At the end of February my Dad came to visit me. We spent about 4 or 5 days in the Netherlands and then headed down to Italy for 6 days. First we flew to Rome for 4 days, then the majority of a day on a train to Venice, where we spent one night and flew out at the end of the following day.
In Rome, we saw all of the classic sights including the Coliseum, Palantine Hill, the Vatican, St. Peterâ€™s, and the Pantheon. There isnâ€™t much that I can add to the literature on those places, so I wonâ€™t try. We also gorged ourselves on pizza (sold by weight), tiramisu, cannolis and pasta, washed down with chianti or espresso, depending on time of day.
I must say that, so far, Italy has been the country that has most fulfilled the image of Europe placed in my mind from years and years of media. The people talking with their hands flying through the air, relaxing with a glass of wine at any time of day, and drinking their espresso standing up are all perfectly true stereotypes of Italy. The pizza and pasta were fantastic and the entire city is littered with beautiful monuments, statues, and buildings older than our country. If I had to recommend a single city for the classic European experience, I would recommend Rome.
Venice is, well, Venice. We spent only about 24 hours there and that was actually enough for me. The main attraction is the city itself, with no cars, narrow winding alleys, and footbridges every block. Although we visited St. Markâ€™s Square and the Accademia, my favorite thing to do was just to wander around, pausing every hour or two for a snack, pastry, or drink in the small shops. Cicchetti is a local kind of sampler dish that consists of small open-faced sandwiches with various toppings- I would definitely recommend hunting some down.
A note: Neither Rome nor Venice was as hard on my wallet as many people had made me think it would be. In Rome, we had a delicious 3 course meal at a budget restaurant for 10 euro, and 1 euro gets you 75 minutes of public transportation on any of the cityâ€™s busses. In Venice, Dad and I had a large plate of various cicchetti and champagne for something around 10 euros apiece. It was more affordable than the Netherlands!