Right after returning from the little old boys city tour to Eastern Bavaria, the Woodpecker family decided to boost the best spring Germany has seen since years a bit more by a jump over the Alps.
Woodpeckers over-hours piled up quite a bit over the winter time, and as my career is not really proceeding too much anyway, I can take easily take advantage of short-term holiday request.
I don’t know how it works in other companies, but with my boss it is: “You sacrifice you life for the company (like he does) and then you get ahead career-wise, or – if you are fine not getting ahead quickly – you can do your job on your own way as long as output is fine”.
As you might have noticed, I de facto decided for the second. I would obviously love all the freedom PLUS a career, simply to max out Woodpecker family income and savings, but this seems to be asked a bit too much.
Anyway, off we went, and as the beautiful city of Merano was covered already last year (one month later and with MUCH worse weather), we only had to choose among Verona, Padua, Milano, Vicenza, Venice, Bassano and about 1.000 other beautiful Italian destinations all less than 6 hours drive from Munich.
Obviously we went for the most frugal choice (least driving time) and picked Verona, the partner-city of beloved Munich, a mere 4 1/2 hours drive south of home.
At this time of the year this otherwise quite crowded city has a unique and very relaxed flair, you will always find a seat even in the most beautiful spots, prices are low and the beauty of the city all the same.
The frugal choice is of course the local youth hostel, where a family of four can stay for a bargain of 40 EUR per night, including something that these guys call breakfast.
Actually the place was ok, situated in a fantastic old but somehow spooky worn-down villa with private parking in the yard for free (not unimportant in this crowded Italian cities). On the other side, this one really is VERY basic, so you better go there only for sleeping, or spend a couple of bucks more for an AirBnB apartment.
The good thing about the cheap accommodation is that your budget automatically stays so low (sleeping and transport are typically the most expensive parts of travelling) that you can easily go for some nice extras.
Overall, a frugal way to travel Italian cities is:
- Stay in the youth hostel. But only sleep there, as their quality is way below e.g. German youth hostels. However, they are often central, often have free parking and you will meet loads of funny people.
- Use public transport which is very cheap and well-developed
- Always eat PIZZA ! Pizza ist mostly of very high quality and very reasonable price, even in the most touristic spots. That’s great, because sometimes you should indeed sit in a restaurant in one of this marvelous plazzas and enjoy a meal there. A pizza in the most touristic Roman Arena area in Verona is still only 8 EUR. Add a glass of house wine and you can hang out in one of the worlds nicest places for 12 EUR (2 EUR cover charge, a “special” Italian add-on.
- Other food is often overpriced and varies too much in quality (and quantity). Not recommended, unless you have local insider information.
- Another great thing is Italian coffee. In most cafes or even restaurants, it is ok to sit down and only have a “cafe” (i.e. a tiny tiny Italian Espresso). They almost always taste great and seldom cost more than 1 EUR. So you can have your food in the local park as well and then enjoy a cafe in a beautiful plaza if you wish.
- If the place you stay is too crappy, eating out for breakfast is a good choice. Even in places crowded by tourist during the day, in the morning it is often surprisingly relaxed. And even in tourist traps you will typically get a cappuchino plus two lovely Italian croissants at prices below 5 EUR. Good value this is.
- Ice creme is mostly great if it is hand-made (“artigianale“). This is often the case, in Italy it is fortunately hard to find overpriced and boring tasting ice cream from a chain shop. No chance for Häagen-Dazs.
- Most of the beauty of Italy lies in the little alleys, the plazas, the flair, the countryside (always use small side-streets not the highway to see the nice parts), the churches. All of this is for free!
Find below some impressions from the trip. Hover for subtitels, click to enlarge.