THE BIGGEST MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE WHEN PLANNING A TRIP TO ITALY (AND HOW TO AVOID IT) 29/08/2017
The main problem for anyone planning a trip to Italy is that it’s impossible to see everything you want in one trip! This leads to the biggest travel planning mistake that most people make in Italy: They try to see too many things in too short a time. We hate to be the bearers of bad news but overloading your itinerary is a recipe for stress.
We understand why you do it and we sympathize, but let us repeat: rushing your Italian vacation is a surefire way to ruin it. Luckily, the solution is easier than you think: narrow down your focus and divide your time accordingly.
The rhythm of any trip to Italy, that is, how long you spend seeing what you came to see and experiencing what you came to experience, is just as important as what you see and experience. In fact, you could simply book a trip to Rome and spend two weeks hanging out there without ever getting bored. In order to help you get an idea of how to budget your time in some of Italy’s most popular regions, we have written three sample itineraries. After many years of traveling in Italy and interacting with other travelers, we have honed the rhythm of these itineraries to perfection. Feel free to crib them as is, or use them as a base to create your own custom itinerary. In this case, the where isn’t important; it’s the when that matters. As always, we’ll be waiting in the comments sections for anyone with questions.
The Major Cities Trip
Italy has more major tourist cities than most countries. Of course, the capital is a must, but cities like Florence and Venice are big draws and, honestly, must-sees. This sample itinerary is perfect for the first-time visitor who wants to “see all of Italy” but can’t choose between zones. It gives a great overview of the most historically significant parts of the country. As a bonus, it will also help you plan where to focus your sightseeing during your return trip to Italy.
The Major Cities trip is a great introduction to Italy for those who want to see the most famous art and architecture in the country. It includes the Colosseum, the Duomos of Milan and Florence, and the canals along St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. To avoid packing in too much, we budget a minimum of two weeks to travel Italy. If you have anything less than that you should take a more leisurely trip (see below).
Rome: 4 days
Florence: 3 days
Venice: 3 days
Milan: 4 days
For anything less than two weeks you can make the following amendments:
10 days: Cut one city entirely or one day from Rome and one day from Florence. But don’t cut more than one day from each city.
One week: Cut a city. Rome and Florence have the most to offer the majority of visitors to Italy so they should probably remain on your itinerary. Choosing between Venice and Milan depends on the time of year and what you are looking for. Venice has more tourism draws like the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and of course, all those canals. However, it is also packed with tourists in the high season. Milan is not as pretty and has fewer attractions but it’s cheaper, less crowded, and has better food. If going in the summer we would recommend Milan. On the other hand, an autumn or winter trip to Italy would have us favoring Venice.
5 days: Choose one of the major cities that you are dying to see and stay there. Seriously, one is enough. even in a city as small as Venice you will have more than enough to keep you occupied as long as you take your time and really immerse yourself.
Insiders’ tips: When you plan your trip to Italy, consider no fewer than 3 days in Rome. As both the ancient and modern capital of Italy, it’s a hub for a lot of things you’re going to want to see. The history, sights and feel of the city can hardly be seen with less time.
Venice can be visited in a day trip, and many people do it that way, but they miss out on the fantastic nightlife, the feel of Venice with fewer tourists, and the beauty of the city by night. If you really can’t give it three days, you should at least try staying for one night. Take the next day to visit the Venetian islands of Burano and Murano.
Know Before You Go: Dedicate all of your time to each major city and don’t stray, there’s no time on this Italian travel plan to visit small towns; plan your travel days in advance: you can book high-speed train tickets between cities at TrenItalia or ItaloTreno; If you have only one week but don’t cut a city, you’re still committing the biggest mistake travelers make in Italy.
For more on getting from one city to another check out our guide to traveling by train in Italy.