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The Grand Tour Of Italy
Italy trip budget Italy trip length Italy trip weather Italy trip transport
As summer 2017 came to a close my friend Alex and I set out on a two week adventure to explore five Italian cities (six if you include Pisa!). After arriving in Milan, we spent between two and four days in Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. Since I had never been to any of the cities and Alex had only been to Rome it was a long overdue chance to explore a country that so many people adore.
We used an Interrail pass to navigate by train, with ours costing £139 and allowing us to travel on six different days. It represents good value, especially if you’re travelling long distances. After two weeks of sightseeing, lots of walking, and countless pizzas we flew home from Naples. I think it’s hard to set a general budget for a trip like this since it depends on how much you want to do and see. However, after accommodation, flights and long haul trains, I’d recommend an allowance of 45€ per day. That’ll allow you to visit most of the attractions (which are ludicrously cheap for students and under 25s, and sometimes even free), get around the various cities using their bus and metro systems and eat out for lunch, dinner, and maybe breakfast too if you don’t fancy the free hostel offerings. Italy is a wonderful country that you should definitely visit if you have the chance. To be honest, I think the gelati alone is worth the price of a return flight, however if that’s not your thing (how?!), there’s plenty more to wet your appetite. Below are some of mine and Alex's highlights from the trip.
Milan Cathedral, which is absolutely huge
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Milan
Milan Cathedral, which is absolutely huge! Get up close to see the beautifully intricate stone and metal carving. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Look up
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Milan
Look up. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Bosco Verticale by Stefano Boeri is truly one of a kind (for the moment)
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Milan
Bosco Verticale by Stefano Boeri is truly one of a kind (for the moment). Photo by Barney Sheppard
Bosco Verticale by Stefano Boeri is truly one of a kind (for the moment)
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Venice
Venice is perhaps the most calming city I’ve ever been to. The absence of cars had an even more significant effect than I’d expected on the atmosphere of the city. Everywhere is so quiet and tranquil, and wandering the city is a dream since you never have to wait to cross roads or worry about cars. Many worldwide cities could learn a lot from Venice about creating an engaging cityscape, along with an atmosphere that encourages openness, community, and an active lifestyle.
All the narrow canals are beautiful
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Venice
All the narrow canals are beautiful. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Piazza San Marco at night following heavy rain
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Venice
Piazza San Marco at night following heavy rain. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Palazzo Contarini Del Bovolo, also known as Snail Tower, which offers incredible views
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Venice
Palazzo Contarini Del Bovolo, also known as Snail Tower, which offers incredible views. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Views over Venice from the tower
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Venice
Views over Venice from the tower. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Libreria Acqua Alta, a charming bookshop that holds all of its books in gondolas, bathtubs and rowing boats to save them during flooding
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Venice
Libreria Acqua Alta, a charming bookshop that holds all of its books in gondolas, bathtubs and rowing boats to save them during flooding. The name literally means "library of high water". Photo by Barney Sheppard
A tranquil reading spot
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Venice
A tranquil reading spot. Photo by Barney Sheppard
The small island town of Burano is well worth a visit
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Venice
The small island town of Burano is well worth a visit. It's about 25 minutes from Venice on the water bus. Photo by Barney Sheppard
The streets are as pretty as the canals
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Venice
The streets are as pretty as the canals. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Florence Cathedral has a stunning atypical appearance
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Florence
Florence Cathedral has a stunning atypical appearance. Photo by Barney Sheppard
A 15€ ticket for the Florence Cathedral complex includes access to the baptistery, tower, cathedral, interior, crypt and of course the famous duomo
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Florence
A 15€ ticket for the Florence Cathedral complex includes access to the baptistery, tower, cathedral, interior, crypt and of course the famous duomo. Get ready to climb lots of stairs, trust me it'll be worth it. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Piazza Michelangelo, home to potentially the most beautiful sunset view in the world
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Florence
Piazza Michelangelo, home to potentially the most beautiful sunset view in the world. Photo by Barney Sheppard
The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, an architectural oddity
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Pisa (Florence)
The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, an architectural oddity. Photo by Barney Sheppard
That slant though
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Pisa (Florence)
That slant though. Photo by Barney Sheppard
The Pantheon is my favourite building from the whole trip
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Rome
The Pantheon is my favourite building from the whole trip. Still standing after more than 2000 years and it still holds the record for the largest unsupported dome in the world. What a building. Photo by Barney Sheppard
I will never forget seeing this sunbeam
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Rome
I will never forget seeing this sunbeam. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Maxxi Museum by Zaha Hadid, which took me and Alex five hours to explore fully
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Rome
Maxxi Museum by Zaha Hadid, which took me and Alex five hours to explore fully. Plus it's free for architecture and art students! Photo by Barney Sheppard
Classic Zaha
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Rome
Classic Zaha. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, a study in geometric symmetrical perfection comissioned by Mussolini in 1935
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Rome
Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, a study in geometric symmetrical perfection comissioned by Mussolini in 1935. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica, which I haven't included any photos of because I don't want to ruin the surprise
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Rome
Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica, which I haven't included any photos of because I don't want to ruin the surprise. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Naples is different to all the other cities we visited in that there seemed to be much fewer tourists
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Naples
Naples is different to all the other cities we visited in that there seemed to be much fewer tourists. Before going lots of people said they felt indifferent about the city, however to me and Alex it felt real and gritty, and we both really enjoyed our time there. If I had to choose to live in one of the places we’d been, I’d probably choose Naples. Despite staying in the city centre we spent most of our time in nearby towns, hence there aren't many photos of the city itself. For this reason I would definitely like to go back to explore it further, and I would urge anyone who is considering visiting Naples not to be put off by the negative opinions of others.
Pompeii, which we weren't able to explore fully due to poor weather
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Naples
Pompeii, which we weren't able to explore fully due to poor weather. What we did see was an amazing snapshot of Roman life. Photo by Barney Sheppard
Sorrento, a stunning harbour town that's a short train ride from Naples
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Naples
Sorrento, a stunning harbour town that's a short train ride from Naples. Photo by Barney Sheppard