Italy is one of those magical places you could never see all of in an entire lifetime. Our first trip was 5 years ago and we knew we would be coming back again and again. During that trip we made sure to see every historical landmark, ruin, and museum we’d only ever seen in movies. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, neither can you visit it. I definitely recommend seeing as much of the ruins as you can, visiting The Vatican, and checking off every famous fountain and piazza as possible. It can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
This go around we focused on some smaller places. We wanted to avoid as much of the touristy crowd (as is reasonably possible) and feel a little more “local.” We went back to three cities we love – Manarola in the Cinque Terre, Florence and Venice – and still managed to see some things we wanted to check off that proverbial bucket list (The Last Supper, anyone?). Total time was 17 days, but 2 of those are spent traveling leaving you with 15 days on the ground.
Day 1 – depart home, “travel day”
Day 2 – Cinque Terre
Day 3 – Cinque Terre; Beach day in Bonassola
Day 4 – Cinque Terre; Day trip to Portofino and Santa Margherita
Day 5 – Cinque Terre; Day trip to Portovenere
Day 6 – Cinque Terre
Day 7 – Florence
Day 8 – Florence; Day trip to Sienna
Day 9 – Florence; Wine tour to Chianti and San Gimignano
Day 10 – Florence
Day 11 – Florence
Day 12 – Bologna
Day 13 – Bologna; Culinary tour outside the city
Day 14 – Bologna – Day trip to Padua and afternoon/evening in Venice
Day 15 – Milan
Day 16 – Milan
Day 17 – depart, “travel day”
As you can see, we love day tripping. It’s a great way to squeeze in more on your trip and sometimes a nice change to the larger city you’re staying in. All of these day trips were easily accessible by train and boat.
I do enjoy being in one hotel for several days at a time because although I try to pack as light as possible, lugging a bag around can be uncomfortable. Plus, if you stay in smaller locally-owned hotels, apartments, and B&B’s like we prefer to do, you’ll have more time to get to know the owners. Everyone we meet this way is so welcoming and eager to share the lesser-known spots that make their city exceptional. Below is the list of establishments we stayed in for this trip that I would definitely recommend. It is a mix of hotel, apartment, and B&B.
Manarola, Cinque Terre – ArbaSpaa Mediterraneo 1 Apartment – Things we loved: incredible views of both sea and hillside, private terrace, modern kitchen and bath; perfect spot for watching sunsets and sipping vino.
Florence – Stanze del David Place Bed & Breakfast – Things we loved: beautiful view of Giotto’s Bell Tower, daily stocked mini-bar, extra large shower and bath, and extremely courteous and helpful staff.
Bologna – Bologna Nel Cuore Apartment Topazio – Things we loved: spacious, comfortable, modern and clean, full kitchen, fun and funky decor, plenty of closet space for bags and clothes, location within easy walking distance to main piazza and restaurants, kind and helpful owner.
Milan – Hotel Gran Duca di York Superior Room with Balcony – Things we loved: private terrace for your own aperitivo hour; great location; daily breakfast included; helpful and friendly staff.
There are many options available to you at many different price points. Definitely check out Trip Advisor and read many online reviews before booking.
Two Weeks in Italy: A Sample Itinerary first appeared on Cathedrals & Cafes.