Rome

Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome in 10 days

For our honeymoon, we planned our romantic dream trip of covering Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome in 10 days without spending a fortune, by using a budget airline flight from the UK into Venice and making our way through the Italian Cities via train before returning to the UK on a flight from Rome.

Venice (2 days)

Our Italian Trip began with a cheap flight to Venice from Birmingham in the UK and after leaving the airport, our first task was to find our hotel in this floating city with a few lines of instructions that you could write on the back of a cigarette packet.

Upon leaving the airport, we hopped on the Alilaguna public boat service (blue line) and disembarked at the Fondamente Nuove stop and which is less than a 5 minute walk away from our accommodation, the Ca’ Zanardi.

If you are the kind of person that enjoys luxury in a soulless corporate hotel where you could be in any city in the world as they all look the same but don’t mind because it’s right by the main tourist attractions then this is not the hotel for you.

However, if you want to soak up the real Venice with an authentic stay complete with a perfect host in a 16th century palace full of character at a reasonable price then look no further than the Ca’ Zanardi.

As you arrive at the giant door, you enter into what feels like a completely different world before being greeted by the perfect host Andrea. When he found out we were on our honeymoon, he upgraded us to a room overlooking the canal and even presented us with a bottle of wine.
The location is simply perfect and you are far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the tourism area but equally at the same time within easy walking distance to everything.

A short 5 minute walk from the tourist area and you are back in a quiet patio garden area where you enjoy a bottle of chilled wine, as Andrea lets you use the fridge in the main kitchen.

venice

People who have given poor reviews seem to be completely missing the point of Ca’ Zanardi, it might not be luxury tourist hotel but it all the better for just that. If you are a fan of history, art and want a unique Venetian experience then will want to come back for more.

Special mention to Andrea who is always armed with helpfulness and cheerfulness and really gives the impression that he enjoyed his guests enjoying themselves.

We spent three days in this beautiful city soaking up sites such as St Mark’s Square, Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs but the biggest magic of Venice is simply wandering aimlessly through its streets and alleys. By wandering (especially if you point yourself in the exact opposite of the direction where the herd is going) you can find Venice’s many charming and often-empty squares and streets, which goes a long way toward helping you appreciate the city.

After 3 days of zero traffic and wandering through the endless alleys Venice we said goodbye to Andrea and a 15 minute walk later we arrived at the train station for a 2 hour journey to Florence for only 19 Euros.

I strongly recommend that you purchase a ticket a few months in advance if you can to secure this low fair, and if you have any problems making the payment, you can always use Pay Pal.

Florence (4 Days)

In less than 5 minutes from getting off the train, we crossed the road and were settled in our room B&B Il Cielo. Greeted with the incredibly helpful Elisa who made us feel welcome and passed on the all-important free wi-fi password to plan our trip.

The B&B itself is a lovely, cosy and artistic only a short 10-15 minute walk to Piazza del Duomo
The daily breakfast consists of coffee, tea, juice, yogurt, pecorino and pears, pastries was excellent and I guarantee you will walk away loving the taste sensation of pears and cheese.

florence
Lovely people, artistic b&b and a perfect location ensured we have a wonderful time in Florence and many happy memories were made soaking up this beautiful city and ticking off the sites such as Uffizi Gallery, Giotto Bell Tower, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Centro Storico and the Statue of David.

Pisa (Half a day)

With a day to spare, we crossed the road from our B&B in Florence and hopped on a train to Pisa which is only just under an hour away.

pisa

Pisa is quite small so recommend you avoid looking for further transport and take a steady stroll to the tower which is around a mile away but gives you chance to soak up the city too.

After securing the obligatory tower photos it was back on the train for an evening meal in Florence.

Rome (4 Days)

The final leg of our trip involves a 2 hour trip on the train for around 19 Euros to Rome for 4 days, once again I strongly recommend buying the tickets in advance from Trenitalia using the guide at Seat 61 where the tickets are much cheaper than buying from any travel agent or UK based ticket agency.

Once in Rome, you can pick up a Rome Travel Passes  for 1,3 & 7 days that is valid on the Metro, Buses, Trams And Some Train Services and will save your feet from getting tired when there is so much to see and do.

rome

Our biggest annoyance of our trip in Rome was the seemingly omnipresent salesmen on the street, offering umbrellas, scarves, knock–off purses, parasols, and—the biggest scam—“free roses.” They can be quite insistent by putting a rose in your hand and then tried to charge you for it. Just avoid direct eye contact, say no, and keep walking.

The only other tip is if you are visiting the Vatican, make sure you get there very early to avoid coach loads of people and very long queues along with being stopped every 30 seconds asking if you want a personal tour guide.

You will be very busy soaking up the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and so much more, so I won’t bore you too much as I’m sure you already have a good idea of what you want to see and do.

This trip cost just over £400 each to arrange for travel in June to enjoy Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome in 10 days without feeling hurried. Itineraries like this are often seen in holiday brochures for £800 each and it really is the easiest trip to organise and is very romantic to enjoy a journey like this with someone special.

If you can arm yourself with Google, Trip Advisor, a cheap flight checker and Seat 61 you really can book a trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank.

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The Road To Recovery

Sorry for going a little quiet on you all, but I was getting really frustrated with the niggling injury in my left leg that has put me out of action for a few weeks. Every time the ball of my foot felt pressure I endured a nasty pain just below my calf but completely resting it and taking a break from my new regime was proving to be quite difficult.

After putting in the hard work and losing a stone and a half in weight, I was quite conscious of how easy it would be to rapidly undo everything; however I was also equally aware that if I continue to run on an injury I could end up being out of action for months rather than weeks.

On June 2nd, I got married and my troublesome leg felt a little better. At the wedding reception that night I was guilty of having a few beers, which ensured the sound of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” was enough to finally get me on the dance floor. Yes I jumped around like a crazed mad man for at least two minutes until I pulled up again with my now infamous bad leg.

It ached like a bastard all night, and I finally admitted that I have no choice but to rest it completely, but luckily I had the welcome distraction of my honeymoon, which was more than enough to take my mind off running for 10 days as we headed off to Italy for a mini tour of Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome.

With no running in my life for nearly a month combined with indulging in the wedding buffet, copious amounts of wedding cake, beautiful Italian food and wine for a few weeks, I was more than a little paranoid that my belly would be carrying a whole lot more weight again. Maybe it was because our honeymoon was quite active (no rude jokes please) but luckily a quick weigh in still has me at 14.5 stone, which was a damned sight better than I was expecting, so this was the perfect time to get back into the swing of things.

I have returned with my leg feeling fully refreshed and raring to go and wasn’t about to let the wind, rain and cold temperatures stop me, so after seeing a little sunshine, I thought that it was time to quite literally give my dodgy leg a run out for the first time since May 25th. I was quite conscious of overdoing it and ending up having to rest for a few months so I opted for a nice steady run.

This self-confessed couch potato loved every minute of the run, and can honestly say that I have really missed not being able to get out there, leaving me to ask the question, what the hell has happened to me? it seems the running bug has well and truly got a grip on me.

I completed a 3.2 mile (5k) run in 32 minutes without any problems, which was a huge relief as my leg now feels fine. I then warmed down with a 10 minute brisk walk and lots of stretching so hopefully things will be a little better over the next few months. Maybe I have finally learned my lesson the hard way, that warming down and stretching are the most important aspects of running.

My fears of a very tough run after being absent for nearly a month were thankfully unfounded as everything went really well and it actually felt fantastic to be back on the road again. A glimmer of a British summer also made a rare appearance too, which offered a moment to take in the beautiful surroundings.

Blue skies and sunshine appear to welcome me back on the road.

On a separate note, there was a fantastic documentary on BBC 2 this week called “The Men Who Made Us Fat which is a fascinating look at just why our food is making us fat. We are, on average, 3 stone heavier than we were in the 60s. And not because we’re eating more or exercising less – we just unwittingly became sugar addicts says a must read article in the Guardian.

Anyway I digress, the important part of this post is that my leg feels much better and I am back running again. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was getting not being able to run at all for so long because of a pesky injury but hopefully things will only get better now warming down and stretching are taken much more seriously. Valuable lessons have been learned, after all everyday is a school day, no matter how old you are.