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An Independent Trip to Italy: Venice, Genoa, Milan

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What on Earth can be more boring than a “Packed tour” bought at a travel agency?! These vacations planned from A to Z can drive you crazy. No any spontaneous actions, not a single chance to improvise! What is even worse - a bus tour, when you are simply obligated to follow this noisy crowd of your bus-mates heading from one “super-mega-popular sight” to another. These so-called “Top places of interest” have no soul, they are overcrowded by thousands of other people who read guide books in a strict order. This time we go to Italy all by ourselves!

Of course, a good travel agency can work out quite an interesting vacation plan for you. But be sure, it will cost you a fortune. Don’t be upset! There’s still a chance to have a wonderful time in Italy for reasonable money. Such a trip will give you lot of unforgettable impressions which will stay with you for all of your life.

Photo by: © Sasha Luk.

Visa to Italy

If you’re a EU’s resident or the resident of the US you have no need to worry about visa while visiting Italy. All the citizens of the European Union travel free all around Europe and US citizens can enter most of European countries without any visas or get them at the border, if ones are needed. Unfortunately people from Eastern Europe, especially from the countries of Post Soviet Union have no right to visit European Union without Schengen visa. What is worse, the procedures of applying and getting the visa can break all the idea of having a trip down. But I was lucky to get a long-term “MULTI” Shcengen visa after visiting Slovakia. This country has a loyal visa policy, so trips to Slovakia are quite popular in my country, as people can get a two- or even five-year “Schengen”.

Photo by: © IGotoWorld.com Photo Group.

Travel Tips: when you travel alone, you have to solve all your problems by your own, there will be no travel agency by your side. So, you better take a couple of copies of your passport and visa with you and also save them on some cloud storages. If something happens to your documents you at least have something to provide the embassy to issue you the temporary ones.

Planning a Trip: Book Your Flight

If the visa question is solved, here comes the time to buy airline ticket. Everything depends on you and your imagination. Think of the time you can spend on your vacation first and choose approximate dates of travel. Flexible dates are always better then fixed, as they give you an opportunity to save your money by choosing among different special offers and discounts.

Photo by: © Alex Safronov IGotoWorld.com Photo Group.

If you really want to find a good flight deal, you should take care of it at least two or even six month before. The closer you flight date is the more money you’ll have to pay for it. There are some dates when the fare is lowest possible. Flights from and around Europe are always cheap starting from 10 Euro.

Travelling Around the Country

While visiting a foreign country you always want to see and to learn as much as possible about it towns, cities, people and history. So, I didn’t want to spend all the time of my vacation in one Italian city only. I had five days and a strong intention to visit at least three cities: Venice, where my plane from Kyiv will land, then I go to Genoa to have a rest at the seaand, of course, to crown it all, I wanna see the Italian fashion capital – Milan, where my trip will finish and I’ll take a plane back to Kyiv.

Now the main question is how travel among these cities in the most cost-effective way. Italian Railway Is Your Helping Hand

You can book your train ticket all around Italy online. And this is the main feature of Italian trains. At the same time, the earlier you book, the less you pay. There are several types of trains of different class rates and different prices. Of course, you have to be fast to get the cheapest ones. For example, the price range from Venice to Genoa is from 60 to 18 EUR. In general, I spent 27 EUR on my train tickets.

Travel Tips: book you tickets on trenitalia.com.

But the thing is that to sign in on this web-site you have to enter your Italian address, so I wrote my hotel address and that was enough. And no any other obstacles in tickets purchasing I met. After the tickets are paid, you get it on your e-mail. All you need is just print it and keep it with you while travelling.

Time to find a hotel

In my opinion the best place to look for a hotel is somewhere near the railway station, of course, if it is not situated in the suburbs. Ask me why? Well, as you remember, you’re at your own now, so nobody will meet you there with the hotel transfer. You’ll have to carry your heavy bags all the way to the hotel. Yes, taxi is always at your disposal, but it will never be a cheap idea. Choosing a hotel near the railway station, be careful care, as there can be several stations in the city, so, find the right one!

It’s common knowledge that on such web-sites as booking.com you may not pay until you check in, and even if you decline the booking for plenty of different reasons you still don’t pay any fees. Try only not to play the time.

But other websites charge some money when you book, then when you check in you just pay the rest. One of them is HostelBookers.com. This is a quite useful thing when you’re looking for a cheap stay in a super-popular city as Venice, when the lowest hotel rate is 80 EUR per night and the only way to sleep cheap here is on a rack by the channel under the open air. Due to this web site I found a place in a hostel 7 min walk from the railway station 30 EUR per night, where ladies live separately from gentlemen. Such a good luck!

When a booking voucher is sent to your e-mail, print it and check if all the contact detail and address are mentioned there. You can also find a map with the route to the hostel and even watch the pictures of its facade. This can be very useful, trust me. Once I spent more than half an hour looking for the place I’ve booked, but there was not a single sign with its name. It was just a casual dwelling-house!

Remember, you have to pay additional tourist fee in a hotel: 3 EUR per person per night in Venice and 1 EUR in Genoa.

Travel Tips. If you’re really short of time, but still have a strong intension to travel, you can save your money on hotels and hostels by entering the Couchsurfing society. These people are ready to let you stay at their place for free for a day or two. But behave yourself and don’t forget to bring some presents for the host of the place you’re staying at.

Explore the City: Making Your Sightseeing Plan

Well, now, you know where you live and how you get there, so, let’s think how to entertain yourself. Venice is a place to admire its architecture.

Photo by: © Iakov Kalinin - Fotolia.com.

But I also wanted to spend some time on a beach and was looking for the information about how to get to the seaside. A small plan of the sights you’re interested in, along with their location and working hours will be a very helpful thing, but don’t try to follow this plan strictly, leave a place to improvisation.

Medical Insurance

This is what you need to ask for at a travel agency. It cost me around 30 UAH only, but having an insurance you always feel more safe. In case of any accidents or illnesses you won’t have to pay the bills in foreign hospitals. There are still some issues which are not covered by the insurance like if you got an injury if you were drunk, so be aware!

Language problems

Before I left to Italy my friends tried to scare me that English is not spoken in Italy at all. That’s why I had purchased an Italian Phrasebook and even learnt a couple of phrases. But that didn’t make any sense. Get ready for an Italian answer if you ask in Italian. Don’t be afraid to let the locals understand you don’t speak Italian but really need their help. Just to be polite, learn such words as: Grazie и  Scusi.

Stay In Touch

Among the other important things during your independent trip is having a navigation system at hand. Some of them need and Internet connection, but other don’t. To have an Internet in your Smartphone you can purchase a sim-card of a local mobile operator with minimal tariff (I found one for 10 EUR), or you can refill your Skype Wi-Fi account which gives an opportunity to connect to Wi-Fi in any part of the world, or you can simply use a public Wi-Fi which is available in some parks, museums, malls and railway stations.

In Italy you can also connect to Wi-Fi in most of the cafes. Order a cup of coffee and get a password. In Genoa there was a public city Internet - register and use it anytime you need. The speed was poor, but well enough for GoogleMaps. All of the hotels and hostels you’re staying at will also give you a chance to connect to their Wi-Fi.

Well, see how much we’ve done and planned. Let the adventures get started!

Day 1. Gorgeous Venice

I came to Treviso airport and got the city by bus for 10 EUR. You can also rent a car or take a taxi, this is up to you.

Look at my window view! For only 30 EUR per night I got a wonderful Venice channel view right by my side! What is good in living in hostels – it is a wonderful place to make friends with different people from all around the world!

Everybody who comes to Venice start their sightseeing from San Marco Cathedral to admire its architectural perfection. Next destinations are: Grand Canal and the Doge's Palace and numerous narrow streets with ancient buildings and small bridges. I can spend the whole day describing the beauty and sights of this ancient city and it will never be enough.

Photo by: © il-fede - Fotolia.com.

Be aware of Venice labyrinths, the streets look nice and welcoming but at the same time they have a cruel plan to make you lost in them. Look at them: vintage, old, with the footprints of ages, unusual smell and…

… with a huge amount of fresh-washed clothes drying above your heads. Like in any city: turning from a wide street to a small one where locals live you’ll see old benches, forgotten flowerbeds and all other lovely non-touristic pictures. To my mind this is the real charm of the city!

Include into your “Must list” a voyage on a Vaporetto – public ferry. A ticket will cost you around 7 EUR, but you’ll be able to see all the sights along the Grand Canal as well as other small islands located nearby. Amazing views! By the way, by Vaporetto I managed to get to the beach on Lido Island. I liked this nice long sand coast line which is washed by warm waters of the Adriatic Sea. You should also like a walk around bright and funny Burano Island.

Photo by: © Sasha Luk.

Travel Tips: While taking pictures from a board of the Vaporetto, be careful and tie the stripe of your camera on your hand – the ferry is usually overcrowded and you can easily drop it and give a “special present” to the sea.

Italian pizza is sold on every corner as well as famous Italian ice-cream Gelato. In hot summer days a local drink Granita – syrup with crashed ice is something worth tasting, too.

3-Days Long Fairy Tale: A Trip to Genoa

By taking a fast train I reached the Coastline of Liguria with a special comfort. Venice, I’m sorry to say that, but… my heart melted when I saw Genoa!

Photo by: © Alex Safronov IGotoWorld.com Photo Group.

In Genoa I lived in B&B hotel, so breakfasts were included. It cost me 35 EUR per night. The place was charming indeed! It was an apartment, turned into a hotel rooms and the hosts lived on the same floor. Everything was filled with the home and welcoming atmosphere. The design was nice in its small details and elements. You’ll never feel the soul of the country living in luxury hotels.

Most of the beaches were private with an entrance fee. Italians also like to build swimming-pools right by the sea. I was advised to go to the public beach in Boccadasse which is considered to be the most picturesque one. Really, it was a cozy place! It becomes especially lively in the evening. I found out that in the evening you can even enter private beaches for free.

In Genoa, next to the port there is the biggest Aquarium in Italy – it’s always full of tourists. A huge pirate ship moored nearby attracts tourists’ attention, too, as it was filmed in the world-famous movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The main hero Captain Jack Sparrow fought on the decks of it.

Photo by: © Alex Safronov IGotoWorld.com Photo Group.

To see the famous Genoa’s Fortress (better to say its remains) you have to climb up the mountain. But you can use a lift to the “Walls of Genoa” and then again continue walking around the state park. From the top you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city below bordering the deep blue waters of an endless sea. Seems you can never get enough enjoying this beauty. Coming down back to the city don’t miss the right road. I was stupid to take a winding road down where cars drove on a high speed and it was quite scaring.

Another place you should add into your “Must list” is the Nervi park. Take a local train to get there. This is a wonderful place with numerous picturesque beaches between the rocks. A narrow path above the rocks runs along the sea up to the Anita Garibaldi embankment which is changed by even more beautiful Bogliasco.

Finish Line: Milan And Fashion

Nearly crying I said Goodbye to the Liguria Sea and took my way to Milan – the capital of fashion and shopping. Shopping is something you should once pay a special attention to here. Speaking about main tourists attractions here, of course, all the tourists hurry to the centre to see the beauty of sophisticated Duomo Cathedral.

Photo by: © Henry Bonn - Fotolia.com.

You can find gorgeous Milan Passage with world-famous fashion brands on the same square where Duomo stands. Next to it you will see Arch of Peace and Castello Sforzesco with lovely green lawns to have a rest from a long walk on.

To tell the truth, this city didn’t “catch” me, probably I just didn’t have enough time to fall in love with it. But maybe it is made for true shopaholics and fashion-victims. Anyway, in the evening I left for the airport by bus which started from the railway station and cost me 5 EUR.

Of course, this is extremely difficult to express all the emotions and to tell about all the experience I got during these 5 days. But instead of writing a long-long essay about my trip I better spend my time on planning a new one! So, I advise you to follow my example and to make your own trip instead of reading about others’ ones. Study the map, book a flight and hurry towards the new adventures!

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