We were sad to leave Africa behind but incredibly excited to back in Europe, surrounded by historical buildings, amazing food, clean toilets (!), a temperate climate and the ease of public transport in a developed country.
We’d never visited Europe on our previous two RTW trips so weren’t sure how enjoyable it would be on a budget but hoped we could make it work.
Our plan was a few weeks doing a loop around northern Italy, visiting a mix of old and new destinations, cities and countryside. Milan was the first stop; where we visited an old friend and his family, wandered the arcades and started our gelato addiction, which we had to feed at least daily.
Not forgetting the gigantic delicious pasta we feasted on. So good.
Then it was north to Lake Como, made famous by George Clooney. As well as the beautiful lake surrounded by steep green hills dotted with palatial villas, we fell In love with the small town of Como perched on the edge. Filled with stunning buildings, perfect piazzas and decadent duomos, we quickly eased into the Italian lifestyle.
It was the first stay, in what was a highlight of our time in the country, apartments. We’d forgotten how nice it is to have a space to call your own, bigger than a bedroom, and the best way to get good restaurant recommendations from locals!
Verona, made famous by Romeo and Juliet, was up next and it was as gorgeous as we’d hoped:
Then it was on to Venice, where we had both visited before and loved. Being the edge of high season, we were limited in accommodation options so ended up (fortuitously) in the former Jewish ghetto, away from the tourist centre.
This meant we were far from the crowds and got to see a little bit of the real Venice: a €15 no menu set lunch, Aperol and cicchetti (Venetian tapas) canalside and waking up to this view every morning. It was perfect.
Of course, we visited the major sights and took a vaporetto (ferry) ride, but wandering around ‘our’ area was definitely the highlight.
I still cannot believe the whole city was built out of the sea on wooden poles…
And that was our fantastic first week; next up the Dolomites.