Italy


2 Weeks in Italy

After my first visit back in 2002, 15 years later I finally had a chance to return and spend over 2 weeks in Italy. This time I managed to explore other cities, including the amazing Florence! There was something that I couldn’t exactly pinpoint that made me keep coming back. Perhaps it’s the idea that I was finally able to see in real all the things I had read in the history books when I was young. The fact that the Colosseo has been standing there for almost 2,000 years is mind-blowing. I always feel like being taken back to the past and lost in it for a while…



Going Around

The best and most convenient way for me to travel between cities in Italy is by train. It can be costly, though, so it would be best to buy days or weeks ahead. The trains that I have used in Italy are:

  • Trenitalia – operates intercity and regional trains. They also operate high-speed trains called Le Frecce (Frecciarossa, Frecciabianca and Frecciargento). Tickets can be purchased at the machine in the station or online (I only had to show the e-ticket on my phone to the inspector).
  • Italo – operates only high-speed trains between large cities in Italy. Slightly a bit more expensive than Le Frecce based on my experience and they do have (slightly) better interior and seats than Trenitalia.
  • Trenord – operates intercity trains only in the northern part of Italy, including Malpensa Express trains to Malpensa airport, Milano.

In the city, there are different modes of transportation to choose from:

  • Metro and commuter trains  only available in certain cities. They are good for longer distance travels in the city and suburbs and also to avoid traffic. Tickets vary and can be purchased at the station (single tickets, day or multiple-day passes). In some cities, there are also tickets and passes that allow travels in the city plus suburban areas, so make sure you know which station you want to depart and arrive.
  • Buses, trams and trolleybuses good for shorter distance travels in the city, easy to hop on and off. Tickets can be purchased in shops with ‘Tabacchi’ sign or edicola (newspapers stands).
  • Taxi – too expensive for me!

The good thing is now the urban transport tickets in certain cities can also be bought via an app, like ATM in Milano.

The most important thing when taking a train/bus/tram/trolleybus : don’t forget to validate the ticket! And keep it with you because sometimes they do check the ticket, especially on the train. The machine to validate is usually located near/right on the train platforms and by the entrance doors of buses/trams. In some train stations, the ticket is also used to open the barrier/turnstile to enter and exit the platform.


Communications

  • The official language is Italian. A lot of Italians do speak English, especially in major touristy areas, but you will eventually encounter a situation where people you talk to barely understand English. So it is best to learn some basic Italian for your own survival there! Or…
  • Use Google Translator. 😂
  • Buy a SIM Card. I spent 2 weeks in Italy in 2017, so it made sense for me to get one. The operators also offer special plans for tourists, so make sure you get the one that suits your needs. Now that with the free roaming in EU countries in place, it would be easier for travellers to buy just one SIM Card and use it in any EU countries.

Cash or Cards?

  • ATMs (Bancomat) are available everywhere. The last time I was there (April 2018), the maximum amount for each cash withdrawal was €250.
  • Always keep small bank notes and coins handy for small amount purchases, like gelato or bus tickets.
  • Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most places here.

Visa

For an Indonesian like me, a Schengen Visa is required (which I already got from the Netherlands Embassy 😁)