Italy

Table of Contents

We tried to plan this trip to include a balance of city art and architecture and natural beauty and walking. We also tried to intersperse locations with intense sightseeing with more relaxed destinations.

I visited Venice and Florence in 1983 when I backpacked around Europe. (I’d also planned on Rome but my itinerary changed en route.) Steve has never been to Italy. With a full month we hope to see a lot and yet not feel rushed. We’ll be taking the train when possible and buses when not and staying centrally in each location so we can maximize walking. 

Days 1-3: Venice

The Plan: I spent a couple of days in Venice in 1983 and I confess I didn’t love Venice. It didn’t smell very good, for one thing. If it were just me I’d probably skip returning here. But Steve hasn’t seen it and I think he should. I thought about only allowing a single full day here but decided with jet lag and potential delays we should play it safe and spend two days. If we have time and inclination, it looks like a day trip to Padua is easy. Or maybe we just wander the city. We did a food tour with Devour in Barcelona and liked it so we’re going to try one here too. 

  • Day 1
    • St. Mark’s Square
    • Doge’s Palace
    • St. Mark’s Basilica
    • Devour Tour
  • Day 2
    • Wandering the city

Days 4-6: The Dolomites

The Plan: I recall the beautiful mountains I saw on the train from Salzburg to Venice in 1983 and want to see them again. This should also be an opportunity to get some walking in. If we get tired of that maybe we’ll hit the museum in Bolzano or take a day trip. We plan to stay in Castelrotto so we’re in the alpine area. I hear Bolzano is not.

  • Hiking
  • Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige?

Days 7-10: Lake Como

The Plan: After seeing the lakes in Star Wars and James Bond I wanted to see them in person. We planned four nights here since it will take most of the first day to get here. We’ll be staying in Bellagio since it’s central and I could find someplace to stay that sounded like us. 

  • Hiking
  • Self-guided ferry tour from Rick Steves’ guide
  • Villa Carlotta

Days 11-14: The Cinque Terre

The Plan: The Cinque Terre looks and sounds beautiful. We picked Monterosso as our base because it should have more tourist infrastructure and is maybe not as steep as others! It sounds like it should be easy to get to the other villages. Once again we’re spending four nights because it will take a while to get here. 

  • Hiking
  • Village hopping
  • Some beach time?

Days 15-19: Florence

The Plan: While I was underwhelmed by Venice, I loved Florence when I was here before. There is a lot to see in Florence and with about four and a half days we hope to fit in all of our must-dos without wearing ourselves out. And that we don’t get worn out by the onslaught of art. If time and inclination allows maybe we’ll take a day trip to a smaller town in the area. 

  • Arrival Day: Duomo and walk
  • Day 1
    • Uffizi Gallery
    • Pitti Palace
  • Day 2
    • Accademia
    • Medici Chapels
  • Day 3
    • Bargello Museum
    • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Day 4
    • Day trip?

Days 20-23: Lecce

The Plan: From Florence to the “Florence of the south.” I wanted a break in the touring frenzy between Florence and Rome, and originally thought about spending three days in Orvieto. Then I realized that by reversing our itinerary for southern Italy we could have that break and end in Rome, for an easier return to the USA.

We don’t have a lot planned for Lecce; this will be more a few days to just “be” and explore spontaneously. 

  • Basilica di Santa Croce
  • Wandering the town
  • Day trips?

Days 24-25: Matera

The Plan: I went back and forth on Matera, whether it was worth spending a couple of days here or not. In the end I decided that we could fit in a couple of nights. 

Getting to and from here won’t be simple. It looks like the bus from Lecce is quickest and cheapest, but it doesn’t leave until afternoon, so we may end up on a train based on schedule. We’ll see as it gets closer. 

  • Cave tour?
  • Wandering the town

Days 26-30: Sorrento

The Plan: Sorrento looks like a good base for day trips to other parts of the area, rather than packing up and moving every day. I don’t know that we’ll fit them all in; it will depend on public transportation and how much hiking/walking we feel up to. 

  • Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods)
  • Pompeii
  • Naples day trip
  • Capri

Days 31-35: Rome

The Plan: So many sights to try to pack into probably too little time! I think we will only be able to take so much of Rome, though, so we’ll do the best we can. We’re staying centrally so it will be easier to get around without public transportation. This will be the last mad rush before we head home. 

We hope to fit in the Vittoriano the day we arrive. The Colosseum is on a 24-hour ticket with the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum so we need to do those together. We’ll do St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums since they’re near each other, along with the Castel Sant’Angelo if we have time. The Pantheon is near where we’re staying. Then we can go the Borghese Gallery if we aren’t satiated with art by then. 

  • Arrival Day: Vittoriano
  • Day 1
    • Colosseum
    • Roman Forum
    • Palatine Hill
    • Capitoline Museums
  • Day 2
    • St. Peter’s Basilica
    • Vatican Museums
    • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Day 3
    • Pantheon
    • Borghese Gallery
    • Trevi Fountain
  • Day 4
    • Gardens, city walks, shopping?