Rome, Venice and Lake Garda by planes, trains and Wowcher deals.
It’s been almost two months since Moon and I were spending our days sightseeing and eating our way through Italy. We took a Wowcher deal for Rome, Venice and Lake Garda by train (though it turned out to be by bus a lot too) and aside from having some pretty shocking hotels, it was a really fun holiday. I’d definitely recommend seeing Italy by train as it’s such a straightforward way to go about things. I will say this though, we’re pretty lucky I added a data pack onto my phone as we’d have been stuck in either the wrong part of Venice or Lake Garda at least twice during our trip – thanks, Wowcher!
Neither of us have ever been to Italy and it was quite hard work in terms of the amount of walking we did. That said, it was great to spend time together, meandering through new places and meander we certainly did, clocking up between 13 and 14 miles every day!
Free drinking water is available all over Rome, I know some people are a bit sketchy about things like this but we were all good throughout the trip. In fact, it was something we really missed when we got to Lake Garda
Starting off in Rome, we got a really early flight and managed to cover a lot of ground in our first day. Rome is an ideal city for a short weekend break, even breaking up our time there with a trip to the Vatican City, we were able to see so many sights and take in so much of the atmosphere. Most of the main attractions in Rome are fairly close together but there’s still a lot of walking to be done. We were staying about a 15 minute bus journey away from the city centre which wasn’t as big a deal as we thought it would be as the buses were so easy to use and we could buy tickets from just outside the hotel on the way to our stop.
Rome is the ideal city for a short city break.
Despite the crowds, the Trevi Fountain was easily one of the best things we saw. Photographs simply don’t do it justice and there’s no other way to describe it other than beautiful. As a city with such history there’s a lot of construction going on to repair the roads and architecture, which meant we didn’t get to sit on the Spanish Steps as our friends had when they visited a couple of years ago.
The Colosseum was my least favourite tourist attraction, I think it might have been because it was the weekend but there were just too many crowds. It is amazing to look at from the outside though.
There was quite a lot of street hawking going on but I don’t know why I was so worried about being pickpocketed. Obviously it happens in the same way it does in every city but just as it is everywhere else you just have to keep an eye on your stuff.
I’d definitely like to go back to Rome in the future. Even though we took in a lot in the short space of time we were there, being particularly lucky on our last day to get a full day, there are still a few things we missed off. That, and I could sit by the Trevi Fountain people watching all afternoon – I mean once you root through the streams of selfie sticks, there are quite a few characters!
You’re not really seeing Venice unless you get lost.
Unfortunately our Wowcher deal meant that we weren’t actually staying in Venice ‘proper’ but on the mainland. This is definitely something I’d say to watch out for if you’re booking a similar deal on Wowcher, it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience as it was only a 10 minute bus ride but it wasn’t helped by the fact that the hotel was one of the worst I’ve stayed in. The air-conditioner was broken and everything was dated and itchy. That being said, we weren’t spending much time there and it did make us get up and go and stay out.
Having been told that Venice was pretty small, I was surprised how much walking we did. It’s true, the distance isn’t far but when you’re winding your way through allies, it soon takes longer than you think to get from point A to point B. We even managed to get lost on our first evening and found an equally lost Spanish man who was close to missing his train – we helped each other muddle through though.
We couldn’t go to Venice without going on a gondola and even though I was initially worried about the cost, we ended up getting a €10 discount due to supposed future bad weather (which never came) and to get a shared one out by St Marco’s Square was the same price. It really was romantic, even if our gondolier spent a lot of time shouting out his gondolier friends.
I know it’s super touristy but this photo feels so unreal.
Just one Cornetto…
I’ve wanted to visit Venice for a long time and the romance it conjures up was very much present when we got there. There were photo opportunities around every corner and even though the gelato didn’t have a patch on Rome’s offerings, I really enjoyed my time in the city.
Risotto in Venice is a must!
I think if I were to visit Venice again it would be to go to some of the outlying islands, like Burano or Murano. Due to only really spending one full day there simply wasn’t enough time alongside our initial exploring – of which we did plenty. Even though it was a little more touristy than I was expecting, I’m glad I finally got to see this beautiful city.
Bella Lake Garda!
By the time we got to Lake Garda we were tired but still a bit sad that we only had one day left – it was one of those places that made me understand why people go to the same places on holiday over and over again. It was easily my favourite part of the trip, it was so beautiful. To top it off, we were staying in Garda – which isn’t even the fanciest part!
I think if we’d had more time we would have made time visit a few vineyards, maybe even done a bit of cycling but one day really didn’t allow for that. I was definitely keen for a dip in the lake but sunbathing by the pool had my name on it by the afternoon of our last day. Not only that but we saw a snake swimming in the water so I knew Moon would need more than a day of convincing.
We rounded off our holiday and our time in Lake Garda with a beautiful lakeside dinner. Visiting Lake Garda made me realise how expensive it had been in Venice and even Rome comparatively. The restaurant we picked was pretty fancy and next level compared to almost everything we ate – though we never had one bad meal the whole trip – but was around €30 cheaper + it was three courses and we had wine!
Things I’d avoid if I did it again…
I’d definitely recommend travelling around Italy like this to anyone, though if I were to go through Wowcher again, I’d probably avoid Tour Center. It took us nearly 8 hours to get to Milan Bergamo Airport using public transport on our last day – when Verona airport, where we could have flown home for 35euros (together), was just 40 minutes away. I do think it was something we needed to do as it was completely new to both of us and now we know how easy it is, next time will be a breeze!
I guess I was just really surprised because sometimes I feel like it’s difficult to get a bus in London so being able to navigate in a language that I can really only say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in has me feeling pretty good.
Pro-Traveling-in-Italy-Tip: If you find yourself with a little extra time before you fly home or go on to your next destination most train stations offer storage for your luggage for around 6euros. This can be really useful if, like us, you were travelling with bags to carry enough stuff for a week.