Italy Day 14 (9 Dec 22) – Conclusion to our Maiden Trip to Italy and Bonus Trip to Istanbul, Türkiye

Conclusion to our Italian Trip

Today marks the conclusion of our maiden trip to Italy and my first-ever trip to Europe. We dreaded the arrival of this day, as we had such great fun in Italy. We started our trip not knowing what to expect in Italy and how it will turn out. We were initially quite worried about our trip as we heard a lot about the pickpockets in major cities, the flooding in Venice and the scammers in Rome. As we travelled throughout the country, we came to release the country was very safe, and our worries were unfounded. We thought the Italians were cold initially, but they were very friendly and helpful once we chatted with them. The travels between cities were easy and efficient, thanks to the high-speed rail infrastructure. Looking back, I thought we could spend one more day in Milan, as we only had essentially half a day in Milan. There is more to see and do in Milan that cannot be covered in half a day. We could also cater more time for shopping. I only catered one day for shopping, thinking The Mall Firenze could satisfy our shopping needs, but it turned out The Mall was disappointing. As a result, we had to forego some sights in our plan. We had some fun experiences during the trip, climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, scaling up the dome of St Peter’s Basilica, getting lost in Venice, climbing up Mt Etna, etc. A summary of our 13-day journey through Italy:

  • Day 1: Milan – Arrival at Milan, Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Day 2: Milan – Lake Como (Verona, Bellagio, Como), Naviglio Grande
  • Day 3: Venice – Venice City on foot
  • Day 4: Venice & Florence – San Marco Campanile, San Giorgio Maggiore, Burano; Florence City at night (Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio)
  • Day 5: Florence – Shopping at The Mall Firenze
  • Day 6: Pisa – Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pisa Cathedral
  • Day 7: Florence & Rome – David in Galleria dell’Accademia, Duomo, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon
  • Day 8: Rome – Colosseum and Palatine Hills
  • Day 9: Naples – Pompeii, Sorrento
  • Day 10: Vatican City – St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
  • Day 11: Catania – Roman Amphitheater, Duomo,
  • Day 12: Agrigento – Valley of Temples
  • Day 13: Catania – Mt Etna
  • Day 14: Departure
Recap of our journey through Italy

Arrival at Istanbul

Our flight out of Catania to Istanbul was scheduled for 9.10 am. We left for the airport at 6 am, as we needed sufficient time to validate the tax-free purchases we had made for the past 13 days in Italy. We headed for the tax-free counter the first thing we arrived at Catania airport, located at the right corner of the airport terminal from the entrance in a very inconspicuous corner. After validating our tax forms, we proceeded to the airline counter to check in. Looking at the time, we still have some time left to enjoy a light bite at the airline lounge. Our flight finally took off at 10.20 am (some delays due to overbooking), and we landed in Istanbul at around 3 pm local time. Our plan today was to join the free tour that would bring us to some of the famous sights in Istanbul provided by Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines offered several tours in the city throughout the day (you can refer here for the Touristanbul schedules and itineraries) with different tour itineraries. However, I misread the timing, and we ended up taking only the shopping tour.

The airport bus is arriving.

Last look at Mt Etna from Catania airport

We have a light breakfast at the lounge in Catania airport

My friends on the jetbridge to our flight
We are the only passengers in the cabin

Shopping in Galataport, Istanbul

To register for the tour, we cleared immigration and looked for the Turkish Airline’s “Hotel Desk” counter. The way to the immigration was a tad far, and we had to ask the airport staff for directions to the immigration (it is not easy to find from the airside area) and then to the Hotel Desk counter to register for the complimentary tour provided by Turkish Airlines. Our tour begins with a Turkish dinner at a restaurant (paid for by Turkish Airlines). The food was delicious, and the meat served was tender. After dinner, we were driven to Galataport for the shopping trip. Galataport is a coastal, open-air shopping mall situated next to the Bosporus sea on the Europe side of the city. There weren’t many shops at the shopping mall selling goods. I estimated about 70% of the shops are restaurants. We spent the 1 hr allocated for shopping and walking along the coastline for the night Istanbul views of the Bosporus Sea. I’d say the shopping tour was a tad boring. I wouldn’t recommend the shopping tour as there was nothing at the mall to shop for. After the tour, we were driven back to the airport, where we took a shower and got ready for our flight home. Our flight departed Istanbul at 1.55 am, marking the end of our trip to Italy.

The Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk, where we booked our complimentary tour of Istanbul
The Hotel Desk in Istanbul is very difficult to find

My friend just got off the bus.

The shopping options at Galataport are very limited

Wefie at Singapore Changi Airport

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