The ultimate 2020 Italy travel guide

We planned to visit Italy in two weeks, seeing as much as possible, from north to south, from hiking in Dolomites to swimming in the exotic beaches of Tropea. Since it’s 2020 and vacations during Corona could not be planned, we initially had other plans for the two weeks, but those plans changed last minute. And in the last week before starting our vacation, we planned the full adventure of discovering Italy, as follows: hiking in Dolomites, morning jogs in Venice, evening walks in Florence, getting lost in Tuscany villages, hiking and swimming in the Amalfi Coast and beach time in exotic Tropea.

Below is a long post with some details about our trips, each of them is also including a link to the full blog post with more detailed information from each region. Also, at the end of the post, we wrote some general travelling information tips, things you might need to know if you are planning something similar, also in the current context of worldwide travelling.

Dolomites

We started our Italy tour visiting Dolomiti and we choose one of the must do hikes, on mount Seceda. Seceda mountain peak is at 2.519m (8.264 feet), well above Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva in Val Gardena. 

You can start the hike from different places, we went on the most familiar one, taking the cable gondola from Ortisei – Furnes – Seceda. We knew rain was going to come, so we went fast and covered the route close to Saas Rigais. Soon we were leaving behind beaten tracks and most of the people and got surrounded by surreal rock mountains on two sides.

If interested, you can find more pictures and route details about our Seceda Hike in this blog post.

Venice

We spent two days in Venice, which was enough for exploring the city, but if you plan to also visit the indoor attractions, such as museums and stuff, you probably need one or two days more. Here are some useful tips and things to do while in Venice:

  1. Getting there: if you go by car, there are plenty of parking places right on the right side after entering Venice. The biggest one is Tronchetto Parking, which is actually an artificial island bulit special for parking spaces in Venice.
  2. Gondolas – yes or no? We say yes, even if it’s a bit cheesy, in the end it was a great experience. We also learned more history about the city from the gondolier and enjoyed the sunset while on Gran Canal.
  3. Jogging at sunrise on the small streets – one of the best experiences for enjoying the beauty of the city while alone on the streets is to go jogging at sunrise, around at 6am on a tour surrounding Venice.
  4. Get lost on the streets – just walk around during day or night, exploring the city.

If interested, you can find more pictures and additional trip details about our Venice adventure in this blog post.

Tuscany region

We only spent two days in Tuscany and we tried to make them as full as possible since we had lots of things to see and places to go. Below is a small guide with our experience and some things you can do while in Tuscany.

Florence

The old historic city is a Renaissance treasure, from its architecture to a large number of monuments, museums, art galleries and so on. The commercial shops are present as anywhere but we recommend skipping those and truly admire the art symbols present here and the rich and magnificent charm.

San Gimignano

A small town located on a hill, surrounded by walls build in 13 century. You can reach San Gimignano by going southwest from Florence, an hour by car, through the Tuscany villages.

Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni is another walled Tuscany village, which offers great views towards the Chianti region. It’s a very small village so you can spend here from an hour to a full day.

Siena

Siena, a beautiful city in Tuscany, has its historic centre declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. All of the buildings have a medieval brick architectural style. Among the things you need to see here, are the Piazza del Campo, Duomo di Siena and Pubblico Palace.

If interested, you can find more pictures and additional trip details about our adventure in Tuscany region this blog post.

Amalfi Coast

We stayed three days on Amalfi Coast, in August, which was supposed to be one of the busiest months, however, this year it wasn’t very crowded and we managed to have a great time. Below are the activities we did, which might help you preparing your vacation in Amalfi Coast and some travel tips that we hope you’ll find useful.

  • Travelling in Amalfi Coast: by car, bus, boat or scooter
  • Activities we did (including how many hours they take and tips so you can prepare each day accordingly)

TRAVELLING BY CAR

  • Traffic on the small streets on Amalfi Coast can be a challenge even for those who love the wheel, due to the very tight turning curves.
  • Roads with limited access (pay attention to ZTL zones).
  • Limited parking places in all cities on Amalfi Coast.
  • Small car is recommended.

TRAVELLING BY BUS

  • It can be very crowded during the day, and you need to wait in line (and sun) for catching a place.
  • Limited service between cities /villages.

TRAVELLING BY BOAT

  • It’s the most relaxing and faster way of getting anywhere, a ticket from Positano to Amalfi costs around 9 euro (one way).
  • If you are not staying in a city right on the bottom of the coast (we stayed in San Lazzaro, which is a bit higher on the coast) you might end up needing to take other connections to reach your hotel or B&B.

TRAVELLING BY SCOOTER

  • One of the best ways to travel, really fast and also the parking places are easier to find, no matter where you are

Activities WHILE ON THE AMALFI COAST

Path of the gods hike (Il Sentiero degli Dei)

An easy hiking trail along the Amalfi Coast, offering amazing views with the cost from well above the sea level.

More details about the hike you can find here in a hike dedicated blog post.

After finishing the hike and reaching to Nocelle we went by foot to Positano, down on the 1700 stairs. You can also take the bus if you want. 

Beach time in Positano

After a short walk on the crowded streets of Positano, trying to avoid all the tourist shops, we went straight to the beach in Positano. The views from the water to all of the buildings from the coast are breathtaking so it was a well spent afternoon.

View Amalfi Coast at sunset on a boat

At the sunset, we bought two ticked with the ferry, from Positano to Amalfi, from the kiosks in the port. We enjoyed the golden light of Amalfi Coast from the ferry, at sunset which was a pretty great trip that lasted approximately 40 minutes.

Fiordo di Furore

A very small beach named after a village that exists but can’t be seen, Furore. The village has around 1000 inhabitants but the houses are spread around the coast, that you can’t even see them and are not close one to another.

Amalfi city & Atrani city

Both Amalfi and Atrani are small cities that you can shortly visits and they have also small beaches where you can relax for a while.

Grotta of Smeraldo (The Emerald Cave)

Has its name from the blue-green light entering inside the cave, by natural sunlight.

Villa Rufolo’s gardens

Located in Ravello village, the gardens are offering breathtaking views towards Amalfi Coast in a beautiful scenery.

Regina Giovanna Bath

Located close to Sorrento, where you can also enjoy the sunset on the cliffs nearby.

If interested, you can find more pictures and additional trip details about our Amalfi Coast adventure in this blog post.

Tropea

Tropea is a quiet town on the coast of southern Italy, in Calabria region. It is famous for the buildings build on the cliffs at the edge of the sea, with the beach under them. It is really spectacular and you are truly amazed by the fantastic beaches, a movie like historical center and many restaurants nested on the small streets that are serving terrific seafood.

If interested, you can find more pictures and additional trip details about our Tropea adventure in this blog post.

That’s it, if you got until here you are probably interested in also visiting Italy. Thank you for reading through, and please see below the general travel tips in Italy:

  • Travelling by car on this type of trip is the best way, since you get really fast into a lot of places. With any other means of transportation, we couldn’t see all the placed we went to.
  • During these times, even the popular, crowded areas in Italy were more empty as usual, less tourists, which offered us a more relaxed time of enjoying the trips. Of course, this is not a good thing for Italy, so hopefully things will change soon.
  • Highways can get pretty agglomerated, so make sure you plan your departures and arrivals accordingly, avoiding peak time (usually most crowded places are from lunch until evening).
  • Make sure you respect speeding limits, traffic is monitored and you can get a ticket months after your trip if you where caught speeding.
  • Some areas in city centres have restricted access by car for tourists, marked as ZTL areas. Do not cross those, or you will get a ticket. Some of the ZTL areas are allowing traffic for everyone during specific hours. Meaning, if you see the mark saying ZTL Not Active, you can freely pass through there.
  • Eating in Italy is a great experience, but make sure you search for restaurants that have a rating of min. 4 stars on Tripadvisor, so you don’t get any bad surprises.

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