Final Thoughts & Recommendations

  • The Rick Steves tour was wonderful - the guides were top-notch and engaging, and it was the perfect mix of structured activities (museum visits) and free time. Here’s a link to the Rick Steves tour I took.

  • It pays off to wake up early in Venice to beat the cruise ship crowds. Plus, who doesn’t love a little Nutella in the morning?

  • Walk around Venice and Florence in the evenings, when the cities empty out. It’s so peaceful and beautiful, and you see the locals walking their (adorable) dogs.

  • For women, bring a sweater or something to cover your shoulders when you visit churches.

  • Most museums allow you to bring a small bottle of water with you. I bought one the first day and refilled it regularly.

  • Mosquitoes are a real thing, especially in Venice. Keep the windows closed when you’re sleeping or prepare to be itchy.

  • Some hotels offer laundry services, some don’t. I washed/dried socks and underwear in the bathroom, but for pants and tops, I recommend paying a little extra and having a laundry service take care of it. Who wants to spend time in a laundromat when you could be enjoying LIFE IN ITALY?

  • At restaurants, ask if there’s a cover charge (il coperto). Many restaurants charge separately for water, but it’s a small price to pay to linger over a delicious meal. Ask your guide if tipping is expected.

  • Use your extra euros to buy olive oil at the Duty Free store. I heard from several people that the best olive oils remain in Italy. If you’re worried about them breaking in your luggage, buy the tins instead. I bought two tins and only wish I’d purchased more.

  • Write a postcard to yourself. It’s a nice memory of the way you felt when you were half a world away.

Postcard I wrote to myself in Italy.

Postcard I wrote to myself in Italy.

Postcard to myself, received approximately two weeks after returning from two weeks in Italy. I wanted to remember the wave of joy I felt as I ate my first dinner in Venice. The crisp taste of Prosecco at the bar atop the Spanish Steps. The strains of the cover band playing “It’s My Life” in Florence. The sound of the wind rustling the leaves at a winery in Umbria. The excitement of finding an old copy of “Little Women” in English at a book stall in Rome for one euro, with notes in Italian scribbled in the margins. It was 32 degrees when my postcard arrived in Chicago, but my heart was warm. Until next time, Italy.

Postcard to myself, received approximately two weeks after returning from two weeks in Italy. I wanted to remember the wave of joy I felt as I ate my first dinner in Venice. The crisp taste of Prosecco at the bar atop the Spanish Steps. The strains of the cover band playing “It’s My Life” in Florence. The sound of the wind rustling the leaves at a winery in Umbria. The excitement of finding an old copy of “Little Women” in English at a book stall in Rome for one euro, with notes in Italian scribbled in the margins. It was 32 degrees when my postcard arrived in Chicago, but my heart was warm. Until next time, Italy.