What I did in Riva Del Garda:

Rented a paddle boat with a slide in Lake Garda 

Drove to Malcesine and rode a gondola up a mountain

Trekked through the Italian Alps 

Swam in Lake Ledro in the middle of the mountains 

Mid-day aperitivo

Ferried to Limon and the Lemon Castle

What I did in Florence & Venice:

Walked 400 steps and 275 feet up at Giotto’s Campanile 

Visited the Piazza del Duomo

Went in the Baptistery of St. John 

Walked through Relais Piazza Signoria 

Viewed the hundreds of art pieces at the Uffizi Gallery 

Took a quick day trip to the City of Canals

Explored the cities by foot

What I did in Milan:

Sipped on my first official Aperol Spritz

Strutted through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 

Watched the hundreds of pigeons at Piazza del Duomo


The Beauty

Beauty of Milan, Venice, and Florence A-

These three cities are what you would normally picture when you think of Italy. They were all beautiful in their own ways, and it was very evident they were tourism hotspots. Milan was a mixture of a new town with old city vibes and it had a similar feel as to what I think certain parts of New York City would feel like. It felt expensive, rich, and prestigious compared to the other cities – probably due to the high emphasis on fashion and expensive name brand items. 

Venice was gorgeous and being surrounded entirely by water makes it unique. Contrary to popular belief, I did not notice any smell in the city. Venice was obviously filled to the brim with historic culture and I definitely recommend going before over tourism and flooding damages the city even more.

Florence was STUNNING. We were only there for one day and if I could do anything differently it would be to stay for much longer. If you are a sucker for gorgeous architecture you most definitely need to visit Florence. 

Beauty of Riva Del Garda A+

We spent the majority of time in Riva Del Garda, a town on Lake Garda surrounded by the bouldering Italian Alps. I am not lying when I say it was genuinely the most beautiful place I have ever been. The lake was blue, crisp, and refreshing, and the weather was a bit better due to being blocked by the Alps. The architecture was bright and colorful with brick and  cobblestone filling the streets. 

Transportation A+

I genuinely have no complaints about any transportation I took in Italy. We took many trains and only one of them had the little hiccup of the AC being broken. We took many of the regional  trains that weren’t super nice, but they were clean and we were only on them for like 30-40 minutes, but we did also take amazing trains from Riva to Florence and Venice and those were 2-3 hour journeys. Traveling by train in Italy actually made me realize that I should’ve done more train travel throughout this European trip and next time I come back, I will most definitely take less flights and more trains.

Accommodations A

We stayed in Milan on our first and last day in Italy. The first day we stayed at Hotel Sempione, a clean and comfortable hotel. It was in a pretty quiet location, so it was a short walk to the major attractions in Milan. On the way out we stayed at the Moxy Milan Linate hotel. The Moxy was about a 15 minute walk from the airport, so it was very convenient for us as we had to wake up very early for a flight the day we left.

In Riva, Corey and I stayed in a youth hostel called Ostello Benacus. This was a standard hostel with bunk beds, community bathrooms, and free breakfast. It was in a great location, very affordable, and the owner was very kind and accommodating. 

In Florence, we stayed in Bellevue Guest House. We did not spend much time here but it was a great location, 5 minute walk from central station and a 10 minute walk to Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The owners were kind and courteous and the room was massive and had AC!


Affordability A

I genuinely cannot say anything bad about the affordability in Italy. The trains were affordable (~$20 for a 3 hour ride), the food was almost too cheap for how high quality it was (~$10 per meal), and the accommodations were all reasonably priced. The accommodations and lodging were the most expensive part (but compared to prices in the US-still very affordable); however, we planned lodging pretty last minute and we were there at the end of June when tourist season really kicks up. 

We ate out a lot in Italy to experience the food culture, so I did spend a lot of money, but there are definitely ways to make this an affordable vacation if you are worried about the money. We did a ton of just walking around cities, which is free and even the activities we did like paddle boating, taking ferries, and going to museums were still pretty affordable.


Overall A+

Overall, Italy was a beautiful experience and I would do it 100 times over. I could not have imagined a better place to end my first European experience. Between the endless pasta dishes, the endless spritz cocktails I ordered, and the natural beauty of Italy…this will always be a place I constantly dream of visiting again. 

I hope you all have enjoyed my report cards for Europe and maybe it will even help someone if they are planning a trip for the first time!

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