Europe

Two Weeks in Italy: A Sample Itinerary

Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world. My ancestors are from Italy so I feel a different connection with this country than others. The amazing food, the smells, the traditions, the people who remind me of my grandparents. Ahhhh! I just love it there. It probably doesn’t help that I’m a pasta monster.

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I’ve been privileged to visit Italy twice so far in my life. However I can almost guarantee this will become one of my go-to vacation spots when my travel bug slows down and I begin to want familiarity with the countries I’m visiting. On my two trips to Italy I had the opportunity to see a lot of the country. Although I know I haven’t even seen close to all of it, I have a pretty good idea of what I’d recommend to those going for their first time or looking to plan a great adventure there.

These itineraries were inspired by my experiences in Italy as well as my extensive research on how to spend two days in the country. First off, there are two ways you can tackle this country and I’ve based it off the most popular fly-in points—Rome and Milan. Since Rome is almost in the middle of the country you’ll either want to go North to South or vice versa. If you’re flying into Milan you’ll be able to start at the top and make your way down to the South. It’s really up to you and the way you’d like to tackle the country so feel free to move some of the recommended around to fit your route the best.

ITINERARY ONE:

Milan (One day) 

Whether Milan is your starting point or not, I’d recommend that you only visit for a day. Yes, you can definitely stay for longer, however, it’s a city you can conquer with a short amount of time in order to spend more time in other destinations within your two weeks.

Milan is one of Italy’s most grand cities. It’s a centre for fashion, has multiple incredible museums like Pinacoteca di Brera and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (to name a few), and so much more. The focal point of the city is definitely the famous Duomo, a 14th century cathedral that is incredible from the outside, inside and from the rooftop that you can climb too. If you’re looking for how to map out your day in Milan, Delightfully Italy has this great guide. Note that you may want to add some extra time onto Milan if you plan on visiting the beautiful Lake Como. You can also do a day trip to Lake Como from Milan if you want to fit it in but are struggling with time.

Optional Verona: If you are driving or taking the train between destinations you may have the option to stop in Verona on route to Venice. The city of love that was the setting for Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet. If you’re flying, it depends on your interests but I wouldn’t say this is an absolute must-do if you’re short on time.

Venice (Two days) 

Venice is one of the most well-known places in Italy since it’s been the setting for many movies throughout the years. Venice is surrounded by water and is one of the most scenic cities you’ll visit due to the bridges, water taxis and gondolas, combined with the cute Italian architecture. Visit the hub of the city, Piazza San Marco where you’ll find Saint Mark’s Basilica and Palazzo Ducale, take a gondola ride through the canals, take in the views of Rialto Bridge and enjoy the laid back life of this city. Why Go Italy has a great itinerary for how you can spend your two days here that includes all the highlights and more.

Optional Pisa: I wouldn’t recommend you stay in Pisa as there isn’t too much to do there other than see the Leaning Tower, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you have the flexibility to stop via train or car. Alternatively, if you are flying, you can move Pisa to when you are in Florence and do a half-day trip there. I did a tour similar to this with Viator since I was flying between each major destination.


Cinque Terre (Two days)

In my opinion, if you’re going to go anywhere in Italy you NEED to go to Cinque Terre. This place was by far my favourite of all the destinations I visited in Italy to date. I actually did a day trip here from Florence which is always an option if you are short on time, however I would highly recommend you do more than just a day trip. Cinque Terre is a string of five centuries-old villages set on the rugged coastline. This place is actually jaw dropping and each village has so much character. You can choose to hike the trail through all the villages or alternatively there is a train that connects them (or of course you can go by boat). Choose to stay in any five villages but Vernazza makes a great home base (here’s a guide that breaks them down for you).

Insider tip: make sure you try some seafood pasta at Il Casello in Monterosso al Mare. The best meal I had my whole trip!

Note: You can’t fly directly to Cinque Terre. You will have to get there by train or car, or alternatively fly to Genoa, Pisa or Florence.

Florence (Two days)

Many people would argue that two days in Florence isn’t enough but both times I visited Florence I felt like I could cover quite a bit of ground here in just two days. However, Florence does make a good home base for day trips to other places like Cinque Terre (mentioned above) or Tuscany so that is also an option.

Florence is the Renaissance city and is known for it’s architecture. Don’t miss the Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, the famous Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) and of course, Accademia Gallery which houses Michelangelo’s original statue of David. There is a lot to see in Florence and Visit Florence has an excellent guide for how you can spend two days there.

Tuscany (Day trip)

Tuscany is another place that you can spend way more time than one day. In fact, if you are looking for a more laid back vacation, Tuscany can be a excellent destination. However, since this itinerary is trying to show you how to cover the most ground, with the best highlights I’ve only allocated a day trip into Tuscany. With Florence as your home base, head to Tuscany for a day (this means you’ll really be spending three nights in Florence but one of the three days will be in Tuscany). Tuscany is known for its wineries and of course, food. You can pick and choose the wineries you want to visit and do a trip on your own or you can do an organized day trip to get a taste of the beautiful countryside of Tuscany.

Rome (Two days)

Rome is the capital of Italy and an obvious must-do. With nearly 3,000 years of art, architecture and culture on display, you’ll never get tired of exploring the Roman ruins in this city. However, you can easily do Rome in two days and if you aren’t interested in visiting Vatican City then you can even do it in one if you’re trying to extend your stay in other destinations on this list. The notable must-dos are obviously the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. I recently put together a two day itinerary for this city including the Vatican here.

Optional Pompeii: Although I didn’t feel Pompeii was a highlight from my trip, for some people this could be something of great interest. You can do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome however it is a long journey. But if you’re committed to doing this it can be an option instead of the Vatican.

Note: This route could also be done the opposite way around (Rome to Milan). 

ITINERARY TWO:

You’ll notice some things on this itinerary are the same as the itinerary above and that’s because I feel there are some things you absolutely cannot miss in Italy from my experience. The most notable thing in itinerary two is that it skips Venice. The reason for this as Venice is hit and miss for many people. Some people love it, in fact a lot of people love it. However, I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful city but one I feel that is boasted so much as an iconic Italian city that people feel they HAVE to go to. Anyway, pick and choose what you want but here is an alternative itinerary for those who may want to fit in more of the south in their trip.

Rome (Two days)

Rome is the capital of Italy and an obvious must-do. With nearly 3,000 years of art, architecture and culture on display, you’ll never get tired of exploring the Roman ruins in this city. However, you can easily do Rome in two days and if you aren’t interested in visiting Vatican City then you can even do it in one if you’re trying to extend your stay in other destinations on this list. The notable must-dos are obviously the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. I recently put together a two day itinerary for this city including the Vatican here.

Optional Pompeii: Although I didn’t feel Pompeii was a highlight from my trip, for some people this could be something of great interest. You can do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome however it is a long journey. But if you’re committed to doing this it can be an option instead of the Vatican.


Naples (Pass through or stay one day)

Naples was not my favourite city in Italy and probably the only city that felt a little unsafe when the sun went down. It’s one of the poorest cities in Europe, it’s a bit dirty and there isn’t that much to do and see. However it is known as one of the birthplaces of pizza and is a great home base to get to its neighbouring beautiful destinations that steal its thunder (Capri, Amalfi Coast, etc.).

If you do end up with a day in Naples (now that I’ve really sold it to you ;)), you can visit Palazzo Reale (go inside too), eat some of their famous pizza, visit the three castles (Castel Nuovo,Castel dell’Ovo and Castel Sant’Elmo) and for art lovers you need to go to Capodimonte. After seeing Naples, use this as a home base to the below.

Amalfi Coast (One to two days)

If you can, you may want to skip Naples completely and just head to the Amalfi Coast to stay for two days. The Amalfi Coast is a 50km stretch of coastline along Southern Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. It’s a popular spot for romantic getaways or just those looking to have the ocean by their side and gorgeous scenery. The rugged shoreline is lined with small beaches, fishing villages and is truly a sight that’s hard to forget. You can opt for a day trip from Naples, but I’d recommend taking the train or driving to Amalfi and either exploring on your own or staying there for a couple of days if you have the flexibility. Here is a great guide on how to get the most out of the Amalfi Coast and also a sample itinerary for spending two days there.

Capri (One day)

I never made it to Capri but am determined to go back to Italy and visit. Capri is an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples and is famous for its fancy hotels, shopping, fashion and limoncello. You can get to Capri via ferry from either Sorrento (on the Amalfi Coast) or Naples. Arrive bright and early and jam your day with all the beautiful things Capri has to offer. Take a boat trip through the famous Blue Grotto, a sea cave that, with the help of sunlight, makes the seawater a magical blue. Take the chairlift to Monte Solaro, visit the house museum of Swedish writer and physician, Axel Munthe (Villa San Michele). Enjoy the luxury shops on Via Camerelle and of course, the scenic view and rock formations from the island. Check out this itinerary on how to spend a day in beautiful Capri.

 

Milan (One day) 

Whether Milan is your starting point or not, I’d recommend that you only visit for a day. Yes, you can definitely stay for longer, however, it’s a city you can conquer with a short amount of time in order to spend more time in other destinations within your two weeks.

Milan is one of Italy’s most grand cities. It’s a centre for fashion, has multiple incredible museums like Pinacoteca di Brera and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (to name a few), and so much more. The focal point of the city is definitely the famous Duomo, a 14th century cathedral that is incredible from the outside, inside and from the rooftop that you can climb too. If you’re looking for how to map out your day in Milan, Delightfully Italy has this great guide. Note that you may want to add some extra time onto Milan if you plan on visiting the beautiful Lake Como. You can also do a day trip to Lake Como from Milan if you want to fit it in but are struggling with time.

Cinque Terre (Two days)

In my opinion, if you’re going to go anywhere in Italy you NEED to go to Cinque Terre. This place was by far my favourite of all the destinations I visited in Italy to date. I actually did a day trip here from Florence which is always an option if you are short on time, however I would highly recommend you do more than just a day trip. Cinque Terre is a string of five centuries-old villages set on the rugged coastline. This place is actually jaw dropping and each village has so much character. You can choose to hike the trail through all the villages or alternatively there is a train that connects them (or of course you can go by boat). Choose to stay in any five villages but Vernazza makes a great home base (here’s a guide that breaks them down for you).

Insider tip: make sure you try some seafood pasta at Il Casello in Monterosso al Mare. The best meal I had my whole trip!

Note: You can’t fly directly to Cinque Terre. You will have to get there by train or car, or alternatively fly to Genoa, Pisa or Florence.

Florence (Two days)

Many people would argue that two days in Florence isn’t enough but both times I visited Florence I felt like I could cover quite a bit of ground here in just two days. However, Florence does make a good home base for day trips to other places like Cinque Terre (mentioned above) or Tuscany so that is also an option.

Florence is the Renaissance city and is known for it’s architecture. Don’t miss the Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, the famous Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) and of course, Accademia Gallery which houses Michelangelo’s original statue of David. There is a lot to see in Florence and Visit Florence has an excellent guide for how you can spend two days there.

Tuscany (Day trip)

Tuscany is another place that you can spend way more time than one day. In fact, if you are looking for a more laid back vacation, Tuscany can be a excellent destination. However, since this itinerary is trying to show you how to cover the most ground, with the best highlights I’ve only allocated a day trip into Tuscany. With Florence as your home base, head to Tuscany for a day (this means you’ll really be spending three nights in Florence but one of the three days will be in Tuscany). Tuscany is known for its wineries and of course, food. You can pick and choose the wineries you want to visit and do a trip on your own or you can do an organized day trip to get a taste of the beautiful countryside of Tuscany.

Note: This route could also be done from Milan -> Cinque Terre -> Florence -> Tuscany -> Rome -> Naples -> Amalfi Coast and/or Capri 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster
    April 19, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Great itinerary! I did something similar to this back in college for a school trip. Pompeii is totally worth it! And Tuscany! Swoon… I could go back there in a heartbeat. 🙂

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