- Stroll across Florence's Ponte Vecchio bridge
- Soak in the tradition and culture as you see Rome's top cultural sites
- Visit the incredible ruins of Pompeii, preserved by Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption
- Spend time enjoying sunshine, fresh seafood, and medieval villages on the Amalfi Coast
- Escape to the island of Capri, playground for ancient Romans
|Day 1||Arrive in Rome, Travel to Florence||Florence|
|Day 2||Florence Self-Guided City Tour||Florence|
|Day 3||Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano||Florence|
|Day 4||Florence to Rome, Colosseum & Forum Tour||Rome|
|Day 5||Self-Guided Vatican City Visit||Rome|
|Day 6||Rome to the Amalfi Coast - Pompeii en Route||Amalfi Coast|
|Day 7||Capri Day Trip||Amalfi Coast|
|Day 8||Depart Naples|
Day 1: Arrive in Rome, Travel to Florence
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
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: Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano
In the morning, you'll head to the countryside to explore Tuscany. Your first stop will be the medieval village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site an hour away from Florence. San Gimignano is known for its unique towers that dominate the village skyline. In the Middle Ages, noble families built these as a refuge when battling neighboring villages. While most of these across Tuscany were torn down when the villages came under Florentine control, San Gimignano's were left standing. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city before taking a break with a coffee in a terraced cafe.
In the afternoon, you'll visit nearby Siena, a medieval city brimming with historic sites. You can't miss the incredible main square, Piazza del Campo, which is surrounded by the Gothic Pubblico Palace, the Tower of Mangia, and the Gaia Fountain. From here, walk over to the 13th-century cathedral, Duomo di Siena, which dominates the skyline of the city. In summer months, the town comes alive with festivities, as the Palio takes place in July and August. This exciting horse race, held twice a year in the main square of Siena, ignites the town in a fervor.
Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress town of Monteriggioni. The intact castle walls surround this town perched on a hillside, and are a sight to behold. Continue on to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery before returning to Florence for the evening.
Day 4: Florence to Rome, Colosseum & Forum Tour
After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to Florence. Catch a high-speed train back to Rome, then check in to your hotel.
According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE 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 artistic masterpieces, and cosmopolitan vibe. It's a center for fashion as well, with a buzzing food culture and a growing nightlife scene.
In the afternoon, dive into the history of the Roman Empire with a walking tour of the Colosseum, the world's largest amphitheater (tickets included). Walking through the ancient amphitheater is like taking a trip back in time. 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.
After a tour of the archaeological area, continue to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. From here, walk along the ancient Roman street Via Sacra to see the Temples of Vesta, Antonino, and Faustina. See the ancient Basilica Julia and Aemilia as well, and try to imagine the full grandeur of the Roman Empire in its heyday.
For dinner, head to the Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.
Day 5: 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 6: Rome to the Amalfi Coast - Pompeii en Route
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 7: Capri Day Trip
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 8: Depart Naples
Time to say goodbye to Italy - for now! Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!