This summer, we went on a tour of Italy after the COVID-19 lockdown. Italy has a lot to offer, and it was an excellent opportunity for us to explore many of its beauty. We had the chance to explore some of the most famous cities in the world without any tourists. It was quite surreal to walk in Venice and not be pushed around by thousands of people.
The government of Italy lifted the travel ban on June first. We decided that we wanted to see Venice as soon as the ban got lifted to take advantage of the fact that it would be empty.
Venice was on the top of our list of sites to visit right after the lockdown. We thought that the city would be empty only for a few weeks, and we had to take advantage of this short window before it became busy with thousands of tourists. We were able to tour this popular city in for three days, immediately after the COVID-19 lockdown. Not everything was open, but we were able to see some of its landmarks practically empty. We were able to walk in Piazza San Marco with nobody around. We took a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, and Rick could steer the gondola! That night we saw Piazza San Marco flooded (The acqua alta), and Rick even swam in the piazza’s frigid water!
The following day we explored the charming little island of Burano with its colorful houses. It was a real pleasure to be able to walk around and take a hundred photos.
Right after touring Venice, we decided to visit our local city of Bologna, Italy. For us, this charming Italian city is an afternoon trip, but after spending so much time at home due to the COVID-19 lockdown, any chance we got to tour the surrounding areas was a big welcome.
This time we wanted to explore it like a tourist visiting Italy would. We walked around the many different areas of the city, but the real highlight was the climb of the Torre Degli Asinelli. This old medieval tower in the city center is an iconic landmark. The view from the top is worth the many steps required to climb it.
Our next destination on our Tour of Italy after COVID-19 was Florence. For us, Florence is only an hour train ride. We left by train early in the morning, and we arrived in the city. For this visit, we decided to explore attractions that are usually packed with tourists. We bought the tickets for the world-famous Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. It was quite surreal to walk in the gallery without being pushed around by thousands of tourists. While in the city, we also had a typical Florentine lunch with a fantastic Fiorentina Steak.
At the beginning of July, we took the ferry boat to the incredible island of Sardinia. We love Sardinia, and we visited it many times. However, this year was quite different. Because of COVID-19, there were way fewer people touring Sardinia, Italy, than usual.
We explored some of the ancient archeological sites on the island called Nuraghes. These towers built around the island are as old as Stonehenge in England.
Sardinia is also world-famous for the crystal clear water and the breathtaking beaches. We did two boat tours to some of the most magnificent waters in the Mediterranean. We snorkeled among thousands of fish in the crystal clear waters of the Maddalena Archipelago.
A few days after coming back from Sardinia, we took a quick train ride to Venice, Italy, to tour some of the sites that were still closed due to COVID-19 in our previous visit.
We focused our visit to the Canareggio area of the city and around the Jewish Ghetto. We were able to find tickets for the Jewish Museum and the Synagogues of Venice. These are incredibly beautiful and are a must-see while visiting Venice.
We had a fantastic time eating Venetian Cicchetti lunch in the Canareggio area at Bacaro Ae Bricoe! Fantastic.
We used Venice’s best-kept secret, a €2.00 gondola ride. If you embark on a tour of Italy and visit Venice, know that you can cross the Grand Canal on a gondola for only 2 Euros! Indeed, it offers a perfect Insta-shot.
Rome is one of our favorite cities to visit, and we love to spend few days in this beautiful city. On our first day in Rome, we decided to tour Saint Peter’s Basilica without too many tourists. It was quite stunning to walk in the massive Church and explore it without being pushed around by thousands of people. The same day we experience a fantastic dinner in our favorite Jewish restaurant in the Ghetto.
The following day we visited some other landmarks in the city; we went to the Pantheon bright and early and then walked to the Trevi Fountain. We were able to enjoy the fountain with just a few tourists around. After that, we rented a scooter to the Spanish Steps. Those scooters are quite fun to ride, but in Rome, where the streets are very uneven, they are not as comfortable. From the Spanish Steps, we walked to the Terrazza del Pincio, where it is possible to enjoy one of Rome’s best views.
Later that afternoon, we toured the Church of San Giovanni In Laterano and the Scala Sancta. According to the legend, these are the steps that Jesus walked when he went to be judged by Pontius Pilate. Later that night, we had dinner in the Trastevere area in one of our favorite Roman Restaurant called Roma Sparita.
On the third day in Rome, we took a trip to the small town of Tivoli, 20 km outside Rome. In this charming little town, we visited two great Roman archeological sites. The first site was the incredible Villa D’Este with its thousand fountains. This villa is probably one of the most beautiful examples of a Renaissance retreat.
The second site in Tivoli is the massive Villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Back in Rome, that night, we had dinner in our third favorite restaurant in Rome, Zi Umberto. Indeed, Zi Umberto is another real gem in the Trastevere area of the city.
The following morning we took the train to Naples. For those who know us, they know that Naples is one of our favorite cities in Italy. Also, Naples is the gateway to Pompeii or the island of Capri.
After checking in at the Excelsior Hotel, we walked on the lungomare, and we stopped for lunch at MuuMuuzzarella, a restaurant specialized in buffalo mozzarella. We had a specialty called “Mozzarella in Carrozza”, a deep-fried mozzarella sandwich that’s “out of this world.”
We begin our tour of Naples, Italy
After lunch, we start our tour of Naples, Italy, by stopping by Castel Dell’ Uovo and the Borgo Marinaro. This area is incredibly alive, especially at night, with many restaurants that serve fresh seafood right by the water.
We continued our visit to Naples, Italy, by walking to Via Toledo, the city’s main shopping area, and then took the funicular to Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino. The view of Naples from Castel Sant’Elmo is incredible. On a clear day, you can see the Gulf of Naples, the Island of Ischia, and the Island of Capri.
After visiting Castel Sant’Elmo, we walked to the nearby Certosa di San Martino, an incredibly ornate convent overlooking Naples’ city. After seeing this remarkable complex, we took the funicular back and rested at our hotel before going out again and visiting the Lungomare of Naples, Italy, at night.
Who doesn’t eat pizza in Naples?
We decided to have one of the most typical things to eat in Naples, Pizza! Pizza in Naples, Italy, is an art form, and every restaurant claims to have the best one in the city. After dinner, we called it a night before starting our day two of visiting Naples, Italy.
After a great night’s sleep, we start touring the old part of Naples, Italy. We started our tour from Piazza Plebiscito and the Royal Palace, and as usual, there were very few people, thanks to COVID-19. From there, we walk in Via Toledo and the Galleria Umberto Primo.
We stopped for a fantastic dessert in Naples, many pastry shops. After eating the great baba layered with cream and chocolate, we move to visit the famous area known as Spaccanapoli.
This old road cuts the city in half in a very straight line. In Spaccanapoli, we stop in Naples, Italy, many gems the Monastero of Santa Chiara with its cloister. This remarkable complex is a must-see in Naples, Italy.
We then walk toward the Cappella San Severo to see the famous statue of the Veiled Christ. Unfortunately, the Chapple is closed. On the street, we saw, through a window, a violin maker.
More Pizza on our Tour of Naples, Italy
We continue our tour of Naples, Italy, and reached Via dei Tribunali, famous for its many Pizzerias. On Via dei Tribunali, it’s possible to see underground Naples. We have done this experience before, and we decide to do the Buried City tour instead. The tour is in a 2000-year-old Roman shopping mall in Naples’s old city and perfectly preserved underground.
We continue visiting Naples, Italy, by stopping Via San Gregorio Armeno, famous for the Nativity Scenes figurines. On our way back to the hotel, we stop at Pescheria Acqua Pazza, where Rick tries some seafood delicacies.
Our day two of Visiting Naples, Italy, ends at Pizzeria Brandi, where they invented the Pizza Margherita.
The underwater city of Baiae
Baia is a town in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, 20 km north of the city. The Roman Archeological site is mostly underwater due to the Campi Flegrei Volcano activity and got built on top of a very active volcano. Due to the inflation and deflation of the magma chamber, the land sunk underwater.
The archeological site is part of a marine park, and it is possible to visit either by glass-bottom boat, snorkel, or scuba diving.
The underwater roman ruins are of few fantastic villas. We start our dive in the first Roman Site in the Villa of Emperor Claudio. Here we can admire the statues of the Nymphaeum and the walls of the villa private baths.
The underwater roman archeological sites are covered in sand tat preserves them from algae and other marine plants. Our guide moved the sand to let us admire the incredible floors.
The second roman archeological villa is known as the Villa Protiro. It has two unique mosaics: the fighters’ mosaic and the other known as the hexagonal mosaic. If you are in Naples for a few days, these Roman Archeological sites are worth a visit.
The underwater city of Baie
Boat tour of Positano and the Amalfi Coast
On our fourth day in Naples, we took a boat tour of the Amalfi Coast and the famous town of Positano, Italy.
We started our boat tour of Positano and the Amalfi Coast, Italy, from Sorrento. We boarded our boat, and we stopped first at the Cascatella di Punta Lagno. At this location, Rick took a shower in the natural waterfall.
We then stopped at Galli Island, in front of Positano, for a swim. The water was warm and crystal clear full of marine life. We sincerely enjoyed this location, and we were able to take some underwater footage.
We then continued our boat tour of the Amalfi Coast toward the town of Amalfi itself. In Amalfi, we stopped for lunch and a pleasant stroll in the city center. Amalfi is famous for lemons and lemon products. We sat in the piazza for a nice refreshing Limoncello Granita.
After stopping in Amalfi, we continued our boat tour of the Amalfi Coast towards Positano. On the way, we stopped at the Fiordo di Furore, famous for the annual diving competition.
We passed the charming little town of Praiano, and we finally arrived in Positano. Positano is the gem of the Amalfi Coast. We explored the many narrow streets, stairs, and breathtaking views that the town has to offer. Then, we stopped by the beach for gelato before exploring the Spiaggia di Positano, the Positano beach.
And finally, we boarded our boat and continued our tour with another stop for a swim before going back to Sorrento.
Herculaneum and Pompeii by train
Herculaneum and Pompeii are the two Italian cities destroyed by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 DC. Getting to Herculaneum by train (from Naples) is very easy, it takes only 16 minutes, and it costs €4.40 return per person. The train runs every half hour.
The train station of Ercolano Scavi is just 5 min walk to the archeological site entrance.
The old roman town of Herculaneum got buried under 20 meters of volcanic ashes. Then, the new city of Ercolano got built on top of that. For this reason, at Herculaneum, only ten percent of the city has been excavated.
For a tour Herculaneum, Italy, plan a morning or afternoon
Indeed, if you want a complete visit to Herculaneum, plan at least 3 hours, the site is not huge, but there is a lot to see. Also, keep in mind that the tickets lines can be rather long. As a result, I recommend buying the tickets online before reaching the site. Most of the Herculaneum is well preserved, and most houses still have the old fresco practically intact. In Herculaneum, you can see many skeletons of the people trying to escape the eruption. In Herculaneum, it is possible to have a great idea of how the Roman elite was living.
We then walked back to the station of Ercolano Scavi to take the train to Pompeii. It takes 21 minutes train ride to Pompeii Scavi train station from Ercolano.
After Arriving at the Pompeii Scavi e Villa dei Misteri train station, we walked to the archeological park. The station is a few steps away from the site entrance.
We hired a guide, Vincenzo, for our tour of Pompeii in one day. The site is enormous, and there is a lot to see. Hiring a guide is a great way to be sure you don’t miss anything in Pompeii.
Our tour started by the theatres of Pompeii, the big one and the small one. After the theatres, we visited a few grand villas. We took a nice look at the pedestrian crosswalk of Pompeii. Then, we walked by the main crossroads in Pompeii, Via dell’Abbondanza, and via Stabiana, the Pompeii equivalent of the Main Street of any North American city.
Finally, we continued our tour of Pompeii to the forum where we look at Pompeii’s political center. After the forum, we visited the Brothel that, unfortunately, was closed due to the pandemic.
The Public Baths of Pompeii
We then walked to the Thermae Stabiane, one of many Pompeii public baths. Our tour ended by the Pompeii arena, where people of Pompeii used to watch gladiators fights.
We then walked back to the train station to go back to Naples after our incredible Pompeii and Herculaneum tour in one day from Naples. Thee train ride from Pompeii to Napoli Centrale train station is 47 minutes.
Our final stop on our tour of Italy after COVID-19 was the lovely island of Ischia. This volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples is famous for its many natural hot springs, the many stunning beaches, the great food, and the charming little towns. We spent three days in Ischia relaxing and resting after all the crazy walking we did in Rome, Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii. We sincerely enjoyed this little island, and we look forward to going back soon.
Back to Rome and the Colosseum
On our final day in Rome, we started our walking tour to the mouth of truth, and unfortunately, it too was closed due to COVID-19. The legend says that if you are a lair and put your hand in the Mouth of Truth, the mouth will bite your hand. The Church was closed, so we could only see the Mouth of Truth from the gate.
Then, our walking tour of Rome took us to see some ancient Italian temples (in front of the Mouth of Truth) before stopping in Campidoglio. The piazza del Campidoglio is a stunning Piazza designed by Michelangelo. In the center, we admired the statue of Marcus Aurelius, and in the back Rome City Hall.
From the Campidoglio, we start walking to the forum. One of the forum’s best views is right behind City Hall and is particularly suitable for photos, especially at night. At 11:30, we had our tour of the Colosseum booked, but first, we stopped in front of the Arch of Constantine.
Our walking tour of the Colosseum was a special one called Full Experience, and it costs €22.00. With this tour, it is possible to walk in the actual arena and see the gladiators used to have.
Our Tour of Rome, Italy gets some siesta time
After lunch and a little siesta, we began our walking tour of Rome by walking to Campo dei Fiori and Palazzo Farnese, an excellent area for a quick drink before dinner (Aperitivo in Italian).
We went back to our favorite Trastevere area for dinner, and we made a reservation to one of the best trattorias in Rome, Zi Umberto. We have been here several times, and we love the food, the atmosphere, and their friendly service. At Zi Umberto, we must have carbonara, one of the main dishes in Roman cuisine.
For our next adventure, we took the train to Turin, Italy. The train ride from the local station of Reggio Emilia is two and a half hours to the Torino Porta Nuova train station. We booked three nights in Torino to be able to explore the city in all its beauty.
We started our tour of Turin, Italy, by visiting the Parco Valentino. This beautiful park on the river Po bank is a lovely oasis of peace in the city center. We wanted to see the medieval village; unfortunately, it was closed. We then walked to the Fountain Of 12 Months and then to the Valentino Castle. The Valentino Castle is one of the many Royal residences in Turin, Italy. Again due to Covid, the palace was closed.
We then continued to another landmark in Turin, the Mole Antonelliana. This colossal tower was the tallest building in the world when it got built.
We ended our first day of exploring Turin, Italy, with a nice dinner. The following morning we walked to the Royal Palace of Turin. Here we visited the many unique salons of this elaborate palace.
Day 2 – Tour of Torino, Italy
We then walked to the Duomo of Turin to see the Shrine of the Shroud of Turin. After this, we walked to two fantastic chocolate stores to do some chocolate tasting. Indeed, Turin Italy is famous for its chocolate making and, in particular, for the gianduia chocolate.
After lunch, we had tickets for the world-famous Egyptian Museum of Turin Italy, but that will be in part two of or Vlog about Turin Italy.
The world-famous Egyptian Museum of Turin is the second largest Egyptian museum globally, second only to the one in Cairo. It is also the oldest, founded in 1824 in Turin, Italy.
The museum is massive, four floors, and almost 2km of exhibitions; we visited many ancient Sarcophagi, mummies, and Egyptian artifacts. Some of the most remarkable are the mummies of the cats, the people. Also, we saw the Gallery of the Kings, the Temple of Ellesija, the book of the dead, and the famous Scroll of Torino.
After we visited the Egyptian Museum of Turin, we continued our tour towards the Sambuy gardens.
We conclude our day two of Turin Italy with a great typical Piedmont dinner. Some of the specialties in Turin Italy are the Agnolotti del Pli, Il Brasato al Barolo, and the Carpionata Piemontese. We also enjoy a great Barolo wine typical of the area near Turin, Italy.
The following day we took the train back home.
Our last stop in our tour of Italy without tourists, and after COVID-19, was Pisa’s city, famous for its leaning tower. Pisa was a quick stop on our way to catch the ferry boat to Sardinia in the nearby port city of Livorno.
Some tourists were already visiting in Italy at this time. They were mostly from northern Europe. However, the tower was not nearly as crowded as it is on an average year. We had a great visit to the Baptistery of Pisa with its incredible acoustics.
After that, we visited the Monumental Cemetery with its ancient tombs and frescos. Then, we walked to the Gothic Duomo of Pisa with its fantastic architecture.
Then, we concluded our visit at the foot of the leaning tower. Unfortunately, we did not climb it this time because there were no slots available. We took this as a good sign of the tourism industry slowly coming back to life.
End of Summer, back to Sardinia
We ended our summer in Sardinia. The weather was beautiful, the water crystal clear and warm. We made many new friends, and we hang out with old ones. Overall it was the perfect way to end a fantastic summer of traveling locally.
We hope you enjoyed our tour of Italy without tourists, after COVID-19 as much as we did. Please comment on the videos and let us know if there is something else you would like to see.
Rick and Andrea
In March 2017, Rick and Andrea started Travel Addicts Life as a way to share their travel photos and videos with the world. And boy did it ever grow! Today, we are proud to offer content here on Travel Addicts Life, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
Thanks for reading!
Rick & Andrea