This whirlwind getaways fits it all in, from the historic monuments of Rome to the incredible natural beauty of the Cinque Terre Coast. Stroll along the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence and admire the incredible Duomo. Dine on some of the best seafood and citrus in the world on the Amalfi Coast and dip your toes in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. 

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 Self-Guided Visit of the Colosseum and Forum Rome
Day 6 Early Morning Vatican Experience Rome
Day 7 Rome to the Amalfi Coast - Pompeii en Route Amalfi Coast
Day 8 Capri Day Trip Amalfi Coast
Day 9 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: Self-Guided Visit of the Colosseum and Forum

The Colosseum
The Colosseum

Dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a self-guided visit to the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater. Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back to the days of the Roman Empire. Learn about some of ancient Rome's most famous and illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus and Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum. For centuries, Palatine Hill, regarded as the founding site of Rome, housed the Roman nobility while the Roman Forum was the center of daily life. Today, the impressive buildings and archaeological ruins are not to be overlooked during your visit. 

As you approach the Colosseum, you will see the Outer Wall with 3 levels of arches. Near the Colosseum, stands the Arch of Constantine, constructed to honor Emperor Constantine’s victory in the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 CE. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill are all located very close to each other in the same archaeological area. 

Recommended Schedule

Best to start early in the morning! Give yourself 2-3 hours to visit the Colosseum- with a little extra time to go through security- and around 1 -2 hours to explore the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. 

While many rush to visit the Colosseum first, the Palatine Hill is typically the least crowded of these three sites and offers an entrance with shorter lines. As it's not the typical order to visit, it is a good idea to start your day bright and early here. As you walk through Palatine Hill, make your way to the directly connected and incredible Roman Forum. Your entrance ticket serves for all three sites, so after making your way through the Roman Forum to see the impressive monuments, the exit will lead you right next to the entrance of the Colosseum. 

Eating Nearby

After all this exploring, venture to the nearby Monti neighborhood, less than a 10-minute walk, to tuck into a well-deserved meal.

Day 6: Early Morning Vatican Experience

St. Peter's Square and the Vatican
St. Peter's Square and the Vatican

Today, you will visit the Vatican City museums and Sistine Chapel, as well as other top sights, in a 3-hour guided tour of the city's incredible art and history.  The tour will start at the Vatican, entering the Museums at 8 am and giving you a one-hour head start on the rest of the crowds. See the Pio Clementio Museum, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of Tapestries, and Gallery of the Geographical Maps. 

Continue on to the magnificent Raphael Rooms, ending in the breathtaking Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's Genesis ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgement altar fresco. Finally, end the tour at St. Peter's Basilica and Square, experiencing the magic of Renaissance art while learning the secret details and little known stories of these masterpieces. 

The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Stroll through the Centro Storico, the historic center, of Rome and wander past iconic monuments and architecture such as the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Head over to Piazza Navona and admire the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by the iconic Italian sculptor, Bernini. Finish your evening with a stroll around the piazza, stopping for some pizza, gelato, and people-watching.

Note: Early Vatican visit not available Wednesdays and Vatican closed entirely on Sundays

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: 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 - 9 Days
Map of Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, & Amalfi Coast - 9 Days