I’ve had a few of my readers ask for some of the locations, attractions, and Airbnbs that we used so I thought I would share our itinerary, where we stayed, how we got around etc.
Flights were booked through http://www.exploretrip.com. We were able to secure flights via Finnish Air, operated by British Airways, for under $800. We flew out of SFO landed in Heathrow, and then caught flight to Bologna. British Airways was fantastic. I have friends who didn’t have great experiences with them, but Kelly and I were more than happy with their service.
Getting to Stephanie’s apartment in Firenze (Florence): We had 2 options – take either the bus or train to Firenze S.M.N Train station:
Bus info: http://www.appenninoshuttle.it/: 20 euros or 25 euros onboard direct
NTrain info: First take bus to Bologna Centrale Station – cost is 6 euros, then take Trenitalia to Firenze S.M.N – Cost between 10-15 euros
Train info: http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en
Stephanie met us at the train station – since it was about 7:30pm we walked around Florence a bit, grabbed dinner and drinks.
- Visit Accademia Museum – Booked for 10am (online)
- Mercato Centrale for lunch – SO cool – I definitely recommend this, and for some reason it made me feel like I was in Seattle. It just had the vibe.
- Climb the Duomo – booked for 1:30PM climb – take water and make sure you have your walking shoes on!
- Walk around Firenze some more
- Aperitivo – Drinks and a light buffet at Moyo: 10 euros (we did this twice! It was perfect)
- Spend the night in Firenze
- Rent car and drive to Tuscany.
- Rental car cost: Approximately $135
- Booked an Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8396787
- Visited: Montepulciano, Tuscany
- Check out Montepulciano some more little vilalges and visit Volterra
- Drive back to Florence for a 5pm rental car return
- Depart for Venice by train (2.5 hour ride)
- Purchased tickets online (via Italo)
- St. Mark’s Basilica
- Gondola ride – approximately 40 euros – plus tip
- More sight seeing around Venice and St. Mark’s Square
- Took the last train back to Florence
- Take early train to Rome (1.5 hour ride)
- Purchased train tickets online (via Italo)
- Booked Airbnb for two nights: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2751075
- Vatican Museum – purchase tickets ahead of time on the Vatican Museum’s website: 45 euros – you definitely want to purchase ahead of time to avoid the long lines for non ticket holders.
- The Vatican Museum took up most of our first day in Rome. Grabbed some dinner, bought some wine at the little store below our apartment, and called it a night.
- Colosseum first thing in the morning. We purchased the Colosseum tickets at the Colosseum, which also included the Roman Forum.
- Toured the Colosseum, then met up with Stephanie and Diana for a walking tour of Rome, which included: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain etc. These tours are “free” but a generous tip is expected at the end of the tour.
- Depart Rome in the early morning to head back to Florence
- We were all so tired when we returned to Florence, we decided to take a nap, which turned more into a 4 hour nap, then got up to find something to eat, walked around the leather market and purchased gifts for our families and friends. This was basically our only down time – but was much needed and I recommend you build some of that into your itinerary.
- Depart for Pisa.
- You really only need a couple of hours in Pisa so we purchased our train tickets at the station and took the 1.5 hour train ride to Pisa.
- Checked out the leaning tour, grabbed some food and headed back to Florence via train.
- This day was used to finish up any shopping we still wanted to do. Walk around the leather market some more, and we climbed to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo to check out the beautiful nighttime view (I look like I’m in front of a green screen – but I promise I’m not!)
- Also, we decided to take a walking tour of Florence, which concentrated on the Medici family. It was quite interesting, and again it was “free” but a generous tip was expected at the end.
Headed home 😦 We took the bus directly to the airport (purchased the tickets the day before at the train station on our way back from Pisa)
Tip of advice for traveling back from Heathrow: We caught a flight from Bologna to Heathrow, and had about a 1.5 hour layover. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME! Kelly and I almost missed our connecting flight – we literally had 7 minutes to get through security and clear to the other side of the airport. Going forward, I would not feel comfortable having anything less than 2 hours between flights.
I hope this helps! As you can see, we packed A LOT into 9 days, but it was well worth it! I think we saw the most out of the fewest number of days.
I wish you happy travels!!