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What 2 weeks in Italy Taught Me

After my backpacking trip through Europe early last year, I told myself I would not spend any more money going there again. Europe didn’t seem to be my cup of tea or glass of wine, or even shot of whiskey. BUT, like every situation, I broke my promise. Go figure. You would too however if you got a call from an old friend asking you to attend a wedding with her at a castle in Bolzano, Italy. I guessssssss I could make an exception for that.


My previous Euro trip taught me a lot about my ability to travel solo; it helped build up character and confidence. This time would be different though. seeing as how I’d be traveling with a friend and during a busy season. Read all about my Italy Itinerary (just to give you a better idea of where I went) included: Rome, Florence, Venice, Bolzano, and Milan. Here is what 2 weeks in Italy taught me…

Don’t visit in the busy season

Please please don’t do it. I always stray away from the busy season but now I know why I didn’t want to come back to Europe this year, specifically during this time. Every place we went to besides Bolzano was over saturated with tourists. It really takes away (in my opinion) the beauty of a place when you are throwin ‘bows just to get across a bridge or into a cafe. The prices are way higher for accommodations, food, and activities…not to mention lines longer than the one at Apple for the new iPhone release. It’s ridiculous.

Instead: Go during the shoulder or off-season to avoid crowds and raised prices. Europe in the winter, although cold is very beautiful!


It’s hot in August

Thank you CAPTAIN OBVIOUS. I think because I lived my last 5 years in Florida and Georgia, I expected Europe to not be so damn hot. I was wrong. You got the sun beating down on you while you walk for hours around cities trying to find an escape from the heat, only to find out that the Cathedral you want to go in has no air. Do not underestimate the temperature, and make sure to hydrate your thirsty ass so you make it through the day! Reward yourself with a bottle of wine, some gelato or a swim afterward 🙂

Instead: Refer to the above solution. Going outside of the peak season will ensure you don’t overheat…I always say it’s easier to warm up than it is to cool down.


The Colosseum is in the middle of the city

I KNOW people are going to laugh at me for this. I just legit had no idea the Colosseum was in the middle of Rome. To be one of the Wonders of the World, I didn’t think people walked/ drove by it every day. Like, “hey guys lets all meet up at the Colosseum so we can go to dinner close by!” I guess I assumed it would be off in some magical field in the outskirts of the city. Seeing taxi’s honking, and people yelling close made it all seem so different than I expected.


The Colosseum was underwhelming

Maybe this had to do partially with what time of year it was, all those crowds…or maybe since it wasn’t in a majestic field like I assumed…OR MAYBE because the line to get in was over 2 hours long. We ended up having to pay $40 per person MORE just so we could skip the line. Once we got inside, the tour guide would make us walk 2 steps and then talk for 10 minutes, then another 2 steps and talk again. My friend and I ended up ditching the tour and just walking around by our self. Not how the day or the feeling of seeing the Colosseum for the first time should go.


The food is just as good as they say

Pretty sure I nicknamed myself fat ass during this trip, and pretty sure I ate pizza for breakfast at least half the time. The food is over the top, and I don’t mean in a showy way. Literally, EVERYTHING was good. You know what’s crazy? No matter how much pasta I ate, I never felt that tired/full/about to explode feeling. You know, when you submerge yourself into a plate of food like a damn animal and devour everything…even the plate? Never had that in Italy! Every Italian dish I had was magical. For the most part, I tried something new at each restaurant: beef carpaccio, cheese board, risotto, spaghetti, pastas, pizzas…I was in food heaven. They don’t call it EATLY for nothin’.


Order the house wine

I’m no red wine drinker, but my friend ordered house wine every single night and rarely had one she disliked. I, however, love champagne/prosecco but still ordered all house. It’s cheap and absolutely delicious!


Stay away from restaurants that display pictures outside

I had read about this little hint before traveling to Italy and decided to test its theory. Come to find out, it’s totally true! Restaurants in big tourist areas (I specifically remember in Rome and Milan) would not only display their menu outside, but pictures to go with each one! This is a major trap, the prices are noticeably higher here than other restaurants. PLUS, one Sunday in Milan, we couldn’t find a place close by that was open, so we had to settle for one. So expensive and the food was probably the worst we had the entire trip. Steer clear of these sneaky bastards!

Instead: Venture off the path and find a local spot that doesn’t try to charge you $15 for a glass of house wine.


Plan attractions ahead AND dress appropriately

These two go hand in hand when traveling around Italy. Plenty of well-known sites like The Vatican and multiple cathedrals make you cover up to enter, while some lesser known activities ALSO make you cover up. If you are out and about, make sure you bring a scarf/shawl/jacket etc.; notice before I said Italy is hot in summer, so it’s not feasible to wear pants and long sleeves all day. Dress accordingly AND plan ahead. We missed our slot time to enter the Vatican and ended up having to pay $50 each extra to skip the 3-hour line.

Another time we wanted to climb the Duomo but the line for that was also what seemed like 10 miles long. The Duomo also made you cover up, so we were not prepared like we should have been. Luckily it worked out for the best…bringing me to my next point…


Do whatever you wanna do

Earlier last year while backpacking Europe I learned not to do shit I didn’t want to do. I don’t want to wait in lines out in the sun, or go places just to check a box off my imaginary list. I enjoyed the cities for what I saw them as, a place to eat, drink and wander. Sure, the Sistine Chapel was pretty amazing and seeing the Vatican in person, but too many things now days are hyped up, and that ruins it for me. I don’t have to like a place because you or Trip Advisor said I should. THANKFULLY, the girl I was with felt the same way so I wasn’t forced to show to bitchy side. Don’t listen to everyone, do what makes you happy!


Venice is dirty and not very romantic

Did you know a gondola ride costs $100 Euros? Did you also know that while floating down a canal in one, you are pretty much playing bumper cars with the boat in front of you? I never once saw a couple alone in a canal on a gondola. Once again, something that was hyped up and ended up being “nothing like the movies”, as my friend said.

I promise I don’t go places trying to down them. I know it might seem like I never have anything positive to say, but I am just being real and as always, these are my opinions NOT YOURS. I wanted to like Venice, I really did, but aside from eating and little shopping, there isn’t too much else to do. You get around by foot or boat, and maybe since the waterways were there is why it smelled so bad? Whatever the case may be, I was let down.


Florence is amazing

See, I can be nice every once in a while. I recommend staying in Florence a little longer than Rome or Venice (in regards to hitting every place I hit) Not as touristy but has the most amazing ambiance. The character and charm of this city during the day is crazy, and it only gets better at night. I really can’t describe it to you, you just have to go see for yourself 🙂


Outside the major cities, accommodations are cheap!

Everyone says you HAVE to go to Rome and Venice and blah blah but getting outside of those tourist destinations is where the real beauty happens! For your eyes and your wallets! We stayed in an amazing bed and breakfast for 2 nights that only cost us $35! YES, that’s total…and it had this view…


Bring only a backpack if humanly possible

I wanted to bring back every cheese, meet and painted mask I found. Um yeah, do you know how dumb I looked making tons of noise with my bright pink rolling suitcase through the cobblestone streets? These roads are everywhere throughout Italy and having to rush to the bus or train station with heavy luggage is not going to work well. Also, many places we stayed did not even have elevators so we had to barely carry up our belongings, sometimes 5 flights of steps! Don’t be stupid!


Always check your plane/train/bus ticket

Check dates, check seats, check departing locations! Check and recheck again! I’ve made the mistake more than once for booking the wrong day or showing up at the wrong train station. An honest but sometimes costly mistake. This doesn’t just go for Italy, anytime you travel you should check! Even check your bags before you have something like our lost luggage in London mishap! You can never be too sure!

The countryside was way more beautiful than any of the major cities

Wine in Tuscany, a wedding at a castle in Bolzano. These two places took my breath away. You are surrounded by mountains, lush landscapes, and some damn trees! I could never imagine having a dog in some of Italy’s major cities because it was nothing but concrete! If you must go to the cities then go, but don’t be afraid to venture out and see more of what Italy has to offer! Some might disagree and that’s okay to be wrong 😉


Eat Gelato!

Morning, noon and night. There is never a wrong time (especially during the summer months) to try out their world-famous gelato!


The men are…EXTRA friendly

Italian men ooze sex appeal. From their perfectly tanned skin to their glistening eyes, their accent, their smell, their outstanding taste in clothing. The list goes on. While they lure you in with their style and charm, just know that they are very very friendly. They want to touch and explore and get in your face. Can’t say I ever felt scared, just a little overwhelmed by their demeanor. Stay cautious and aware, and you will be just fine. If Italy is where you have come to find a husband, well then you’re in for a treat! (heart eyes)


I learned a lot traveling through Italy for 2 weeks! Hopefully, I have given some words of encouragement AND wisdom to help accompany you on your next Italian trip. It’s truly a magical country with so much wine, cheese, and scenery to experience! I pinky promise on returning one day to explore lesser known places and drown myself in pizza!

Have you gone to Italy? What did you learn? Until next time…

xo Bonvoyage Babes

  1. Lisa says:

    I’m so glad you loved Italy, and yes you learned a lot from your travels. My partner’s Italian, so we’re there (north) frequently! You’re so right about Venice, it’s not romantic at all! August is traditionally holiday time for Italians (Spanish too), so the beaches and coastal towns are packed! Glad you loved Firenze, the campo is stunning!

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Thats amazing that you get to go there often and glad we could agree on that! I found out that it was holiday for them so yeah, it was hectic!! Would love to go back soon!!

  2. Lydia Smith says:

    Lol. Had so much fun reading your post. The ‘EATLY’ part got me laughing hard. I was also surprised to find out that the much raved Colosseum is in the middle of the city. And yes, country-sides are just the best places. Lol. Good you had a nice time in Italy.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      haha glad I could make you laugh!! Yeah I know right? I was shocked and not in a good way! Countrysides are totally the best! 🙂

  3. Erin says:

    Hhah Etaly! I had not heard that one before – but so true! I always love your very frank reviews of places. I felt the same way when I first visited the Colosseum too… didn’t seem all that colossal but the wow factor was definitely that it just stood there in the backdrop of peoples city centre daily lives! Thanks as always for a great resonating read!

  4. Yukti says:

    I agree with you on most of the points. I visited Italy in February and at that time it was snowing. As it was chilled temperatures, we never faced Q problem like in Vatican we just walked in. Very true about Colosseum that it is just inside the town and nothing that majestic. Italian countryside is more beautiful like Lake como and its surroundings. Checking the ticket is also most important thing in Italy, as sometimes we land up in wrong station.

  5. Bhusha says:

    Italy is just gorgeous. I’ve already been once to 4 cities. Yet to visit a few more that are in my wishlist. Hope I’ll head there early next year. Very true about not going on peak season, its just too crowded. I was there in August and I was sweating like hell! Weirdly, glad to know that Colosseum was underwhelming. I chose not to go inside, guess I did the right thing!

  6. We too avoid the peak seasons, its no fun exploring places crowded with tourists but then those are the best time of the year for the climatic conditions. We explored Colosseum on our own and it was fun, we had read a bit about it before the visit and we loved imagining how things were there during the past. And yes Italian cuisine just love it.

  7. lisa says:

    Haha Etaly cracked me up, I have just come back from Rome and I am shocked you paid 40 just to get ahead of the line (future reference get the Rome Pass or city pass where ever you go as it gives you line skipping free entry and free public transport rides). I love how blunt and straight to the point you are with your writing haha and you have great photo’s as well. I can wait to read more!

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Thanks for the tip!! I usually steer clear of those passes because I don’t like to do much from them but I mean it could totally be worth it! HA, glad I could make you laugh, definitely my #1 goal!!

  8. I literally had to reread the first few lines numerous times because I could not believe it. Europe is my favorite place in the entire world, especially Italy! The colosseum section made me laugh 🙂 I find Italy to be reasonably priced in general, even in the major cities. We got a huuuuugeeeee 5 bedroom airbnb for like $50/person, each with our own room. Very, very cheap for a major city!

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      I know I know its hard for some people to understand. It’s just not for me and my love of adventure. Damn, that’s awesome though! You can definitely find good deals anywhere, sometimes they are just a little more scarce!

  9. Parnashree Devi says:

    I am glad that you have given the real picture in travelling in Europe. I am happy to know about many things, especially Venice being one of the filthy places as I heard a lot about it. I am absolutely not a city traveler and also adore countryside. Its been top on my list to visit Tuscany. Gosh…I so want to go now.

  10. Dada says:

    Like anywhere in the world when its peak season there will be a lot of people…thats why they call it a peak season. I am a bit suprised that you didnt like Europe! Europe has so many different country, culture and language that putting them all in a basket is weird. Beside that I think you really gave some great tips for the future travelers to Italy…especially about the men. That might scare some lady!

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Very true, I shouldn’t characterize Europe all in one place. There are a lot of amazing countries there, I think just as a whole, it’s not my favorite place. I need to explore more of the unknown in Europe and will probably change my mind! Yeah the men can get pretty crazy so women need to watch themselves for sure.

  11. Savannah says:

    I totally agree with you about Venice! My Venitian experience was extremely underwhelming. BUT I LOVED the colosseum. I loved the location, I loved that I went on a rainy and kind of chilly day so there were barely any lines, and I loved that I didn’t take a tour. I literally pulled up Wikipedia and pulled all of the important info during our 15 minute line queue. The thing that completely ruined Rome for me was the Vatican City. We bought the skip-the-line tickets, so the outside was fine (even though there was a 6 hour line wrapping around the city). Then we went inside. It was so f*cking crowded that it took 3 f*cking hours to make it all the way to the Sistine Chapel, which is the only thing I wanted to see anyway. Worst experience ever- do not recommend.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Yeah I think anytime you have to take a tour it makes it drag on soooo long. Like seriously it gets out of hand. I think I might have loved the Colosseum more if it wasn’t so overrun with tourists. Just really takes away from everything. My favorite thing about Italy was the food and wine!!

  12. Samah says:

    “Every place we went to besides Bolzano was over saturated with tourists.” I admit, this is why I haven’t been too keen on visiting Europe because I always picture hoardes of tourists getting in your way while taking photos of the Eiffel Tower (something like that) so I guess I should look into visiting the countryside. Nice to know Venice isn’t as romantic as it’s always portrayed and the gondola rides arent worth it. I’ll be keeping your tips in mind like carrying just a backpack and going to restaurants with no pics displayed. Thanks for this great review!

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Yeah it sucks because I feel like travel is getting more and more like that…making it harder to really enjoy places! Thats why the lesser known should be great!

  13. Ezinne says:

    I haven’t visited Italy, so I wouldn’t really know, but thanks for this eye opener. However, I am surprised you said that Venice isn’t romantic and it’s dirty. That doesn’t seem like what the rest of us from other parts of the world believe. But I haven’t been there yet.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Thats why I strive to tell people the realness of travel because I feel like a lot of people feel this way, just never write about it in fear of what others might think!

  14. Karo says:

    There are many aspects in your article that I agree with 100 percent. For instance, the food is absolutely amazing and surely the man are extra…friendly 😀 . The house wine is really an amazing option, also agreed. But I have to disagree when it comes to Venice because I absolutely love it. It’s always worth exploring the smaller places in this city from my point of view. And the colosseum is still one of the most impressive buildings IMHO. Overall it’s a true statement that Italy is just magical and one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Definitely fine with disagreeing! Everyone sees the world differently…what we can agree on is that Italy is overall an amazing country!

  15. I loved your perspective around Europe. I agree with the idea of traveling in the off season but winters aren’t easy in Europe with the sun going down early. No? I hear you when you say all tourist places are crowded. Yes, one must travel in a backpack if possible. Food is amazing in Italy for sure. You sure have given great tips.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Yeah my perspective is always just real and a reflection of me! To each their own, I just think a lot of people talk places up and then you visit, and it’s just eh.

  16. It’s strange that you didn’t want to go to Europe. I have never been there but heard its gorgeous. Rome is on top of my bucket list. I like the fact that you wrote honestly about the location of Colosseum and the real atmosphere around it. I have big expectations from this historical building. Hope it doesn’t underwhelm me the way it did to you.

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Its definitely gorgeous! The cobblestone streets and the architecture. But for me it gets pretty repetitive…hopefully it lives up to your expectations!

  17. Lauren says:

    I’m planning a trip to Italy and this was very helpful, thanks! However I unfortunately can only go in the summer because of my job. Do you have any tips for avoiding crowds? I’m very excited for the food and wine 🙂

    • Tatum Skipper says:

      Id say to definitely do stuff in the early morning and late afternoon, and just enjoy a nice long lunch/stroll etc during the peak hours. Otherwise, make sure you book tickets online ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in long lines! Also try to do major cities in Italy during the week and the lesser known during the weekend! Hope this helps.

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