After beginning our train journey at 8:30am, we arrived at the Venice Mestre train station at 9:30pm before walking the short distance to our hotel. We were up early the next day and back at the station to catch the local train the single leg to the island of Venice. Upon exiting the train we were welcomed by the sight, made familiar in movies, of the many canals filled with boats of all types. Following the advice of many we refrained from using any maps and got ourselves as lost as possible within the city, with the knowledge that we could easily find our way again on the small main island. We took our time, avoiding the tourist crowds, wandering aimlessly, often back tracking from dead ends and finding little treasures throughout the city.

Our lunch was spent in a little local gem, surrounded by locals who would enter briefly for an espresso before heading on their way. Having spent the morning, quietly exploring and talking, we decided to head off to the Rialto. The walk was slow as we paused and entered shop after shop containing handcrafted Venetian masks, glass sculptures and many other remarkable items. The Rialto failed to disappoint containing a market filled with some of the freshest seafood, fruit and vegetables we had come across, and the place all the locals went, from citizens to chefs, to get their groceries. Continuing on, we arrived at St Marks Square where we spent the next hour exploring the basilicas frescos and the museum within, ending with views of the square and canal from the terrace above.

As we left the basilica, in search of gelato, we came across a concert hall who was selling tickets to a concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons that evening. After purchasing the tickets (at a reduced rate due to us both being "students") we caught the train back to Mestre and the hotel to freshen up for the night ahead. Arriving back on the island, freshened, we found our way back to our local gem of a restaurant to enjoy some home-cooked pasta before heading off on the scenic route to St Marks square, via a gelato shop, to the concert hall. The next hour was spent listening to some amazing music in a hall that was identical to where Vivaldi composed it, performed by some very talented musicians. We ended the night walking the moonlit streets of Venice, crossing small bridges over the canals, gelato in hand as we made our way back to the train and our hotel.

The following day we spent the morning in the warmth of the hotel, relaxing before heading off to the island for lunch. Although we had hoped to venture to one of the other islands the 7 euro one-way water bus fair we would each have to pay outweighed the desire. Therefore, after wandering back to St Mark's square, we paid for a single ticket, cruising around the island along the canals. With our time here drawing to a close we hastily searched for the perfect Venetian mask as a souvenir before saying goodbye to Venice and heading back to our hotel.


After an uneventful train ride to Napoli, we arrived in the city centre shortly after noon. Checking into the hotel we found that our room contained the worlds smallest bathroom with the worlds biggest basin. After using the toilet, you could wash your hands right where you were seated or with half a step, around the basin, be in the shower. 

We left the hotel to walk down the main street leading away from the Gibraldi Piazza headed for the port to purchase ferry tickets to Capri the next day. Being a Sunday were were surpirsed that almost everything was closed but to make matters worse the city was filthy, with piles of rubbish and long stretches smelling like a urinal. At the port we were told we needed to buy tickets on the day so we decided to search the city for 2 of the 3 things that are recommended there, Pizza and Gelato (the 3rd thing being to leave). The top choices for pizza were closed so we settled for the only place that was open, which was tasty but just pizza. The next hour was spent searching high and low for gelato, to no avail, so we instead retreated to the confines of our room and our awesomely big basin. The next day, after the meager provided breakfast we walked to the port, noticing that the streets were beginning to be cleaned and there previous days state may have been abnormal, where we jumped on the ferry to Capri.

From the port of Capri we took the local bus service up the winding roads to Anacpri, that barely fit two small buses, and often  requiring one bus (and traffic behind it) to reverse back to a wider point so they could pass. All this was done at breakneck speeds with either the solid rock scraping passed or a thin railing "protecting" us from the severe drop down to the waters below. It was becoming obvious where the Italian formula one drivers learnt their trade. 

Our hotel turned out to be the complete opposite of the one in Napoli, containing a bathroom the size of the complete room in Napoli, service to compare and a breakfast that included some of the best food we had yet tasted, all run by a friendly and helpful family. Following their advice we headed back to the town of Capri. To fuel our upcoming exploration we stopped for some lunch where we were rudely introduced to the overpriced cost of food in Capri, which doubled if you had the audacity of sitting at a table instead of standing and eating out of your hand. Our sprits still high and our wallets significantly lighter, we began following the steep winding streets and paths through the town then along the coast of the island. Everywhere we looked there was amazing clear water, rock formations and stunning views. After several hours of walking up and down hills and stairs we returned to the town of Capri for some well earnt gellato, ensuring they scooped it directly into our hands to save having to sell a kidney, before risking life and limb catching the bus back to Anacapri. 

After a great night sleep and an even better breakfast we headed off to Belvedere Migliera to begin our walk along the west coast of the island. This took us past many of the ruined forts that once existed as a defense for the island and even though the day was overcast the scenery and waters were still magnificent. The walk ended at the Grotto Azzurra parking lot (which we had been advised not to go and see due to cost, 25 euro each, outweighing the duration in the grotto, 30-60 seconds). The bus trip back was entertaining with the driver being extremely happy, singing away to his Bob Marley songs and adding a nice ending to the walk. The remainder of the day we relaxed while researching Sorrento and Pompeii which would be our next stop.

After a windy and rainy night, we went to breakfast where our host advised us to eat quickly in case the ferry was cancelled due to bad weather. Arriving at the port, we were greeted with a long line of would-be passengers all waiting expectantly for the ticket office to confirm if the ferry would continue to run that day. Our plans to go to Sorrento from Capri were soon changed when the ticket office advised that the last ferry would be leaving for Napoli in 10 minutes, whereby we bought our freedom and boarded our ride to Napoli. The ride back was an event itself with the ferry being thrown about as it left the island, resulting in the TV going flying (who doesn't restrain a TV on a boat??) as our stomachs entered our mouths. Thankfully the seas calmed a little as we got clear of the island and the remainder of the trip back was rather dull in comparison. Once we arrived at Napoli, we quickly became drenched as we briskly walked to the train station (dodging any rubbish that happened to float past) where we spent the next hour in various lines organising train tickets to Pompeii, plus return tickets to Venice.

Finally, after a brief train ride we arrived in Pompeii at 5pm, having left our hotel at 9:30am that morning, to the warmth of our new home for the next couple of nights. Unfortunately, the cold I had been brewing over the past few days came to it's peak the following day and with the weather wet outside we spent the day in our room, missing out on the famous city and it's active volcano. After checking out, we boarded the local train back to Napoli, before taking another to Rome, then another to Venice. 


We woke early and headed down to the provided breakfast. This consisted of a voucher which we took down to a local patisserie for coffee and a croissant which we would soon discover was the breakfast that is provided in Rome. After checking out we jumped on the metro heading to the hostel we would be staying in for the next two nights. We arrived at a high rise building, walked the five flights of stairs up to the hostel where we were greeted by the owner and his gorgeous dog, an affectionate boxer that had a run of the place and gave it a homely feel. The hostel consisted of an apartment with extra beds, another trend throughout Rome, which although limiting the space available in common areas, provided more of an opportunity to interact with our fellow roommates.

After stowing our gear, then being provided a comprehensive list of places to see by our host we hit the streets to start our exploration of this ancient city. After exitting the metro near the Vatican city, we took a step forward and immediately became lost. It was fantastic! Initially we were aiming at heading to St Peter's Basilica but along the way we were confronted by a tour seller eager to get our business. Unbeknownst to us the Pope had made an address to the public earlier and as a result the line to the basilica was over a mile long, pointed out by the salesman, and the selling point for us due to the fact the tour would take us through the Vatican museum (or parts of it) into the Sistine chapel and onto the basilica, bypassing the lines. We headed off to the tour office, flyer in hand, to book our ticket only to be asked how much we had been quoted by the salesman. Not wanting to show our hand at this stage we asked them their best price where they quoted us 47 euro, much higher than the 35 euro the seller on the street had quoted. Thankfully he had also written this on the flyer and we got through on student prices.

Entering the Vatican museum we became one group among many as thousands continually entered. Our guide advised us that 5 million tickets are sold a year (8 euro for students or 16 euro full price) providing the Vatican with an average income of 60 million euro a year (over $75,000,000AUD) just for ticket sales. Our tour ended up walking past much of the Vatican museum, which was reportedly second only in size to the Louvre, heading instead to the square connecting the museum with the halls leading to the Sistine chapel. Here we stopped for awhile while the guide explained some of the history and meaning behind the chapel (due to silence being required within the chapel), giving us a greater level of appreciation for the influences of the Rennaisance and Medici family over not only the paintings in the chapel but the church in general. We then begun the paced walk through the intricately painted corridors leading up to the chapel before entering the small room. We were packed in with other tourists while being watched over by the Papal police, regularly advising all that no photos were allowed but unfortunately not providing us with the entertainment of evicting someone who had tried. Our time appreciating some of the greatest art, both in quality and depth, ended far too quickly with us being ushered out a short 15 minutes later to head on to the basilica.

At the entry to the basilica we paused shortly to learn about the deceptive scale of the place, from St Peter's square with it's slight curve giving the illusion of distance (but could stand 300,000), to the statues overlooking that seemed almost regular in scale until someone walked past them. All this in preparation for what we would see within the basilica (which itself could stand 50,000 people). Our first stop within was to appreciate the Pietà statue, carved by Michelangelo, then wandering throughout taking in the grandeur of the place. Having become overwhelmed with what we had seen over the past hours, we headed off for dinner before stopping into buy Rome Passes, providing us with free public transport plus free or discounted entry into the sites of Rome, before heading back to the hostel where we collapsed in our bunks to recharge for the coming day.

Having a lot to see we started our day early beginning first at the Colosseum. Our guided tour was short but informative giving us time to wander the ruin ourselves. It was unfortunate seeing the damage that had been inflicted on the place, especially after seeing how well kept the arena in Nîmes was, but it's size was impressive. From here we visited the ruins of the Palatine and Roman Forums before taking the metro closer to our next destination, the Museum of Contemporary Art. We arrived a short walk later and spent the next few hours within the museum where we were subjected to pieces of art ranging from amazing and ingenius to weird and gross, the later mostly by an artist called Jimmie Durham whose pieces included a glass table that had been smashed by a rock as well as a canvas that had been smeared with dirt and human hair. Thankfully his work was only a small part and the rest of the display, although not always understood or awe inspiring, appeared to take a bit more talent than dumping a pile of rubbish on the ground... With the day starting to draw to an end we walked too the Villa Medici only to discover, after the long climb up the steps passed the Trinitá dei Monti, that it had closed for the day. Exhausted but not wanting to miss any chances while we were in Rome, we walked along Via Condotti, passed the shops filled with the world's top fashion labels until we crossed the river Tiber to see the Palazzo di Giustizia. With the sun now set, our stomachs full we returned to the hostel and spent the evening swapping stories and advice with the other backpackers.

Having only been able to book two nights at the hostel we spent the morning researching our coming days before heading off to the hotel we had booked. The short walk up to the 6th floor brought us to the little hotel and our delightful host which was everyones Italian mum. Back down the stairs, we hit the pavement intent on walking the streets of Rome passed seeing all the monuments on our list and a few hours later we came to the steps of the Capitoline museum, the oldest in the world. Presenting our Rome Passes (which offered free entry to the first 2 sites, which had been the Colosseum then the Contemporary Art museum) we were delighted to discover that one of the previous free entries hadn't registered so we got this one free as well. We spent the next couple of hours walking the many museum exhibits, although often the more amazing exhibit on display was the museum itself with numerous amazing frescos and sculptures surrounding us. Once again exhausted, we left the museum in search of a place to eat before heading back to do some late night laundry. Finally we dragged ourselves up the 6 flights of stairs before collapsing into our beds.

After a dreamless night we awoke refreshed to a knock on the door and were provided a simple but welcome breakfast in bed.  A short time later we were headed to the metro station, with a slight detour for some gelato, before heading on the train south where we planned on visiting the Planetarium and Astronomical Museum for the guided tour at noon. What the tourist information hadn't told us, which had been printed first in Italian then in English, was that everything would be in Italian, guided tour, interactive movie, the lot. So back onto the train we got headed onto the city. A few stops in a trio of musicians, 2 violinists and a guitarist, boarded the train and began their excellent performance which was even more impressive due to them doing it standing up on a moving train while making our train trip south far from wasted. The remainder of our last day in Rome was spent casually walking the streets before visiting the Castela Sant' Angelo which provided us with a nice mix of history, art and panaromic views of Rome. With a final walk back past St Peter's Square we headed back to our hotel for an early night, ready for the train ride to Napoli the following morning.