Travel tips for Italy! Venice, Rome, Palermo, and Naples
Updated: Jan 22
Here are 3 things to do in Venice, Rome, Naples, and Palermo Italy.
Grab your bags and go! You can pull this up and plan when you're on the plane or there...just get there! We're LIVING and we're EATING, and here are the best ways to live it up and eat your way through Italy by yours truly (The Tattooed Bride) and my better half (Tim Lease Tattoos)!
3 Things to do in Palermo, Italy
1) Go to the Beach and eat a Brioche ice-cream sandwich:
The beach and ice cream? It's the simple things guys!
We rented a car and drove to this pristine beach you see below that was about 30 minutes away from the city center. Driving in Palermo warning...it's hard! It's definitely not for the faint of heart, and there are so many one way streets. If Tim wasn't driving, I would have definitely been on a local bus headed there. If you aren't a confident driver, I would stick to uber, or rent a bike and take the day to travel there.
If you don't fancy a swim, just sit and enjoy those views of the mountains and beach while you eat a real ice cream sandwich at a tiny little green ice cream shop called, Barreto's. I've never had a Brioche before, and I was happy I tried it! The Beach is dog friendly if you are traveling with your pup pals, or if you just need to hug a dog for a minute while on vacation. I was lucky enough that one little pup ran towards me on the beach while taking his photo!
2) Tour the Crypt:
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini crypts. First of all cover your shoulders and knees with clothing before going or they will not let you in, NO exceptions. Also, go early and try to book a tour before you go. We went maybe 30 minutes before they closed and were turned away by a very nice monk at the door. They were also not giving tours the day we went, so next time we want to try and get on a tour. This place is awesome! GO GO GO!
Pinned to the walls, sitting on benches and shelves and tucked away in open coffins are nearly 8,000 corpses, each one dressed in their Sunday best. There is a room for religious figures, mainly those affiliated with the monastery, for professionals, such as doctors, and a room for women, virgins and infants. The oldest corpse in the macabre collection is that of Silvestro da Gubbio, a friar who passed in 1599. It is believed that the particularly dry atmosphere allowed for the natural mummification of the bodies. Initially, priests would lay the dead on shelves and allow them to drip until they were completely depleted of bodily fluids. A full year later, the dried-out corpse would be rinsed with vinegar before being re-dressed in their best attire and sent to their proper room, to stand for eternity. In the very back room of the catacombs there is a small glass coffin with Rosalia Lombardo, only two years old when she was embalmed in 1920. She looks exactly as she did at age 2, and it's hard to believe that she has been mummified for almost 100 years. She has been dubbed "sleeping beauty" and hold the recipe for her embalming in her hands.
3) Tour the Chisea di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria and get a cannoli on your way out at the confectionary:
3 Things to do in Naples, Italy
1) Did I say 3, because there is just one thing to do in Italy. Walk everywhere and eat pizza along the way! We only spent one night here and walked to a local pizzeria to get some Napoli pizza! I would recommend just about any pizza there. They all boast the best pizza in Naples, and we just chose a place next to our airbnb.
If you begin your journey in Palermo Italy you can take a small cruise ship to Naples overnight for really cheap! I highly recommend that! If you do take a boat that leaves late at night and lands early in the morning just bring some alcohol and some snacks because everything was closed on the overnight cruise ferry :( ....we were lucky enough that they opened a small bar in the very back of the ship, but we had to wander to find it as it was not advertised. We chose GNV for your ferry: https://www.gnv.it/en/gnv-routes.html
3 Things to do in Rome, Italy
This is the hard one. There are thousands of things to do in Rome. I will highlight 3 that I know the most about, and I think you will enjoy! Surprise, number one on my list is food.
1) Eat fettuccini Alfredo at "That's Amore" and toss a coin in the Trevi fountain after dinner. Here is the address for That's Amore. I recommend to make a reservation, but they've always squeezed us in without one with just the 2 of us. Go there! They have the best fettuccini Alfredo I've ever had, and will ever have, in my life. It is light and fluffy, and thick and rich at the same time. I think it's magic. You won't expect much when you walk in, but look at the photos of celebrities on the walls. I'm sure the other food is good too, but I wouldn't dare not get my favorite dish there!
That's Amore is incredibly close to the Trevi fountain. You just walk a few steps down the street and it will appear out of no where. The tradition is throw a coin over your shoulder and make a wish! I highly recommend doing this after dinner at night. It's just as beautiful at night all lit up, and I think there's something more romanic about kissing after a wish in the dark. I threw my coin in with Tim's, and you can probably guess what I wished for.
Address: Via in Arcione, 115, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
2) Book the 7am tour for the Vatican and the Colosseum and Palentine Hill
If you go to the Vatican during the day it's full of thousands of people with selfie sticks. The sistine chapel is packed shoulder to shoulder. It's hard for me to appreciate that kind of serene beauty with a stranger breathing on my neck. The Colloseum is just as busy. These places can get 25,000 visitors a day. We really enjoyed them, and went with hardly any people there because we booked private tours ahead of time that let us in first before anyone else, and before these places even opened to the public. We were the first small group to set foot in the sistine chapel and I enjoyed it until my neck hurt. I was even able to sit on the benches on the side and have views with no one standing in the middle of the floor. We were also the first group to walk into the Colloseum. Getting photos of the colloseum without a single person in them and getting to stand on the wooden floor with Tim, worth every single penny. You can book these tours almost anywhere but I've chosen and had great luck with Dark Rome Tours and Viator tours
Also there are a lot of peddlers outside the colosseum, to the point where they were spoiling our time walking around the outside of the building. If anyone comes up to talk to you, just politely say no and walk away. They are very aggressive and approached us dozens of times even after saying no. Don't start any conversations with them and don't let them hand you anything, and just tell them you have no money at all. That works a little bit.
3) Visit the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Tim is always dragging me into churches into Europe. I've been to A LOT of churches, and I'm not complaining. This is one of my favorite churches I've been to, and that says a lot. It's so beautiful. The floors, the ceiling, the double domes, the altar, the art. We went here on our last trip for the first time, and the only reason we had not gone sooner was because it's kinda far from city center. We usually stay right near the castle or Vatican and walk everywhere, but this time we got the Red bus hop on hop off tix and this was a stop. Those tickets also turned out great, because they took us right to the train station the next day to catch our train to Venice. Worth every penny!
When in Rome!
There are some many other things to do in Rome, and I think the more we go there, the more we fall in love with it. Next time we go, I will highlight some different places to visit. Which, I'm sure will be soon!
Bonus if you are a photographer:
Lightpainting! This is the first time we ever tried light painting and we just made a night out of it. We started at the Pantheon then walked to the capital and then the Vatican...all the while stopping at bars along the way! (the Irish bar in front of the capital was SO MUCH FUN!). Weird I know, but trust me!
1) Book a private photographer!
Being a photographer myself, I also LOVE to get behind the lens. Especially in Venice where every street is a work of Art! We booked our friend Stefano for the day, and I highly recommend him. I also recommend doing your photoshoot at 7am or earlier because of that morning light reflecting on those white walls and streets! It was extremely affordable and worth every minute. You won't be disappointed! https://www.stefanodegirmenci.com
Here are just a few of the 70 beautiful fully edited photos that Stefano took of us! Stefano was so much fun to hang out with too, and treated us to coffee and a filled croissant of our choice....he had me at coffee and croissant!
2) The most beautiful Bookstore in the world: Libreria Acqua Alta
Venice tends to flood once a year, but Venice’s Libreria Acqua Alta has nothing to fear since they just keep all their titles in waterproof basins.
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
The self-proclaimed “most beautiful bookstore in the world” is composed of a number of over-stuffed rooms stacked wall-to-wall with books, magazines, maps, and other ephemera. Due to Venice’s constant flooding, however, these picturesque piles are all placed inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola. There is also a gondola at the back exit that you can take pictures in (probably used by the owner to escape flooding)! We were lucky enough that one of the bookstore cats decided to join us in the gondola.
The fire escape is a door leading to the canal with steps of books you can climb to take photos (or escape flooding)! The store has become home to more than one stray cat, who are also able to escape the rising tides by hanging out atop the stacks.
3) St Mark's Basilica
In the Piazza San Marco lies one of the most beautiful basilicas in the world: St. Mark's Basilica!
For its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold)...and when you step inside and the light hits the mosaics you will see why!
Buy a ticket to walk behind the altar...you won't regret it! Forget the glittering gems at the Tower of London: The Royal Family has nothing on St. Mark’s Basilica! The Pala d’Oro, a Byzantine altar screen of gold, is studded with hundreds of gems—literally. They include 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, plus rubies and topazes. It's a priceless collection that I couldn't believe was hidden behind the altar!
I hope this was helpful!
I am trying to make these brief travel guides for all of our trips. Let me know if there is a place Tim and I have been to that you would like to see and know more about:
Germany (Cologne, Stuttgart, and Munich)
Switzerland (train from Geneva to Zurich)
Norway train from Oslo to Flam, Scotland road trip through the highlands
Ireland road trip (Dublin, Killarney, Kilkenny, Cork, and Limerick)
Northern Ireland GOT Tour