Naples, with it’s traffic-clogged streets and gritty-city vibe felt much further from the quiet countryside of Montepulciano than it’s geographic location would imply. A quick 5-hour train ride and we were standing in the middle of one of Italy’s most notorious cities. Famous for it’s pizza, pasta, and pick-pockets, Naples can be an amazing place to visit — as long as you stay on your toes.
Rolling hills covered by vineyards and sunflowers, small-town festivals, fresh local food, and of course, abundant supplies of some of the best wine in Tuscany. Montepulciano was the highlight of our time in Italy, and with good reason!
Ah, Bologna. Our stopover in Italy’s culinary gem was far too brief. With a mere 24-hours to explore it was critical that we focus our priorities. So we passed on the culture and shopping and focused on one very important activity: eating as much as we possibly could.
Bologna is known among tourists and Italians alike for it’s delicious food. From homemade bolognase sauce (called here by it’s proper name: ragu), to local charcuterie delicacies and refreshing pignoletto wines, it’s pure foodie heaven. On top of that, Bologna is a pretty cool city in it’s own right. Somewhere inbetween Venice’s fancy facades and Naples rough grittiness resides Bologna. It’s an average city, in as much as any Italian city steeped in culture and history can pretend to be average. With a major university in town there’s a younger, more vibrant air. It’s the perfect place to wander the streets taking in the culture, between bites of food and sips of wine, of course.
Boats and wine are two of my favorite things, ever.* So as I’m sure you can imagine I was ridiculously excited to be traveling to Venice. I mean, the city is built on a giant canal system! Boats are not only the norm, but often the only option to get around. And Italy is home to some of my favorite wine varietals in the world. Plus, we’d be meeting up with two of our good friends from San Francisco. Really, could it get any better?
The only thing giving us pause…budget. In addition to it’s architecture, history, and waterways, Venice is also famously Italy’s most expensive city. For two travelers on a strict budget we were a little anxious going in. But, with some careful planning and a few tricks along the way we were able to have an amazing time without totally destroying our bank account. Here’s how…
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and you just need to hit pause. This is a mentality I’ve been consciously working on accepting this year and Bari was the latest…let’s say opportunity to practice?
The southern port city of Bari was our first stop on a 2-week adventure around Italy. We, like most travelers, ended up there because of it’s convenience as a transport hub rather than any particular draw from the city itself. The one and only ferry line in Montenegro docked in Bari, and from there we could easily hop a train up to Venice to meet our friends.