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5 best experiences in Italy

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Here is the ranking of my best experiences in Italy.

5. Chianti Vineyards
Chianti region is one of the most beautiful in all of Italy with its lush green hills, vineyards and olive groves. It is a pleasure to just drive by looking at the natural beauty all around. We went to one of the wine estates in the region where we were a part of a guided tour of the wine cellars. Our host for the afternoon was a charming gentleman who gave us an insight into the various stages of wine production, taught us the right way to hold the wine glass, the best way to sip the wine to get a taste of all the flavors, with numerous anecdotes all along. We tasted various wines and olive oils that the winery produced. It was an amazing experience.

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4. Piazza del Popolo
The Pincian Hill which is a part of the Villa Borghese offers a breathtaking view of the Piazza del Popolo and the city. We were lucky to get a sunset view of Rome from here. The atmosphere was made even more romantic by the cool breeze and musicians playing in the background.

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3. San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a small walled town in Tuscany known for its medieval streetscapes and towers. It is known as the ‘Town of Fine Towers’ and is known for the preservation of a couple of its tower houses. I have never ever seen a town as fascinating as San Gimignano, it makes you feel that you are in a different world.

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2. Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo provides a magnificent panoramic view of Florence. Our first visit to this Piazza was a rushed one. However, it was a place which did not leave our mind over the next 3 days that we were in Florence. We knew that our stay in Florence would be incomplete without another relaxed evening in Piazzale Michelangelo. So, on our last day in Florence, despite being exhausted after a full day city tour of Pisa and Lucca, we headed straight to Piazzale Michelangelo. The atmosphere was beautiful with a lot of people around, all with the same intention – to watch the sun set over the beautiful city of Florence.
We spent almost 2-3 hours here sipping beer and watching the sky change its hue from light blue to orange to grey, and the city being gradually lit up. To summarize the experience in a single world – Breathtaking

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1. Venice at Night
What is it about this city that makes you fall in love with it the moment you set foot on it? What is it about the beautiful structures and palaces along the Grand Canal that make you gape in awe? What is it about the tiny little streets that make you keep walking despite your aching legs? There is something magical about this city, Venice, which makes it one of world's most romantic cities.

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Just as Venice is magical by the day, it is even more dream like at night. As the sun sets and the city is illuminated, the atmosphere turns even more romantic. It is less crowded and the streets, canals, bridges have a different feel to it. The water in the canals glitters with the reflection of the lights, the buildings are beautifully lit up...to know it, you have to experience it.

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This was a list of my top 5 experiences in Italy. However, our entire trip to Italy was a very memorable one. When we started our trip, we were under the notion that Italy is all about history and ancient architecture. But we were so wrong. In addition to the historical aspect of it, Italy has so much more to offer - its countryside, beautiful cities, delicious food. Italy would always remain one destination very close to our hearts.

Posted by deepab 09:50 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Summer 2014 - Italy and Switzerland

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July and August being the hottest months in Bahrain (with temperatures soaring even up to 48 deg Celsius) we wanted to escape to someplace cooler. And what could have been a better location than our dream destination 'Switzerland'.
However, we wanted to visit another country with Switzerland and after a lot of deliberation, we decided to go with Italy.

So there we were with the dates and with the destinations finalized – Italy and Switzerland for 15 days (18th July -2nd August 2014)

We decided to plan the entire trip on our own, right from the bookings, to the internal travels, food, sight-seeing....basically everything. It was our first experience of doing it by ourselves. So we came up with a to-do list.
1. Book the flight tickets
2. Book the hotels.
3. Book the internal travel tickets.
4. Shortlist the places to visit.
5. Plan a detailed Itinerary.
6. And most importantly, plan how to manage 15 days of travel with a toddler :)

The part which required the quickest action on our parts was the booking of the flight tickets as the flight rates were increasing very fast. We immediately booked our tickets via Expedia.

Next, we had to book the hotels. The most important factor that we were considering while doing the hotel bookings was the location of the hotel. We wanted something centrally located to reduce the travel time between the sites we wanted to visit and the hotel. After a lot of blunders and confusions, we finished all our hotel bookings. There are a few pointers which I gathered from our experience that I would like to note down here:
- Do not panic when the hotel booking websites start showing the hotels which you like as fully booked for your date. Contact the hotel directly through their website. Rooms are often available.
- Compare everywhere, but book directly with the hotel. They give you the best rates, sometimes even a discount for cash payment. All our hotels in Italy gave us a 10% discount for cash payment.
- On some hotel booking websites (like booking.com), they have a refundable room rate which is a bit more than the non-refundable one. Always go for the refundable ones, you have much more flexibility to change your plan or your hotel later.
- There are some very good hotel review websites like Tripadvisor. Read up the reviews on these websites and select something which meets your requirements.

Next, we booked the internal travel tickets. For travelling between cities in Italy, we decided to book train tickets and did the bookings through www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com. However, we got to know later that TrenItalia is the train operator whereas Italiarail is an agency that sells TrenItalia tickets. Hence, tickets are cheaper on www.trenitalia.com. Also, if you are 100% sure of your travel dates and timings, it helps to do advance bookings as the prices are significantly lesser.
For internal travel in Switzerland, after a lot of research we decided to go for the 8 day swiss pass. You will need to decide which is the best swiss pass for you based on the number of days you will be in Switzerland and what all you plan to cover. (http://www.swiss-pass.ch/). They have a variety of passes like Flexipass, SaverPass etc.

I will post my itinerary and trip experiences in my upcoming posts. Stay on!

Posted by deepab 08:42 Archived in Italy Tagged italy switzerland Comments (3)

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