Italy 10 Day Itinerary for First Timers
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So, you’ve decided to go to Italy! But, you only have 10 days! There are so many great cities to visit and explore in Italy, so how do you decide where to go and how much time to spend there?! This ten day itinerary will get you in and out in 10 days and hit all of the major points of interest in Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Rome!
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Arrive in Venice. The Venice airport is super easy to navigate and after going through customs they have lots of kiosks to purchase bus tickets to get on to the island. The bus runs often and they have lots of helpful English speaking staff to help you get your ticket validated. The island of Venice is relatively small and completely walk-able. Our bed and breakfast was a 15-20 minute walk from the bus stop/train station and 10 minutes away from all the major sites!
We were lucky enough to arrive in Venice around noon so we had most of the afternoon to wander the streets and visit Rialto Bridge. We even snuck in an afternoon nap!
Explore Venice! Head down to St. Mark’s Square and check out the Basilica and Doge Palace. The Basilica is free to enter but there are museums that cost extra and if you wish to go up to the terrace that also costs extra. I would advise skipping the terrace and pay to go into the St. Mark’s Campanile directly outside of the Basilica instead. It goes up much higher and provides amazing 360 degree views of the island.
If you can, definitely tour Doge’s Palace! They have skip the line tickets you can purchase ahead of time. They’re a bit more expensive but if you’re on a tight time schedule, they’re completely worth it! We were able to see all of these things by midafternoon so we spent the rest of the day walking along the water, admiring the architecture and gondolas!
If you have extra time, head on over to Squero di San Trovaso and have a drink at Osteria Al Squero. It’s a great little place to enjoy a drink outside with locals and watch gondolas being repaired just across the water.
Leave Venice in the morning for Florence! Just under an hour away by train, you’ll feel like you’re in a whole new world. Florence is bustling and full of life! Surrounded by towering buildings, you’ll find gems of ancient architecture around every turn. We arrived in Florence around 10am, dropped our bags at our bed and breakfast and took to the streets! The train station is fairly centralized and it doesn’t take long to reach the waterfront and the heart of Florence.
From our bed and breakfast we went to Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. Uffizi gallery is best known for its statue of David. You can purchase skip the line tickets for this gallery and if you intend to visit, I highly recommend it! When we walked by, the line wrapped around the building!
After crossing Ponte Vecchio Bridge, we walked up to Piazzale Michaelangelo. I highly recommend visiting this spot! It offers a fantastic overlook of the city of Florence! It is a bit of a steep hike but hop on hop off busses make a stop here as well if you’re not up for it.
After taking in the views we hiked down, crossed Ponte alle Grazie Bridge and headed for Scuola del Cuoio, otherwise known as Florence’s School of Leather. It’s tucked away from the main street and currently attached to a church. We were lucky enough to go in the early afternoon on a weekday so we got to see them hard at work!
Leave Venice in the morning for Cinque Terre. Stop in Pisa and spend an hour or the afternoon exploring the Leaning Tower. Pisa will be very busy and a big hot spot for pick pockets so be mindful of your belongings! After visiting Pisa, head back to the station and continue on to La Spezia and Cinque Terre!
We stayed in Vernazza and were able to explore this little town the day we arrived. So we headed north to Monterosso in the morning and hiked up to Punta Mesco. Even on a brisk day in late October, it still got pretty hot so we were glad we hiked it in the morning! On a clear day you can just barely see all five towns! It was truly breathtaking.
We spent a good amount of our day wandering Monterosso before taking the train to Corniglia. We bought a train pass for the day which includes a shuttle that will take you from the train station in Corniglia to the main square. It’s a steep hike with lots of stairs so after hiking Punta Mesco, the shuttle was a welcome relief!
We decided to take the ferry boat to the rest of the towns so we bought a day pass as it also included Porto Venere! They took us from Vernazza to Manarola, Riomaggiore and finally Porto Venere. The ferry offers 1-2 hours in each little town which was perfect for getting a feel for each town. We arrived back in Vernazza around dinner time and were thoroughly exhausted!
Leave Cinque Terre for Rome. If you take one of the early trains in the morning, you’ll arrive in Rome around 12:30pm. We took the rest of the day to visit the Parthenon, Trevi Fountain and the Vatican square.
Tour Rome on a golf cart! This is one of the most fun ways to see the sights of Rome. We opted for a half day tour followed by a guided tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in the afternoon. Because we booked a small golf cart, it ended up being a private tour and our guide took us to a local market at Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese. I had never read a thing about Villa Borghese and it ended up being my favorite stop on the tour! It certainly pays to have a local tour guide!
Then, we spent the afternoon with a guide exploring the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Our guide was very enthusiastic about Roman history and truly enriched our experience.
We opted to spend our last day in Rome exploring a few places our tour guide recommended. If you want to tour all the museums at the Vatican, this would be a great day to do that! We toured St. Johns Basilica which I highly recommend! It’s absolutely gorgeous and free! Then, we took the train to Aqeuduct park. It’s about 40 minutes away by train and it was quite a sight to see!
Leave Rome for home!
This is a pretty packed 10 day itinerary for Italy so you may find yourself having to sacrifice a few things to make it all work. Especially if you intend to visit all of the museums and galleries as they take time and the lines tend to be long any time of year! But, if you’re looking for a way to see the most of Italy on a tight schedule, hopefully this itinerary works for you!