Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Visiting Italy was literally like a dream. The land of pizza, pasta, and immaculate views has completely stolen my heart. I had the pleasure of traveling to Milan, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast. It was so great to experience what life is like in several different Italian cities, as the culture varies slightly in each one. I want to give you a glimpse of what it was like to experience all of the beauty and wonder that is Italy.
I'm sure by now you've heard the phrase "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." This phrase could easily be applied in any country you visit, but after visiting Rome I can say that this phrase reigns true. When visiting a foreign country or place, it is easier to navigate your new surroundings by following the lead and customs of the people who live there. I find so much joy in being amongst the locals when I travel (the less tourists around, the better). Rome is a city with such a rich history and vibrant culture. There are so many notable landmarks to see in Rome, including one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World: The Colosseum. Here is a list of landmarks and monuments to see while in Rome:
The Colosseum (One of the main symbols of Rome)
Trevi Fountain (Iconic 18th century fountain)
Spanish Steps (connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to Trinità dei Monti church)
Pantheon (an iconic symbol of Rome that is still used today as a Catholic Church)
The Vatican Museums (free admission on Sundays, arrive early to avoid a long wait)
St. Peter's Basilica (home of the Pope and one of largest churches in the world)
Sistine Chapel (Michaelangelo's Masterpiece)
Castel Sant'Angelo (Especially known for its history and culture)
Legend has it that if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome. If you throw another coin in the fountain, you will meet an Italian and fall in love...and if you're feeling particularly lucky, toss a third coin in the fountain and you will marry that Italian you met. As for the Colosseum, this structure has been around for 2,000 years and it served as a staple of entertainment for Romans until it was destroyed by an earthquake. However, it still stands tall and strong, attracting millions of tourists year-round. Standing in the middle of the Colosseum made me feel like I was back in time, in the Roman Empire.
Fun Fact: Rome is the largest city in Italy with a population of 2.87 million people.
Vatican City is actually its own independent city-state, located in the heart of Rome. It is ruled by the Pope, or the Bishop of Rome. St. Peter's Basilica can accommodate 20,000 people, which is where the Pope presides. There are 17 total Vatican Museums, with the Sistine Chapel being one of the most iconic and jaw-dropping museums in Vatican City.
One of the best ways to see all of these wonderful Roman attractions is to book a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Upon my morning arrival in Rome, my friend wasn't due to arrive until later in the afternoon. So, I casually booked one of the hop-on hop-off bus tours with Greenline Bus Tours, as recommended by the hotel. It was one of the best things I could have done, because it made it so easy to see the monuments and attractions in a short time. I'll be honest and say this was my first time booking a bus tour on my own, but it was such a cool experience to have my first taste of what it feels like to be on a solo trip. I even met another Black woman along the way during my tour, who was also solo traveling. She's also from the U.S. (I'm from North Carolina and she's from South Carolina) and we ended up sharing an electric bike taxi to see some of the monuments I mentioned above. You never know who you might meet along the way while on your travel journey and that is the beauty of traveling around the world.
Pro Tip: Go see some of the monuments at night. They have night walking tours for you to book or you can go with your travel group. The lighting at night adds a special flare to them, especially the Trevi Fountain...thank me later.
Known as the global capital of fashion and design, Milan is an eclectic and romantic city. It's widely known for its high-end restaurants and shopping malls. While my stay in Milan was short, I had a chance to experience the majestic Duomo di Milano Cathedral and the Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center. Standing in front of the fifth largest Christian cathedral in the world was an amazing feeling. The architecture is extraordinary: it is 45 meters tall with 40 pillars, making it large enough to fit a whopping 40,000 people inside.
When you think of Milan, think luxury. All of the big name and high-end designers have their stores in Milan. Some of the greatest looks from New York Fashion Week have been inspired by the designs hailing from one of the fashion capitals of the world: Milano.
Fun fact: Leonardo da Vinci spent most of his active years in Milan. His famous painting 'The Last Supper' is housed in Milan's Holy Mary of Grace church.
While in Milan, be sure to take a stroll down the canal. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to visit while enjoying the views of the colorful houses and of course the water. Similar to Venice, much of Milan connected by canals which can be traveled by gondolas.
The Amalfi Coast is a long stretch of coastline in the South of Italy. It is comprised of several notable villages with breathtaking views, including:
Positano was my favorite city along the Amalfi Coast, primarily because of the views and the beach. We had the best tour guide and driver too (shoutout to Paulo). Book your next tour with Feeling Amalfi Tours to see the entire Amalfi Coast in just one day. The trains in Italy are very accessible and easy to navigate. Although we stayed at the NH Collection Hotel Roma Palazzo Cinquecento in Rome, the Roma Termini train station is right across the street from the hotel. We took the train from Rome to Naples and our driver picked us up from the train station in Naples to start our day trip and tour of the Amalfi Coast.
The views in Positano and Ravello are spectacular. I couldn't stop marveling at the beauty of the ocean and the beautiful houses on the hills.
Ravello has some of the most intricate art pieces, decked out in lemon paintings of course. Italy is overall a very walkable country, with plenty of cobblestone streets throughout. Be sure to wear some good walking shoes during your stay in Italy.
Fun Fact: We actually spotted the iconic Denzel Washington dining with his family in Positano. It was so cool to see him casually dining amongst the locals.
We made a pit stop in Pompeii at the end of our day tour and it was equally informative and shocking to see the ruins. A quick history of Pompeii: It is now an archaeological site in Italy's Campania region that was once a thriving city, before being destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius is the volcano that erupted and today, tourists can visit Pompeii to see the ruins and body casts of the people who unfortunately lost their lives in the volcanic eruption.
I shared a lot about the Italian cuisine in another blog post entitled "Italian Dream Cuisine," but I have to include a tidbit about limoncello here. Limoncello is the popular drink of choice in the Amalfi Coast, as this drink is exclusive to this part of Italy. Our driver made a stop at the Limoncello factory and we got indulge in some limoncello and wine tastings.
Limoncello is a signature liqueur made from the lemons grown in the Amalfi Coast. The lemons are marinated in alcohol and then mixed with a water and sugar based syrup. It is best paired with Prosecco to accomplish the famous, Limoncello Spritz.
When in the Amalfi Coast, you'll see a lot of travelers and locals wearing their best linen outfits paired with big sun hats. Ladies also can be seen wearing their favorite sun dresses, especially ones decorated with...lemons.
I shared a lot about the Italian cuisine in another blog post entitled "Italy vs. EATly," but I have to include a tidbit about limoncello here. Limoncello is the popular drink of choice in the Amalfi Coast, as this drink is exclusive to this part of Italy. Our driver made a stop at the Limoncello factory and we got to indulge in some limoncello and wine tastings. s. . nt Italian cities, as the Italian culture varies slightly in each one. I want to give you a glimpse of what it was like to experience all of the beauty and wonder that is Italy.
I really enjoyed seeing all the yachts on the beach. On my next trip back to the Amalfi Coast, you can find me on a yacht with a tall class of limoncello spritz.
Until next time, Molte Grazie Italia! Ciao bella.