It was big, it was bold, it was possibly too ambitious. But it was done: 48 hours in Milan, Venice, Rome and Naples in one chock full week on the move.
I had never been to Italy. I was unsure what to think, and upon entering into conversation with several people about it, I had soon been recommended at least 25 locations that I had to visit. And so, indecisive old me had a look on the internet for the cheapest flights and started from there.
Something like £40 got me to Milan and so it seemed a no-brainer. But did I want to spend longer than a day there on a tiny budget? Probably not. And so it was with that that me and a partner in crime set our sights on the legendary fairytale town of Venice. Having said that, Milan was wonderful to start with and it was with a tummy full of G.B cafe’s famous panini, a freshly squeezed orange juice and one of the best chocolate gelato that I have ever tasted that we plodded off to Venice via train.
When we arrived it was under the guise of darkness with only the reflections off the water to greet us. It was quiet and perfect, and we were hungry. Having dropped our bags at we_crociferri (a hostel that has yet to realise it can charge double its room rate for its location and decor), we dipped in to a local osteria to be greeted like old friends with two plates of Venice’s speciality pasta dishes (squid ink pasta and pasta with anchovies). Four spritz’s later and we were ready for bed.
The following day we did the sights as everyone does the sights. The Bridge of Sighs, churches, the water bus, looking into every store window for speciality cameo rings. With a day full of walking, we concluded with a treat for ourselves – more squid ink pasta.
With heavy hearts and many, many regrets expressed by my partner, we left Venice the next day for Rome. It was at this point when I realised that fore planning probably would have been a good idea with the 3 and a half hour train journey blowing a 68 euro hole in my holiday arsenal. Nevertheless the train was plush (needlessly plush) and ran on time. On entering Rome around midday, we settled in our Generator Hostel which was a bit further away from downtown than previously expected, but still nice.
We did the Trevi Fountain -one of the most unpleasant and stressful locations on our trip, but still worthwhile- and several churches and settled down for a meal that I insisted on getting cacio e peppe (spaghetti with parmesan and pepper) with some suppli to start. We also decided to jump ship from the Generator and instead headed to Hotel dei Consoli, which had an odd vibe but came with free breakfast. More suppli, Roman pizza and arrabiata was next on what had swiftly become a food tour.
Off to Naples and shabby Italy was on full display. The train was late and the seats not entirely well proportioned to fit legs in front of. It was also a warm economical welcome of 12 euros. Upon arrival we were bowled over by motorbikes, cars, mopeds and people for 20 consecutive minutes until we reached the oasis that was our Airbnb. Our hosts recommended a local pizza restaurant where we began our descent into an exclusively pizza diet that resulted in a tally of 4 pizzas each in two days. I felt no need to expand my horizons beyond that classic margarita.
To conclude, Trip Advisor is your best friend, book transport in advance and hostels are the way.
It was big. It was bold. And it was the perfect amount of ambitious.