I’m writing this post as a throwback to my Inter-railing trip with my bestie Laura because we will be embarking on another trip together at the end of this month so I’m giving a taster on the hilarity that could ensue…
The summer of 2012 we had graduated school and decided to Inter-rail through Milan, Florence, Pisa and Rome.
Flying to Milan, our first obstacle was to get to our hostel which was unbelievably complicated and made worse by the fact it was very late in the night and no public transport operators could speak english to us. Looking back it was quite risky but we exited our bus at some random stop and started to wander around looking lost when some guys came up to us to offer their google maps- very nice of them and they would beckon to other strangers to help and with the advice of about 5 strangers we finally found our hostel.
Oh my god this place was shit. 8th floor with no elevator, 10 people in a room with 1 window and no air conditioning when it was easily 30 degrees outside at night. Laura’s phone had gotten water damaged and the humidity in that room actually dried it out and it started working again!.
We got positive and said, ‘right we just need this place for a bed, let’s spend as much time as we can outside’. Milan is currently my absolutely least favorite city that I have EVER visited, I found that there really wasn’t that much to do or see, but maybe that’s because we weren’t experienced at touring cities at this time. We saw the Duomo in the main square (apologies in advance for the quality of photos, we didn’t have the advancement in technology as we do now)
Heads up: You can’t have bare legs in the churches of Italy- the Catholics found my legs very offensive so I had to buy a scarf to cover them (now named the Modesty Scarf which I still have).
Also on the main square is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is a high end shopping mall featuring all the favorites Prada, Chanel etc…
Top tip: Take off before mentioned Modesty Scarf as the shop assistants will look at you like a peasant.
Heads up: In this square there are a lot of scammers. The main to look out for are when they forcibly put a bracelet on you and make you pay AND some will throw bird seed on you to make pigeons flock and then pickpocket you whilst you’re fighting them off.
We had some drama in the square too when I saw a group of Nuns leaning against the Cathedral wall like a bike mob all eating single scoop ice creams. I took a picture because it looked hilarious and the head Nun marched over to me and started yelling in Italian. Asking her if she spoke English she got more infuriated and started mentioning ‘Facebook’ and tried to grab my phone as she was worried I would put the picture online (I had already deleted it because it wasn’t good and tried to explain this to her and she walked back to her crew)
So the only thing that made Milan bearable for me was the sorbet. Glad to leave for Florence
Florence is beautiful. I messed up our itinerary a bit by booking more days in Pisa so we were only in Florence for 1 night. We packed it in though, the Florence Cathedral is very impressive and we got adventurous about walking through small streets to find really authentic places to eat and drink.
You can also get a bus up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the city and to see Michelangelo’s statue of David (we thought it was the original BUT IT’S NOT, the real is in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, obviously)
So Florence was short and sweet and we confidently set off to the train station to get to Pisa.
Heads up: Unlike in England, the travel boards in the stations that we went to didn’t list the stations that the train stops at, just the final destination. We weren’t told this and genuinely didn’t know if we were on the right train each time until we boarded, started moving and the tannoy listed the stops!
We were a little worried that Pisa was going to be quite boring because whose heard of anything else to do/see other than the tower right? WRONG, we really enjoyed it. The town is beautiful, the buildings have this yellow paint that I’ve never seen before and it’s a very quiet place compared to Milan.
So of course we went to the Tower, and actually there are a lot of buildings around it that are also really interesting at the Piazza del Duomo. We spent a good couple of hours there getting the photo of us pushing it (has to be done) and got a limoncello to quench our thirst.
In Pisa we were staying in a 16 bed shared hostel room. We were a little skeptical about it but it was great! The people we met were really interesting, had all travelled extensively and a group of us went for dinner. Wondering what to do for our second day, a Dutch girl in our room said she was going to the harbor and asked us if we’d like to join so we did. A great day sun-soaking and swimming with loads more ice cream.
Verdict of Pisa: Beautiful and chilled town that I think is quite underrated and definitely worth a visit.
We were in Rome for the longest period of time- about a week in total and had split the time into two accommodations. The first was a place called Camping Roma, a chain of campsites found around Europe. Very cheap and had a pool, bar, shop etc and is close to the Vatican so I booked us a room.
On arrival it transpired that I had not booked us a private chalet as I had thought, but a tent that also wasn’t private. Laura’s most hated thing is camping so she didn’t talk to me for a couple of hours until I bought her chocolate as a sorry. However, I think she’d tell you now that Camping Roma was super fun! We made some friends really quickly and it was just a huge party atmosphere because Top Deck busses would arrive every day.
Whilst here we visited the Vatican, I can’t tell you much about the museum because Laura is the sort of person who walks in a straight line through a museum and looks at the paintings through her peripherals, so I was hurried through and really can’t remember what I saw so you’ll have to check it out yourselves.
Must see: The Sistine Chapel is in the Vatican which I DO remember. Viewing the ceiling art by Michelangelo is certainly worth it. No pictures are allowed and we spent most of our time trying to sneak one but DON’T, use your eyes and soak it in.
For the second half of our Roma stay we booked a hotel. To save money we stayed in a double room and when we turned up at the reception they were very suspicious of us thinking we were lesbians (we aren’t but this became a theme/assumption for the rest of the trip)
Brushing it off we went out for dinner and sat outside on the terrace. Whilst eating, a string quartet walked past but stopped at us and started to serenade our meal. Later when we ordered dessert, both choosing the tiramisu, the waiter brought us one portion with two forks for us to share- lesbian vibes were going around again. After dinner we went to see the Trevi Fountain which is beautifully lit up at night. Whilst standing on the balcony a man selling roses came to me and asked if I wanted to buy my ‘girlfriend’ (pointing at Laura) a rose. I said no, he asked why and kept insisting that I should be romantic which wasn’t helped by Laura chiming in saying ‘you never buy me anything anymore, I thought we were here to get the romance back!’. Argh!
Also to see in Rome are the Spanish Steps (don’t run down them I fell), the Pantheon (I wanted to dress as a roman but Laura said she wouldn’t be seen with me if I did) and the Roman Forum (some of many ruins to see in the city)
Our final visit in Rome was to the Colosseum, something I had always been keen to see. My mum warned me and said that when she visited she felt it was eerie and could only imagine the bloodshed that ensued. I didn’t feel this when I went, I saw it as a remarkable stadium and was impressed by the architecture. It poured with rain on our journey there so emergency ponchos had to be bought (have to say I am very proud of my haggling skills and when buying from street vendors there is always room to haggle).
So that was our adventure in Italy. Great fun and I’m sure that for our road trip in August the same amount of Laurel and Hardy-like hilarity will occur once more.
Ciao for now,