So Italy it is.. This time Andris has chosen to mind our two babies – cockatiels – Coco and Tuki at home and let me enjoy some well-deserved mommy and daughter time as my mom joins me for the trip. Coincidently our last trip together was to Italy as well to Rome more precisely.. But on this occasion we will be covering three different regions in Central and North Italy – Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany. There have been a lot of thought and planning gone in to this trip, as our time was limited to one week – well 7 and half days if you include the flights.. So let’s get to it – how we planned the trip…

Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River, Florence, Italy

Locations visited:

    LombardyBergamo, Milan;

    VenetoVenice, Verona;

    Tuscany – Florence; Pisa

Duration: 7 and half days

Transportation: Train, bus

Our starting / end point: Bergamo airport

Itinerary: Bergamo – Venice – Verona – Florence – Pisa – Florence – Milan

Country: Italy

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: Italian

Time zone: UTC+ and in summer BST (UTC+2)

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plug type: C, F – two pins and type: L – Three pins

Normal European two pin plug worked for us in all accommodations we stayed at.

Visa: Check if you require a Visa

Me and my mum at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice

We visited one of the most picturesque region in Central Italy – Tuscany. Known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy, wines and its influence on high culture. Tuscany’s regional capital Florence – the birth place of Italian Renaissance and home to the Medici family and Pisa – world famous for its leaning tower.

Duomo dominating the Florence panorama at dawn from San Miniato al Monte Basilica’s steps, Florence, Italy

Duomo dominating the Florence panorama at dawn, photo taken from San Miniato al Monte Basilica’s steps, Florence, Italy

Also no visit to Italy would be complete without visiting the Veneto region in Northern Italy – beautiful canals and architecture of Venice and mesmerizing Verona. My mum was particularly interested in Verona as she is a literature teacher and Shakespeare is one of her favorite authors.

Arena di Verona – a Roman amphitheater in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy. Still in use today and world famous for the large-scale opera performances.

Arena di Verona – a Roman amphitheater in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy. Still in use today and world famous for the large-scale opera performances.

In Lombardy we visited the worlds fashion capital and Expo 2015 host – Milan and visited Bergamo city for a couple of hours while waiting for our train.

Our itinerary for the week was as follows:

Day 1: Bergamo

Arriving at Bergamo airport. Short visit to Bergamo town. Evening train to Venice. Overnight in Venice.

Day 2: Venice

Full day sightseeing in Venice. Overnight in Venice.

Day 3: Verona

Morning train to Verona. Leave luggage at the train station and full day exploring Verona. Evening train to Florence. Overnight in Florence.

Day 4: Florence

Full day of exploring Florence. Overnight in Florence.

Day 5: Pisa

Morning/ afternoon train to Pisa. Exploring Pisa. Evening train back to Florence. Overnight in Florence.

Day 6: Florence

Full day exploring Florence. Evening train to Milan. Overnight in Milan.

Day 7: Milan

Full day exploring Milan. Overnight in Milan.

Day 8: Bergamo airport

Early morning bus to Bergamo airport. Flight home.

Duomo di Milano – cathedral dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity, Milan, Italy.

Duomo di Milano – cathedral dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity, Milan, Italy.

Tip: If you are planning to see any churches, make sure you dress appropriately no shorts or tank tops are allowed anywhere in Italy. We had two large light scarves with us to cover up were we needed. In some churches you can also purchase covers for a euro or two.

More on our trip adventures and must see sights in each city will follow shortly…  🙂

Italy actually chose us. How you may ask? You can read all about on our earlier post here: How our travel plans for Norway got changed to Italy by train. But to cut the long story short, Bergamo airport was the only meeting point with an hour of waiting time between our two meeting flights as I was traveling from Ireland and my mum from Latvia.

Both our flights were booked with Ryanair – arriving midday on Sunday and departing early in morning week later from Bergamo airport.

At first our plan was completely different. Our focus point was Lake Garda and Verona by car. But the car rental didn`t work out, because of the Italian national holiday Ferragosto or Assumption Day, we couldn’t return the car on time. I was forced to look for other options for our trip. But after my mum mentioned that she would love to see Venice and Florence, a new idea had sparked in my mind – train, all would be possible if we used the Fast Speed Train as our transport to save the valuable time and still travel on budget. Italy`s cities are well connected, no matter what airport you land – train station is not far off.

Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy There is an international airport near Pisa, if you want to start your journey from here.

Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
There is an international airport near Pisa, if you want to start your journey from here.

All our tickets except for regional trains were pre booked online month before traveling on Trenitalia website (they have an English version too) to get the best price. Our itinerary at the begining was Bergamo – Milan – Florence – Pisa – Florence –Venice – Verona – Bergamo, but we ended up traveling it the other way around, as it worked cheaper due to some train tickets and hotel prices. Trenitalia has different price options and different classes for trains, the cheapest Super economy tickets are non-refundable and cannot be changed or refunded, unless the train is cancelled. But it was fine with us because we didn’t plan to change anything.

Bergamo transfer

There are no train station at Bergamo airport, but the closest one is in the Bergamo town. Take the Bergamo bus Nr. 1 from airport to the train station situated in Piazza Marconi (there is fountain in the front of the train station). The bus then proceeds to the lower town, then onto the Funicular station and then up to the upper town “Città Alta”. There is no luggage department under the bus so you will have to take it on the bus. At the time of writing price for the ticket was 2 euro*, we bought them from the info desk at the airport, there was also a self-service ticket machine at the bus stop, accepting only coins. Tickets are valid for 90 min from the moment you validated them on the bus. Remember always validate your ticket!

View of Città Alta from Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy

View of Città Alta from Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy

Our train trips and where we got the tickets:

From Bergamo train station to Venice Mestre (change in Brescia) – pre booked online

From Venice Mestre to Verona – tickets from self-service ticket machine in train station

From Verona to Florence – pre booked online

Return trip Florence – Pisa – Florence – return tickets from self-service ticket machine in train station

From Florence to Milan – pre booked online

We used the Terravision bus for our transfer from Milan to Bergamo airport. Cheap tickets only 5 euro* at the time of writing.

We ended up taking 6 trains and 2 busses. The total cost of all the transport come down to 83 euro per person, 11.85 euro per person per day on transport.

Tip: Always remember to validate your ticket at train station, little yellow/ some green machines just before you get on the platform. Online tickets with set date and time doesn’t need to be validated, but double check this just in case it is changed.

Don’t assume that conductor wont check your ticket if you travel only one stop. Our tickets were checked on every train we took and fines are quite heavy and there is no mercy on Italian trains if you don’t have a ticket or if it is not validated, so it is not worth the risk.

For more tips on how we planned the itinerary by train and how to book on Trenitalia check out our article: Tips on booking & how we planned our Italy by train itinerary?

Accommodation in Italy can be as cheap or as expensive as you wish. There is a vast range of hotels, hostels, B&B, Pensions and apartments to choose for every budget. Because I was traveling with my mum, my focus was on more comfortable and private room accommodations with air-conditioning. Well August in Italy can be quite hot and I must say air-conditioning during the night was extremely pleasant, it was well worth the extra money we spent on it.

Venice

Our base in Venice was the mainland part of city – Venice Mestre. It was a lot cheaper, then staying in the Venice center, and Mestre is only a short bus ride away from all the major sights.

One of many picturesque canals of Venice, Venezia, Italy

One of many picturesque canals of Venice, Venezia, Italy

 

Florence

Eco-friendly – Panorama Hotel in Florence was very good, well recommended. Location could not have been better, short walk away from both connecting train stations, that we used and 5 min walk from Duomo. It had a good high speed Wi-Fi in the room, the beds were comfortable and rooms are sound proof and clean. We had a great view of Duomo and Florence from our room and the terrace upstairs. The only downside was breakfast service – the replenishment of the buffet food was extremely slow. Whatever time you got the breakfast it was always the same.

Ponte Vecchio bridge at night, in Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio bridge at night, in Florence, Italy

Milan

Our accommodation in Milan was strategically selected – 5 min walk from the central train station. We arrived very late by train in Milan and had to leave early Sunday morning to catch our flight home. Guest House Pirelli Milano ticked all the boxes – location, clean, air-conditioning and massive twin beds, the guest house looked just like the pictures from the booking site, which is rare. Also shared bathroom was no inconvenience, as it was near our room and we never had to wait for it. And staff was amazing and very accommodating.

More on our trip adventures and must see sights in each city will follow shortly…

* Information correct as of August 2015