Last summer, I had the great joy of inter-railing through Italy and discovered some of its most beautiful cities. As expected, I definitely preferred some more than others, which leads me to my countdown of the best cities this great country of romance, pizza and the Pope, have to offer.
Naples was an odd one. We didn’t spend much time there but judging from the area around our hotel it didn’t seem like the prettiest or safest of cities – with its narrow alleyways, washing hanging from every window and occasional odd men lurking in doorways. However I’ll give credit where it’s due and Naples did have an amazing secret underground city. You can take tours around it and there was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had (and as you can imagine we had a lot of pizza on our trip!). If you have your wits about you, then I still think you can find a certain charm about this city even with its certain oddities. On the other hand you might prefer to avoid that sort of atmosphere, and in that case Naples may not be the place for you. A massive bonus is how very easy it is to get to Pompeii and Sorrento for day trips, which are well worth visiting.
Verona was very posh and clean. As soon as we stepped off our bus and into the city centre, we were greeted with an impressively large replica of the Colosseum. Fun fact, it is actually a theatre which hosts regular performances. There are also, of course, many references to the infamous star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, and you can go and see Juliet’s balcony if that’s a site that appeals to you. It’s a bit on the pricier side here so factor that into your budget. In fairness it does have a lovely shopping district with a lot of charm about it, plus there’s an adorable old town to visit as well. So although it’s my number four, it’s definitely not one to disregard.
Florence was abundant in culture; it’s the home to Michelangelo’s David and numerous art galleries. So if you love art, then this is absolutely the place for you. Florence is also located in the Tuscany region, from which the wine is absolutely beautiful. Most notably for me was Chianti, a red wine, which if you get the chance to try you really should. The entire city is super charming with beautiful architecture to gaze at and plenty of shops to browse in. But if art isn’t your scene then it may not be the Italian city for you.
I know what you’re thinking…who would put Rome second? Rome with its magnificent Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St Peter’s Basilica and Pantheon is without doubt stunning. There is much to see and for a capital city it isn’t really that big either; meaning you can walk from one side to the other. Nonetheless there is a tube system, which is quite good and can make things a bit easier. Rome is also the home to the best ice cream I have ever had – this cannot be missed, you really must put it at the top of your agenda. It can of course be expensive, like nearly all capital cities, but you can always find cheaper places with a bit of extra footwork. Over all though, it’s a spectacular city that is well worth visiting.
Yes the number one spot goes to the beautiful city of Venice, which absolutely stole my heart. With gondolas gliding by everywhere, different little islands to explore and small little alleyways with something new hidden around every corner, it just felt pretty near perfect. Owing to it being an island, everything is quite expensive there but it really does have such an amazing atmosphere and is well worth the money just to experience. There are a few big monuments to see; but even just getting lost through the streets and discovering new little shops in unexpected places feels like an incredible adventure. If you get bored of one island, you can just hop across to the next one using water taxis – always finding new beaches or just something else to explore. I went there in the summer as well and found the notorious smell of the river to be a bit of a myth; so thankfully that helped it keep its charm! Combine all these amazing things with good food and company and it was basically paradise for me.