Duration in Italy – 15 Days
Budget – INR 130,000 (including flights, visa, and skydiving)
What happens when you plan to step into Italy, solo? Fun. Ultimate fun. Yes!
Italy was my first international solo destination, a 15 days’ trip in the month of October and I won’t sound all flowery and positive by saying that I was not intimidated. At one point, I even thought of not going there at all. But after preparing myself with all the necessities that are required in solo travel, I stepped into this beautiful country, made amazing friends, saw places that I never thought existed and most of all my perception towards life changed. I am more bold and confident about going alone anywhere.
If you are planning to go to Italy sometime soon, this Ultimate Italy Travel Guide covers everything on the visa, Itinerary, cost-cutting and budget tips and how one can travel around Italy.
You will need Schengen Visa to enter Italy. Go to the website – http://www.vfs-italy.co.in/ for all the details but below is a step-by-step process that you can use as a checklist for the tourist visa
Prepare all the documents
- Cover Letter: This should be addressed to the Embassy explaining your intention for applying for a visa, along with all the details of the documents and the trip
- Travel Itinerary: A blank page mentioning your travel dates and what all places you will be visiting during that time
- Passport: Should have 2 blank pages and should have been issued within the earlier 10 years. Further, also take 2 photocopies of your passport
- Application Form: This is available on the website itself; please make sure to fill the form truthfully
- Passport Photograph: Take at least two photographs which should have a white background and should be of 4.5 cms length and 3.5 cms width
- Flight Tickets: You can show dummy flight tickets, and often they do charge some fees, but it will be economical to have a dummy flight if your visa gets rejected
- Insurance: You can easily apply for one online which will cost around INR 1,000 and to apply for the Italian the minimum coverage should be of 30,000 EUR
- If Working: Have a leave authorization form, salary slips of last three months and Form 16
- Bank Account Statements: Status of personal bank account for the last six months, stamped by the bank
- Hotel Booking: You can easily reserve hotels on booking.com. They don’t charge anything for reserving the hotels and will work as the best alternative if your plan is flexible and if you want to cancel your bookings in the future
- Credit card copy with a credit limit
Schedule an appointment
Do this as soon as possible as sometimes the processing time could exceed 20-30 working days. It is best to ideally schedule for an appointment two months before your travel
Visa fee of INR 4,740 needs to be paid via Demand Draft along with INR 1,015 as VFS Service charge
How to travel city-to-city
Traveling in and around Italy is really straightforward. Italy is well connected through trains, but you can also opt for domestic air travels or buses
If you are planning to go a shorter distance like I did, trains are the best option and having Train Italia application on your phone is a must! Click the link to see how to use trenitalia.com section. Italy trains are divided into three –
- Regionale trains: Slow and often cheaper
- InterCity (IC): Faster services and a little costlier than the Regionale
- Alta Velocità (AV): With speeds of up to 300km/h it reduces the journey times by almost half, but is also very expensive
Tip: Train pass is helpful if you are planning to stay for a long duration or if you are a resident
How to book?
You can check the train schedule and prices on the Train Italia application and book on the app, however, you can also easily book the tickets at the station on the day of the travel itself. A ‘fast ticket’ machine is installed in all the stations that accept both cash and credit cards.
Note: Do not forget to validate the ticket to avoid the fine. It is basically a small yellow machine on every platform in which you have to insert the ticket.
Bla Bla Car
Bla Bla car is a carpooling option from one place to another and is cheaper than trains. Train Italia app also gives you the schedule of Bla Bla car (if available). Book the ride in advance and in most cases you have to prepay through a credit card. Yes, it is safe and trusted, and well if you are a solo traveler you will easily get to talk to the locals.
The itinerary I followed for 15 days
“I made an itinerary on the basis of the places I wanted to see. Of course you can edit the plan as per your preferences and luxury.”
After landing in Milan on Day 1, I rested and strolled around the place to capture the beauty and essence of the capital city. I also arranged for a sim card and asked around on how to reach from one place to another, tried to soak in the different culture with Gelato in one hand and pizza in another.
Day 2 and 3: Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, also known as Italy’s fabulous five is one of the most colorful towns I have been to. With fishing boats and harbors and colorful houses clinging through terrace, you will not feel like leaving the place. Cinque Terre is made up of five villages namely Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. You can hike here, watch sunset and sunrise along the beach, sit in café or watch the fishing boats along the coast. It will give you the actual Italy vibe with timeless appeal and one day will not justify the beauty of this place.
Day 4: Florence
Fun Fact 1: the entire city is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Fun Fact 2: it is said that the richest family in Florence in 1427 are still the richest
If you are looking for art and romantic streets, this is the place you should not miss. In here, you will find world-class art, sculptures, and museums of Botticcelli, Michelangelo. Few of the attractions that you should not miss: Duomo and Battistero, Ponte Vecchio, Galleria Degli Uffizi.
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A place where air is windy and feelings are warm. People greet you with wide smiles and twinkle eyes. They wave at you at train stations and say 'Ciao' before starting a conversation. Being an Indian, for me, a day is never complete without few swear words at random Auto rickshwaws, who poke you to take a ride even if you really don't need one. I was having a heart-to-heart with my mom when we both came to the conclusion that it is just people's thinking and perception that is really fucked up here. Being rude and aggressive is just the new normal. And that is when she and I decided that even if a person is an ass to us, we will still be nice and warm towards them. After all, you cannot expect the world to change around you if you reciprocate to negative human intricacies. #Nomllers
Day 5 and 6: Rome/Vatican City
A journey into the past – that is what perfectly describes Rome. It is the capital city of Italy. Inside Rome, lies an independent country – Vatican City. How cool is that, a country within a city, where you can keep strolling the big giant open-air museum.
Day 7: Orvieto
Orvieto is my favorite place in Italy, call this absurd but I have a special attachment to landscapes and silence. It is not a very famous place so don’t be surprised to see less crowd and even fewer tourists here – this is exactly the reason this place is even more special.
Day 8: Skydiving in Nettuno
I went to Nettuno which is near Rome for skydiving. I loved it!! Very much!! I also got to meet an Indian family from Hyderabad who all took the jump as well. If you want to skydive, do go to Nettuno. It is an amazing landscape to witness.
Day 9, 10 and 11: Sicily
The largest island of Mediterranean Sea with a unique culture of its own is an autonomous region of Italy. It is separated by the Strait of Messina which is roughly 3 KMs long.
Fun Fact: You can still reach Sicily via a train. The unique train ride goes through a ferry where the train splits into two and then rolled onto the ferry. It is so impressive!
After travelling for almost 12 hours from Naples (that acted as my pit stop), I landed in Sicily. To be honest, you can stay in Sicily for a month, it is huge!! And the places are really far off. Also, if you talk to the people of North Italy everyone will say just one thing – Sicily is the most beautiful part of Italy. Everyone wants to visit this place at least once in their lifetime.
The commute is not as flexible as that in North Italy, but the main reason I landed at this place was that I wanted to
- Explore Italy’s tallest volcanic mountain – Mount Etna. I hiked here, you can also take a cable car but I love hiking instead.
- And explore a small island in Taormina – Isola Bella
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This is the south most I reached in Italy in my still going 15 days travel escapade, and how worth it it was. I reached #Sicily late at night in a train that was in a ferry (yes!). A place that is famous for it's mafia gang and of course I was nervous. I was nervous for the first time in the entire trip. I could see no human soul outside the stations and all I could think of was how to take an about turn. But as the dust settled in, I realised Sicily's people are beautiful in and out. They are helpful, charming, they give high fives randomly to you, talk loudly and make you feel at home. I did not feel out of place for once. You could see a clear difference between North Italy and the South here. But they say, nothing lasts forever, so here I am, leaving behind this beautiful place to head to North today – Venice, and how I wish I could have spent my entire time here instead. #Nomllers
Venice to Dolomiti/Dolomites/Alps
Day 12: Venice
Venice lies in the North Eastern region of Italy and you cannot soak the entire region even in a week. Venice has 450 bridges and 120 islands, but if you are here just for a short while do not miss out on the gondola ride, Basilisca San Maro, and the Doge’s Palace.
Day 13 and 14: Dolomiti
Okay, if you know me, I have a certain soft corner for hills, mountains and landscapes and when I entered the Dolomites, I knew I could spend the entire month here and still won’t get enough. It is that gorgeous! In here, I got a chance to visit Lake Garda, Santa Maddalena Val di Funes, and 3 Zinnen and honestly I was so immensely happy to see the Alps. Dolomites is so huge and for a day I was confused about where should I go, however, with the help of a local I was able to see the best I could in 2 days time.
- Accommodation – Typically, hostels will cost an average 20-25 EUR per night, which also includes Wi-Fi facilities and breakfast. If you plan to book an entire room for yourself, the price varies from 50 EUR to 70 EUR. You can also try Airbnb for cost-effectiveness
- Transportation – Like I said earlier, the best way to travel around Italy is through trains. The cost of Regionale trains varies from 6-25 EUR per trip. Take them! But if you are planning to go the long distance you can also opt for domestic flights, as the cost difference isn’t that much and will save a lot of time, however, for shorter distances, trains are a big yay!
- Museum Entry – Entry to the museums vary between 13-20 EUR and will charge more if you are planning to take a guide, in places like Vatican and Colosseum
- Tips for Flight Bookings – While booking airfare, you can use the services of kiwi.com which will give you the best options and availability of the flights wherein you will also be able to compare the prices on the different dates and time and thus book accordingly
- Hostels – If you want to have a flexible plan you can reserve your rooms on booking.com instead of booking the hotels and paying hefty prices. Advance reserving will not only provide you with the cheapest price but you won’t have to pay anything while reserving. However, do read the policies and if your plan is changed, cancel the reservation else you will be charged if you do not show up
- Couch Surfing – Hotels and stay in Italy are costly, and it should not be surprising since Italy is visited a lot by the tourists. With a cost of staying in a hostel for an average of 20 EUR, it is best to stay at a local’s place instead. You can find many couch-surfing websites and check their ratings on it, talk to them and stay as per your comfort. Not only it will save the cost but will give you wonderful experiences and you will be able to learn the culture of Italy even better.
- Tap Water – Well you do not have to necessarily buy water bottles in Italy to drink. The tap water can work fine and they are absolutely clean! Also during your meals ask for tap water else that cost of the water will automatically be included in your bill. Moreover, you can also fill your bottles at any drinking fountain, which will make you feel like a local
- Walking Tours – A city in Italy can easily be covered on foot. For instance, in Florence, I walked all the way from one place to another. This works the best as you can soak in the culture more deeply. And who knows while walking what an unknown corner surprise you with
- Buying Souvenirs at 99cents Store – There are many souvenirs shop in every corner of the street in major cities which will cost on an average of 2-3 EUR but if you have many souvenirs to buy for a lot of friends you can opt for 99cents store. The same 2 EUR souvenir will cost just 99 cents.
Do comment below if this guide helped you or you have any further tips to share with our readers. Ciao!