For our honeymoon, we had the privilege of packing our backpacks (yes, backpacks!) and exploring a tiny bit of beautiful Italy. It came as no surprise to either of us when we fell madly in love with Italy on day one of our travels. In fact, I think words do little to express how much we enjoyed this country. I’ve had a lot of people asking for information on how we planned, packed, organized and managed our trip. So, I thought I would do a mini series of posts about Italy and start with an overview addressing a few questions we have been asked about our adventure. I look forward to sharing all about what we learned from this incredible country and its generous people. But, if Italy taught me one thing, it taught me to really believe in the idea of la dolce vita!
Why did you choose Italy for your honeymoon? We chose Italy because Matt’s family has Italian roots and I pretty much have a country bucket list that could wrap around the globe…twice. Also, Italy just sounds really romantic, right!?
What time of year did you go? Our wedding was in April, so we left on the day after our wedding. Perfect time of year to go because it’s part of the shoulder season and we hardly had any lines or crowds. Another good time to go would be in October. We were also fortunate, because European trips are about 20% less expensive than they were last year for Americans. This is thanks to the sadly declining European economy and the crazy low conversion rate. So if you want to take that Italy trip, now is the time!
Which airline did you fly and at what time of day? We flew Delta and Air France (love both). We took an evening flight so it would help a bit with jet lag. I’ve found that to be very helpful with transatlantic flights. We had two layovers going there and one coming back. We were flying in and out of different airports due to where we live and location of our wedding. More about this in our “Travel Preparation” post!
How long did you stay? Was it enough time? We stayed 14 days and I think it was enough time. 10 would be the very least you would want to do. But, honestly, I could’ve stayed months.
So, you really packed everything you needed in a backpack!? Yes! This was my favorite thing about our trip. I’ve lugged a large suitcase all over England when I studied abroad and carried a big bag on other trips too…and I decided I was done with that. We got Osprey bags thanks to a friend’s recommendation and I planned out our packing to a tee. With layovers and lots of traveling within Italy, I wanted to move around easily and not feel weighed down. I will definitely be posting more about this later! And yes, you can look cute and still pack in a backpack (that was obviously my biggest concern…duh).
How did you plan the trip? Did you use a travel service? We planned it ourselves. To me, that’s half the fun. Both of us have done a decent amount of traveling so we felt comfortable enough to plan it ourselves. Our biggest resources were travel blogs, Rick Steves Italy 2015 book (LOVE that man), friends who shared their tips and Tripadvisor. I was constantly researching and mapping things out on Google Docs, Google maps and Wunderlist. The key is to be highly organized and well read about your planned trip. Remember to never stress yourself out with seeing everything, because that just ruins your limited time. You can’t see it all, so pick and choose before you go.
What was your travel route in Italy? We flew into Venice, then took a train to Florence. While in Florence we saw more of Tuscany, Pisa, San Gimignano and Siena. Then we went to Rome and Positano (via a train to Naples). Then we flew out of Naples and made our way back to America. If you look at a map of Italy, this route seemed to hit the high points and make the best use of our time.
How far in advance did you book tickets? We booked our flights in January (about 4 months out), but obviously stalk the airline listings for your best price. I checked the airline listings constantly for about a month before booking. Start looking early on and just play around with different routes and airlines. For us, it made sense geographically and time-wise to fly in and out of different places. Always consider that option.
Did most people speak English? Here’s the thing about globalization…almost every major travel destination has plenty of English speakers. It’s a positive and negative. On one hand, I feel like incredible, ancient societies are losing a bit of their own identity, but on the other hand, I love that the world is starting to feel smaller (sorry, poli sci major over here haha). Anyway, we know very little Italian and we were totally fine. When all else fails, use body language and point a lot. You’d be surprised at how far that can get you. 😉 However, I do think most people appreciate when you at least try to learn a few key phrases in their language and most Italians were willing to help teach us new words.
What was your main mode of transportation in Italy? Trains and walking were our most commonly used mode of transportation. We took a water taxi once in Venice and a gondola for fun. In Florence, we did a coach bus tour to the countryside (more about that later). To get to Positano, we hired a driver to take us from the Naples train station to Positano. We booked all our train tickets ahead of time.
What was your favorite thing about Italy? It’s hard to pick, but I would say Positano, because it looks just like a postcard. I also loved the Roman ruins where we spent hours trying to wrap our heads around the history in that part of Rome. Of course, the food and always available gelato was a favorite of mine. I’d also say I loved the Italians and their love for the little pleasures in life.
Stay tuned for more about our adventures in Italy!