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About My Trips to Italy

Italy did not disappoint! My first trip to Rome included a pleasant surprise with Alitalia, a comfortable budget airline. I explored the iconic Colosseum and ventured beyond the city center to Ostia Antica, where Roman ruins offered a glimpse into daily life during the Roman Empire. Vatican City was another highlight, with St. Peter’s Basilica leaving me speechless.

A few years later, Venice was my focus. I stayed at the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace, a true Venetian gem located right on a canal. Navigating Venice was an adventure, with gondolas, Vaporettos (water buses), and Traghettos (ferries) providing transportation. Stepping into the legendary Teatro La Fenice was like entering a time capsule of opera. St. Mark’s Square was the beating heart of Venice, with St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace showcasing Venice’s beauty.

Both Rome and Venice offered unique experiences. From the grandeur of ancient Rome to the charm of the canals in Venice, Italy truly has something for everyone!

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After a few days of exploring Amsterdam’s canals and charm, it was time for the real highlight: Rome. My options for direct flights were limited, and Alitalia, with all its not-so-great reviews, was the only affordable choice. For $238 round trip, including a checked bag, I figured I could deal with it.

Surprisingly, the Alitalia flight turned out to be pretty good! The seats were comfy, and the best part? I scored the exit row for free during booking. Score! And guess what? Nobody else was even sitting there. Talk about legroom! With those empty seats next to me, I whipped out my tripod and got some epic airplane window shots of the French and Italian Alps. Seriously, the view was incredible. Overall, my Alitalia experience went against the hype – it felt just as good as any other European airline I’ve flown.

I stayed at the Relais Forus Inn, a hotel in Rome. It was a bit tricky to find at first, but overall I enjoyed my stay. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the location was great – close to the Colosseum and other attractions, and also near a metro station. My room had a queen-sized bed, a minibar, a free bottle of wine, and a bathroom with a shower. It seems like a good option for budget-minded travelers who want to be close to public transportation and attractions.

The Colosseum is an iconic landmark in Rome, and I visited it using the Roma Pass. The Roma Pass was a great way to save money on both entrance fees and transportation. With the pass, I got free admission to the Colosseum, unlimited rides on the metro, and discounts on other attractions.

Getting to the Colosseum was easy – I just used the metro. A ticket to enter the Colosseum without the Roma Pass costs €16, and it’s recommended to spend at least two hours exploring the place. I also saw that there were guided tours available for an extra fee.

The Roman Ruins of Ostia Antica are easy to get to from Rome using public transportation. There are also guided tours available for those who prefer a more structured experience.

Let me tell you about my visit to Ostia Antica. The walk through the initial section was fascinating – I passed broken statues and the Baths of Neptune, which contain the ruins of over 20 Roman bathhouses. The baths were amazing – the mosaics were spectacular and I could still see the piping system that once separated hot and cold water. Next, I continued onto the Roman Amphitheater, which was built around 12 BC and could hold around 4,000 people. I climbed to the top for a view of the ruins – it was incredible!

Overall, visiting Ostia Antica was a great experience. It was a great way to learn about daily life during the Roman Empire.



The Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace was exactly the Venetian experience I’d been hoping for. Located right on a canal, with a gondola workshop nearby, it felt steeped in history. The lobby and common areas were decorated in a Venetian style, and my room was a delightful mix of modern and Venetian design. The bathroom was particularly impressive, with multiple showerheads. 

The staff was helpful and friendly, and other guests consistently ranked the hotel very highly. Overall, I felt like I was staying in a palace, and I can’t recommend the Hotel Nani Mocenigo Palace more highly.

Ah, navigating Venice! This trip definitely required some on-the-go planning, so here’s what I learned about getting around the city.

Venice is a maze of canals and islands, and cars are a no-go. But that’s part of the charm, right? The main mode of transportation here is the iconic gondolas. They’re a bit pricey for a short ride, but definitely a splurge worth doing at least once. For getting around more frequently, water buses, called Vaporetti, are the way to go. They’re like public buses on water, and they can take you all over Venice, including to Murano and Burano, the islands famous for glassblowing and lace-making. Tickets are affordable, and you can buy them at booths near the docks.

Getting a hold of a Vaporetto ticket can involve some waiting in line, so another option is the traghetto. These are small ferry boats that cross the Grand Canal at a few points. They’re super cheap – just a few euros – and a great way to experience the canal from a different perspective. If you’re looking for a unique way to see the canals, you can even rent a private motorboat. Just be sure you’re comfortable navigating tight spaces!

Stepping into the legendary Teatro La Fenice in Venice was like entering a time capsule of opera. Sure, the tour was a little limited – turns out Othello was playing that night, so the stage was off-limits. But honestly, getting a peek at the set being prepped was pretty cool!

Our first stop was the Foyer, this grand hallway where folks mingle before and after shows. They say it’s one of the few parts that survived a massive fire back in 1996. We also got to see the hallway leading to the private boxes, and even the Royal Box itself – the fanciest one in the whole place, with the best view in the house and its own private entrance, no less!

On the way out, I spotted posters for all these famous operas that had graced the La Fenice stage – even Turandot, which I remember seeing as a kid way back in Chicago at the Lyric Opera House.

Even with the limited tour, the €20 felt worth it. La Fenice has a whole different vibe than most of the other sights in Venice. It’s steeped in history and drama, and you can practically feel the music lingering in the air.

St. Mark’s Square, or Piazza San Marco as the Venetians call it, was definitely the heart of Venice. It was teeming with life – pigeons galore (watch out for those droppings!), street performers, artists, and tons of tourists. 

The most famous landmark here is St. Mark’s Basilica. There was a pretty long line to get in, but it moved quickly enough, and the inside was mind-blowing. Everywhere you looked there were these intricate mosaics with gold leaf shimmering under the light. 

Another interesting building in the square is the Doge’s Palace, this huge pink marble palace that used to be the Doge’s residence. 

Climbing the bell tower was definitely a highlight. The views from up there were incredible – you can see all of Venice, the little islands, and even out to the Adriatic Sea. Thankfully, there is a lift to get to the top.

Overall, St. Mark’s Square is a must-see in Venice. It’s a beautiful piazza with a ton of history, and the people-watching is fantastic. Just be prepared for the crowds!

Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica! It was awe-inspiring, even more so than I had imagined. The line to get in snaked around the square for what felt like forever, but hey, when in Rome, right? And let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

The minute you step inside, it’s like another world. The scale of the place is massive, with this giant dome overhead and these incredible sculptures and artwork everywhere you look. 

Climbing to the top of the dome was definitely an adventure. There are two options: take the stairs or the elevator. I opted for the stairs – not gonna lie, by the time I reached the top, my legs were burning! But the view from up there? Unforgettable. You can see all of Rome sprawling out below, and even the Italian countryside in the distance.

If you’re visiting Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-do. It’s a beautiful basilica, full of history and art, and the views from the dome are incredible. Just be prepared for the crowds – it is a super popular tourist destination!