Italy is one of my favorite countries. I’ve visited many parts of the country and yet there are still so many places I want to discover. To me, Italy is the epitome of the dolce vita. It is the food, the people, the language, the heritage, the charming towns and last but not least the beauty of the landscape. This post covers a 10 day Italy itinerary – the must-see places, especially for first-time visitors. It also covers essential tips on planning a trip to Italy.
If you’ve got only 10 days in Italy available for your epic journey it allows you to visit a couple of fantastic places. And surely this country has so many facets and lovely places to go. Start your Italy adventure in Venice.
Discover the magic of Venice in 3 days
Venice is magic. Allow yourself 3 days in the city of bridges. Immerse in the narrow alleys between hundreds of canals, don’t look on any map but just go with the flow. You will discover beautiful corners, lovely bars, and restaurants and of course, the landmarks of Venice is so famous for.
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region and is also called La Serenissima (Serene Highness). It stretches across a hundred small islands whereas the historic center is pretty small. Venice is a city with so much art and culture and famous for its unique style.
Is it worth visiting Venice despite the crowds? YES. It definitely is. You will find spots overrun by tourists. But you will also find empty alleys and backstreets with much fewer people. That’s where the Venetians go.
I’d recommend staying for two days in the historic center to discover all the beauties it has. Walk over the three main bridges crossing the Grand Canal, Ponte dell’Accademia, Ponte Rialto and Ponte degli Scalzi. Visit St. Mark’s Square in the early morning hours, walk along Riva degli Schiavoni in the evening and don’t miss the view over Venice from the terrace of the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi. If you’re into museums, get your museum pass* and skip the queues.
Skip Murano, but definitely book a day trip to Burano*, the island with the colorful houses.
Where to stay in Venice?
Saturnia Hotel* is a great choice. Located only a 5-minute walk to St. Mark’s Square it scores with an unbelievable breakfast, a rooftop terrace and the friendliest staff. From the train station take the Vaporetto 2 and exit Rialto from where it is a 10-minute walk. From the airport, you will reach the hotel by taking Alilaguna A to S. Angelo. From there, walk 7 minutes to the hotel. The comfortable alternative is a water taxi from the airport which is between 100 and 130 Euros.
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Stop over in Bologna for 1 day
How to get from Venice to Bologna?
The easiest way to get from Venice Santa Lucia to Bologna is by train. The ride takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and the ticket costs approx. 20 Euro per person.
The capital of the region Emilia-Romagna is probably one of the most underrated cities in Italy. And because it is not too crowded, it is perfect for a stopover on your 10 day Italy itinerary.
Bologna is known for its food. There’s a huge market hall with countless food stalls and restaurants where the Bolognese meets their friends for dinner and wine. Osteria della Lanterna is a must if you want to try Tortellini in Brodo – Tortellini in a soup. It tastes like heaven! The main square is perfect for an afternoon espresso and some dolce (pastry). It is a great spot to just enjoy the afternoon sun and watch the scenery.
Piazza Maggiore is a large square surrounded by arcades with cafés and medieval buildings such as the Town Hall, the Neptune Fountain and the Basilica of San Petronio. Among the numerous medieval towers of the city, the two leaning towers of Asinelli and Garisenda are pretty impressive.
History and beauty in Florence for 3 days
How to get from Bologna to Florence?
The train from Bologna to Florence takes only 40 minutes and the tickets are about 30 Euro.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany, one of the most beautiful regions in Italy. The city is famous for its numerous art and architecture masterpieces from the Renaissance.
The Duomo is an impressive building and needless to say it is one of the busiest tourist spots in the city. It is definitely worth booking a guided tour* including the fantastic view from the top that allows skipping the queues.
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge crossing the Arno river. It houses several shops built along the bridge and it spreads all its charm in the evening.
Piazzale Michelangelo is the place to be when the sun sets behind Florence. From there you have an amazing view of the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. It is recommended to be there early to save yourself a free spot for sunset spotting.
If you only have 10 days in Italy, I’d recommend to stroll one day through Florence and enjoy all the culture this city offers. The region around Florence has so many beautiful places to visit.
My recommended option: Take a Rental Car* (I can really recommend this company) and head over to Lucca, a little medieval town close to Pisa. You will find the most scenic drives of Tuscany in the Val d’Orcia region. It is one of my personal favorite areas of the whole country. You will see cypress-lined roads, marvelous sunsets, and charming hilltop towns.
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A must: Rome for 3 days
How to get from Florence to Rome?
From Florence to Rome you can easily take the train. The ride takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours and a ticket is available at approx. 40 – 50 Euro.
The last stop of your 10 day Italy itinerary is the capital of Italy, Rome: A city of ancient history and a countless number of landmarks showing the power of the former Roman Empire. If you’re visiting Rome for the first time, you cannot miss these attractions:
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater and one of the top-rated tourist attractions in Rome. It is beautifully lit in the evening and a great photography spot. A wonderful alternative and a site holding classical concerts in Summer are the Theatre of Marcellus.
The Roman Forum with its ruins from the past should be on your list of sights as well. The Baths of Caracalla is an insider tip and an alternative choice than the Roman Forum.
The Vatican Museum houses around 70.000 pieces of art and the famous Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world, but surely you will pass by during your walks through Rome.
You will most probably also pass by the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna, a beautiful piece of Baroque.
But don’t forget to spend some lazy time strolling through the streets and enjoy an espresso here, a delicious pasta there and a chilled glass of white wine in one of the bars.
Option: A tour to the Amalfi coast*
I know it is so many people’s dream to visit the Amalfi coast. If it is yours too, book this day tour from Rome and visit Pompeii and the villages Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento on the Amalfi coast.
Some things to know when in Italy:
Tourists are popular victims of pickpockets. Keep your money and passport close to your body for example in a money belt and avoid expensive jewelry and accessories. If you wear a purse, sling the strap over your should and neck and keep wear it on the side of the body that is opposite the street to avoid bikers and motorcyclists to snatch your bag.
Yes. Do not forget to validate your train or bus tickets when you hop on the bus or train. You will see a validating machine on the bus or at the platform of the train station. Push the ticket into the slot until you hear the stamp printed on your ticket.
It is not „mandatory“ to tip in Italy. Sometimes you see a service charge on the bill or you will see a note on the menu that a service charge will be added. If a service charge is not added, I personally recommend tip especially if you were happy with the service. The „coperto“ is a different thing. It covers the bread and sometimes olives you get served when you sit down.
Hotels and restaurants most probably accept credit cards. It is recommended to carry some cash with you because small bars, restaurants or shops might not accept cards.
I advise traveling as light as possible. If you take the train or rent a small car, there is not much space for large suitcases. Unless you take a water taxi in Venice, you will have to walk from the train station / Vaporetto to your hotel.
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