I had a dream the other night that I was floating down a marinara river in a pasta boat, in search of gelato. It's safe to say I ate my way (deliciously) through Italy. This is only my second time to Italy (you can see my northern Italy trip here) but I know that I'll be back again and again, even if it's just for the cheap and decadent ice cream. I am SO glad we planned out the trip the way we did. There is so much to see and do in just 10 days, but leaving Venice for last was the perfect way to say “ciao” to Italy. I think 10 days was the perfect itinerary to really see and do most of Rome, Florence, and Venice, so hope this post helps you plan.
Below you can find a map of all the places discussed in this post:
A note about my itineraries: these are outlines of our journey, what to do, see, and eat. I do plan on writing more in-depth posts about our travel, but for now, I'm giving you a full outline of the trip. A quick disclaimer: Michael and I tend to go HARD when traveling. That means we try to see EVERYTHING and then some. Some of our travels might seem a little crazy, but I just want to show that it is doable to see it all!
10 Italy Itinerary: Rome, Florence, Venice
Day 1: Rome
We boarded a train early from Heidelberg, Germany to Stuttgart, Germany. There's a large airport there (both Frankfurt and Stuttgart) so it made sense. We flew EasyJet from Stuttgart to Rome in an hour and some change time. I still can't get over how short the flight was. I actually couldn't stop giggling about it. I am so used to flying 9+ hours from Dallas to Europe, it was such a treat for such a short flight. Of course, if you're flying into Italy from anywhere else, Rome is a great pick. It's a big airport with flexible flights. There are two airports, Leonardo da Vinci, which most flights come in to and Ciampino Airport. I think you'll find your flight flies into Leonardo Da Vinci.
From there, we took the train (the Leonardo Express) on a short trek over to our hotel. That night, we did a walking tour to get familiar with the city- HIGHLY recommend! We started with the Spanish steps and walked all around from Bernini's fountains to designer shops to the Sant'Andrea della Valle Church and ended with the Trevi fountains lit up at night. We used New Rome Free tour (and booked in advance), but there are many to choose from. Find one you like, and don't forget some Euros to tip!
Day 2: Rome
The next day we had reserved tickets to the Colosseum at 10am. Since we had some time we went and walked around the Trevi fountain during the day (recommend getting there early to avoid crowds), see the Pantheon, and go to the Piazza Navona.
Next, we headed over to the Colosseum. The story here is a bit crazy (our tickets were never sent to us and we had to sweet talk the guard to let us go to the reservation desk and skip the HUGE line) but make sure you reserve in advance. The line was literally HOURS long. We just wouldn't have gone inside with a line like that. So skip it, and book in advance. We booked on the official site and also did a 45 minute tour (additional charge).
After the Colosseum we had lunch, walked the Roman Forum, then went to the Capitoline Museum. Your ticket into the Colosseum is also good for the Forum – so don't pay twice! The Capitoline museum was so wonderful and I think it's one of the best in Rome.
We were pretty tired from walking all day, but we didn't stop there. We broke for some gelato (gelato fuel as we call it) then headed to the crypts! Located in Santa Maria Della Concezione dei Cappuccini (say that 3 times fast) and it was one of the strangest things I've ever seen. They literally took the bones and made it into sculptures, things like heart shapes and wall hangings.
Day 3: Vatican/ Rome
How weird is it that the Vatican is it's own country? Very weird. We got up early (thankfully) and saw St. Peter's and climbed to the top of the dome for a view.
With our pre-booked tickets, we toured the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel and waved to Michaelangelo. I can't stress enough how little we waited in line. We talked to people that waited 3-4 HOURS! We saw everything in that time and made our way over to another part of Rome: Trastevere.
P.S. here's how to avoid lines and people while traveling (a must read if you ask me!)
Travestevere is a lovely, tucked away section in Rome that's a far cry from the bustling streets of what you typically see. We strolled the Botanical gardens, popped into some churches, and ate dinner there. Okay, so we had a gelato too. That might be a theme here.
Day 4: Rome
We spent our last day in Rome exploring and walking the city as much as possible. Since, clearly, we hadn't walked enough the previous days. We boarded a very crowded bus over to the incredibly lovely Borghese Museum where we took a tour. Again, you MUST book this in advance. In fact, they weren't allowing any one else in until the following day. Can't stress how important it is to plan ahead!
From the museum, we walked the gardens down to Campo de' Fiori – a market where they sell flowers, pasta, spices, fruits, vegetables and more. We brought home some black pasta (my fave) and sun dried tomatoes. Our last supper was at an INCREDIBLE restaurant called Ditirambo. Kind of pricey but highly recommend.
We had a few hours to kill before our train to Florence, so we went to the Roman Baths. We took a high speed train (out of Roma Termini) from Rome to Florence.
Day 5: Florence
We had a fun day planned in Firenze. I got to go on my first AirBnB “experience” where we learned Florentine cooking and saw a private opera, more on that in a different post! We started with an “Italian” breakfast – a croissant and a cappuccino. Michael and I bought Firenze cards – really recommend. They are pricey, but they give you access to all museums, cathedrals, AND most importantly, you get to skip the line.
Our first day we toured the incredible Duomo and Baptistry. I can't put into words how beautiful this architecture is. Then walked up the bell tower for a view. For lunch we ate the well known “lampredotto” sandwich – cheap and delicious – find it at food stands. Toured the Duomo museum, the Galileo Museum, then went to a private opera that night. I told you, we pack it in.
Day 6: Florence
The early part of the day was spent learning how to cook a true Italian meal. We made our own pasta, with asparagus, chicken, and tiramisu.
After lunch, we went back to the Duomo to climb the highest peak in the city: the Cupola. This is where you can get an epic view of the city.
We spent the night strolling around Florence, eating gelato, and having pizza. It was just lovely.
Day 7: Florence
We got up early and were ready to hit up one of the world's most famous museums: Uffuzi. The line stretched clear around the block, but we had our Firenze card and skipped the line. It was so cool to see all the artists you've heard about or studied over time all in one place. Michaelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and dozens more. The museum is HUGE so be prepared to spend a few hours there.
After the museum, we went to Mercato Central for a late lunch. This is a great place to mingle with the locals and get a well priced meal.
That night we went up to the Michaelangelo Piazza to get a view of the city and catch the sunset. On the way down we strolled through the shops on the Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace.
Day 8: Florence/Pisa
We took a day trip out of Florence, a quick train ride to Pisa. It's very inexpensive and easy to take the train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Pisa Central Station. It's only about an hour ride. From the station, we walked over to see the main attraction: the leaning tower.
And it really does lean! We toured the museum, walked the grounds, and had a picnic in the lush green grass.
We had a few hours left in Florence, so we headed back and I bought a new leather purse in the market and we ate more… pasta. When in Rome. Err Florence.
Day 9: Venice
Our itinerary for Venice was a little more flexible. It's a little less hustle and bustle than Rome and Florence so I was glad we saved this for last. We spent the morning walking the streets and canals, then we took the bus (it's a water bus) to Saint Mark's Square and Basilica. This was a great way to see a lot of the major sites along the way on the Grand Canal.
My mouth dropped open to see the 45,000 FEET of mosaics inside the church. This church is so cool, a kind of a mash of cultures and architecture from around the world.
We then went to the Palazzo Ducale (aka the Doge's Palace) museum (it's $20 a person, which to me is just too much money) and saw the largest oil paintings in the world. We also crossed the Bridge of Sighs – aptly named for those who sighed one last time as they got a view of Venice, then were locked up.
We walked back from there all the way to where we started (at the bus stop) and walked the Rialto Bridge for some shopping and sunset views.
Day 10: Venice
Having seen most of the sites in Venice, we took some easy day trips to small towns nearby: Burano and Murano. We bought a day ticket (20 euro each) and it was easy to see these towns in a day. First up the candy colored town of Burano. I have never seen an entire town so multicolored in my life. It was awesome.
Then we headed to Murano where they are famously known for exquisite glass pieces and art. We stopped for lunch then headed back to Venice. I still can't get over this city was built from scratch on water 1,000s of years ago. It just seems unreal and walking the streets feels like a fairy tale. So that's what we did: we walked and ate gelato and got lost.
Pro tip: Italy is known for pick pockets. I had a lock on my backpack (see that blue lock on the side in the picture above?!) and Michael wore a money belt. Here is a list of what I carry while traveling.
We left the next day on a flight back home.
Whew! There you have it. 10 epic days in Italy. I really think was one of my favorite trips and I hope I keep dreaming about pasta. Those are good dreams after all.