Long time no blog. I’ve been busy with life and work but I had the chance to go to Italy for business and I thought I would share all the tips, tricks and places that I went to. It was my first time so I learned a lot of new things that could help anyone who has never been.
I went in Early-September and it was still very warm and humid. This is from the perspective of a Californian that’s used to 80F (27C) plus or minus 10 degrees without any humidity all year long. I walked all around Rome and was soaked by mid-day. Bring a towel and lots of water.
Getting around is quite easy for the uninitiated. Uber works here, but they also have plenty of public transportation and trains if you need to travel city to city. Just make sure you wear the proper shoes and if you blister easily, put some Compeed on those areas of your feet to prevent rubbing.
There are a lot of things to see in Rome. I know Rome has a reputation for thieves and pickpockets but I didn’t feel it while I was there. Just don’t be aloof with your valuables hanging out and you’ll be fine. Every corner of the city has beautifully architected buildings. You’ll find yourself taking a picture of everything because you’ll mistake it for a famous landmark, but to the locals, it’s probably just a standard building or church. Everything is walkable and you can buy an all day bus pass for 21 Euros that goes around the city every 30 mins. You can probably see all of Rome in 2-3 days. Other than getting inside some of these sites, you don’t really need a tour guide.
Here’s a list of things you can visit:
- Colosseum – Expect long lines here unless you join a tour group, 20-30 Euros if you find one onsite.
- St. Peter’s Basillica – Lines wrapped around and around the inside ring so good luck trying to get in! I just took pictures outside.
- Trevi Fountain
- Roman Forum
- Sistine Chapel
- Castel Sant’Angelo
This is a bustling Tech Sector with Amazon, Google and Microsoft setting up shop here. Surprisingly, there’s a huge Chinese community with a China Town so you can find a lot of Chinese Restaurants or Chinese food served in an Italian style ambiance. There were a few places to see, but not as much as Rome. There are small convenience stores usually near bus stops that sell bus tickets for a few Euros. They last for 30 mins so you can use them to get around fairly easily.
- Starbucks Roastery – This place was MASSIVE. You must go to this place just to check it out. Full warning, in Italy, there’s no such thing as Iced Coffee. Just don’t order it, you’ll regret it. Stick to espresso or cappuccino.
- Duomo di Milano – Large cathedral with beautiful architecture in the City Center.
Only a couple hours north of Milan, you can walk around the Lake and take a tram up the hillside to have lunch. Great views from up top with beautiful sunsets.
The iconic waterways with Gondola taxis are a must see at least once in your life. Venice is not large though, walkable in about 1 day. But what will keep you coming back are the restaurants and the wine. Ordering the house wine is quite acceptable, no restaurant in Venice wants to have a reputation for bad wine in general. You can also buy regional wines that are typically not exported, if you want to bring something more unique back with you.
This is what excites me the most when I travel. I’ll highlight the best places that I ate at during my journey. Some general tips: Try the tiramisu at every restaurant if possible. Each place makes it differently so you get a lot of unique styles to try.
- Pizzarium Gabriele Bonci – A favorite of the late Anthony Bourdain. You must get here when it opens at 11am or suffer waiting in long lines. They have a number ticket system so grab a number and while you’re waiting, peruse all the different flavors of pizza on display. They also specialize in fried pasta-stuffed balls. They make everything fresh and you pay by the weight of the slices. Once you get to order, it’s only about 5-7 mins before it pops out of the oven.
- Frigidarium – For your dessert fix, you have to get gelato in Italy. It just puts gelato in the United States to shame. Business partners from Italy that come to California and try the gelato here get extremely sad and disappointed.
- Pinsere – Another pizza joint like Pizzarium. Not as busy but still as delicious.
- Pompi – Another wonderful dessert joint known for their tiramisu.
- La Romana – More gelato for your dessert stomach.
- Starbucks Roastery – You just have to experience what this place looks like while having an espresso. Visually stunning.
- Presso Trattoria Da Franco – Literally the best Carbonara I have ever had. Just order it and die a creamy happy death.
- Pizzeria di Porta Garibaldi – For some thick style pizza, check this place out. Also this street is a great place to eat and people watch at night.
- Rocking Horse Pizzeria – Great place for seafood and the affogato (ice cream with a shot of espresso) was delicious.
- Trattoria Pontini – A really popular local spot. You better make reservations, otherwise you’ll be waiting 45 mins to an 1.5 hours for a table to open up. Whatever you do, do not ask to order for take away! This restaurant understands that food is best served and eaten immediately. They will make you look like a fool if you try. The house-made lasagna was heavenly. The pasta sheets were so fresh without the brick-like structure and texture we get here.
Hope you enjoyed a lighter article away from technology. See you next time!