Make the most of your time in Italy with this 11-day journey through the highlights of the country. Stroll through cobblestone streets in Florence and sip on Chianti wine before discovering the enchanting, colorful villages of Cinque Terre. Immerse yourself in the history of Rome at the Colosseum and travel back in time discovering the ruins of Pompeii. Finish off your travels relaxing on the Amalfi Coast, dining on fresh seafood and limoncello. 

Highlights

  • Tour Florence's beautiful medieval piazzas & cathedrals
  • Discover the rugged nature and medieval villages of the Cinque Terre
  • Soak in the tradition and culture as you see Rome's top cultural sites
  • Spend time enjoying sunshine, fresh seafood, and medieval villages on the Amalfi Coast
  • Escape to the island of Capri, playground for ancient Romans

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome, Travel to Florence Florence
Day 2 Florence Self-Guided City Tour Florence
Day 3 Day Trip to Cinque Terre Florence
Day 4 From Florence to Rome Rome
Day 5 Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum Rome
Day 6 Self-Guided Vatican City Visit Rome
Day 7 Rome to the Amalfi Coast - Pompeii en Route Amalfi Coast
Day 8 Capri Day Trip Amalfi Coast
Day 9 Vespa Tour of the Amalfi Coast Amalfi Coast
Day 10 Free Day on the Amalfi Coast Amalfi Coast
Day 11 Depart Naples  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rome, Travel to Florence

Florence Duomo
Florence Duomo

Welcome to Italy! Arrive in one of Rome's two international airports, then transfer to the train station for a 1.5-hour ride on the high-speed train en route to Florence. Once in the city, transfer to the city center to check in to your hotel. If there's time after you arrive, head out to explore the city on your own. 

Florence is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, including the iconic Duomo, a terracotta-tiled dome, and the Galleria dell'Accademia, which displays Michelangelo's 'David' sculpture. Make the most of this first day at some of these spots:

  • Head to Studio Artemisia, located steps away from the Ponte Vecchio, for a class in ancient fresco painting techniques.
  • Take a walk through the peaceful Boboli Gardens to see the oval-shaped Isolotto, a small island surrounded by various sculptures and lots of greenery. 

In the evening, stroll around the historic L-shaped Piazza della Signoria, located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, for some people watching, dinner, and drinks in the hip Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood.

Day 2: Florence Self-Guided City Tour

Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site
Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site

Spend the day strolling the streets of Florence and exploring this incredible city with a self-guided itinerary. All together, the route is just a couple of miles, but if you take your time to enjoy the sites along the way, you'll find it to be a full-day experience.

Start your day at the iconic Duomo, the earlier the better! Also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s Duomo is the third-largest church in the world. Entrance into the main sanctuary is free, but keep in mind there is a modesty dress code. There is often a line to get in, so give yourself an hour to properly visit this iconic spot. 

From there, make the 5-minute walk over to the Mercato Centrale, on the second floor of the San Lorenzo market. There, you'll be able to stroll through the stalls of local goods and grab a morning coffee to start your day.  Give yourself an hour or two to soak in the sights and smells, and to buy some traditional leather goods as souvenirs. After, the nearby Piazza della Republica is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere and architecture of Florence's city center. 

Take a moment to pass through the Piazza della Signoria, where replicas of famous statues, including that of Michelangelo's David, line the square. These works of art give the piazza an incomparable air of elegance- soak it in before stopping for lunch nearby.

Across this same piazza, you'll find the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery. Even if you decide not to peruse the expansive art collection, you can cross through its famed courtyard, Piazzale degli Uffizi, to make your way to the Ponte Vecchio. This famed bridge is now dotted with jewelry shops and is an iconic sight in Florence's cityscape. Cross the bridge, stopping to admire the views along the Arno River that passes quietly underneath. 

End your day with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a bit of an uphill climb or a quick taxi ride away. This spectacular viewpoint offers an incredible view of all of Florence and is the perfect place to watch the sunset before you head over to Piazza Santo Spirito for some pre-dinner aperitivos. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Cinque Terre

Town of Manarola
Town of Manarola

In the morning, depart for a full day on the Cinque Terre, a section of the Italian coast famous for its medieval villages, stunning cliffs, and beautiful hiking trails. 

Start in Riomaggiore, one of the five villages that make up the stunning Cinque Terre region. Walk along the beautiful Via dell' Amore (Lover's Pathway) to enjoy views of the coastline and sea. Unfortunately, due to landslides, part of this path is closed to the public. However, the views along the cliffs are still exhilaratingly beautiful and definitely worth the walk. 

From here, continue to the town of Monterosso al Mare for some free time. The city's medieval center remains nearly perfectly preserved, with its ancient tower-houses and network of carrugi (narrow alleyways that lead from the sea to the cliffs above the town). Monterosso is also renowned for having the best gelato on the Cinque Terre (make sure to try some!) as well as breathtaking views of the sea. 

From here, head up the coast to the town of Vernazza, a small resort town located at the mouth of a river, naturally protected from wild sea swells by a rocky promontory. This natural wave break protects the harbor, making it the only major docking point in the Cinque Terre. Enjoy lunch on your own time as you explore the local cuisine and savor regional delicacies. 

After the day's sightseeing, follow your nose to the neighborhood bakery to sample the local focaccia with pesto for a delicious snack you won't find anywhere else. Buon Appetito! 

In the afternoon, transfer back to Florence.

Day 4: From Florence to Rome

Ancient Roman ruins at sunrise
Ancient Roman ruins at sunrise

After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to the city of Florence and head to Rome. Head to the train station and catch your high-speed service to Italy's capital. Once arrived, head to your hotel to settle in and explore your new surroundings. 

According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C.E. atop Rome's Palatine Hill. The long-time center of the powerful Roman Empire, Rome boasts nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture. These days, Italy's capital is considered one of Europe's top cities thanks to its ancient monuments, incredible art masterpieces, and cosmopolitan vibe. It's a center for fashion with buzzing food culture and has a growing nightlife scene. 

Visitors and locals wanting to soak in the sunshine flock to the beautiful Giardino degli Aranci, the city's vibrant orange tree gardens on Aventine Hill, or relax in the lush greenery of the Villa Borghese Gardens. For dinner, head to the Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.

Day 5: Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum

The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum

Dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater. Learn about the lives of some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum. 

Continue to the Roman Forum, where you'll see excavations dating back 2,000 years, revealing the ruins of temples, squares, religious sites, and other buildings. These were the venues for public speeches, processions, elections and, of course, gladiator matches. Historians and archaeologists refer to the Roman Forum as the most celebrated place in world history, and you'll see why as you admire its grounds.

Cut through the Roman Forum along Via Sacra, where you'll pass by the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. The Basilica Julia and Aemilia, a public meeting house that was commissioned by Julius Caesar, is also here.

Your tour of ancient Rome ends 131 feet (40 meters) above the city at Palatine Hill. From here you'll have incredible city views, with the Forum on one side, Circus Maximus on the other, and the Vatican in the distance. In between, the River Tiber snakes through Rome's historic neighborhoods.

In the evening, you'll have free time to continue exploring Rome. Grab dinner in one of the city's other neighborhoods, such as bohemian Monti, to tuck into a well-deserved meal. 

Day 6: Self-Guided Vatican City Visit

Take the day to visit the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica on your own. Altogether, we recommend giving yourself 4-5 hours to see everything these famous sites have to offer.

You'll start your self-guided visit in the Vatican Museums. The Vatican is not only rich in history, but also in art, housing some of the most important Renaissance masterpieces in the world. You'll visit the Pio Clementio Museum, plus the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps. These vast halls hold one of the world's largest art collections, so be sure to take your time, usually about 2-3 hours. 

Continue through the museums to the Raphael Rooms, where you can admire the frescoes before entering the incredible Sistine Chapel. The line here can be quite long, so give yourself an hour or so to line up, walk through, and visit at your pace. 

Only being part of a tour will allow you to go directly from the Sistine Chapel, at the end of your visit to the Vatican museums, into Saint Peter's Basilica. If you're not part of a tour, you'll be made to exit the Sistine Chapel outside, where you can line up again to enter St. Peter's Basilica. The wait time can vary, but allow yourself about 1-2 hours just in case, plus time to visit St. Peter's, the largest church in the world. 

Keep in mind that it's a one-way trip through the Vatican museums- take your time exploring at your own pace instead of rushing to the Sistine Chapel, as you won't be able to head back after.

Day 7: Rome to the Amalfi Coast - Pompeii en Route

Ancient street in Pompeii
Ancient street in Pompeii

In the morning, you'll leave Rome and head south to the Amalfi Coast. Take the train to Naples before heading by private transfer to your final destination of the Amalfi Coast, but before you arrive, you'll make an incredible stop. Visit the ruins of Pompeii, a bustling seaside city that was buried underneath 13-20 ft (4 to 6 m) of ash and volcanic debris after the 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The ash, which killed many of the city's residents, acted as an archaeological time capsule by preserving many of the city's original buildings and features completely intact. 

The city was lost for 1,500 years following Mount Vesuvius' eruption before its accidental rediscovery in 1599. Items of all kinds from jars to furniture were frozen in time, and even those unfortunate citizens of the empire, unable to flee the oncoming ash, were perfectly preserved. A stroll through Pompeii's ancient streets will show off preserved villas, shops, public buildings, and plazas, giving you an insider's look into life 2,000 years ago.

After the excursion to Vesuvius, you'll continue on to the Amalfi Coast, where you'll check in to your hotel and settle in for the evening.

Day 8: Capri Day Trip

Busy port on Capri
Busy port on Capri

Spend the day enjoying the sunshine and clear blue waters of Capri Island. Known locally as the "Pearl of the Mediterranean," the ancient Greeks called it the "Isle of Sirens." Capri sits on the south side of the Gulf of Naples and has been a popular vacation destination for millennia. The ancient Romans, in fact, built summer villas here for the Empire's VIPs.

In the morning, you'll head out to catch a hydrofoil to Capri. Visit the Marina Grande and Marina Piccola harbors, walk along the Belvedere of Tragara (a villa-lined promenade with panoramic views), and explore the ruins of ancient Roman villas.

Then head up the hill to Anacapri to see the Piazzetta and Augustus' Garden, and enjoy the best views of the Faraglioni Rocks. Should you choose, you can later return to the water and explore the Grotta Azzurra, the famous "Blue Grotto," which is located inside a hollowed sea cave. Afterward, we recommend spending the remainder of the afternoon soaking in the sunshine on the beach, before taking the ferry back in the evening.

Day 9: Vespa Tour of the Amalfi Coast

Zip along the Amalfi Coast on a Vespa
Zip along the Amalfi Coast on a Vespa

Just south of the Gulf of Naples lies the Sorrentine Peninsula, featuring the 24 miles (40 km) of Italy's famed Amalfi Coast. This entire region is one of the most storied and beautiful parts of the country, boasting a long history dating back to ancient Rome. Notable citizens of the empire were the first to come here to build seaside villas. There's no better way to explore this singularly gorgeous stretch of coastline than on two wheels—particularly those attached to a Vespa.

This full-day Vespa tour begins and ends at your accommodation along the Amalfi Coast. The pebbly beaches and clifftop views made it a prime destination for Europe's literati and aristocracy from the 17th century onward. From the Amalfi Coast, you'll zip along with your experienced driver to the charming fishing villages whose homes are resplendent with bright colors. The tour finishes with a ride along the stunning coastline, famous for its terraced lemon groves and vineyards, after which you'll return to your accommodation. 

All in all, the route follows 46 miles (75 km) of some of the most incredible coastal landscapes on Earth. Even better, you'll get to stop along the way for tours and, should you choose, to relax on the beach and take a dip in the water. No need to worry if you've never been on a Vespa: your expert guide and driver will take care of zipping along the coastline so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Head to the village of Amalfi to finish off your day with fresh seafood and a Delizie al Limone, lemon delight, for dessert to cap off your day.

Day 10: Free Day on the Amalfi Coast

Enjoy your day on  the Amalfi Coast
Enjoy your day on the Amalfi Coast

Today, you are free to explore and enjoy the leisurely coastal pace of life. Go for a walk on the Lemon Path in the town of Minori, or try your hand at windsurfing or kayaking near the shores of Praiano. You can see artisanal ceramics manufacturers in the town of Vietri, or go for a half-day hike on the Path of the Gods. Of course, simply lazing on the beaches of Positano, Vettica Maggiore, and Centra is also an excellent option. 

Other suggestions include: 

  • Visit the beautiful Villa Cimbrone and Terrace of Infinity in Ravello.
  • Check out Praiano's nightlife at the Africana and Music on the Rocks nightclubs.
  • Rent a kayak and explore emerald green grottos, tiny hidden beaches, and impressive sea caves. 
  • Enjoy a quiet day in the serene town of Atrani, far away from the hustle and bustle of the larger villages. 
  • Explore the Fiordo di Furore, Italy's only fjord.
  • Visit the Cloister of San Francesco in Sorrento, an oasis of tranquility that's located steps away from the town's historic Sant'Antonino piazza. 
  • Enjoy nature in the Ferriere Valley Nature Reserve, famous for its postcard-perfect fishing villages and bucolic countryside crisscrossed with hiking trails.

For dinner head to a family-run restaurant for the best Italian pizza paired with a glass of the perfect local wine.

Day 11: Depart Naples

Sunrise over Naples
Sunrise over Naples

Time to say goodbye to Italy - for now! Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, & Amalfi Coast - 11 Days
Map of Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, & Amalfi Coast - 11 Days