When I started planning the Italy itinerary for 14 days with my family, I realized that this small country packs quite a lot. We wanted to immerse in the history and culture and that meant limiting travels to a few places. It will take a few more trips to cover all that this beautiful country has to offer, but I believe this is a good 2-week Italy Itinerary for a first-time trip. We did the classic Rome-Florence-Venice Itinerary and added Amalfi coast for some R & R.
It was not easy to choose between Cinque Terre and Amalfi coast or drop them entirely for more time to enjoy the Tuscan landscape. Should a day to Milan – Italy’s fashion capital – be squeezed in along with a trip to Lake Como? And we didn’t even venture to southern parts of Italy or Sicily. Or the beautiful mountain range of Dolomites in the northern part.
Italy Itinerary Overview
Florence (3 nights) – Venice (3 nights) – Amalfi (4 nights) – Rome (4 nights)
Train travel to cover the classic Rome – Florence – Venice-Amalfi Itinerary
My daughter enjoys train travel a lot, and car travels not so much. So we took trains connections to all the cities and that worked out well. Even coming from India, I was told that I would find driving and parking to be a nightmare in the cities of Rome, Florence and Venice. Also, that the Amalfi coast would be packed with summer traffic, so we didn’t rent a car at all. Sigh, there went my husband’s dream of driving a Ferrari in Italy!
It was easy enough to check schedule and train fares at Trenitalia website and book online. Fares are quite reasonable if you book 2-3 months in advance. The only thing you need to make a note of is the train station names in Italian – Roma Termini for Rome, Venezia Santa Lucia for Venice, Firenze S. M. Novella for Florence, Napoli for Naples and so on. For a couple of journeys, I found the schedules offered by the competing high-speed Italo more convenient and chose that over Trenitalia. The best thing is to look up both options from point A to point B and then choose.
Look up seat61 website for detailed information on train travel in Italy.
Italy has been high up on my Europe Bucket List and I am so glad to have explored this lovely country with my family.
Day 1: Rome to Florence
We took a flight from Delhi to Rome via Paris and landed at Roma Fiumicino Aeroporto (or Leonardo da Vinci International Airport). Trenitalia runs a train directly from Fiumicino airport to Florence, and that’s what we had booked in advance.
A short taxi drive got us to our cozy 2-bedroom apartment around the corner from Ponte Vecchio (see the Airbnb listing here). It was already late evening by the time we settled in the apartment, we strolled around the area to get our bearings.
Note: In case you are starting your trip at Rome, Leonardo Express is the train that connects Roma Fiumicino airport to Roma Termini station in just 1/2 hour. This train runs every 15 minutes, check the Trenitalia site for more information on Leonardo Express.
Day 2-3: Florence
With a 4-year old child in tow, it was not possible to see either the Uffizi or the Academia. But I wasn’t completely in despair. This city is an open-air museum.
Like Rick Steves says, where else can you stroll the same pedestrian streets walked by Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Botticelli while savoring the world’s best gelato?
We spent 2 days – more like one full day and another evening – strolling the streets and feasting our eyes on the beauty that is Florence. See this post on what to do in Florence. Don’t miss the city’s spectacular Duomo, and if climbing up is your thing to do, climb the 414 steps of the bell tower adjacent to it for panoramic views. But for the best views of the city, head to Piazza Michelangelo. The sunset time is the best to see Ponte Vecchio bridge over the river Arno, and Florence lay before you.
We had left the last day in Florence for a day-trip to see some of the Tuscan landscape. To be honest, one can easily spend a week in this gorgeous area – relaxing, flitting from one lovely town to another, feasting on good wine and food. Alas, we had all of one day and it was memorable.
We had booked this day tour with Chianti Drivers. The trip started with a quick stop at Monteriggioni, a walled town in Tuscany. The views offered of the surrounding Chianti region from here are delightful. Then we spent the afternoon in the beautiful town of Sienna. We also got a chance to stop at a local vineyard and taste some of their produce. We couldn’t have asked for a better stop in the evening than the charming medieval town of San Gimignano.
Day 4 – 6: Venice
There is quite nothing like Venice. Charming in parts. Touristy and overpriced in parts.
When we reached Venezia S. Lucia train station in the evening from Florence, the first sight of the canals was fascinating despite the traffic. We chose to take a private water taxi to reach our hotel – The Westin Europa & Regina – which occupies a marvellous location on the Grand Canal.
And no, Venice is not just for couples. My daughter loved Venice, she couldn’t get enough of walking over bridges and looking out at all the gondolas swaying in the canals.
Apart from seeing the top attractions in Venice, you must keep some time in wandering aimlessly. Venice is built for aimless walking and getting lost. A great way to explore Venice is to visit its markets. If you cant take the smell of the fish market, there is the food and veggies market that we visited just to get a local flavour. We went wandering around the city starting with Piazza San Marco and ending at the Rialto market. St. Mark’s Basilica – the most famous of the city’s churches – is not to be missed.
Next day was spent in visiting nearby islands of Murano and Burano. The first visit was to Murano with its famous glass blowing factories. It was mostly empty before lunchtime when we reached. I highly recommend a glass blowing factory tour. The creativity, flair, detail to perfection is mind-boggling. The glass artefacts are expensive for sure, but you can see why they are world famous. Then there is the island of Burano – known for handmade lace, and more colourful and full of tourists.
Day 7-10: Amalfi coast
We took a direct train from Venice to Napoli train station and then a 1.5-hour taxi ride to reach Amalfi. Think coastal mountains plunging into the blue sea in a vertical scene of precipitous crags, sun-kissed villages and forests.
The historic and luxurious Hotel Santa Caterina was to be our base to explore Amalfi coast for the next 3 days. You might prefer Sorrento town as a base that is better connected via ferries to all Amalfi towns or the charming, cliff-hugging town of Positano. But we found Amalfi town perfect, more because of the elegant Santa Caterina.
The trip to Amalfi was to be a break in our sightseeing packed Florence-Venice-Rome Itinerary. The plan was to practice La Dolce Far Niente or ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’.
We spent a lazy afternoon at the photogenic town of Positano. Walk its narrow, steep streets to find little boutiques and cafes. The public bus that we took back to Amalfi was itself an experience. It seemed at a few points that the driver was keen to plunge the bus headlong into the sea, but veered away last minute!
We had kept a full day aside for Capri – a popular day trip destination. I loved Capri – wish we had time to stay overnight here.
One of the top attractions in Capri is the Blue Grotto, but unless you are coming in the off-season, be prepared for 2/3 hours wait at the entrance to see the cave where light reflection causes a gorgeous blue all around. We had limited time on our hands and ended up doing a boat ride around the island. Loved it! A bus ride got us to Anacapri – the more subdued sibling of Capri on the island. We strolled around the town, bought some linen clothes, ate gelato and chilled.
The next morning was a quick visit to Ravello, a bohemian town that sits high in the hills above Amalfi. Do visit the Villa Cimbrone here – this 12th-century villa has delightful gardens with stunning views of the ocean. The evening strolling around the town of Amalfi capped the easy time spent on this delightful coast.
Day 11 – 14: Rome and the Vatican
Rome was the end destination of our 2-week Italy Itinerary. You could choose to keep it in the beginning if jet lag is a big issue. The journey comprised a car ride to Napoli station and further a direct train connection to Roma Termini. An elegant apartment listed on Airbnb in the heart of the city (just 100 m away from Pantheon) suited us well.
The next 2 days were spent taking in the top sights in the city. One full day is needed to see the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill properly. Don’t skimp on time here. We enjoyed this trio and the Capitoline Museums.
It was difficult to get my 4-year-old interested in all the art and architecture in Florence, or in the exhibits at the Capitoline Museums in Rome. But ancient Roman sites are a different story! She really enjoyed the open ruins of Colosseum and Forum.
You cant go to Rome and not visit the Vatican, keep a day aside for this city-state. Even with high expectations and despite the crowds, the opulence, history and the breathtaking art and architecture would leave you speechless.
We spent a day walking around the prominent piazzas of the city, visiting the Pantheon – a 2000-year-old temple – and further to Spanish Steps – a fun place to go to in the evening for people watching.
Do check out these family-friendly Itineraries to other European countries –
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Have you visited Italy? Which is your favourite city or area? Share with us in the comments below.
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