and how you too can plan the perfect Italian Escapade…

So we've made it to #Venice and it is BEAuuuutiful 😍😍😍

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The cities

Italy is such a beautiful place, with tonnes of cities up and down the country brimming with history, culture and a whole host of iconic landmarks that are just waiting to be ticked off the bucket list! We chose the top 3 most visited; Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pick whichever cities you like and work your itinerary around them. I’ll do full city guides on all three in the coming weeks and post these separately on the blog, but for now I’ll introduce you to them briefly:

Venice – the city of love; think candlelit al-fresco dining, gondola rides and bridge after bridge crossing the Grand Canal. Venice is a city unlike any other I’ve ever been to before;  its unique, pedestrianized centre is full of tourist attractions and getting around the city by boat is an experience in itself! Venice certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth a visit – we stayed for 2 nights and felt that was definitely enough time to see everything.

Ok so I can't leave #Venice out – just LOOK at it 😍🇮🇹 #Italy #ig_italy #venezia

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Florence – ah beautiful Florence, this place has it all! From climbing the to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views across the city, to strolling along the Ponte Vecchio bridge on the River Arno and watching the sunset cast its shadow, Florence is as pretty as a picture and offers a range of things to do. We stayed for three nights and used the Hop on Hop off bus as a way to explore and find our bearings. The city’s cobbled streets and lively piazzas are a haven for locals and tourists alike and there’s something happening on every street corner.

Rome – the eternal city, and my absolute FAVOURITE! I wouldn’t normally go back to somewhere I have been to before, as I’m a firm believer that we should always try new things and experience new places, but I will make an exception for Rome. I fell in love with it from the minute our taxi passed Piazza Repubblica on that sunny Tuesday afternoon! Think London and New York, but with thousands of years history instead of just a few hundred and you’re pretty much there. Rome is like an open air museum, there is something to discover on every road, in every alleyway and down every side street. The Collosseum and Trevi Fountain were personal highlights for me, but I guarantee you will fall in love with every aspect of Rome if you choose to visit!

Rome's Collosseum- colossal in every way! 🏟🏟 #Rome #Italy #ig_italy

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Other Italian cities that I REALLY wanted to visit were Pisa, Milan and Verona, but we just didn’t have the time. We were thinking of doing a day trip on our last day in Florence, either visiting Pisa and it’s legendary leaning tower, or hiking the stunning Cinque Terre and ticking 5 more Italian villages off our lists, but sadly we couldn’t make it work in our already packed schedules, so decided to spend more time exploring Florence instead. If you have a few extra days though, I’d highly recommend taking a day trip from Florence as you can see everything you need to there within 2-3 days and have an extra day for exploring somewhere new. You could also take a day trip to Pompeii from Rome and discover the historical volcanic site, which is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy with over 3 million visitors per year.

**TOP TIP – If you are planning a day trip away from your cities, book online before you go for the best deals, don’t leave it until the day as many trips are full day ones starting at 7 or 8am and they get booked up fast!**

Beautiful by day ….

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#Florence sunsets 😍🌅 #Italy #visitflorence #nofilter #takemeback

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The transport

Once you’ve flown to your first city, getting around Italy is super easy, and we used the well organised, high speed trains during our visit. I booked train tickets a few weeks in advance to get the cheapest rates, but you could just turn up at the station and buy a ticket if you needed to, I don’t think there was too much difference in price. I’d highly recommend trainlineeurope and goeuro – they also offer reduced tickets for those under 26 which is well worth taking advantage of. It was around 50 euros for both of us to get between Venice and Florence and then between Florence and Rome.

In terms of flights, good old EasyJet worked a treat for us, it cost £70pp for a one way from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo and then £79pp for a one way from Rome Fiumicino back to London Gatwick. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to book your airport transfers too – especially in Venice. We booked a private shared water taxi (super cool speed boat just for us and two other ladies) online with HolidayTaxis for £70 and this got us there in next to no time. We could have just turned up and taken the public ferry for just 15euros each, but this would have taken well over an hour and the ferry’s get so full, especially with peoples suitcases. If you’re on a budget, go with the ferry but if you prefer to arrive in style definitely pre-book a water taxi; it started off our holiday so nicely!

Arriving in style by private water taxi! Bonjourno #venice 🙋 #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

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We also pre-booked our train tickets from Rome Termini station to the airport for just 14euros pp – much cheaper than a 50euro taxi, and we arrived in half the time! We used standard cabs when getting between Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station and our Florence hotel, and between Rome Termini and our Rome hotel, and they weren’t too pricey but, depending on where your hotel is, I’d avoid cabs if you can as they can be very costly.

**TOP TIP – Save money on luggage if you’re traveling with airlines like EasyJet as they charge per bag. We took one 20kg suitcase (£38) plus one carry on case (free of charge) between us and this was more than enough!**

**COST – £140pp for flights there and back, booked separately with Easyjet. £38 for one suitcase. £70 for private taxi in Venice. 10euros for private taxi in Florence (each way). 5 euros for private taxi in Rome (each way). 25euros pp for train between Venice and Florence. 25 euros pp for train between Florence and Rome. 15euros pp for train transfer between Rome Termini and Rome Fiumicino airport. **TOTAL – approx. £265pp on transport.**

Sometimes a Hop on Hop off bus is the best way to see the #city #sights! #Rome #italy #wanderlustwednesday #citysightseeing

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The accommodation

This is something that should be entirely down to your personal taste, depending on if you prefer hotel or hostel and luxury or budget, but I found that having a nice hot shower and a lovely warm bed to come back to after a long day of walking was soo nice and I wouldn’t have swapped our hotels for the world! We knew hotels in Italy were going to be pricey, so we gave ourselves a maximum budget of £300-£350 for the two of us for 3 nights. Granted, Venice cost us that for just two nights, but we did expect that.

Little #Italian hotels with cute Italian decor! #Venice #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

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We found that all our hotels were very centrally located; close enough to get to where we needed to get to without being noisy at night. Our Venice one, Hotel Gorizia, was located right in the middle, and we were surrounded by bustling shops and restaurants down every tiny side street. Our Florence one, Hotel De Rose Palace, was a little further out than we thought it would be, and was a good 15-20 minute walk to the historical centre, but we could walk along the River Arno past all the wonderful bridges so it felt we weren’t too far from the charm of the city. Finally, Hotel Opera Roma was a 4* luxurious property right at the heart of Rome, just seconds from via Nazionale, the main strip of the city. Bars, restaurants and shops were within easy reach and the landmarks were all within a 10 minute walk – I’ll be posting a full review of this hotel on my blog in due course.

Another city, another hotel! 🛌 #Florence #firenze #italy #hotel #wanderlustwednesday

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Depending on your budget, I would say hotels are definitely a great option giving you a place of comfort each night after a long day’s walking! Some days we walked between 12 and 16km exploring our new surroundings, so it was lovely to be able to get some decent sleep and have a nice hot shower before we got up and did it all again. If hotel’s aren’t your thing though, have a look on Air BnB or see which cheap hostels you can find if you have less of a budget.

**TOP TIP – Don’t forget that almost everywhere in Italy (and other parts of Europe) now charge a city tax per person for each night of your stay. This is charged upon check out and the cost varies depending on the class of your hotel ie. you’ll be charged more if your hotel is a 4 or 5* as opposed to a 2 or 3* property. Make sure you leave yourself with some cash upon check out as it is mandatory to pay this tax – ours was around 3-4 euros per night per person.

**COST – £350 for 2 nights at Venice hotel. £300 for 3 nights at Florence hotel. £350 for 3 nights at Rome hotel. **TOTAL – £500pp approx. on accommodation**

The food

Where do I even BEGIN?! Not gonna lie, the food was one of the main reasons I had always wanted to visit Italy – gimme all the pizza, pasta and gelato! Eating out can be expensive though, especially as the recommended service charge is at least 13% – not as pricey as America, but not as cheap as it is back here in the UK! I can, however, see why that charge is necessary; the restaurant trade is huge in Italy, yet the wage packets of waiters and waitresses are next to nothing. When the food is as good as it is in those little authentic restaurants though, you really don’t begrudge paying it!

Ending the day with gelato by the Trevi Fountain… Bellissimo! 🍦🇮🇹 #beautifuldestinations #ig_italy #italy #rome

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I’d say the food felt a little more ‘mass produced’ in Rome and Venice than it did in Florence, although don’t get me wrong it was still lovely and fresh, it just felt like it was served more promptly and they wanted us in and out quicker as opposed to the more relaxing vibe we felt when we were in the Tuscan capital. Make sure you try some proper Italian Prosecco during your visit – it’s not like the cheap stuff we get at the supermarket back here! And it’s reasonably priced too, approx 4 euros a glass, I paid over 5 euros for a glass of sprite one night (!) – that’ll teach me to think I’m better off avoiding alcohol 😉

**TOP TIP – Try an Aperol Spritz, one of the signature drinks over in Italy and it’s especially popular with tourists in the cities. Grab a table at a local bar overlooking the piazza and people-watch  whilst sipping on your new favourite tipple; it’s quintessentially Italian and will leave you totally refreshed!**

**COST – a meal for two with drinks and service charge ranges between 35 and 45 euros, depending on what you choose for main; fish and meat are more expensive than pizza and pasta.** TOTAL – 50- 60 euros per day on lunch, snacks and dinner.**

When in #rome – fine dining is a must! #pizza #pasta #prosecco #aperolspritz #gimmeallthefoodndrink 🍴🍸🍾🍕

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The excursions

There are plenty of trips that you can do during your time in Italy, and most can be done within the cities you are actually staying in, as opposed to venturing further out and potentially incurring more costs. In Venice we took a gondola ride for half an hour for a total cost of 80 euros. YEP – you heard me right, 80 euros!!! I know, expensive right? Butttt we had decided that it was pretty much the only touristy thing we were going to do during our 2 nights in Venice, and you can’t NOT visit the city of love without hopping on a gondola- us sisters had a wonderfully romantic time 😉

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

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Florence was the least touristy of all the cities we stayed in, but we did pay 15 euros each to discover the Cathedral in the centre and climbed the bell tower as well as exploring the baptistery, museum and the beautiful basilica as well – a great price for an all in one ticket! Most people climb the Duomo for panoramic views of the city, but we climbed the bell tower (414 steps up & 414 steps back down again) and were able to see the Duomo as part of the Florence skyline which was arguably better, in my opinion! Don’t forget to take a Hop on Hop off bus (23 euros pp for a 24hr ticket) to make your way around the entire city, and you can also explore the nearby town of Fiesole and climb Michaelangelo’s Piazza, a must when in Florence!

Panoramic views over #Florence? Yasssssss 🙌🙌 #Firenze #michaelangelo #italy #ig_italy #sundayfunday

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Rome felt like it had the most excursions on offer, particularly with the vast amount of museums and ancient sites that we were able to discover. We paid for a 1 day Hop on Hop off bus (20 euros pp) which enabled us to get around from place to place; it’s well worth getting one as Rome is huge!  You obviously don’t need to pay to see the big landmarks in Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but we did pay to gain access to the world famous Collosseum -when in Rome, right?! I’m a massive history fan and I LOVE anything to do with the ancient Romans so couldn’t wait to explore one of the oldest buildings on the planet. We turned up without booking and were sold two tickets (30 euros each) by Gladiator Tours which granted us access to both the Collosseum and the Roman Forum, both with guided tours in small groups. I found both tour guides to be really interesting and informative and it was much better than going in alone, not knowing about the facts and the history etc. Each tour lasted for around an hour and you could then spend time wandering around the attractions at your own leisure.

Made it to the Collosseum! 🏟🏟 #Rome #twinnies #matchingeverythinggggg

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**TOP TIP- If you’re using the CitySightseeing Hop on Hop off buses save your tickets and get discount off your next ticket purchases in your next city! We did this in Florence and Rome and saved 4 euros each. You can also use the buses as a way of getting from one stop to the next without feeling the need to get off – use it as your method of transport and save money on taxis and the metro etc.**

**COST – Gondola in Venice, 80 euros. Hop on bus & cathedral all in one tickets in Florence, 23 euros and 15 euros pp. Hop on bus & Collosseum/Roman Forum tour in Rome, 18 euros and 30 euros pp. **TOTAL – approx. 130 euros pp on excursions.**

The breakdown

We booked the entire trip for just over £800pp, with £400 (500 euros) extra for spending money pp when we were over there. We felt this was a fair price for a 9 day holiday, with decent flights, good accommodation and transport between each destination and airport included. If you really scrimp on meals and souvenir shopping when you’re over there you won’t spend much money at all, apart from on excursions and tours etc.

Italy offers some wonderful history, culture and architecture and you can tick plenty of wanderlust inducing landmarks off your bucket lists day after day! Getting around by train is a really efficient way to explore as many cities as possible, and you’re guaranteed to have a smooth journey between each destination. The whole trip can be as luxurious or as budgeted as you wish, but embrace the Italian culture and enjoy some of La Dolce Vita when you’re there!

So, there we have it, you’re now fully informed and able to book your epic Italian Escapade! Remember, the above was focused on our itinerary of Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pretty much tailor this to suit your needs depending on which cities you choose for your trip.

As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

What did you think of my itinerary? Would you consider going on a holiday like this, and would you book it yourself just like I did? Call me crazy but I loved the whole process from start to finish, from the research to the booking to the reservations, that I’m even toying with the idea of offering my services to people just like YOU – let me know if you’d consider employing someone like me to take the stress out of booking your travel plans.. I’d love to know what you think!

Love Jess x

T H I S P L A C E 🏟🏟 #Rome #collosseum #italy #ig_italy

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13 replies
  1. timelessitaly
    timelessitaly says:

    Your photos are gorgeous and you have covered a lot of Italy’s most charming places. Sounds like you and your sister had the trip of a lifetime…easy to do in Italy!!

  2. Anjani
    Anjani says:

    Sounds like a fun trip! Planning to go to Italy the first week of January! Do you have any specific recommendations for restaurants or bars in Florence and/or Venice? Would love to hear them

    • JourneyswithJessica
      JourneyswithJessica says:

      Ah amazing, where abouts in Italy are you going to? I LOVED my time there, as you could probably tell! Restaurant wise there are sooo many to choose from in Florence and Venice, and not overly expensive either, although you’ll pay more if you’re by the water front in Venice. I’d suggest eating just off San Marco Square, rather than in the square itself, as this is pricey too. As for Florence, head over to Piazza della Repubblica or Piazza della Signoria instead of eating at Piazza del Duomo as this is more expensive. Hope this helps! Jess x

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