When I started planning my trip to Italy, I did not envision visiting four cities in six days; however that is exactly what happened. It was one of the best holidays, I did so much, and I fell in love with Italy.
I’m going to talk about each place we visited. I am going to share snaps so keep an eye on my Instagram grid @katelovesliterature.
Italy is a beautiful place and the cities that we visited are filled with so much history, art, and literature so it was a pleasure to explore.
I already know that I want to visit Italy again and perhaps even go on a longer trip because there are places that I’d love to return to and there are places that we did not get to see this time that I would love to see in the future.
Overall, I feel very lucky that I was able to go on such a lovely holiday. It has been a stressful few weeks, filled with changes, and I have a really busy year ahead however I know that I am doing exactly what I should be doing because putting all the stress to one side, I love what I do so I am very excited to see what this next year brings.
Let’s dive into Italy, 2022.
I have to be honest. When we first decided to go to Naples, I was happy with the decision, but as time went on and as more people gave me their two cents, I grew a little bit anxious about this choice as I had heard mixed reviews about the city.
I have anxiety, I don’t discuss it on Katelovesliterature.com because it is unrelated to literature, but I do have anxiety and this trip was going to be my longest trip away from home after two years. I was not travelling with family this time, so I was already a little apprehensive as I really wanted the trip to go well.
I was never happier to be wrong. All of the nerves that I had were quickly put to rest when we arrived. I loved Naples, and I would 100% go back to Naples as we only had two days there which in the end just was not enough time.
It does not matter where you go, every city has some great and some not so great. You have to be careful and you have to have a head on your shoulders no matter where you go. Naples is a bustling city. It is called the city of chaos and it is easy to see why it has such a title. It is busy, it is loud, it is hot, and yes there is a lot of graffiti however, I could say the same about Dublin, aside from maybe the hot part because we all know that Irish weather is temperamental.
Naples is full of life. It was unbelievable how one street could seem busy and unremarkable, but then you would turn a corner and be faced with a sight of beauty. The buildings were beautiful, some of the architecture, and some of the statues were just incredible. The artwork that you would just stumble upon was something else and we had the best time just exploring.
We stayed in the historical district and I absolutely would stay there again. My favourite part of our brief stay in Naples was when we found a lovely little restaurant directly across from the university. It was a perfect night. It was hot, we were relaxed. We sat outside and drank wine and ate the most delicious pizza – We’ve decided that Naples did have the best pizza although I liked how crispy the pizzas are in Rome.
The university was lit up at night, the waiters were so kind, the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. Everyone was happy to just eat, drink and relax. We sat in that square until the restaurant closed at midnight and then we stopped at a bar for a final drink before we went back to our room. The city was busy, even at night, so I did not feel in any way unsafe while we were walking back so late. I was and still am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed being in Naples.
It was a lesson for me – do not let others get in your head about where you are going. Their experience is not your experience and you have to be careful no matter where you go.
If you’re considering going to Naples and like me, you have heard many mixed opinions, I would say that you should go and see for yourself what you think.
Naples is filled with a bustling charm, it’s busy and it is indeed chaotic, but it is definitely a city that I will be visiting again and for longer next time.
I am a history lover so I could not be only a short train ride away from Pompeii and not visit the ruins. From Napoli station, we got a train to the city of Pompeii and it was incredible.
It was hot, so hot that I went and bought a big straw hat because I am very fair and when you’re exploring the ruins there is very little coverage from the sun so if you’re going to explore then it is vital to have a hat, sunglasses, sun cream, and make sure to carry a bottle of water or two with you.
We landed in Naples on Sunday and the very next day we went to Pompeii for the day so we were still adapting to the heat and the fact that we were on our holidays. I had my first little cup of gelato in Pompeii. It was delicious. I opted for strawberry so it was more like a sorbet but I still really enjoyed it and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade and cooling off for a bit.
Walking around the ruins of Pompeii was something I’ll never forget. It was beautiful, but it was hard at times because it was so hot and the terrain is not exactly smooth. We did come close to twisting our ankles a few times so if you’re going to the ruins be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I had runners on with my little sundress and I was increasingly happy with that decision as I could not imagine doing that walk in sandals.
We opted to explore ourselves rather than go on a tour, this is a choice we made at several places throughout our trip. We chose to explore by ourselves simply because we like to move at our own pace and we had specific places saved that we wanted to see and so we searched for those and doing that allowed us to skip over places that we didn’t mind missing or if there was a place that we explored but then wanted to move on to something else, being by ourselves meant that we could just move on when we were ready to as opposed to having to wait for a guide to move us on. That being said, we did see some tours taking place and we overheard some guides speaking to their groups and everything they said sounded really interesting so if you enjoy tours or you want a more structured experience then there are some great tour options however exploring ourselves is what suits us best.
The ruins are huge. I think we definitely underestimated how big they are and how long we would spend exploring them. We were there for hours and I still don’t think we saw everything but we did see one of the most incredible views.
I found myself overwhelmed quite a few times on this trip. Being in the city of Pompeii was one of those times. There was something so surreal about exploring the ruins and walking around and seeing what was left of a place. There was a still feeling in the air that is very hard to explain. I think that feeling comes from standing in a place that is so steeped in history and the ruins are quite literally moments in time. It is so strange to think about how those ruins were once filled with life. It is almost hard to believe that a place has been there for so long. I would highly recommend exploring Pompeii.
From Naples we took the train to Rome, but then we went and spent the day in Florence and because we only had one day in Florence and then a few days in Rome, I’m going to talk about Florence first.
Florence is a charming city. I keep thinking about the entire trip and I go over all the places we visited and while I enjoyed each city, and while I would return to each city, I keep going back and forth between whether my favourite city was Florence or Rome.
I think one of the most stunning sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is breath-taking. The gothic architecture is stunning. The level of detail and craftsmanship and art that went into these buildings is unbelievable. It seems as though I am repeating myself. I say stunning, unbelievable, beautiful, a lot but this is because it is true. I found myself lost for words so many times while I was in Italy. I found myself moved to tears more than once because I was just stunned by what I was seeing and at times I was almost in awe of where I was.
The highlight of my day in Florence was visiting the House of Dante. The house is on the sight of Dante’s birthplace and in the house, his work is displayed. For those who may not know, Dante was an Italian poet. He was also a philosopher. Dante is considered the greatest Italian poet. I would argue that his most iconic and most well-known work is his epic poem entitled The Divine Comedy. The poem is considered one of the most important pieces of literary work, and it is considered the greatest work in Italian.
I love Dante. I loved studying his work and so being in the House of Dante was a very special moment. There is a certain verse that always brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it and seeing it displayed in his birthplace brought tears to my eyes again. I never tire of his work. It does not matter how many times I read it. Being there was incredible. Seeing literature respected and remembered and celebrated was incredible. The world was and is filled with talented people and seeing where one of the most influential and important poets was from was really amazing.
Rome was a dream. Walking through Rome was like walking through a painting. I loved Florence but I think Rome has to be my favourite. I found myself in awe so often in Rome. I found myself in very thoughtful and reflective moods. I found myself at peace and also incredibly happy.
From the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon, from the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican, Rome was a sight to behold.
The night we arrived, we got all dressed up and we had dinner outside, sitting directly across from the Colosseum. It is hard to find a better view than that. We sat there as the sun went down and the Colosseum became lit up. We just sat enjoying our drinks and the incredible surroundings. The food was amazing. I had a delicious ravioli and some really lovely cocktails and then we got a pizza to share. The pizza in Rome is very different to the pizza in Naples. In Naples, it is rich and doughier and the cheese is just falling off the pizza because it is so hot. In Rome, the pizza is thinner and the crust is crispier. Personally, I love a crispy crust so I really enjoyed this; however overall we decided that Naples did have the best pizza.
In Rome, I went on a tiramisu tour. I tried it in nearly every restaurant. It quickly became my favourite dessert. I had never had it before I went to Italy and it was one of the things that I was most looking forward to tasting. I loved it. Nothing beats starry nights, fairy lights, a lovely glass of wine and a plate of tiramisu. It was perfection.
One of my favourite nights was the night we went to the opera in Rome. We saw the three tenors at Saint Paul’s Within The Walls and it was utterly brilliant. The church was the most amazing backdrop. It was stunning. The high ceilings meant that the sound travelled in the most amazing way. The singers did not even need microphones. They just projected into the church. The pianist was fantastic, the other musicians played beautifully. The three tenors themselves had incredible, strong, beautiful voices and they were accompanied by the most lovely and graceful ballerina.
The songs were all in Italian naturally, but that didn’t matter because it was just so beautiful. I love a night filled with beautiful music and it was actually just incredible to hear these arias sung and performed in Italian. I had the best night.
One of my favourite finds was a lovely rooftop bar that was about a ten minute walk from where we stayed. It was beautiful. There is nothing better than looking out over a beautiful city that is all lit up and taking in the views with a cocktail in hand. I was overwhelmed when I was in the city on that terrace that was filled with candles, flowers, lamps and fairy lights. We had a perfect seat, right at the edge of the railings so we were overlooking the entire Piazza Navona. I had a cosmopolitan in hand and I was just admiring the views and I got utterly lost in thought and being there on that rooftop was one of my favourite moments. I was so happy and I was aware of how happy I was and I think that feeling is why I have to say that Rome was my favourite. I loved each moment of the trip and I had a brilliant time in each place we visited, but Rome gave me this incredible feeling that I don’t think I’ll forget for a long time. It was very special so that is why Rome, the eternal city, is absolutely my favourite.
That was my trip. Naples, Pompeii, Florence, and Rome. Four cities, six days, and memories that I will keep forever.