I had always understood that Italy was extremely expensive as a destination until I visited and found some real gems. I was lucky enough to see Naples, Sorrento, Pisa and Lucca. I travelled by train, boat, bus and taxi to ensure that I fully experienced their transport options.
We flew into Naples and got the bus to the train station, this was a bit of an experience, as was the train journey to Sorrento so I am happy to offer advice on this. Friends found a lovely hotel in Naples which sits high above the port.
We found food far cheaper than expected and yes, it’s true that a pizza or pasta does taste different in Italy. Our first meal was in Sorrento where the streets smell of flowers and fruit trees - beautiful! We paid around €30 each but that was three courses, wine and Aperol Spritzers - it could have been the best meal I have ever had. We also visited the homemade Limoncello shop where we met the mother and daughter who make the liqueur and the amazing bottles. Well worth a visit.
Pisa was not as I expected. The area surrounding the leaning tower was much smaller than I thought it would be, but more beautiful with the gorgeous lawns around it. There are some lovely streets with a huge choice of little restaurants where you can have a light lunch for under €10 including a drink. There are some aspects of Pisa to be aware of, so I would happily talk through these to ensure you are safe.
Lucca is not often mentioned but is the most amazing town both outside and inside the town walls. It has a sense of peace and tranquillity with small running streams and lots of greenery outside the walls. Once you go inside the walls, the squares and the buildings are just gorgeous. Again, we had an amazing lunch (Calzone pictured) and still much cheaper than expected - you could sit, eat, drink and people watch for hours. There are also lots of interesting little shops to wander around, so you could easily spend a day here - bliss.
I now need to work out when I can return to Italy and do I visit the same gorgeous areas or find more new gems!