Here we go…Italy in one week. How can you fit it all in? You probably can’t realistically, but you can get the highlights to plan your return trip. Italy is about two times the size of Florida, so try to pick a few cities to make traveling easier during your week stay. Between the pasta, romance, gondolas, and wine you are set to have a fabulous trip, if it is only one week.
I’ll preface this post by saying if you have more than a week to spend in Italy, then you should. However, I understand with work/life that a two-week vacation is hard to come by. I will also give a shout out to Scott’s Cheap Flights, because they currently have flights from Atlanta to Rome for $500 during select dates between now and March 2019.
Eat the cake, buy the shoes, and book your trip to Italia. I’ve gathered information about some of the highlights to help you start planning your Italy itinerary.
Rome – 3 Nights
Rome is one of the most important cities in the world. My husband and I touched multiple buildings that were built before Christ. That is something special we will never forget. It is not a city to rush through. You can actually spend your entire week in Rome if you wanted.
Here is a great place to stay while in Rome. Hotel Cortina – we recommend apartment B for a great terrace overlooking the city.
Places to Visit in Rome
The Colosseum – The Colosseum is one of the most recognizable historical landmarks in the world, and it takes your breath away when you see it in person. Admire the architecture and learn about the history of the gladiators. Make sure to book your tour before arriving to Rome. The lines are long, and you are short on time. The exclusive tour of the underground Colosseum is a necessity.
Pantheon – This is the before Christ building I was talking about. It was the largest dome structure in the world until the 15th century. There are so many great shops and restaurants around the Pantheon. The best ice-cream in the city is right across the cobblestone street. I don’t recommend taking ice-cream into the Pantheon, but it is a tasty treat after you place your hand on a structure built in the B.C. time frame.
Roman Forum – You can find the forum next to the Colosseum. Back in the day (like way back in the day) Politics, religion, and commerce all converged here. Most of the Colosseum tours conclude with a Roman Forum tour. This is a great way to knock two things out in one tour! Plus, it is a money saver.
Vatican City –This is the home of the Catholic Church and the massive Vatican museums. You will find the Sistine Chapel here, and it is not to be missed. I remember telling my husband while looking up at the Sistine Chapel that this is something we will tell our grand kids about one day. Truly breathtaking.
Spanish Steps – You want your picture taken here, folks. Rest your feet after a long day of walking, or post the best Instagram photo from Italy on these historic steps. Grab a water bottle and fill it up at one of the nearby fountains. Rome is filled with free delicious water on every corner thanks to their many fountains.
Trevi Fountain – Don’t forget to throw a penny in the Trevi! The tale goes that if you throw a penny behind your back into the fountain, then you will return to Rome in the future. This is the busiest fountain in the city. The best part about throwing your penny in the fountain is that the city donates all of the money to charity.
Piazza Venezia – This is Rome’s largest round a-bout. On one side you can look down Rome’s longest street and see the northern gates of the city. From another angle, you can see the Imperial Forum which leads the way to the Colosseum. Take a different road and you’ll end up in the Jewish Ghetto, on your way to Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood and last but not least, towering over the piazza, is the un-missable marble monument: The Vittoriano (i.e. The Wedding Cake).
Carbs, Carbs, Carbs – This is my one note about food in Rome…you can’t go wrong. Pick a place, and I promise the pasta will be good, and the wine will be even better. Enjoy!
This doesn’t even come close to all you can explore in Rome! There are plenty of museums and other attractions you can do throughout the city. Visit the main highlights. Sights like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican City cannot be missed while in Rome. You can pick and choose your itinerary to best fit your interests. Throw your coin in the Trevi, so you can visit Rome again to see the things you missed!
Florence – 2 Nights
Florence is in the center between Venice and Rome. It makes for a quick train ride from Rome to Florence before ending your trip in Venice.
Florence was once the center of the Renaissance period, but today it is a city that is booming with art galleries. It is also a good stop if you want to visit Tuscany for the day. You can always visit Tuscany and skip Venice.
I recommend staying at the Hotel Spadai. Great continental breakfast to go along with a beautiful room.
Places to See in Florence
Duomo, Florence’s Cathedral – The famous cathedral dome dominates the skyline of Florence. Plus, the architecture is stunning close up.
Uffizi Gallery – If you love art, then this is your place. Book your ticket in advance, because lines are long. You will find famous Italian paintings here, and can spend an entire day getting lost in the gallery. Not to be missed while in Florence.
Piazza della Signoria – Bring your gelato here! There are great restaurants and gelato huts in the piazza. You can also find beautiful street art here. Great for people watching too.
Postcard View from Piazzale Michelangelo – The view from here is why you travel. You will not need to purchase postcards with this photo. It gives you the perfect view of Florence, with the mountains in the background. It is beautiful. You can take a bus up the hill, and walk down if you like.
Leather Markets – This is where you should get your leather bags, ladies. Italy is known for their fine leather. You will find many leather markets in Florence. Take advantage of the great prices, and bring home something nice to remember your time in Florence.
Venice – 2 Nights
You can see Venice in a day if you exhaust yourself, but Venice is perfect for exploring and strolling at a light pace. The romance and gondolas will get you every time.
I recommend staying at the Hotel Antico Doge. It is beautiful and you can see the gondolas and canal from your room. I do recommend a higher floor, so you can see the gondolas, but the people in them can’t see you.
Places to See in Venice
Saint Mark’s Basilica – This beautiful church sits on the popular piazza by the same name, also referred to as Saint Mark’s square. You will find four large bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of mosaics to the Pala d’Oro. If you look closely at the church’s center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with a lion that has wings, this is Venice’s notable emblem.
Saint Mark’s Square – Hop out of the Basilica to explore the square. Have dinner on the square at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water.
Canal Grande – You can find a canal on every corner while in Venice, but the Canal Grande is not like any other canal in the city. This monumental canal is more like a river and it passes from one side of Venice to the other. If you book a gondola ride, you can request a Canal Grande route. You can also walk along the buildings of the Canal Grande by foot as well.
Rialto Bridge – the Ponte di Rialto is the most famous bridge in Venice. It also connects you to many shops within Venice. Prior to the 1500s it was a wooden bridge. They redesigned it with stone after it collapsed.
Venice Lido – If you like to relax, then this is the beach for you. Reese Witherspoon (my fave) just recently took her gal pals on a vacation here. This separate island creates a barrier between Venice and the Adriatic Sea and features stunning beaches that can’t be missed. The streets of Venice are busy. If you want a quiet spot, then visit Lido.
Doges Palace – The palace looks out at the grand canal. Inside the palace, you will find original murals and artwork. They have private tours available for families, but the times are sporadic throughout the day. You can also purchase tickets online. Most tours of Saint Mark’s Square will include Doges Palace.
San Marco Campanile – The campanile is the tallest structure in Venice. Throughout the years, the tower has been damaged by fire, earthquakes and even lightening. Admire the tower from the Piazza di San Marco, but also take the elevator up to the top for possibly the best panoramic views of Venice.
While in Venice, you can’t miss a gondola ride through the city’s canals. It is worth every penny. You also can’t miss the gelato on every corner (calories don’t count on vacay!). Don’t forget to grab Italy’s favorite drink, the Spritz, while checking out the beautiful waters from a restaurant on a canal.
These are some highlights to help you plan your trip to Italia! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Remember you can’t see it all, but you can see the highlights.
This short trip will have you itching to return to finish up the places you missed.