Let me set out by saying a three-day trip to Italy is too less to explore this diversely beautiful country, which has a plethora of drop-dead gorgeous places to visit. I was stuck on this timeline because a) it was my last few days in Europe and b) I was on a student budget.
My place of residence was Bremen, Germany, which had a direct (and fairly inexpensive) flight to Venice, and hence, I decided to visit one of the most coveted tourist spots on the planet. Honestly, one of the best decisions I ever made.
My cousin and I decided to not only visit Venice, but also spend a day in the nearby Shakespearean city of Verona as we wanted to explore as much as we possibly could on this short three-day trip to Italy.
Three-day Trip to Italy: Venice
Dos and Don’ts
– Budgeting: Italy is expensive so it would be better to figure out your finances beforehand if travelling on a budget. Have a separate budget for transportation. The daily passes may be a little expensive but very convenient as they give you access to all sorts of transport
– I found travelling around in Venice really fun because half the travel is in the “waterbuses” which are motor boats that take you around the city between islands.
– Nightlife: Venice not really a party town. The city gets almost deserted at night, in stark contrast to the hustle bustle during the day. A handful of places are open and lit at night. The best people to tell you about these would be the locals.
– Food: Lots and lots of eating joints everywhere, you can pick a place depending on what you’re looking for. As a student, I personally looked for cheap places with delicious local food. However, it is safe to say that the city can easily provide for a prince as well as a pauper. There are dozens of places around the city and canals where you can indulge in an Italian fine dining experience. My suggestion would be to ask a local for restaurant as well as food recommendations if you want to eat like a local and not a tourist
– Sightseeing: Ask your hotel/BnB/hostel the best ways to get to the famous sightseeing spots like the Saint Mark’s Basilica, Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace and The Bridge of Sighs. These aren’t far from one another and you can cover them all in a day, using public transport.
– Exploring: Best course of action would be to travel in the waterbuses around the city centre and walk your way around the city and discover new places. This is how you find the most quaint and beautiful nooks and corners of the city. I know saying ‘get lost in the city’ might sound clichéd but clichés, more often than not, have some truth to them.
– Insects: Venice, being the city of canals, also has a bit of an insect problem. My suggestion would be to carry anti-bug spray and cream with you wherever you go.
– Be a smart tourist: Do your own research about travel, public transport, maps and the general prices of things, or you run the risk of being exploited by natives looking to make a quick buck from clueless tourists. Also, try to learn a few common phrases of the language. These might come in handy in case of an emergency or when interacting with natives who don’t speak English.
– Be respectful of the culture and city: It goes without saying that you should respect the culture of the place you’re visiting. A small but important way of ensuring this is to keep the places you visit clean. Don’t be the person who throws plastic wrappers into the canal because they can’t bother to find a dustbin. Keep the city clean and as beautiful as you’d like to find it.
House-made wine in the local restaurants is a must-try in Venice. I doubt I’ve ever had wine that tasted as good as the house wine I tried at a tiny restaurant during this brief three-day trip to Italy, sitting at the edge of a canal in Venice at dusk.
This is a wine-based aperitif cocktail from Italy, and I do not exaggerate when I say it became my all time favourite drink after one try. However, fair warning, this beautiful and colourful cocktail with a citrusy, slightly bitter aftertaste may not be for everyone. Nevertheless, it would be a crime not to try this bubbling fresh drink on a hot summer day.
The Local Cuisine
Of course, one of the major things on our bucket list during this three-day trip to Italy was to try the authentic Italian cuisine that consists of so much than the usual pasta and pizza. Once again, my suggestion would be to take advice from a local (your hotel manager, some friends you make, people from your hostel or air BnB). These people would guide you to the actual and authentic places instead of popular touristy restaurants. They can also give you suggestions for some great dishes to try. One of the things I really enjoyed was the duck ragu linguini I purchased from a local joint and ate sitting next to the canals.
The Gondola rides
One of the most iconic parts of Venice would, of course, be the gondola rides in the beautiful canals that crisscross the city. Despite being on a student budget and the gondola rides being a little expensive, this was one thing we couldn’t miss during our three-day trip to Italy as this is the essence of the Venetian experience.
Pro Tip: Take the Gondola rides before 6 pm, as the prices soar substantially thereafter.
Another way to really aggrandize the gondola experience would be to hire a gondola with a singer. Yep, you heard it right. This is actually a thing in Venice and a beautiful one at that. You can hire a bard singer with a mellifluous baritone to set the tone while on a gondola ride with your loved ones!
The Bridge of Sighs
One of my personal favourites in the city was the Bridge of Sighs. I loved the bridge so much that I actually ended up sketching a picture of it.
This is the bridge that connected the new prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace and has a heartbreaking history attached to its name. It was said that convicts crossing over to their prison cells got the last view of the beautiful city of Venice from this bridge. Hence, the name.
Things I loved about Venice:
- The canals
- The absolutely beautiful sights
- The waterbuses
- The vibrant colours
- The musical gondolas
- Italian food
- The Bridge of Sighs
- The wine
- The culture
- The water
Things I disliked
- The stale water smell
- Insects in the hotels (Venice has a bit of an infestation problem)
- The extreme hustle-bustle during the day
- The sudden quiet at nights
The quiet, serene Verona is the perfect antidote to the extreme hustle bustle of Venice. This small Shakespearean city located northern Italy is well-known as the setting of the classic tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
We decided to add Verona to our itinerary for this three-day trip to Italy, as it is easily accessible from Venice. You can choose to take a train, a bus or a cab. We chose a train, to be able to experience the much-romanticised train journeys of Europe. It’s advisable to book the ticket online, as you might not get the preferred time slot or train if you purchase the ticket on the spot.
Staying in Verona
There are a lot of hotels, a few hostels and several AirBnBs to choose from. We booked an AirBnB and were very glad to find out it was even more beautiful than its pictures. It’s advisable to find a place to stay near the city centre so that you can just walk around the town and explore. Thankfully, ours was bang in the middle of the city, and therefore, we could explore the entire town on foot.
Verona is a beautiful, cosy small town that can actually be covered in a day. However, covering the tourist spots and experiencing the city are two different things. If you really want to relax and unwind in Verona, two-to-three day stay would be ideal.
Sightseeing spots in Verona
One of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres, this is also the home of Verona Opera Festival which is one of Europe’s major music events during the summer.
Casa Di Giulietta
Also known as Juliet’s House, this Gothic style house with a stone balcony is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is one of the most popular sites in Verona. The picturesque balcony that alludes to Juliet looking out for her lover, Romeo, attracts tourists in droves. The most fascinating and beautiful thing about this place is how lovers from all over the world have come here and etched their names on the walls or on locks all over the house.
Piazza Delle Erbe
It is one of the most picturesque squares in the city and is surrounded by beautiful buildings, great eating joints and shopping places as well.
A beautiful bridge across the Adige River, Ponte Pietra offers breathtaking views of the river, the hills surrounding it and the city. Across from the bridge, you will find the Castel San Pietro which is a few meters above the Roman Theatre and is a place of great historical importance. The castle in itself is not open for public but the location offers an unmatchable panoramic view of the city.
It is a small trek to the top of the hill from where you will get a spectacular view of the city, the Adige River and the bridge that is sure to take your breath away. We were so smitten by this view that we spent over an hour sitting and just staring at the magnificence of the city. This was, hands down, my most cherished experience while visiting Verona on my three-day trip to Italy and I’d go back ten times just for this sunset view.