Italy Spring 2022 Overview + Day 1 Travel Day

In 2020 my then girlfriend (and now wife) and I got married. During the Covid-19 pandemic for anyone who does not remember that lovely year. Because of Covid we were not able to travel, pretty much anywhere after our wedding and we spent our honeymoon in Michigan. Not a bad time but not quite what we had in mind for celebrating our first time traveling and being a married couple.

A year had gone by but we both knew that we wanted to do something bigger, further, something in Europe. My motivation was on Italy as I have 25% of roots there, the Dolomites and the food should be pretty alright. My wife had similar reasons except she was looking to indulge more into the Mediterranean-ocean-life. Which is fair.

Below are links breaking down what we did on our 14 day + 2 travel days of hell trip. Instead of throwing it all in one post I thought breaking it up would be a bit more digestible.

Apparently this was/is not your typical Italian honeymoon but I'm glad we did it the way we did. So in short we did:

Riva Del Garda - MTB, Hiking, lakeside/mountainside

Finale Ligure - MTB, ocean-chilling, Riviera-pesto eating

Cinque Terra - Touristy, but not as bad as I thought once I saw Rome. Lots of hiking and food and the little towns to explore

Rome - History. People. Great history. Too many people.

Oh, and I thought I would dive into the world of logistics while in Italy and include our first day of travel. So all of that is below this (ie Covid-19 testing, navigating the train, how not to get mugged, buses, renting MTBs, etc)

Covid-19 Travel

Traveling during the post-pandemic world has been annoying to say the least. Getting to Italy was not that bad really. We just had to follow the simple guidelines but coming back was not as pleasant. Going from Italy to the States you have to test negative for Covid. Simple enough but, and jokes on us, a self test does not count. So when at 7:30pm we realized we needed testing, spent money on Covid self tests and brought them to the airport we fortunately got a very nice person but she said, "Doesn't count". So then we had to go all of the way downstairs to the Covid test, wait in line there for an hour and fifteen minutes, run back up, check our bags and barely get on the plane. Upside of getting hte self test, we knew for sure we were negative. So I guess that counts but morale of the story really, don't do what we did.

When going from the States to Italy

  • vaccination with booster card
  • Had covid within 270 days and can show proof of positive test

When going from Italy to States

  • get a negative test within 24 hours of flight. This was a pain in the ass for us because we didn’t know this, should’ve probably known. We got self tests but those are no good. We had to get tested for the Rapid Antigen Test at the airport. Fortunately we were there 3+ hours early and it worked out fine.


Something I wish somebody would have told me more in depth is the train situation in Italy. I’ll keep it quick here:

  • Bookings and the train you use is Trenitalia. Use the site or the app direct, there are other sites but it's convoluted.
  • You can buy tickets online, through the app or onsite at the big red self service centers, they are in English, among other languages.
  • Check the ticker screen on the wall if the train is cancelled or delayed before booking. The big red self service machines will not tell you if it is delayed or cancelled.

Trains are late often and are cancelled sometimes over the weekends due to striking workers. Be mentally prepared for that, go with the flow. I highly suggest booking only one leg of your train at a time instead of advancing along like when you need to make changes. For example, if you are going from Rovereto to Milan to Genova to Finale Ligure. That’s 2 changes, one in Milan and one in Genova. Because of the earlier statement about trains being late, and other trains don’t wait, is why you want to book your train in Rovereto to Milan only. Then once arrived in Milan, book the next one to Genova and so on.

Once you get your ticket you will need to validate it, there are little machines unpredictably per station. Some train stations have them everywhere some stations have only one. They could be in the tunnels, on the train deck, you might have to look around to find it. Online tickets and the flimsy receipt like tickets do not need to be validated.

Spend a little extra, on the Premium classes at least above the Base package for a better seat and potentially A/C. Business class we found was the best value. Prices of seats for long distances are around $50-100, shorter distances could be like $5-15.

Final note on the train, they are categorized by time not destination. Just a small thing that we noticed that the US does differently with our travel.

Other than them being late the trains are great - fast (once on), safe, air conditioned, easy once figured out. Just a last note, said once but go with the flow. It’s really easy to lose your shit with the trains because of their lack of schedule but when it happens, shrug your shoulders and realize you’ll be hanging out in the train station for maybe an extra 30 minutes or an hour. You are in Italy though, bella vita.


We didn’t take many buses but the one we did use was Trentino Trasporti. Look for this logo and the buses are blue and green.

Here’s an example of schedule.

Cost of bus is $3-6. I wouldn’t use them for long distances if you can avoid it. Train is better. But when traveling between small destination to small destination the bus will probably be your mode of transport once the train has gone as far as it can take you.

Finally to note, the only take cash or at least the one we were on.

Speaking Italian

You do not need to speak Italian to get by but I highly suggest learning some. We planned our trip too late and only picked up a little before we left but it made a difference in our experience. Meaning people treated us a little differently, positively. Even the smallest amount can make a difference. Here are some simple phrases and words to know:

Ciao // Hello or goodbye

Buongiorni // Good morning/day

Buona Sera // Good evening

Vorraie un(a) // I would like…

Il conto, per fevore // The check, please

Gratzie, mille // Thank you very much

o // or

a // and

Va bene // all good?

Bacca // berry

Dolce // sweet

Mi dispiace // I’m sorry

Non lo copisco// I do not understand

Parla inglese, per fevore?// Do you speak English, please? (This should be the 3rd thing you say when you need to ask someone if they speak English— always greet someone, then say excuse me, then ask! More polite.)

We realized in Lake Garda that the English there was pretty good with people (way better than our Italian to their credit) and Finale Ligure was about the same. Where in contrast Cinque Terra, Milan and Rome they almost expected you to speak English. Small remote towns expect less English, big cities expect more. Pretty typical.


I contemplated bringing my nicer 2/3s camera, so not even that big of a camera/lens but decided to just shoot with my iphone 13. There were some moments that I had where I wish I had a nicer camera but 95% of the time my phone was just fine. So suffice to say all of my photos are from a phone. I went this route so I did not have to lug around a camera and did not have something else to get stolen.


I talked and listened to others who traveled to Italy and yes you should take precautions when in Italy but it's not that bad. Maybe it was the time of year but outside of Rome I never felt sketched out in Riva del Garda, Finale Ligure or Cinque Terra. I operated per usual, phone in pocket, money in pocket with my ID. Rome was much busier and the only place I felt like I should keep things close to the chest. Because of that I got the Lewis N. Clark RFID Blocking Money Belt Travel Pouch instead of the nerdy money belt. I actually preferred this method and did not even notice it. It fit my passport, my wife's, some cash and cards. Also, we did take the precaution in our room and used the safe as well. Just use common sense, don't give your bags to anyone and if someone asks if you "Do you like Africa?" just ignore it. That was weird in Rome.

Renting eMTB

There is a standing debate, well more like hate, to anyone who rides ebikes in the States. I personally don’t get the hate but I do still say “no” to renting them. Europe has a different mentality and that seems to be “why not”. Real quick, after being in Riva del Garda and Finale Ligure I am a firm believer in ebikes. I don’t think we need them necessarily where I live but in Italy it’s kind of a must. Finale you could get by without and do shuttles but we did so many steep climbs and worse, road climbs, that the ebikes just ate up. My wife didn’t even break a sweat while I pedaled my ass up the 100m road climb. Garda, necessary. The climbs are loose and steep.  We saw some people with hardtails and lycra but for us that’s not our style of riding that we prefer. (We want down and flow). If you are going to be renting bikes in Italy, I would highly suggest doing ebikes. If your coming from the US it’s probably not your jam and I get it but you should do it. On some of these climbs heart and le palle is just not enough.

Rick Steves

We were given a book and watched his videos and he was a great resource to start our research into Italy. He definitely goes into more known places versus your Riva del Gardas or Finale Ligures. So we did stray pretty far from his suggestions most of the time but if he does have a restaurant suggestion definitely consider going. He was pretty spot on with those.

DAY 1: ARRIVING // SLC to Milan

The day has come to fly to Italy, something my wife and I have been talking about for maybe 6 months but feverishly planned in about a month’s time. We had made plans for this for our honeymoon but due to covid, like many, delayed our plans. Which you would think would help the planning process but instead we procrastinated and is a [boring] story for another day.

The only reason I write about this part of our two week trip to Italy is because of the travel time and how burned out we were before reaching our destination.

We left our area on Friday after work to drive 4 hours to the SLC airport for our flight the next morning at 2:00pm. We arrived at the airport at 11:00am, remember that time for future reference. Jumped on the plane and took off at 2:00pm and were on our way. About a 9 hour flight and multiple time changes along the way, we landed in Paris around 8:00am. Our plan was set to leave Paris for Milan at 10:45am but instead was delayed (1) and we ended up leaving at 12:45pm instead. Paris to Milan was about 1.5 hour flight, landing us in Milan around 3:45pm. Before we left the States our plan was to get out of Milan and head to Lake Garda (Riva del Garda specifically) to get out of the populated area. To get to Garda we would need to book a train to Rovereto then take a bus/taxi from there to Garda. Well the train we paid for, 5 minutes later, was cancelled. Not delayed just cancelled. There were four other trains cancelled as well making getting to Rovereto difficult to impossible. A couple of Italian girls helped us out and said that this could and will happen because the Italian train workers strike and typically on the weekends. Our hunch is because they don’t want to work on the weekends because it happened every weekend, delays or cancellations. Anyway back to the story, trains are cancelled and we talked to the Trenitalia people and got our route figured out but the train would not be departing until about 5:45pm. This would get us in Rovereto around 8:00pm. Stepping off the train and onto the street we were trying to figure out which bus to take. Taxi’s were out. No taxi’s were going that far. But what bus? With no idea in mind we asked someone (the only person) nearby and fortunately Carlos from Madrid had already figured it out and was heading to Riva Del Garda as well. So we followed him, jumped on the Trentino Bus, got looks from the bus driver as they don’t take card, Carlos paid for us, and we finally headed towards the conclusion of our arrival in Garda. Finally. What’s the significance?

Quick breakdown:

  • Arrived at SLC airport at 11:00am (actually 3:00am in Italy because of time change)
  • Dinner in Lake Garda at 9:30pm

With the time change we were traveling for 18 hours and roughly awake for 21 hours. By the end of it we both were functioning but foggy-brained. We found the first place that we crossed was open and making pizza, ordered two pies and some Hugo Spritz and called it a night after. I’m not sure that was the best solution to getting out of Milan but it certainly didn’t waste anymore days. The next morning we slept normal but slept in until maybe 10:30am. I didn’t feel the jet lag at all. So in that sense it worked out pretty well.

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