Planning an Italian vacation can set you back un sacco di soldi. But one company has just developed an itinerary that makes it possible to visit 14 of the country’s most popular spots for just $130.
Wanderu, an online platform and app for iOS and Android that’s an easy and cost-effective way to book bus and train travel, has just created a trip that will take you to Rome, Naples, Florence, Pisa, La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Bologna, Venice, Turin and Milan. Travel is done entirely by bus, with most trips taking less than two hours. In addition, since Rome and Milan serve as the starting and ending points and also house two of Italy’s most popular airports, those traveling internationally can snag lower-cost airfares.
Founded six years ago, Wanderu started out as a bus-booking website for those wanting to get around the northeastern United States. Today the company partners with some of the largest ground companies in the world including Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus, Boltbus, Peter Pan Bus Lines and VIA Rail Canada to provide travel to more than 18,000 cities in the United States and Europe. The platform also started incorporating ferry options into the search and soon will be adding flights.
“For this itinerary, we took advantage of two things: the depth of coverage we have throughout Italy thanks to our partnerships with various bus carriers, and the fact that it’s actually really cheap to travel from city to city by bus,” says CEO and co-founder Polina Raygorodskaya. “Our team selected a number of Italian destinations that were most popular among Wanderu users and utilized Wanderu’s unique routing technology to build the most optimal route to visit them all, while keeping travel time as short as possible.”
The shortest trip is 55 minutes from Turin to Milan, while the longest clocks in at five hours and 45 minutes, which gets you from Naples to Florence. “The truth is, however, the situation wouldn’t be much different if you were flying,” she says. “There aren’t direct flights for either the Naples-Florence or the Venice-Turin route, so your travel time by plane would be well over three hours.”
And the best part about the fares is that prices are averages, meaning you might be able to score an even better deal if you book further in advance or travel during non-peak hours. European buses tend to be tricked out much more than their American counterparts, with free WiFi, power outlets, entertainment and sometimes even complimentary meals, and drop-offs usually occur in the heart of the city center.
READ MORE: Planning your first trip to Italy
The Wanderu team created a blog post highlighting must-dos and insider intel, from eating and shopping at Mercato Centrale in Florence, to sipping a flight of suds at sunset with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Arno River as a backdrop. “I highly recommend booking a tour of the Colosseum’s upper level, which only reopened to tourists in 2017 after having been closed for renovations for 40 years,” Raygorodskaya says. “The views from up there are spectacular: you can see the Forum, Palatine Hill and the Arch of Constantine.”
Once you’ve checked Italy off your bucket list, check out some of Wanderu’s other ready-made itineraries on the cheap, like ten of France’s most beautiful cities for under $150 and 15 European capitals for $400. Then get on the bus, Gus.