Somehow, I only have two weeks left living with my host family and teaching at my school. Time has absolutely flown by, and last weekend, it hit me.
I’ve spent a lot of time this past week planning out the month of May. It has been an experience all on its own, with ups and downs along the way.
All along, I’ve planned on traveling Italy North to South after I leave here, so last weekend I already had a good idea of the places I wanted to go. Cinque Terre and Lake Como in the North, followed by Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples. Then, I’d head to the Campobasso area which is where my maternal lineage originates. After Campobasso I’d go to Sicily to explore both the main cities and the small towns where my paternal line originates. After Sicily I’d head to other countries in Europe.
So I went online to book some rooms. For hostels, the app/website HostelWorld makes things very easy. It has almost every hostel as well as many budget hotels. You search and book online, pay a deposit online, and the app offers free cancellation if you pay an extra $1 (Always worth it in my book). Booking.com and TripAdvisor are both good for hotels.
Additionally I use Trenitalia‘s website to get estimates of the cost of the train tickets between cities. Trenitalia is the operator of Italy’s state railways (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane) and their network, while sometimes criticized for punctuality, is incredibly comprehensive, covering nearly every corner of Italy. It’s also quite reasonably priced, though the high speed trains between major cities can be expensive if you don’t book in advance. The short-haul “regionale” trains are slower, but they have fixed prices so you can buy them same-day for no additional cost. I plan on using them as much as possible and going in an efficient route down the peninsula, that way I save some cash while still moving quickly.
So I went online and started booking. I booked 2 nights in the riviera city of Genova to get me going, then 4 nights in the nearby Cinque Terre. Then I booked a night in Milan and 4 nights at Lake Como. After that I booked 4 nights in Venice, 3 nights in Florence, 3 nights in Rome, a week in Naples (more days because from Naples you visit Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast), and 5 days in Campobasso. This itinerary took me to June 6 and I still wanted to spend a good 2-3 weeks in Sicily. This would mean that it’d practically be July before I visited another European country.
I slept on it a few days and decided to scrap the whole thing and start over. I have until September to travel Europe and while Italy is by far the most important country for me, I don’t want to spend too much time in Italy and miss out on the variety of experience that’s offered by visiting other places. I am more excited to visit the South of Italy than the North, so I don’t want to give myself “Italy fatigue” by the time I make it to the South. I don’t want to be going through the motions when I get to Naples and Sicily. I decided to change my itinerary. I’m going to move fast through Cinque Terre, Como, Venice, Florence, and Rome, and take my time on the second half. While Venice, Florence and Rome are generally considered the most important tourist cities in the country, my heritage is further South and I’m more excited to go South, find my roots, and spend some time getting to know the places.
When this trip existed in my mind, the time felt infinite. Now that I’m actually booking rooms, I realize that while four months is a long time, it’s not infinite. I don’t want to waste my time. So, I scrapped Genova. I’ve already been there once and actually am going again on a field trip with the school on the last week of April. I also decided to cut Lake Como from 4 nights to 1 night. While Como looks quite beautiful, I decided it wasn’t quite unique enough to spend 5 days there. I have already been to a similar lake on a field trip with school. There is one specific sight (which I’ll post later) that I want to see in Como so I’m still going to make a short trip up there, even though it’s out of the way.
I cut a day from my Venice trip and a day from my Rome trip. I read two full days in Venice is probably enough to see the main sights, and I’ve already been to Rome.
I had some issues rearranging the itinerary, because some of the places I wanted were sold out. But somehow, I made the necessary changes and worked something out. The Como hostel was booked solid and there are no alternatives, so I’m just going to day trip to the lake from Milan.
I still have some decisions to make. Right now I have a hotel booked in Venice but I might switch to a hostel. I might tweak the days I spend in certain places. But overall, I think my itinerary for Italy is pretty good. It goes until the end of May so I saved a week with my revisions. I still have to plan Sicily and then start planning the rest of Europe. I want to book further in advance from now on so I can get the places I want.