Italy | Venice • Tuscany • Cinque Terre

21 June 2017

venice gelato couple


(Total Expenses at the end of the post)

Last year on my birthday, Shibby and I went to Provence to see lavender. This year, I chose the countryside of Tuscany to spend this important day with him. Can't believe this was my 2nd birthday with him already! ♡

Other than Tuscany, I really wanted to go to Cinque Terre too. He insisted to include Venice because that was his dream place.

Travel Period: June 13 - 21, 2017



Arriving in Venice.

We landed in Venice at around 1.30pm. From the airport, we took a water taxi to the island of Venice. It is recommended to choose an accommodation on the island but not in the mainland if you want to do sightseeing. Water taxi cost us €15 each.

We then checked in. It was already 5pm. We did not do much on the first day since I was still tired from duty the day before.

I really loved the Bread & Breakfast we booked in Venice. It's located right in front of a quiet and beautiful canal away from all the tourists. The only thing is you have to share the property with other people. There are 4 rooms in the B&B.

Our B&B is one of the buildings on the right.
Beautiful little garden and walkway leading to our B&B

Rooftop balcony


Grand Canal | Piazza San Marco

Venice is basically like a maze. Sometimes even when you have a map with you, you will still get lost because every corner looks the same (kind of). Getting lost in Venice is absolutely part of the experience.

Grand Canal
Grand Canal

Shibby promised me to get a gondola ride in Venice because we thought it's a must do thing. A gondola ride costs €80 for 30 minutes, and the price will be the same no matter where you get the ride from. We tried to bargain but it didn't work, so we assumed the price must be fixed. It's good if you have a group of people to share a ride with you to reduce the amount you have to pay. We did not expect to share so there were just two of us.

I kind of regretted getting a gondola nearby the Grand Canal as I noticed it was too busy with too many gondolas and tourists. It wasn't the experience I was expecting. If you want a relaxing and quiet ride, grab a gondola somewhere else with less crowd.

venice gondola

venice gondola

Piazza San Marco - Venice's main square

At one point it rained really heavily. Poor those tourists who were on gondolas getting all drenched! I'm sure it was a very 'different' experience for them! After walking around the busy streets and canals in the centre of Venice, we decided to head back to our B&B for some peace.

My favourite canal in Venice - right in front of our B&B

I wish I took a gondola ride from here. Look how peaceful this is! I really love this area where we stayed. It's quite easy for me to get tired of touristy spots with huge crowd LOL.

We got some gelato here and took a stroll. Ahhh how romantic!


Venice to Tuscany.

In the morning before we left Venice, we went for another round of gelato! *yum

After taking enough pictures in the beautiful (but touristy) Venice, we departed for Tuscany, my dream destination!

We took a water bus to the centre of Venice, then a train to Florence for a transit to Siena. The latter train ride was AWFUL. It was a 3-hour ride (outside temperature of 30°C) without any A/C at all!! I could not believe it and I made a joke that Italy probably doesn't use A/C. Later I found out from my Italian colleague that in Italy, people don't really use A/C even in summer. Some local trains like the one I took do not provide A/C too. So be prepared!

We rented a car in Siena (booked online in advance) and drove all the way to Val d'Orcia, where our accommodation was located. I insisted to stay out of the cities. If you've read my other blog posts, you'll know that I prefer staying in the countryside.

Our accommodation was located on top of the hill in a very small town called Castiglione d'Orcia. I was really impressed when we arrived, by how quiet and peaceful the beautiful town was. Those old brick buildings totally captured my heart.

Being on top of the hill, we got a very nice view of the Tuscan countryside, which was exactly what I was looking for! Everything was perfect until... (continue reading to find out what happened.)

Perfect sunset view from our house


Bagni San Filippo | La Foce | Pienza

The drive in the Tuscany countryside can be extremely scenic and pleasant. Val d’Orcia is famous for its classic landscapes that have graced many a postcard. It’s an iconic side of Tuscany that has been seen all around the world. As countryside goes, it’s probably the most idyllic scenery you can imagine. Soft rolling hills, wheat fields, and the occasional cypress trees to make the view just perfect. I now totally understand why it is a UNESCO protected panorama.

Couldn't help stopping at the road side for pictures

There are quite a few of hot water springs in Tuscany, San Filippo is one of them. The calciferous formations, waterfalls and small pools of hot water surrounded by the woods just outside the small town of Bagni San Filippo in the Val d'Orcia will seem to take you to another world.

San Filippo
San Filippo

Think of Tuscany and you think of roads lined with cypress trees. One of the famous spots is the zigzag row of cypress trees near La Foce.

Pienza is a tiny village in southern Tuscany. This charming village is widely known as the "ideal city of the Renaissance". We really liked to come here to spend time and watch the sunset. If you come to southern Tuscany, you have to include Pienza in your itinerary.

Sunset view

Totally obsessed with the view



Crete Senesi | Asciano | Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore | Chapel of Vitaleta

Happy Birthday to me! So glad to have spent the morning of my birthday having breakfast in the hilltop balcony with a breathtaking view like this. It was all I asked for!

Other than Shibby, I also had another guest celebrating my birthday with me - Rocco, the owner's cat.

After some cakes, we headed out to start our day!

Like I mentioned, driving in the Tuscany countryside can be really enjoyable. I even found a famous picture spot by accident! The place you see below is literally in every postcard you will find in Tuscany. Take it easy, and stop when you can for a photo call.

We then went to Asciano, a town outside of Siena and in the centre of Crete Senesi. It was the perfect kind of place to lunch.

Exactly the Tuscany I was dreaming about. You get stunning views when driving around the countryside.

Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore - We actually did not plan to include this in our itinerary but Shibby,  suggested to give it a visit. Located not far from Asciano, the abbey emerges from a dense forest of cypresses, pines and oaks. The church, Cathedral of the Nativity of Mary was built in the early 15th century. It is a large red brick building with a Latin cross plan. The exterior is in gothic style, while the Interior is baroque.

I'm not a museum or a building person. To spend time with him in the church, I tried to study all the drawings on the wall and pretended I could understand. We ended up making up and telling stories out of those interesting drawings. Not bad to keep me entertained haha!

Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

After the church, we continued our drive to find the famous Vitaleta chapel. When we were there, there was a gate blocking the road leading to the chapel. All the cars were parked at the gate and we had to walk from there. It was quite a long but relaxing walk.

Vitaleta chapel

Back in Pienza for my birthday dinner!


Tuscany to La Spezia (Cinque Terre). Stop by Pisa.

It had been 3 days staying in this accommodation in Castiglione d'Orcia. It was like a dream come true until our house slowly got invaded by woodlice! As I mentioned before, in Italy, most places especially in the countryside do not use A/C. We had to leave our windows open all the time to let the air flow. Unfortunately, our room and bathroom were all full of woodlice on the walls, ceilings, floors, toilet bowls, shower room, and all the corners you can think of! It was super gross and disgusting. The whole stay turned into a nightmare. The owner, who later found out, apologised and offered to give us a compensation. We could have obtained a free stay but we did not accept the offer as we didn't think it was entirely her fault. Judge yourself if you still want to stay here.

This time we did not take the train. We drove all the way from Val d'Orcia to Pisa! It was cool to quickly visit the Pisa Tower while on the way to Cinque Terre.

Pisa tower
Pisa Tower

Pisa tower

Pisa tower

Pisa tower

Pisa tower

Day 7

Five villages of Cinque Terre

Instead of staying in Cinque Terre, we decided to stay in La Spezia, a city located not far away from Cinque Terre. I personally feel it's more convenient to stay in the city since we did not stay long. You can easily take the train to Cinque Terre from here. The train ride takes only around 20 minutes.

We bought the Cinque Terre Special Ticket (1 day) special ticket that includes unlimited travel on train between La Spezia and Levanto. It costs €16 and you can get on and off at any of the five villages anytime. The villages from north to south are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Riomaggiore - We started with Riomaggiore, the first village which is closest to La Spezia. This is Shibby's favourite village!

Monterosso - We were supposed to go to the next village which is Vernazza but I suspect we took the wrong train which brought us to Monterosso, the last village! Later we found out that this was actually a better plan so you can end your day in Manarola to watch the sunset. What a beautiful mistake we made!

Monterosso is where everyone get changed into bikinis and swim wears to enjoy the beach and water. I loved the summer vibes here!


Our favourite battered seafood! *YUMMY

Vernazza - so called the Pearl of Cinque Terre, which is the most popular and busiest. It's really happening in here with all the shops, restaurants and tourists. To get the best view of Vernazza, you have to do a bit of hiking. I'm not a hiking person, but I personally think it was totally doable and easy. The hike took us about an hour. We walked slowly while enjoying the view.

Manarola - my personal favourite out of the five! It is perfect for dinner and sunset to end your day in Cinque Terre. I like how calm this place is.

Manarola cinque terre

Manarola cinque terre

sunset at Manarola

Our seafood pasta for dinner!
Due to time constraint, we couldn't visit Corniglia. Well I'm a slow person because I love taking pictures. If you're doing sightseeing at a normal pace, I'm sure you can visit all the five villages within a day using the train. Some people prefer to hike all the way through five villages and of course it will take more time. It's all up to you how you want to see Cinque Terre as everyone has a different traveling style.


Cinque Terre to Milan.

We had to come to Milan because it gave me the most convenient flight back to Dubai the next day that suited my timing. We took a train from La Spezia to Milan and we only got here just before the sunset. It was not part of the plan to go sightseeing in Milan, but because I wanted to show him around quickly, we went to Duomo di Milano.



Finally time to head back home! I'm already thinking where I should go next year for my birthday. Any suggestions? :D



Booked on Airbnb - Click to earn travel credit!
  1. Venice: Casa Di Sara
  2. Tuscany: Studio apartment in Val d'Orcia - NOT RECOMMENDED
  3. Cinque Terre (La Spezia):
  4. Milan: Crowne Plaza Milan Malpensa Airport

Expenses (2 pax):

  • Accommodation: €587 ≈ MYR 2,982.88
  • Transportation: €243.9 ≈ MYR 1,239.39
  • Food: €436.36 ≈ MYR 2,217.40
  • Car rental + Gasoline: €296 ≈ MYR 1,504.14
  • SIM Card: €30 ≈ MYR 152.45
  • Gondola: €80 ≈ MYR 406.53
  • MISC: €32.2 ≈ MYR 163.63

AVERAGE PER PERSON: MYR 4,333 (Flight tickets excluded)

Note: It is just not possible to save on food when traveling with this sheep. We ate out most of the time and that is why the food costs were so high. LOL.


  1. Hi Chu, May I know what camera you are using for took these photo?

  2. Hi,
    Your pictures is nicely taken. I saw some of your pictures is both of you and your partner inside the frame. Wondering are you using any tripod or asking the help from people to capture?


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