Italy

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The Leaning Tower of PisaI have traveled to lots of destinations in the last 30 years or so, but never to a European country. I had so many tropical destinations to explore, I just never got around to Europe until 2006.  That was the year of the Solar Eclipse in the Libyan Sahara that was hosted by the Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society. We observed the eclipse from deep in the Sahara Desert and spent a week in Libya.

The group itinerary also included a week in Italy, where we saw both astronomical and the regular sights in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. The group then returned to Toronto, however I added an extra week to the trip by traveling onward to Athens, Greece.  This gave me time to kick back and relax…and see a few of the sights on the Greek mainland.

I really found the European portion of the itinerary fascinating. So JoeTourist® finally made it to Europe!

The Itinerary

Although I would suggest you start with Rome, if you are only interested in certain parts of Italy, by all means click on the specific links below.

bulletRome - Vatican Observatory, Vatican City
bulletFlorence
bulletPisa
bulletPadua
bulletVenice
bulletMilan

Please click on the Rome link to get started. You can click on the "Next" links at the bottom of each page and find your way through the whole trip beginning to end.  Of course, the text link navigation bar to be found at the top of each page is also an excellent way to explore the JoeTourist® website, especially if you want to jump around.

The map to the right shows where we traveled in Italy - essentially Rome and north.  The red line denotes travel by tour bus, the green line denotes travel by train.

Thoughts on Italy

I liked Italy very much.  The people are friendly and helpful, and most speak some English.  I didn't try to speak Italian - I just don't have any talent for learning languages, and find a smile and some pointing or gesturing gets the job done.

As a group, we had the distinct impression that we were being taken advantage of by the tour operators (Dan Tours on the Canadian side, and Gullivers on the Italian side).  We had no paperwork from the tour operator until we were literally at Toronto airport ready to depart, had itineraries changed on us in Italy at the last minute, and were told we couldn't see certain sites which were printed on our itinerary.  Lots of reasons were given, and none of them made much sense to us.  Nothing we could prove, but many of the group were experienced travelers, and we all agreed something was up while we were in Rome.  We didn't find this in any of the other Italian cities we visited.  Overall, we had a terrific time in Italy.  In fact, we were kept so busy, you will see my JoeTourist Blog only has one entry for Italy.  That's all I had time for online access!

So, what did I like best about Italy? Although Venice is certainly a standout for impressive sights, I would have to say my plan for a return trip to Italy would be to go to Florence and explore the Tuscany region between Pisa and Venice.  The food and wine in Tuscany is simply amazing, the people are exceptionally friendly, and there are so many sights left to see.

Other than the language, North Americans should experience very little culture shock when visiting Italy.  The country is very modern, and has efficient and plentiful transportation and accommodation services.

Links to Italy

Normally I include some links to websites which highlight the country appearing on the JoeTourist® website, however there are so many excellent websites which describe Italy in detail, I will only include a few generic links here.  As you progress through the Italian cities I visited, you will notice I've included some specific links to website that relate directly to the page.

bullet Open Directory - Recreation Travel Travelogues Europe Italy
bullet Italy Travel Information Lonely Planet Destination Guide
bullet Italy Travel Guide - Italy Vacations - VirtualTourist.com
bullet Travel Destination Guides Italy in the Yahoo! Directory

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Last updated: January 06, 2014

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