Travel Italy Bucket List

Welcome to the Travel Italy Bucket List!

As many of you know, I start planning all of my trips by forming a bucket list for the location. Brainstorming a list of the things that I would like to see, do, and experience while I am there helps me to prioritize my time traveling. Plus, researching and creating a destination bucket list is a great way to get excited about your future adventure!

Here you will find my personal bucket list for traveling Italy  [my completed bucket list items will be marked ] along with an explanation as to WHY these are the items that I chose to be on my bucket list.

**Note: If any of these bucket list items interest you, you can DIRECTLY PIN the graphics to your Pinterest. Follow my {ITALY WANDERLUST} board for more travel inspiration.

 


Explore Italy

The whole reason I planned a trip to Italy in the first place was in order to fulfill the requirements of language and study abroad for my undergraduate degree in International Studies from the University of Utah. I decided to study the Italian language and visit Italy for my first trip to Europe, spending the summer of 2016 traveling solo. 

Italy is the Featured DESTINATION OF THE MONTH for July of 2019.  Join the monthly newsletter to get the destination of the month directly in your inbox.

Use the map below to find locations mentioned in this post

 


 


1- Explore Rome & Vatican City

WHY: It is hard to truly experience Italy without dedicating some time to Rome, and the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. History pulls you in as you walk around, there is something undeniably fascinating about being here. I started my trip with an **Airbnb that allows one to walk the historic walls to the Colosseum while also making some new friends. Rome is one of the cities with the highest pic-pocketing statistics in Europe, that alone makes it easy for travelers to experience both adventures and misadventures in this bustling city.

**If you are new to Airbnb, consider signing up through THIS LINK for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

Personally?  My misadventures didn’t involve theft. I had a heartfelt moment while watching the sunrise over Vatican City, even after a sleepless night of discovering bed bugs in a new accommodation. A bird sh*t on my head while walking out of the Pantheon, and then I immediately learned first hand about the flirtatious culture of Italian men as a stranger attempted to aid me by rubbing my backside clean *insert OMG emoji here.* …He later became my first stalker. Cool.

I don’t mean to dissuade anyone from going to Rome, it is one of my favorite ‘big cities’ that I have spent time in. For those who seek a thrill, try facing your fear of heights as you climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Or, pursue your Lizzie McGuire Movie fantasies and toss a coin into Trevi Fountain, preferably at night (was that just my fantasy?) Go donate a few euros (if you have a bit spare) to the cat sanctuary in Largo di Torre Argentina. Even if those don’t interest you, create your own gelato walking tour to explore the city; walking from gelato to gelato and seeing the different neighborhoods and piazzas [squares.]. Trust me on this, food is not something to treat lightly in Italy.  My thighs ended up being the best souvenir I brought home from Italy. 

 

 

 

2- Study Italian Language

WHY: It would be a lie for me to say that learning Italian didn’t have an enormous impact on my trip. This alone allowed me to have a more meaningful experience while traveling. In general, I find that when you are attempting to communicate in the local language, people are more likely to have meaningful engagements with you. Meeting locals around the world is the number one reasons I continue to travel after all of these years.

First I took Italian Language Classes in Florence (post coming soon), the school allowed me with a ‘host mother/grandmother’ who only spoke Italian. This was both beneficial and terrifying. I had to bring my Italian-English dictionary with me to dinner every night AND to morning conversation of her yelling at me. Turns out, when I first arrived she asked me not to go out and party/consume alcohol, but my lack of language skills completely prevented me from understanding this request. Granted, the night prior to my scolding I had stayed out until 4 am the night before with some high school friends who happened to be in Florence at the same time before quietly coming back to the flat.

The second location I attended Language Classes was along the Amalfi Coast in Salerno (post coming soon.) Here I stayed with a host family including a mother, father, son, and daughter. Both of the kids were slightly older than me and acted as my peers and liaisons to friends in the community. THIS my friends, is how I became conversationally fluent in Italian. Salerno itself doesn’t have many English speakers, you will learn faster when you are forced to communicate through the challenges of language. Additionally, I became romantically involved in Salerno and it turns out, that dating a person who speaks the language you are learning (and has a lot of patience) will drastically improve language skills.

 

 

 

3-  Get Lost in Venice

WHY: Prior to visiting Venice, I’d heard mixed reactions from my traveler friends. Some told me that Venice was an overrated tourist destination while others described it as magical, it has a reputation of being a place you will either love or hate.

My personal experience? Venice is pure magic.  I spent a few days staying in a tiny attic bedroom, **booked through Airbnb; and filled most of my time by aimlessly exploring the canals. Along the way, I was happy to discover delicious food and happy hours around the island (I ate a ridiculous amount of pizza-by-the-slice for nearly all of my meals.) 

**If you are new to Airbnb, consider signing up through THIS LINK for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

I skipped the expensive gondola rides and opted for a boat tour, I suggest you do the same. The boat tour I chose was a popular route, visiting the surrounding islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello to see the colorful canals, glass blowing, lace making, and historic sites.

 

 

 

4- Tuscany Region

WHY: Tuscany is simply a ‘must-do’ for Italy. I don’s say that lightly; you won’t hear that phrase often on this site because I believe that everyone should prioritize their own personal interests when exploring a new location rather than trying to seek out the generic ‘must-do’ experiences suggested in guide books. 

While taking Italian Language Classes in Florence (see #2), I had the pleasure of immersing myself into the city. Drinking the local Chianti wine and seeking out all of the incredible food at any chance, including my daily stop for a Panino and glass of wine while dining on the curb at I Fratellini after classes concluded for the day. 

Tuscany is perfect for wine lovers, people who like to explore cities on foot, those who enjoy art and history.. and even travelers seeking nightlife. Here you can view Michaelangelo’s ‘David’ and the stunning Duomo, wander cobblestone streets, window shop in the beautiful boutiques, and learn to recreate your favorite foods with cooking classes (#7.)

Find some delicious gelato, take a walk to Piazzale Michelangelo to get a panoramic view of the city, walk across the river on the iconic Ponte Vecchio and then view the bridge from afar. Check out the Boboli Gardens to get some greenery time, AND try not to get a sinus infection that forces you to find a doctor (like I had the pleasure of doing.)

 

 

 

5- Swim in the Mediterranean

WHY: Italy has no shortage of access points to the Mediterranean sea. From cliffside villages to islands, some of the popular considerations are Cinque Terre, Capri, Sardinia (#9,) and Sicily (#8), and the Amalfi Coast. However, it is important to note that there are many small beach towns and resort towns as well.

The first time I ever ventured into the Mediterranean, was after arriving in Salerno. Initially, I booked a room in a bed and breakfast on  **Airbnb for the first night of my stay that was a block or two to beach access. I grabbed my book and walked over, letting my toes touch the foreign sand and feel the cool water as kids splashed around me.

**If you are new to Airbnb, consider signing up through THIS LINK for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

After this, I went to the sea any chance I could get! My favorite surprise was the discovery of ceramic pieces of tile that would wash up on beaches all along the Mediterranean. Comparable to sea glass, these pieces of ceramic would fall off of buildings or be pulled off by waves, tumbled and polished smooth by water, and then wash up on the beaches. Beachcombing allows you to find different colors, shapes, and pieces of Italy.  Keep your eye out for these colorful, small treasures as you explore the coastal areas and beaches.

 

 

 

6- Drink Local Craft Beer

WHY: Beer huh? Are you sure you don’t mean wine? Isn’t that more of what Italy is known for? Yes. This is probably not an item that ends up on most people’s bucket list for Italy. However, it is a bucket list item for any place in the world that I travel to. Beer is a drink of the people. Made BY the people in the community, FOR the community, and WITH the ingredients that they have available.

While I was able to try several Italian craft beers, I don’t consider this a completed item. I hope to return to Italy and make this a focus of my planning for portions of the trip.

Do you have any suggestions for breweries in Italy? Bars with great craft beer selections? Or connections to people in the beer world? Please let me know in the comments below or contact me directly!

 

 

 

7- Cooking Classes

WHY: It is no secret around here that I love cooking ALMOST as much as I like eating (did you know I have a ‘Cook With Me‘ section of the website where I recreate and share recipes inspired by my travels?) If you follow me on INSTAGRAM then it is also no secret that I am a huge pizza fan. Honestly, if I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I would probably choose Italian food.

Just to experience the food should probably be a key focus for your time in Italy, but if you are able to, try taking a cooking class. The classes I took at In Tavola in Florence were the perfect chance to learn some new recipes that I could cook anywhere in the world. The language school I was attending in Florence (#2) allowed us to attend cooking classes for a discounted rate, so I went often. I am now comfortable making my own ravioli, gnocchi, desserts, and homemade pasta.  

 

8- Sicily

WHY: My next trip to Italy will 100% include Sicily. Palermo is a city that has been recommended to me more than a few times, but I would really love to hear from people who have been. What made your experience in Sicily great? What are your suggestions for this island?

I was originally drawn to the island as I fell in love with Italian culture and even more when I spent 3 months in Greece. Sicily has an interesting history and culture that has emerged through it. Let me know in the comments below why you would like to visit Sicily if you haven’t been, or what your experience was if you have been.

 

 

9- Sardinia 

WHY: I can’t lie, there is something about islands that call to me. From attending University for a bit in Hawaii.. to moving to a Greek island for a short time, I love island life. Many travelers debate on visiting Capri or Sardinia, Sardinia personally calls to me more due to the size being larger and tourism not being as overwhelming. Have you been to either of these islands? How would you compare them?

Personally, I can see myself exploring this island beach to beach and seeking cool sea caves and boat trips. Alternatively, the trekking and cities look amazing too. Please reach out with suggestions if you have any.

 

 

 

10- Lake District

WHY: The Italian word for Lake is ‘Lago’ and the Lake District of Italy, along the northern border, is well known for stunning towns along these bright blue glacial lakes that sit near the Italian Alps. Here you can be tempted with one of the more well-known lakes, Lago Como, or explore the Swiss/Italian border by exploring Lago Maggiore.

Lago Iseo personally interests me because I am not into high-end travel, and a bit more interested in an intimate, local-oriented experience. From my understanding, Lago Iseo is a bit more quiet with great hiking in the area. If you have been to the Lake District of Italy please let me know your suggestions and experiences below!

 


What would be on YOUR Travel Italy Bucket List?

Let me know in the comments below ↓

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