Traveling Italy solo: The beauty of a trip alone

I started my first morning in Rome on a sunny walk through the Trastevere neighborhood; its charming, narrow streets took me and my camera from one beautiful exterior to another.

As I wandered, I was reminded of the perks of traveling solo: I have daydreamed and planned, and now I have an entire week to move through this city as I please.

Like many of my previous solo trips, I let food, history and curiosity lead the way. My desire for the perfect Italian meal took me to lunch at Salumeria Roscioli; to local markets for fresh produce and sweets; and even on a day trip to Opera 02 — a winery in the Emilia-Romagna region — for Lambrusco and tortellini en brodo.

Food in Italy is on another level, but so is its history. Rome is a pick-your-own-adventure open-air museum — every turn a lesson on art, architecture and ancient civilization. A 20-minute walk from the Colosseum will take you to the Trevi Fountain, and a short subway ride puts you in Vatican City. And being alone allows you to discover everything on your own schedule.

But Rome is more than just its frequented sites. Many locals offer off-the-beaten-path tours, great for solo travelers looking to connect with people. I booked a tour that took me right outside the city center to the town of Castel Gandolfo, where I spent the morning kayaking and swimming in Lake Albano.

I continued my trip both on my own and with the new friends I made, conversing over cacio e pepe and bottles of wine. Creating memories with the company of others is always special, but traveling solo can show you that your own company is more special than you think.


A photo of a statue was misidentified as the Roman Forum. It is Trajan’s Forum and Market. The caption has been corrected.

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Visiting Italy: Cities and Places to Visit, Tips and Recommendations | Bakir Djulich

Cities and places to visit in ItalyMy own collage / Bakir Djulich

If you’re looking for a country with it all – art, culture, food, wine, fashion, architecture, history, and stunning scenery – then Italy is the place for you. Travelers to Italy are spoiled for choice when it comes to destinations: from the canals of Venice and the beaches of the Amalfi Coast to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the medieval city of Florence. Italy is truly a feast for the senses. It is not surprising that 70% of the top 100 travel influencers listed Italy as a must-visit country in Europe.

According to, the best months to visit Italy are April, May, June, September, and October. The shoulder months offer the best weather—not too hot and not too cold—along with smaller crowds and cheaper hotel rates. Spring (April-June) and fall (September-October) are the best times to visit Italy. To help you plan your trip, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 cities and places in Italy for travelers. So whether you’re looking for urban adventures or rural escapes, here are my picks for Italy’s best places to visit.

1. Rome

As the capital city of Italy, Rome is unsurprisingly one of the most popular destinations for travelers to the country. Rome has something to offer everyone, from the Colosseum and the Vatican City to world-class museums and art galleries. And let’s not forget about the food – from crunchy pizzas and fresh pasta dishes to gelato (Italian ice cream), there are plenty of delicious things to eat in Rome. Also, in Rome, you can find some of the best shopping in Italy, with designer boutiques and high-end stores lining the streets.

2. Florence

Florence is one of Italy’s most historic cities, renowned for its art and architecture. Visitors to Florence can explore famous sights like the Duomo (the city’s cathedral), the Ponte Vecchio (one of the world’s oldest bridges), and the Uffizi Gallery (home to masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli). Or take a stroll through Florence’s picturesque streets and enjoy the city’s relaxed atmosphere.

3. Venice

Venice is unlike any other city globally, with its canals and bridges crisscrossing the city center. A visit to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a ride on a gondola, and there are plenty of other things to do, too, from exploring the Venetian Palaces to taking a tour of the canals. For something truly unique, take a trip to Venice during the Carnivale festival, when colorful costumes and masked revelers transform the city.

4. Siena

Siena is a small city located in central Italy and is famous for its shell-shaped main square – the Piazza del Campo. This is where the annual Palio horse race takes place, an event that dates back to the Middle Ages. Siena is also known for its Gothic architecture, with the Cathedral of Siena being one of the most iconic buildings in the city. If you’re visiting in summer, take a dip in one of Siena’s many public pools – a great way to cool off after exploring this historic city.

5. Naples

Naples is located on Italy’s south coast and is well-known for its vibrant atmosphere and delicious food. As the birthplace of pizza, Naples is unsurprisingly one of the best places in Italy to eat this popular dish (make sure to try it with a glass of local wine). Actually, according to hashtag statistics, the #naplespizza hashtag on Instagram has over 11K posts created around it. Other must-try dishes in Naples include spaghetti alla puttanesca (spaghetti with tomatoes, olives, and anchovies) and fried zucchini flowers. And don’t forget to visit the nearby city of Pompeii, an ancient Roman town destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

6. Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a stunning stretch of coastline located on Italy’s northwest coast. The region comprises five picturesque villages – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore – which are connected by a network of hiking trails. These trails offer breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and are the perfect way to explore the Cinque Terre’s dramatic coastline.

7. Lake Como

Lake Como is one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes and is a popular destination for locals and visitors. The lake is surrounded by mountains and is dotted with pretty towns and villages, making it the perfect place to enjoy some quiet time in nature. According to the official site of Lake Como, visitors to the lake can take advantage of the many activities, from hiking and biking to sailing and windsurfing. Or relax on the shore of the lake and take in the stunning scenery.

8. Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is located just off the coast of southern Italy. The island has a long history, dating back to ancient times, and several well-preserved archaeological sites are home. Sicily is also famous for its baroque architecture, with the city of Palermo being a perfect place to see this style of architecture. And of course, no visit to Sicily would be complete without trying some of the island’s delicious food, including fresh seafood and the famous cannoli pastry.

9. Verona

Verona is a city located in northern Italy and is best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Visitors to Verona can explore the city’s Roman ruins, visit the house where Juliet supposedly lived, or take a stroll through one of Verona’s many parks. The city is also home to several excellent restaurants, making it the perfect place to enjoy some traditional Italian cuisine.

10. Milan

Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and is considered the fashion capital of the world. The city is home to several high-end designer stores and more affordable fashion outlets. Visitors to Milan can also enjoy its many museums and art galleries or stroll through one of the city’s beautiful parks. And of course, no visit to Milan would be complete without sampling some of the city’s delicious food, including dishes such as risotto alla Milanese and Osso Buco Alla Milanese.

Italy is a country that has something to offer everyone, from its stunning scenery and delicious food to its rich history and culture. So why not add it to your travel list and start planning your trip today? Have you already been to Italy? What are your experiences in this beautiful country?

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Italy relaxes Covid-19 travel restrictions and here’s all you need to know

Italy relaxes Covid-19 travel restrictions and here’s all you need to know

With things slowly and steadily returning to normal post Covid-19 pandemic, Italy too, like many countries across the globe, has relaxed Covid-19 travel restrictions.

According to the country’s latest travel guidelines, visitors will now no longer need to fill out the EU passenger locator form at airport check in form, a long and complicated process previously used to facilitate international contact tracing.

The Covid-19 Green Health Pass which was earlier mandatory to enter public spaces like restaurants, movie halls, gyms, is now no longer a requirement. However, to visit hospitals and nursing homes, one still needs to produce the green pass showing proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative test result.

As Italy gears up for the tourist season, it has kept the mask mandate. The country continues to keep the mask mandate for public places like public transport, movies and in all health care facilities. Masks are no longer a requirement inside malls, supermarkets and workplaces.

Italy is expecting a normal tourist season after two years of pandemic and lockdowns.

  1. When is the best time to visit Italy?
    Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are very pleasant in Italy. These months are ideal if you want a less crowded holiday.
  2. Is a mask still mandatory in Italy?
    Yes, if you are visiting healthcare facilities, going to the movies or using public transport. Public places other than these no longer require you to wear a mask.
  3. How is summer in Italy?
    Italy gets a very warm summer with the months of July and August very hot and humid.

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Italy Lifts Vaccine Requirement for Museums, Restaurants, Hotels, More

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Italy Says You Still Need to Mask Up at Some Indoor Venues Until Mid-June

Italy might have lifted most of its restrictions on entering the country, but government officials are still leery of what might be out there in terms of the COVID-19 variants.

Officials announced this week that Italy – perhaps the hardest-hit European nation when the coronavirus first began its deadly spread more than two years ago – will take a cautious approach ahead of an expected onslaught of visitors.


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Starting today and running through at least June 15, Italy’s Health Minister announced that face masks will remain necessary on public transportation, live theater, movies, some indoor events and to enter a hospital or medical care facility, according to Reuters News Service.

“We have decided to keep in place for a while, at least until June 15, an element of caution that I believe is necessary,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.

Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is preparing for what is likely to be a record number of visitors, even as Reuters noted that one report mentioned that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 are creeping back up.

In March, when Italy announced it would be lifting entry restrictions, the search team ‘Enter Italy From USA’ rose a whopping 1,300 percent.

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Italy, Greece relax COVID restrictions before tourism season

ROME (AP) — Italy and Greece relaxed some COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, in a sign that life was increasingly returning to normal before Europe’s peak summer tourist season.

Greece’s civil aviation authority announced that it was lifting all COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights except for the wearing of face masks during flights and at airports. Previously, air travelers were required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery from the disease.

Under a decree passed by Italy’s health ministry, the country did away with the health pass that had been required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other venues. The green pass, which showed proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus or a recent negative test, is still required to access hospitals and nursing homes.

Some indoor mask mandates also ended, including inside supermarkets, workplaces and stores. Masks are still required on public transport, in cinemas and in all health care and eldercare facilities.

“It was needed,” said Claudio Civitelli, a Rome resident who was having his morning coffee at a bar near the Trevi Fountain. Until Sunday, patrons had to wear a mask to enter bars and restaurants, though they could remove them to eat and drink. “We have waited more than two years.”

At a nearby table, Andrea Bichler, an Italian tourist from Trentino Alto-Adige, sat with similarly maskless friends.

“It’s much better,” Bichler said. “Let’s say it’s a return to life, a free life.”

Public health officials say masks still remain highly recommended for all indoor activities, and private companies can still require them.

As of Sunday, visitors to Italy also no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated and user-unfriendly online form required at airport check-in.

Even with the restrictions increasingly going by the wayside, public health officials urged prudence and stressed that the pandemic was still not over. Italy is reporting 699 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is recording more than 100 deaths per day, with a total confirmed death toll at 163,500. But hospital capacity remains stable and under the critical threshold.

Given the virus is still circulating, “we should keep up the vaccine campaign, including boosters, and keep up behavior inspired by prudence: wearing masks indoors or in crowded places or wherever there’s a risk of contagion,” said Dr. Giovanni Rezza, in charge of prevention at the health ministry.

Italy was the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak when it recorded the first locally transmitted case on Feb. 21, 2020. The government imposed one of the harshest lockdowns and production shutdowns in the West during the first wave of the virus, and maintained more stringent restrictions than many of its neighbors in subsequent waves.


Francesco Sportelli contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at

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What are the must-do highlights of Italy in summer?

I have a week of personal time tacked onto an Italy work trip in July and so my husband is coming along – neither have been before. We start in Milan and fly out of Rome direct to Perth a week later. Lake Como feels like a must, but what else should we try to see? Views and meals are more important than museums!

J. Mackay, St Kilda Vic

July is problematic in Italy. The cities are mostly hot, crowded with tourists and exhausting and the coast will be packed, and with just a week to spare you want to keep travel time to a minimum. What I suggest is three nights at Lake Como, using the ferry system to explore the villages, the fabulous garden at Villa del Balbianello and lakeside bars where you can sip Aperol spritzes and sigh. Family-run Villa la Mirabella ( is a favourite, in a prime position overlooking the lake at Tremezzo, close to the famous gardens at Villa Carlotta and opposite Bellagio.

Next stop, Modena, a glamorous mid-sized city in Emilia-Romagna that sees few tourists. Modena is one of the gastronomic capitals of the universe, with the usual northern Italian jaw-dropping assembly of churches, palaces and nice places to sit over an aperitif and watch the world go by. Epicures come to worship at the Michelin three-star Osteria Francescana ( but it’s tiny and you would need to book now. Spend three nights. The fastest trains will get you from Como’s San Giovanni Station to Modena in just over three hours with one or two changes.

Last stop, Rome, another three-hour train trip, and a single night in Rome is almost criminal, but perhaps a taster for next time.

I’m fascinated by Tibetan culture and I want to plan a trip to India’s Ladakh. Is it possible to do this solo and organise my visit when I get there or should I pre-book a tour?

A. Reynolds, Killarney Heights NSW

You can fly from Delhi to Leh, capital of Ladakh, and Qantas now has several weekly non-stop flights from Sydney to Delhi. It’s best to plan an initial couple of days in Leh doing nothing more strenuous than breathing, with very gentle walks. Leh lies in the valley of the Indus River at an altitude of 3500 metres and you’ll find even a mild uphill walk leaves you short of breath. And everything is uphill from Leh. You’d do well to have a lung function test before you set your plans in motion,

You need to take a tour. World Expeditions ( has several Ladakh trips which vary from easy to challenging while Banyan Tours ( has a high-end, culturally immersive trip staying in village houses which have been upgraded to Western standards. There are also several Leh-based tour operators, found easily via Google.

Four friends are travelling to the UK in September and looking to take a barge holiday for about a week. Hoping for gorgeous countryside, lots of pubs and not too many locks to contend with.

B. Appleby, Ballarat Vic

A narrowboat cruise from Whittington to Llangollen, which straddles the Welsh-English borders, could be just what you’re looking for. The 20-kilometre trip takes you through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen, along the incredible 307 metre Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which straddles the River Dee and through 421 metre Chirk Tunnel, both built more than two centuries ago. If you happen to be in Llangollen on a weekend, take a ride on the historic Ruabon to Barmouth Line which winds through the storybook North Wales countryside, an absolute cracker. From Llangollen you need to return the boat to Whittington, allow three days each way. See Whittington Wharf narrowboats ( for more information.

I’m taking a Hurtigruten cruise out of Bergen, is it worthwhile taking the Flam Train?

H. Andersen, Picton NSW

Absolutely yes. The Bergen Line ( from Oslo to Bergen takes you across Europe’s largest high mountain plateau, with never a dull moment in the seven-hour journey. Hop off at Myrdal and board the Flam Train ( for the steep, 20-kilometre journey down to Flam on the edge of Aurland Fjord, a regular feature on any list of the world’s greatest train rides. The train takes you past dramatic granite formations and the Kjosfosse sinkhole where a waterfall disappears into the ground at your feet. If you can, spend the night at Flam, it’s a world-class wonder.

Got a travel question? Include your name and suburb or town and send it to Michael Gebicki –

Travel advice appearing on these pages is general; readers should consider their personal circumstances.

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Cat Bauer, CNN

“Cicchetti is the glue that holds Venice together,” says mask maker Sergio Boldrin of Bottega dei Mascareri. “It is impossible to think of finishing work without stopping for a drink and a snack on the way home, meeting friends, catching up on the news of the day.”

Ask a Venetian to define cicchetti and you will get as many answers as there are varieties of the tasty finger food. In a town that moves by foot or by boat, munching on cicchetti while having a glass of wine called an ombra and chatting with friends in a bar called a bacaro is a fundamental part of life in Venice.

Cicchetti can include everything from squiggly sea creatures impaled on toothpicks, and fried meatballs called polpette, to colorful toppings spread on slices of baguette called crostini — and that’s just for starters. Traditionally, you eat them standing at a bar, or just outside the door. The ritual of having a drink and a snack in a welcoming setting is what’s key — this is not street food to be eaten while strolling around town.

Cicchetti are inexpensive, costing about €1 – €5 ($1.10 – $5.50), depending on the ingredients. Each cicchetto is as creative as the individual who invents it, which makes going on a giro de ombre — a bacaro crawl — a chance to taste the soul of Venice.

Like many Venetian traditions, the actual cicchetti locals consume have transformed throughout the decades, but the ritual remains the same. In Italian, the word “ombra” means shadow or shade; “ombre” is the plural. According to legend, centuries ago vendors sold wine in St. Mark’s Square, following the shade of the Campanile (the giant belltower) with their carts to keep the wine cool. The result? The expression “un’ombra di vino” or “a shadow of wine.”

Venetians don’t like to drink on an empty stomach, so “cichéti” were born, believed to come from the Latin “ciccus” meaning “small amount.” The initial offerings were simple morsels like boiled octopus or a hard-boiled egg topped with an anchovy. Establishments called “bàcari” evolved to serve ombre and cicchetti, said to be inspired by an old Venetian expression to “far bàcara” or “to celebrate” — a term which itself might have evolved from Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and pleasure.

Over at Rialto, the one-time headquarters of international trade at the foot of the world-famous bridge, merchants conducted their business in the shade of the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto (known locally as San Giacometo), next to Banco Giro, the circulating credit bank. Cicchetti washed down with an ombra was a type of fast food eaten by traders to complete business quickly while standing on their feet when there was no time to lose. Or so the story goes.

Tuna and cocoa cicchetti

A glass display case filled with a kaleidoscope of sliced baguettes smeared with exotic toppings is the centerpiece of Schiavi in the Dorsoduro district. Also called “Bottegon,” the bar started life as a wine cellar at the end of the 19th century. In addition to dozens of fresh cicchetti, it serves about 25 wines by the glass as well as selling hundreds of bottles from the Veneto region, including wines from the estates of the local aristocracy. You will find owner Alessandra De Respinis behind the counter every morning, chatting with her clientele as she prepares her savory snacks.

When De Respinis’ father-in-law, Sisto Gastaldi, took over the bacaro in 1945, there were plenty of ombre, but the only cicchetti offered were pickled onions speared by anchovies, mortadella and green peppers, and hard-boiled eggs. De Respinis started working at Schiavi in 1970 after Sisto’s death and her husband, Lino Gastaldi, stepped into his father’s shoes. Expanding Schiavi’s cicchetti menu became her life’s mission and she began inventing her own tasty morsels to accompany the glasses of wine.

De Respinis sliced fresh, crispy baguettes into bite-sized pieces that you could eat with two fingers. Tuna and leek, and gorgonzola and walnuts topped her initial creations. As she found her rhythm, her imagination was sparked by seasonal ingredients. She experimented by mixing and matching colors and flavors, inventing new cicchetti devoured by the locals.

Now in her seventies, De Respinis has a team of offspring providing support, but she still works every day until noon. She has created about 70 different specialties, including her award-winning tartare di tonno e cacao: tuna mixed with egg yolk, capers, mayonnaise, and parsley, then sprinkled with bitter cocoa.

“My motto is to always serve fresh food,” says De Respinis. “At the end of the day, we offer whatever is left to the last customers, or eat it ourselves.”

‘Cicchetti was humble food’

“There are no cicchetti in Venice anymore!” thunders 73-year-old Franco Filippi. “The last real bacaro closed in 1980.”

Filippi is the owner of Libreria Editrice Filippi, a bookshop specializing in all things Venetian and the oldest publishing house in town. He can trace his family’s roots in Venice back to the year 1340. He doesn’t own a television and has spent 40 years trying to decipher the “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,” that mysterious Renaissance book published by Aldo Manuzio in Venice in 1499 that has puzzled great thinkers for centuries.

When it comes to cicchetti, Filippi is an old-fashioned purist. In fact, he recently published a book by Sandro Brandolisio entitled “Cichéti” (spelled the Venetian way), featuring recipes that the bacari prepared in the 1950s and ’60s.

“Cicchetti was humble food made from spienza, the spleen, or trippa rissa, tripe — no part of the animal went to waste,” says Filippi. “It was prepared by the wife and sold by the husband and son. When we went on a giro de ombre, it was because Maria made the best meatball on Tuesday, and Sofia made the best octopus on Wednesday. But all those bacari are gone.”

Today there are hundreds of places to eat cicchetti scattered throughout the bacari and osterie of Venice, but Filippi is adamant. “Crostini — spreading a topping on a slice of bread — is not cicchetti!”

Where (else) to eat cicchetti

Wander through the calli on the western side of the Rialto Bridge, in the San Polo district, and you’ll stumble upon several good bacari serving an assortment of cicchetti in various incarnations. Despite Filippi’s pronouncements, crostini are ubiquitous, and it seems that the Alessandra De Respinis’ recipes at Schiavi may have inspired many bacari to follow her lead, adorning slices of baguette with creative inventions.

Tiny All’Arco is always jammed with locals. Playing in the background is the musical sound of undulating Venetian voices that ebb and flow like the water lapping in the lagoon. There are dozens of ever-changing fresh crostini depending on the season, from shrimp to prosciutto and everything in between, as well as small tables outside to enjoy them.

Cantina Do Spade has been around since 1488 and was one of Casanova’s old haunts — in Chapter 17 of his erotic memoir, “A Story of My Life,” he tells the tale of how he and seven of his friends seduced a young married woman in a back room of Do Spade during the Carnival of 1745. You can join the revelers out in the calle for meatballs or grilled squid, or sit down for a meal at the wooden tables inside.

In the next street over is the even older Cantina Do Mori, founded in 1462, which also claims Casanova as a former regular. Here you will find a local Venetian crowd and folk who do business in the area with a dash of tourists, and no seating other than a handful of stools. The dark wooden interior radiates antiquity, offering classic cicchetti and a good selection of wine.

According to tradition, Venice was born at noon on March 25, 421 CE in Campo San Giacomo at the foot of the Rialto Bridge. Five bistros — Osteria Banco Giro, Ancòra, Osteria Al Pesador, Caffè Vergnano 1882 Rialto and Naranzaria — share the prime location like one big living room, where you can stand in the campo to feast on one side, or pay more to sit at a table and gaze at the Grand Canal on the other. They all serve different variations of cicchetti. Banco Giro has transformed from 17th-century bank to 21st-century osteria, and stands out with its fluffy homemade baccalà mantecato, a Venetian standard made from Norwegian stockfish, which is creamed and spread on crostini.

Michelin-starred cicchetti

Ristorante Local aims to propel traditional Venetian food into the future. Together with her dedicated team, Benedetta Fullin, the 36-year-old owner, raised Venetian cuisine to rockstar level and earned a Michelin star for the effort. Local’s interior was handcrafted by select local artisans and serves only a tasting menu. But that menu kicks off with constantly changing cicchetti, inspired by the availability of fresh, local ingredients.

From the shade of the ancient Campanile, to the humble kitchens of the 1950s, to the inventive crostini of the 1970s, to 21st century “New Venetian Cuisine,” cicchetti are ever-evolving but have one thing in common: they are made by Venetians with camaraderie and love.

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7 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home in Italy

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