April 18, 2014

Italy - Most memorable family vacation

We were covering 3 countries on this trip (Italy, Switzerland and Spain). Please follow my blog posts for the other the 2 destinations. This is a family vacation so the itinerary is more conducive to folks with younger kid(s). Our motive was to be able to shift our gears between being tourist (been there done that), being a traveller (get your unique experience).

Total No. of days in Italy: approx 5 days
Time of Year:  May-June (2011)
Weather: AWESOME (in capital letters).
Destinations in Italy: Milan, Tirano, Venice, Vatican, Rome, Sperlonga, Pisa (Sorry no Florence)
Travelling From: Seattle WA (USA)
Itinerary (all 3 countries): Italy-Swiss-Spain
Commuting in Italy: Trains, Buses and Subway/Metro
Local day passes serves bang for your buck. You can hop into any Metro (subway train) or bus any number of time during the 24 hr period. The tickets are electronically detected for their validation. So no matter when you purchase your ticket its valid for the next 24hrs from the time you purchase and not 24hr on the clock.

PS: This trip did not involve visits to ANY museums.
     Click Milan to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Tirano to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Venice to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Vatican City to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Rome to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Sperlonga to look into our trip details and information.
     Click Pisa to look into our trip details and information.

Some Facts: 
Be wary of pickpockets and snatchers lurking around. Always keep an eye on your belongings.

Water is more expensive than Beer and it never comes free.

The city map and metro timetable is your greatest asset. If you are poor in reading or following maps, you can easily get lost. Thankfully my husband is good with maps most of the times and the few times he fails, surprisingly I come handy.

I wouldn't recommend renting a car to go around the city. Driving isn't as disciplined as you may experience in USA (better than India). Parking is a hassle everywhere. Most likely you will be wasting time rather than saving time. Despite all this you will still end up walking a lot.

Brush up your walking skills and stamina. Kids would need a stroller. We learned it the hard way.

All inter city train stations in Italy have cloakroom to store away your luggage for a nominal fee (per baggage or per locker). They do charge on hourly basis. We made use of these in all needed situations for us!

The inter city trains are extremely comfortable and its an experience of its own. Most of the time they show up like clock work! You can find out if your train will have a dining car and or beverage service (oh you pay for those separately). I loved travelling by those trains.

Italians start the day very late I guess. I noticed that their 1st subway service started at 6:00 am in the morning. So know the timings onset your day.

Through out Italy you will find hawkers on the road side trying to sell fake items of branded goods especially handbags. Remember: It is a crime to sell those and even worse for people who buy it. If a police catches you red handed you are doomed!

Did you know if you are found wearing or carrying fake designer stuff (especially handbags, sunglasses) you will be intercepted by police if they notice. So if you are carrying Fendi, Prada, Louis Vuitton bags make sure it is original. It doesn't matter even if you have bought it elsewhere (any country).

Italian's don't speak much of English, so you will face some difficulty at stores. So know your currency well :) if you know what I mean.

There are a lot of smokers (men, women, young boys, young girls). The smell/smoke can easily fog you. If you dislike you have to get away. They are very unapologetic.

To enter any Cathedral/Duomo everyone (Including men, women and children) should have their shoulders covered (No sleeveless) and your attire should be below your knee length. So, what can you do? Get 2 scarves- one of it may be a little oversized. use one to throw around your shoulders and the other to wrap around your hip covering your knees. This way you can dress up skimpily and yet be able to honor the rules when required.

Legally they don't allow photography inside the any Cathedral/Duomo, but people do sneak.

Try Italian Gelato anywhere and everywhere possible...its tasty and helped us keep cool during our sunny walks.

Cappuccino is amazingly tasty. I guess its the difference in milk.

Did you know the hot chocolate in Mcdonalds is literally a thick goop of chocolate.  It was way too sweet and way too dark and way too chocolatey. you can make 5 hot chocolates easily out of one small hot chocolate that you order there :)

At Mcdonalds drinking hot chocolate 

It's 6:00 am in the morning and no subway/metro service yet. The doors are locked to the subway.

I guess you can rent a bike

Enjoying a Gelato on a hot summer night

Click here for some Italian glossary that could come handy: in italiano 

Spero che questo aiuti (Hope this helps)
godetevi il vostro tempo in italia (Enjoy your time in Italy)

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