I still cannot believe this is really happening and I’ve now been solo backpacking Italy for two weeks.
After months of planning and dreaming of making a big trip, I am now on the road, happy to have made the best decision of my life.
While I was planning my backpacking journey around Europe, I didn’t know what to expect. I would dream that I would have this moment when everything would make sense, and I did.
Two weeks solo backpacking Italy
As I sat on my balcony in Siena, drinking a really nice cappuccino, I suddenly got a smile on my face. I had to stop a tear from rolling onto my face. This is it! This is what I want to do. And the smile on my face remained there for a very, very long time.
I’ve always been the kid who couldn’t figure out what to do with her life. I played so many sports I even lost count.
I’ve changed my mind about what I want for my future like a million times. THis always made me feel lost.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The question of my nightmares for as long as I can remember. It sucks when you’re the only person you know who can’t decide on a career.
It’s now been two weeks since I said goodbye to my mum at the airport as I cried like a baby.
thinking “what the hell am I doing?”
I can tell you with no doubt that yes, goodbye is hard. It really is true that stepping out the door of the comfort of your home is the hardest part.
Face it, going alone to the unknown world is scary. You do the same thing everyday for as long as you can remember. Now you’re on a plane to a place you’ve never been to, and there’s nobody waiting for you on your arrival.
It’s the scariest things I’ve done in my life
So, two weeks after leaving home, one flight, nine trains, six buses and eleven new places visited, here I am, in a country where everything fits into perfection. Where food, language and culture mix into a country in a shape of a boot, and with places that make me smile and cry all at once everytime I arrive somewhere new.
In two weeks backpacking Italy, I’ve stayed at the worst hostel in the world where I had to turn into a ninja to jump to my bed since there were no stairs. I have freezed to death with my 20kg backpacks on. And I may have beaten a guiness record by getting sick in less than 24h after leaving home.
I had the strongest believe I was going to die in the craziest city I’ve ever been to. I’ve gotten in the worst train in the world that was so old it rained inside.
I got lost and frustrated and thought I was the worst traveler.
I’ve discovered plans fall apart. No matter how much you plan, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Things won’t turn out the way you want, and sometimes you’ll fall on your ass in the middle of historical ruins – it happened, yes! – and you’ll have to get up and laugh about it.
I’ve yelled at a begger in Naples and was so scared of this city I even forgot to buy postcards.
Walking streets I had only seen in pictures before, I can tell you photos are not fair to many places.
I climbed a tree to steal oranges. And I’ve been kicked out of my seat on the train because I was travelling first class and I didn’t know.
I’ve been told “miss, no pictures” as I thought “yes sir, pictures!“. Even after being caught I keep taking them. I was in the Sistine Chapel of course I was going to take pictures!
I’ve talked to strangers and every single time they were kind and helped me even if they didn’t understand much of what I said.
There are good people everywhere in the world.
Don’t be scared or fooled by what you see in the news. The world is full of good and kind people. They will help you on your way, just have a little faith!
I almost lost the only bus of the day because Italians fooled me into thinking I could buy my ticket inside the bus. Lies!
When the bus came I had no ticket and had to trust my backpack to an Indian girl I had never met before to run to the travel agency and buy the ticket.
Have a little faith in people.
In two weks backpacking Italy, I’ve felt like a superwoman carrying my backpacks. Try walking lost for 2 hours and then climbing the stairs to the 4th floor with 20kg in two backpacks. I dare you. I’m sure by the end of this trip I’ll have legs like a dude.
I’ve discovered that asian people are everywhere and they walk the streets in packs of dozens with their selfie sticks all over the place.
I found out that most Italians only know one phrase in English and it’s their favorite: “I don’t know”. When you work at the train station ticket office and you don’t know what train goes to the next town, I believe there’s a problem there gentleman!
I’ve got tricked, TWICE, by buying very expensive pizza that ended up being microwave pizza.
And I think I might be having a relationship with pizza. Happy Valentine’s Day? I eat it all the time! I’ve eaten pizza at 10am three times! To be fair, I am in pizza heaven so give me a break.
You cannot say no to pizza when you see a pizzeria every four steps of your way, it’s impossible.
To sum it up, these past two weeks backpacking Italy have been a rollercoaster. I’ve been having fun playing Elizabeth Gilbert on the eat part of her journey.
The start of the trip was specially harsh on me.
Horrible hostel, rain and cold, getting sick. Having my favorite place in Rome under construction, feeling at home but overwelmed with the experience of being alone in a big city with no one to fall back on and paying a very expensive taxi ride on my arrival.
Rome had been my love for over a year, right after my first visit to the city. This time I feel I didn’t give it the time it deserves.
I went back to Rome again, this time to meet family for three days and it was a pretty cool thing. I did a very diferente life than my alone days.
We’ve eaten well, tasted the best cappuccino and the best gelato in Rome and ate fresh AMAZING pasta on the Spanish Steps, and I stole oranges after climbing a tree of some garden on our way. Life’s pretty awesome right now!
Campania: Naples, Pompeii & Sorrento
This city did not treat me right. I got so scared I just wanted to cry, since people’s warnings got me believing I would get my backpacks stolen or possibly get killed. It all turned out just fine, but Naples has a weird vibe and it’s too messy for me.
Pompeii was good in the way I made a friend at the hostel to go with, but the weather was horrible, and we ended up lost in the ruins for 2h and only got to see two bodies, which kinda sucked.
Still, I also have to go back to Naples in a near future because I really, really, want to visit the Amalfi Coast and climb up Mount Vesuvius!
Umbria: Perugia, Assisi & Spello
I want to go back, NOW!
Umbria’s small towns were pure perfection. I don’t think I was ever as happy wandering narrow streets as I was here.
It was like time travelling into a Ken Follett novel but with much nicer flowers in the picture. I cannot even explain to you the colors of this places, so much better than gold! I’m telling you I lived a short fairytale right here, and these places are in my heart.
I could have stayed there much, much longer and still be blowned away by Umbria over and over again. I know I am coming back, I just know, because I have to.
Tuscany: Siena, San Gimignano & Florence
Is it possible to fall in love everyday for a new place?
Siena was a surprise, but one I was already expecting and I’m happy it was just like I imagined it.
Even after eating the worst bread in this town – I keep getting tricked because of my tourist looks, I need to do something about this -, it is in my top places, maybe because I had my own balcony with a top view over Siena.
I could do this for the rest of my life and be a very happy person.
San Gimignano was the place that took me forever to get there, but it was worth it, still the 8€ microwave pizza and the 2€ coffee was totally unnecessary, but you live and you learn, and I am never asking for a coffee again without asking the price first!
And then there’s Florence, THE PLACE! I wasn’t expecting such a big city and so many people everywhere, but this place is incredible and I cannot even start talking about The Duomo, because there’re no words or pictures than can make justice to it.
It is the most amazing monument I’ve ever seen, I can’t even understand how can someone build something like that, honestly it’s impossible, it’s like they built the impossible to the human hand!
And Ponte Vecchio of course is amazing as well, but it’s kinda hard to enjoy with all the selfie sticks all over the place (seriously, people are nuts with their selfie sticks!
Backpacking Italy | What’s next?
I cannot wait to experience what next weeks have to offer me. Backpacking Italy has been a dream come true.
The next few days include going back to Rome and up to Florence again, Lucca (maybe Pisa if I feel like it), Venice, Verona and Bologna – and some smaller towns along the way, because apparently I’ve also discovered on this trip that I am a bigger fan of smaller places than packed cities.