Backpacking Italy: Which City Do I Choose?

Are you interested in backpacking Italy but overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful destinations this amazing country has to offer? Can’t decide between Venice’s winding waterways and Rome’s awe-inspiring Colosseum? You’ve found the right place! Our Euroventure experts have traveled all over Italy and have compiled this guide to help you find which Italian city is right for you.

Milan

Backpacking Italy

What better way to kick off our ultimate Italy travel guide than with Milan? Known for its fashion, food and sports, it’s the perfect place for anybody looking to soak up some authentic Italian culture whilst traveling in Italy.

Food & Drink

Good news for all the foodies out there, Milan is bursting with delicious cuisine. Every dish in this vibrant city comes with its own tale of invention, making the food extraordinary in both flavour and history.

One of Milan’s most renowned dishes is undoubtedly Risotto alla Milanese, a velvety-soft blend of risotto rice and diced onions covered in melted butter. Pair this with a michetta, a crumbly bread which a staple of many Milanese meals. Got the craving for something deep-fried? Don’t worry, we get the urge too and know exactly how to satisfy it. Mondeghili. An old peasants dish originally created to avoid wasting food has become a favourite of locals and tourists alike. Beef, sausage, salami and eggs covered in golden breadcrumbs and cheese, all before being deep fried in butter. This is one you don’t want to miss out on!

 

Attractions

As with anywhere in Italy, tourist attractions are not hard to come by in Milan. With such an extensive history comes a lot of things to see and do. Here are our selection of things to check out when in the city:

  • Duomo di Milano – one of the largest cathedrals in the world and a key Milanese landmark.
  • The Last Supper – One of Leonardo Da Vici’s most infamous pieces of art.
  • San Siro Stadium – One for the sports fans – the home of both AC and Inter Milan football clubs.
  • Sempione Park – Landscaped gardens with an aquarium, castle, museum and nightclub.

Weather

After a bit of sunshine in those cold winter months? Milan might just be the place for you. At a temperate 7-9°c between December and February, their winters are fairly mild; perfect for staying comfortable when wandering around the city. For those serious sunseekers, we’d recommend visiting in one of the summer months where temperatures generally sit around 30°c.

Transport

Between the subway, bus, tram and train you’ll never be stuck for ways to get around in Milan. Public transport systems are everywhere and link even the farthest corners of the city to the centre for some of the lowest costs in the country. A subway, bus and tram ticket costs €1.50 one way, €4.50 for an unlimited day pass or €11.30 for a weekly pass.

Florence

Capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and the home of renaissance art and architecture. A beautiful city full to the brim with beautiful sights, sounds and smells, Florence is the perfect destination for anybody hoping to immerse themselves in traditional Tuscan culture.

Food & Drink

Florence is a city that goes far beyond traditional pasta and pizza (although you can definitely find these too). Steak lovers take note, Florentine steak is amongst some of the worlds best!

If you’re hungry for beef, head straight for a florentine steak house and order Bistecca Fiorentina. This rich cut of meat is taken from between the sirloin and tenderloin and is often served with potatoes. Top tip! Tuscans measure their steaks in ‘fingers’ rather than inches, with a steak which is 3 – 4 fingers thick serving a group of 3 – 4 people.

Not a meat lover? No problem! How about Ribotilla? A hearty soup made of cannellini beans, cavolo nero (black kale) and unsalted Tuscan bread. Follow this with Pici, a traditional thick-cut spaghetti made with black pepper, garlic and pecorino cheese.

Attractions

Culture lovers, this section is for you. Florence’s streets are lined with picturesque buildings and world-famous works of art you simply won’t be able to pass-up!

  • Statue of David – Infamous artist Michelangelo’s definitive work, a sculpture of biblical hero David.
  • Boboli Gardens – A park home to a collection of 16th – 18th century sculptures
  • Campanile di Gotto – The bell tower of the cathedral
  • Vasari Corridor – The secret passageway which connects Palazzo Strozzi with Palazzo Pitti

Weather

A little cooler than other destinations, Florence enjoys its warmest weather between June and August, where temperatures are generally between 22 – 24°c. Likewise, the winters there are slightly colder than the likes of Venice or Rome. Between January and April the temperature is usually between -1 – 7°c. Because of this, winter is often the cheapest time to visit.

Transport

Buses are by far the most popular way of travelling around florence. Although there are trams, these are limited in comparison to the city’s extensive bus network. Most tourists will use Le City Line de Firenze, a collection of 4 buses which cover the radius of the city’s historic centre. A 90 minute ticket bought in advance is €1.50, on the day is €2.50 or purchase a book of 10 90-minute tickets for just €14.00.

Rome

Backpacking Italy

Ah Rome, the home of aqueducts, the colosseum and (most importantly) great pizza! There’s tonnes of cool things to do in this ever-changing city. We think Rome should be on everybody’s bucket list.

Food & Drink

Roman cuisine is world-famous for being simple, satisfying and flavourful! Full of character and priced for a range of budgets, Rome is the perfect city for any foodies out there.

For those after a light bite grab a fritti, a deep fried rice ball mixed with ragu and mozzarella! These tasty snacks can be found in many of the city’s restaurants and street food stalls. In the mood for some pasta? The Romans know how to do a classic carbonara extremely well. You can usually find this relatively cheap at any place selling pasta dishes.To cool off after filling up on delicious savoury dishes, why not visit one of Rome’s many gelato shops for a few scoops of silky smooth ice cream.

Attractions

As one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations with a rich and detailed history, it comes as no surprise that there is lots to see and do in Rome. What’s even better, most things can be done on a budget or for free. This makes it the perfect destination for anybody looking to take a backpacking trip where daily spending is tight.

  • The Colosseum – The infamous amphitheater where gladiators would battle it out.
  • The Vatican / Sistine Chapel – The Vatican City is actually a separate country within Rome and the home of the pope. Take in the stunning architecture of the Sistine Chapel whilst you’re there.
  • Trevi Fountain – An amazing aqueduct-fed fountain complete with stone statues.
  • Roman Forum – The excavated ruins of the old Roman empire.

Weather

Since it is in-land, Rome benefits from some beautiful sunny weather during the summer months, with temperatures ranging around 28 – 33°c. However, as you may expect, this is also the most popular and expensive time to visit. If you want to avoid the crowds (and the heat) we’d recommend considering the winter months, where temperatures generally sit between 12 – 15°c.

Transport

Rome has some great public transport links, especially useful for anybody traveling by train. Roma Termini Station is situated right in the middle of the city and has efficient metro and bus links running to all corners of Rome and the Vatican City. Tickets cost €1.50 for 100 minutes or €7.50 for a 24 hour pass. If you’re flying into the city, small car rentals can be found as cheap as €14.00 a day.

Venice

Our Euroventure travel experts have traveled the world and spent extensive time backpacking Italy. Time and time again, Venice is pointed out as being one of their favourite destinations- and it’s easy to see why!

Food & Drink

Eating at restaurants in Venice can be expensive, and we mean really expensive. Horror stories of tourists being charged over 100 euros for a sit-down meal are not uncommon. But fear not! There are plenty of places you can grab some fresh venetian cuisine on the cheap.

For a cheaper bite to eat, look out for your nearest trattoria, these traditional eateries serve filling plates of pasta, meat and seafood dishes to crowds of locals. Eating at trattorias is a great way to save money whilst visiting Italy. We’d recommend trying Sarde in Saor, a classic venetian dish consisting of fried sardine fillets marinated in vinegar onion and pine nuts.

Although Venice is much more famous for its seafood, it is also possible to pick up a cheap slice around Venice. Hunt down your nearest pizzeria.

Attractions

Make no mistake, Venice is a sensory city- there are new smells sights and sounds around every corner with no shortage of things to do. As with anything in this crazy city, eating, drinking or buying souvenirs can be pretty expensive in these areas, so be mindful of the tourist traps. That being said, Venice rewards you for trekking off the beaten path, so explore and see what you can find!

  • Doge’s Palace – A gothic palace and museum once home to the Doge of Venice, the supreme authoritative figure of the old venetian republic
  • St. Mark’s Square / Basilica – A landmark square and cathedral dating back to the 12th century
  • Burano / Murano – Small islands filled with colourful houses and friendly locals
  • The Bridge of Sighs – Famous for being the route prisoners would take from the New Prison to Doge’s interrogation rooms

Weather

Venice is generally a little more temperate than a lot of Italy’s inland cities, sitting between 21-28 degrees celsius for most of the summer months. That being said, this is also the city’s busiest and most expensive time of the year. If you don’t mind it being a little cooler (0-5 degrees) we’d recommend heading out during the winter months to beat the tourist rush.

Transport

How do you travel around a city built on water? It turns out it’s super easy! Eurail trains pull directly into Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia on the northern edge of the city, right by the grand canal. Those who are happy to splash some cash can travel the waterways on one of Venice’s infamous gondola rides. Prices for this are usually around 80 euros for 40 minutes, with every additional 20 minutes costing 40 euros extra. If you’re looking to save money but still want to get out on the water, it’s a good idea to take a vaporetti. Tickets for these water buses cost €7.50 for 75 minutes of unlimited travel.

Like what you see? Take a look at our pre-planned tours accompanied by an experienced Euroventure guide or generate a quote for a custom self-guided itinerary!

Interested in Italy? Check out our Whole Hog, Italian Escape, London to Rome, Sicily to Spain and Around Europe in 80 days tours! Most itineraries are available in a range of durations.

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