Travelling to Italy the end of January

Hi All,
My family and I will be in Italy for 10 days from Feb 1. I’ve made the flight arrangements, flying into Milan and leaving from Rome. Aside from that I have not yet decided my itinerary, accomodations, except for vague ideas about Florence, Venice (possibly Pisa, Siena) Rome. Any ideas and recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I was concerned about Italy and the pasta dishes about 3 years ago when we first considered visiting Italy. More recently, I have a better understanding of how to manage my BG, pre bolus, corrections…etc thanks mostly to “I get by with a little help from my friends” from this forum.


We lived for about 5 months in Northern Italy, moving from sales office to sales office roughly every month, starting in Milan and ending up in Rome. I LOVE this part of the world, and we would go back there tomorrow if we could!

Are you ready to drive around, or are you bound to public transportation?

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We wish to use public transportation. It is based on my limited understanding that there are trains connecting the major cities. I would be concerned about both our limited language proficiency and navigating the unfamiliar streets. So, we will likely take public transportation. Are there fine nuances between the trains? Apparently, one may have to have the ticket punched before boarding the train?

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When we lived in Belgium for 2 years, one of our favorite driving vacations was across Northern Italy in February (our girls were 3 & 5 at the time)!

Our first stop in Italy was in Torino/Turin (we drove there from Paris). We then headed to Lake Como which was one of our favorite stops of the trip and highly recommend it a trip there as it’s just North of Milan.

We headed East to a little town called Vicenza (which is where I was born…the stay there was pretty special for me imagining my parents as a young couple walking through the streets and piazzas with 3 very small children in tow (my brother was 3 and my sister 1 when I was born). :slightly_smiling_face:

The final stop of our trip was Venice … which we all LOVED as well. We have beautiful pictures of this stop. :purple_heart:

Have a wonderful trip!


I have heard about Lake Como! I will have to look into that :slight_smile:

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Not may but must. But don’t stress, it’s very simple. There are ticket validation machines in the station or on the platforms, depending on the size of the station. Just slide your ticket in and it gets stamped. (Same on buses: you have to buy your ticket in advance, from your hotel or from one of the zillions of tabachi, or tobacco shops – look for a “T” sign outside.)

One thing to watch out for with trains is that if you’re on a regional line rather than the fancy high-speed trains, stations won’t be called out. So keep an eye on station names as you pass, and know which several stations precede where you want to get off.

If you book ahead at EN - Trenitalia, your emailed ticket is already validated. You will have to show the conductor a printout or show it on your phone so the barcode can be verified.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for directions or for help. Especially in cities, many people speak fairly decent English, and they’re certainly accustomed to tourists, and ticket offices and station attendants are very used to English speakers. Besides “Buon giorno” and “Grazie, arrivederci,” probably “Parla inglese?” is the most useful phrase to learn.


Northern Italy is so replete with extraordinary places that it is very difficult for me to select them! I will go from North to South in your trip.

Of all the famous places I have seen in Northern italy, I would say that Milan is the least interesting to me, except for a very tiny neighborhood right around the cathedral. So I would give it short shrift. However, not very far from Milan are Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, both of them lovely and famously romantic. Possibly a consideration?

Venice is a jewel, but far off from the rest of what you may want to see. You will lose about 1 full day or more because of going across the peninsula. Still, I feel it is worthwhile. And the museums there are lovely. This would be the only place I would go on the East coast of Northern Italy on a short trip. I would focus the rest of my trip on the W coast.

On the way to Venice is Verona (Romeo and Juliet, with a lovely roman amphitheater where you can actually watch this, or other play). Very near Verona is lovely Lake Garda. So, if you decide to go through Verona, choosing Lake Garda vs Lake Maggiore or Lake Como is an option.

While there are loads of greats town on the way between the more northern reaches and Florence, such as Piacenza, Cremona, Mantova, Parma etc., in 10 days you must make hard choices, and I would suggest going straight to Tuscany, probably starting (or ending) in Florence. I am sure you know all there is to it (Florence). One thing I can’t emphasize enough is the Uffizi Gallery, in particular (but not limited to) the Botticelli room!

There are amazing jewels among the Tuscany towns. You can’t hit them all, unfortunately, but you should make a choice between, probably, Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Sienna. All are amazing. Many more are interesting… If you had more time, I would really recommend driving around Tuscany towns and villages, and spend a week or two renting an old (200-yrs old or more) villa in the country. We have done so in the past, and it was one of our best vacations ever! But you don’t have the time, so you will just have to go back!

Then there is Rome, of course. If there is any way you can find a place near the forum, rather than the hotel district, that would be best, but it is hard to do. Once, we rented, on VRBO, a condo in a 400-year-old building exactly 50 yards from the Forum, right across from the Tarpeian Rock, an extraordinary location! I normally like small towns better than big ones, but, to me, Rome is an exception. If I had to pick one place among all the ones listed above, I would still pick Rome :slight_smile:

Finally—it is nice to have some kind of a thread giving a bit of unity to the whole trip. For us, in our 5 months of travel in Northern Italy, it was gelato. My sons decided that they would test, every day, a different banana gelato, and they did it for 5 months in a row, day in, day out. Their #1 ranking is a small gelateria in San Gemignano, and their 2nd prize is a large gelateria in Rome…

This will be, I am sure, one of your best vacations ever!


I am unable to give you much feedback on this, because all of our trips to Italy were before my son was diagnosed.

However, one thing I think makes it easier in Italy is that it is pretty easy to figure out the carb load, whereas, in Asia, particularly China, there can be sugar hidden in many dishes. My experience of Italy is that main dishes don’t “hide” too much sugar, and are pretty open about it. As for deserts, they are brutally sugary, but, at least, we expect that!

I think you should keep a meal log of Italy when you are there to let us know your techniques, successes, and failures! We are planning to go back next year, so we will readily inspire ourselves from you!

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I have to add: I love @Beacher’s advice in this thread! @Beacher, I MUST talk to you before going back there!

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Please just make sure to send me a bottle of legit Chianti


I don’t have a lot of suggestions on where to go outside of Rome, but when in Rome, please consider using the Context tour group. We took one tour of the Colosseum and Imperial Rome and another in the Vatican and Vatican museum. All of their guides are professors or PhD students, and were amazing. Also the tours are limited to like 6 people, so you get a lot of interaction with your guide.

In the Vatican and the museum our tour guide made the history come alive and was well worth the price. We learned so much history that we would have missed had we relied on a guidebook or larger tour.

Enjoy the food, with all the walking I bet you can easily eat a good number of carbs. Also, don’t miss the Pantheon and the gelato shops in the area.


Small tip: Since you’re flying out of Rome, you might consider spending your last night at the Hilton Rome Airport. The rooms are fine and quiet, the dining options are decent, and the indoor walk from the hotel to the main terminals takes about 5 minutes. No rush, no stress.


So brilliantly exciting!

We did a nice trip a few Christmases ago to Rome, Sicily, and Florence and loved it. I’ve also been to Sienna and enjoyed it many years ago - would go again.

EH and I were reflecting that many of pasta portions were smaller than American Sizes, which is a little easier on the carbs. Plenty of secundi meat options too.

In Rome we redeemed some hotel points and stayed at the Rome Cavalieri. Honestly, it was a beautiful property, but a really long walk from anywhere interesting and their mini bus service was lackluster (as was their crotchety old concierge who told us we couldn’t go to St. Peter’s Basicilla on Christmas and walk back. He was wrong!)

In Florence we stayed in a charming little hotel that had a nice breakfast and was centrally located. The details are below. I dream about visiting this place again in the future. We adored Florence. Great walking area and beautiful architecture and delicious food. Hotel Pierre also helped secure tickets to various sights which saved us hours of extra waiting in lines.

Via de’ Lamberti, 5
50123 Firenze
Tel 055 216218
web site

One last thing…we booked transit on the super fancy sleeper car on the way from Rome to Sicily (one of the last trains to be loaded onto a ferry to cross the water!), only to board the train and get a standard class train cabin for that night. Apparently they sold us a ticket but didn’t attach the fancy train car. It was a fine accommodation but not what we paid for. (We both get up to pee many times a night so the upgraded cabin with a loo was desirable but didn’t exist.) I tried emailing to get our money back but it was a joke. Buyer beware.


That is a great test! I’m sure my children, while quite grown up, would love the challenge. :ice_cream:

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I love Florence—I could spend a week there easily, mostly just wandering around the city, eating, and taking in culture. I walked at least 10 miles a day when there, which was great for being able to eat all the gelato, pasta, and bread I wanted. I was basically always drifting low, so I just ate carbs (this was also my strategy on my recent trip to France). Also if I wasn’t low and wanted carbs, I just said screw it, slammed some insulin, and did the best I could, because it’s a vacation, and a spike isn’t the end of the world. I can’t recommend the Rick Steves’ guide books enough—everything out of them was spot on, including the restaurant recs and suggestions for how to experience museums (which parts to be sure to see, what to see when there, and what you can safely skip). Venice is cool and definitely worth seeing, but I think two days at most there—it’s more of a tourist destination to see the sights/art, and less about experiencing the culture of a thriving real city alongside all of the sights.


Train travel in Italy works pretty well tho’ you’ll find service to smaller towns, such as Siena, may involve bus transport, too.

The ancient port of Rome, Ostia Antica, is a marvelous archeological site! There is also a neat archeology museum in Siena and a musical instruments museum. :smiley_cat:


OH awesome! I have trip planned to Cortina at the end of June/early July. I’ve been to Venice and Verona before (like 15 years ago).


My apologies for the late update, I’ve been offline for awhile. Italy was AMAZING! There will definitely be a follow up trip. The serving portions were reasonably human sized (as opposed to the oversized portions typically in the US for pastas). I ate pizzas and pastas without much BG spikes. There was a lot of walking which was also good for the BG.

The very best parts for me were: caffes and dark chocolates. When I went shopping in the supermarket and wandered through the coffee aisles - I felt that I was in caffeine heaven! Many more varieties than the best US supermarkets and better quality and much less expensive, My children enjoyed the gelatos immensely. Of course, all the meals were terrific. The house wines were good. Thank you all for the very helpful informative advice. We stayed at airbnbs in both Florence and Rome. The two “superhosts” were very good. The host in Rome had an abbreviated “guidebook” for Rome. I would definitely recommend his apartment.

The food quality overall was SO MUCH better than any major cities in the US. Even in NY, LA San Francisco, Chicago, a “random choice” of an eating establishment may not be a good experience, and/or considerably more expensive than in Italy.

If anyone has a suggestion for my moving to Rome or Florence permanently and somehow continue to make a living, I’m open to it. :slight_smile:


So exciting! How long did you spend altogether? What places did you like best? What were your best experiences?

We are planning on spending 2-3 months in Italy Spring and Summer 2019. So I am super interested in your thoughts!


I’m so glad – but not surprised – you had a great time. Isn’t the food amazing? I love how you can go into pretty much any eating establishment in Italy and be guaranteed a delicious meal – unlike here where it’s miles and miles of Sysco mediocrity. I’ve read that most of the produce sold and served in Italy travels for less than a day – so freshness has a lot to do with it. They also understand eating seasonally. When asparagus is in season and local, everywhere serves it and everyone eats it. And then they don’t eat it again until next year’s asparagus season. Unlike us with our year-round tasteless asparagus from Peru or Guatemala. Please do not put strawberries on my plate in winter. Please, please do not.