I travelled to Europe for five weeks! My first stop was Greece (see How To Travel Vegan In Greece) and then I moved on to Italy! Keep reading to see my travel tips, itinerary, and how to travel vegan in Italy.
Travelling vegan in Italy was so much easier than I thought it would be. My plan was to use the Happy Cow website to find vegan restaurants in every place I was travelling because it was free but, out of convenience, I ended up purchasing the app for $5.49. The Happy Cow app shows all the vegan places based on your location, and though it doesn’t show every vegan option available, it’s definitely worth the money.
I fell in love with Rome and not just because they had so many vegan options; it’s like a walking museum, with so much history scattered all over the city.
I arrived in the city early in the morning and began the hunt for a vegan croissant. I found one in Termini Station from a fast-food type place called Chef Express, which also had soy cappuccinos. I learned that Italian croissants are usually sweet and usually have apricot jam in the center.
The night before I arrived, I purchased tickets to go to Vatican City. I bought the early access skip the line tickets (highly recommend) from a company called Musement, I will link them here.
The Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I would say this is a must-do in Rome. There was so much to look at and my neck hurt from constantly looking up and staring at the most beautiful paintings. It was so overwhelming to see such incredible art and sculptures. I didn’t get an audio guide and in the museums there are no signs telling you what you are looking at.
Tip: If you want to go from the museums to the Basilica you have to exit and re-enter the other side of Vatican City UNLESS you are with a tour group or like me, you pretend to be with a tour group and walk with a group through the door at the back right-hand side of the Sistine Chapel. It takes you down through a tunnel straight to the Basilica and you don’t have to wait in line!
After visiting Vatican City I just walked around Rome until the lunch spot I wanted to go was open. Each street was so cute, I loved looking at all the Italian architecture. For lunch, I went to Flower Burger, a really cool spot where they had rainbow coloured buns! Everything was vegan and I got the Cherry Bomb burger which was so yummy. For dessert, I went to Pupi di Zuccherro and had the best gelato I’ve ever had. They had a whole freezer with vegan flavours.
I went back to check into my hostel, I was staying at The Yellow because it had amazing reviews, it was the first hostel I have ever stayed in and the best one of my whole trip. I met a girl in my room who had been to Rome five times before which was amazing because she took me around everywhere. I definitely wouldn’t have seen all the things if I didn’t meet her.
The major attractions we visited were: the Villa Borghese gardens, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo, Castel Sant’angelo, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum, all within three days. We also walked through Travastere which is a Roman village with lots of cute streets, places to eat, and Piazza Santa Maria. We did A LOT of walking and also used the subway system which is great.
All over Rome, there are small fountains with constant running water that is safe for drinking (see video).
My favourite meal in Rome was from Rifugio Romano. They had a HUGE vegan menu, it was so hard to decide what to get. I had an arancini ball to start, ravioli for my main course, and then pizza dough balls with chocolate for dessert. Dreams do come true.
There are vegan gelato options everywhere and every restaurant will have a marinara pizza or other cheese-less pizza. There are places you can get pizza for 5 euros so make sure to not spend much more than that.
Also, most places in Europe you are not expected to tip but they might charge you an automatic service fee. They will always charge for water and if they bring bread to the table you will usually be charged for that too.
I wish I had more time in Rome but I had already booked my hostel in Florence. I took the train, which takes just over an hour, from Rome and arrived in Florence late on a Saturday night.
I decided to wake up early and get a head start on Sunday. I walked around the streets of Florence and ended up at Galleria dell’Accademia, where the statue of David is located. Because it was so early the line was short and I also noticed signs saying admission was free and then I realized it was the first Sunday of the month.
On the first Sunday of every month, most major museums and attractions are free for everyone! If you are travelling to Europe I would try and make your trip land on one of these Sundays because it saves you a lot of money!
I went from the statue of David (which was very impressive) to the Florence Cathedral. The Cathedral is massive, so detailed, and so beautiful, I could stare at it for hours. Next, I walked through Piazza della Signoria at the same time there was a demonstration was going on and I still am not sure what it was but people were dressed up and it was quite entertaining.
I walked past the Uffizi Gallery museum which was highly recommended but it already had a huge line. I decided to skip it, grabbed a smoothie and croissant from Shake Cafe and walked along the river to Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge with jewelry stores and homes along it.
Across the bridge is Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. The Palazzo includes the palace which is now a large museum with different exhibits and behind it is the HUGE Boboli Gardens. The gardens are on a big hill so be prepared to do a lot of walking but it’s a great place to spend the afternoon and leisurely walk around and appreciate the winding paths and art.
I did most of the major attractions in Florence on my first day because of the free admission! It was a busy day but then I had the rest of my time there to just relax.
I got gelato most days and fell in love with one spot in particular, Le Botteghe Di Leonardo, they had a lot of dairy-free flavours and vegan waffle cones.
For the best views in Florence you need to visit Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s a big of a hike up but it’s not too bad. This photo doesn’t do it justice.
My favourite meal in Florence was from a bookstore/restaurant which has a very discreet door and was very hard to find at night. It’s not completely vegan but they had some really good options and you get to choose 3 things from each section of the menu for your dinner.
I used the website Atlas Obscura to look up unusual things to do in Florence and one of the things it said was the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella-the oldest pharmacy in the world! Some of their recipes are over 800 years old. This place isn’t very well known by tourists and I could have spent all day there, it’s also a great place for souvenirs. I stayed for tea and had a vegan chocolate cake.
There are lot’s of vegan places listed on Happy Cow for Florence but I didn’t have enough time to visit all the ones I wanted.
There’s a cute market called Mercato Centrale Firenze which has a vegan place called Veg & Veg. Another night I walked by a place called The Grove which had cheap pizza, the best one I had on my whole trip, and a beautiful hidden garden in the back of the restaurant.
Florence was quaint and much smaller than Rome, I missed the energy of the big city but it was the perfect place to recharge before Paris…(blog post coming soon)