If sitting on a Tuscan hillside winery with a glass of Chianti, kneading fresh pizza dough, and seeing the Sistine Chapel sound like a good way to spend nine days—look no further, because this packed itinerary is for you. Start in Bologna to see the 11th-century university and stuff yourself full of Parmeggiano cheese, prosciutto, and Ragu alla Bolognese. Continue to Florence to see Michelangelo's 'David' in the Uffizi Gallery, then spend a day drinking Chianti like the Romans do in Tuscany. Finish in Rome to see the Galleria Borghese and Colosseum before becoming best friends with your perfectly handmade Italian pizza. 

Highlights

  • See Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, and Galleria Borghese in Rome
  • Tour wineries and sample local Chianti in Tuscany
  • Eat & drink your way through Rome in a trattoria & wine bar tour
  • Visit Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo’s ‘David’

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome, Travel to Bologna Bologna
Day 2 Day Trip to Parma: Ham and Parmesan Tasting Bologna
Day 3 Free Day in Bologna Bologna
Day 4 Bologna to Florence Florence
Day 5 Tour of Tuscany & Wine Tasting Florence
Day 6 Free Day in Florence Florence
Day 7 Florence to Rome, Full-Day Rome Excursion Rome
Day 8 Pizza Making Class in Rome Rome
Day 9 Goodbye Italy!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rome, Travel to Bologna

Local shop with traditional cheese & prosciutto
Local shop with traditional cheese & prosciutto

Welcome to Bologna! Arrive in one of Rome's two international airports, then take a train ride to Bologna, the bustling historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Arrive in mid-morning and start your day with a cup of Italian espresso and head out to explore the city on foot. 

Walk through the downtown area to see many of the city's notable landmarks. The Piazza Maggiore, a sprawling central plaza surrounded by the city's oldest buildings, is a beautiful 20-minute walk from the train station. Visit the City Hall, the 14th-century Basilica di San Petronio,  and the medieval Asinelli and Garisenda Towers which flank the Piazza. 

Head to the 11th-century University of Bologna to view the Anatomical Theater, used in older times for students to dissect cadavers, and stroll the medieval university grounds. On the way, stop to see the former Jewish Ghetto, then continue to the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, the National Art Gallery, housed in the former Saint Ignatius Jesuit novitiate near the university. This building also houses the Academy of Fine Arts

Pause for lunch and enjoy some of the city's delicious specialties—tortellini and ragu alla bolognese, a rich tomato and meat sauce. In the afternoon explore the city via the medieval porticos, a network of covered walkways that connect city landmarks, museums, and neighborhoods and protect pedestrians from snow, rain, and the hot summer sun. Visitors with an eye for fashion will enjoy browsing the designer boutiques and medieval Quadrilatero market district for the perfect Italian leather shoes or for gifts to bring home. 

In the afternoon go for a walking food tour with a local guide to explore the local markets and shop for regional delicacies, such as artisanal tortellini, mortadella, and a variety of cheeses. Visit traditional food shops like a bakery and pasta maker to see the handcrafting process.

Day 2: Day Trip to Parma: Ham and Parmesan Tasting

Parmigiano-Reggiano
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Head out for a day trip to the capital of Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese—the city of Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. The city is famous for its ornate medieval architecture, the beautiful countryside, and, of course, the food. 

In the morning, tour the city's highlights, which include the 10th-century University of Parma, the Museo Glauco Lombardi, which documents the life of Maria Luigia, and the Piazza Duomo, where you'll find the city's cathedral and baptistry, both from the 12th century. 

Visit the Teatro Regio, a world-renowned opera performance space, then continue on for a walking food tour. You'll visit the local production facilities of Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sample traditional balsamic vinegar, and shop for your favorite selections to bring home. Get a feeling for the local pace of life with lunch at a small family-run trattoria, then spend the afternoon enjoying the city.

Day 3: Free Day in Bologna

Misty Giardini Margherita in autumn
Misty Giardini Margherita in autumn

Today is a free day to explore the local sights. Suggestions include: 

  • MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, a museum of modern art,
  • Museo di Palazzo Poggi and Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, art museums which house notable medieval and world-famous works,
  • The Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica, a museum of musical instruments and the Museum of History of Bologna
  • The peaceful sanctuary of the Giardini Margherita park, located just south of the city center,
  • The Basilica of Santo Stefano complex which houses several churches and the hilltop Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca


Stay in the downtown neighborhood for a pre-dinner glass of full-bodied red or an Aperol Spritz while you snack on a charcuterie board, then sit down to traditional tortellini or mortadella for dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Bologna to Florence

Museum of Florence Academy of Fine Arts
Museum of Florence Academy of Fine Arts

After breakfast head to the Bologna train station to catch a train to Florence. Florence is Tuscany's regional capital and its most populous city. Long considered a cultural capital and the "Jewel of the Renaissance", 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. 

Spend the day exploring the top sites, located in the medieval city center. Popular highlights include the sprawling 15th-century Pitti Palace and the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci. As a center for art, Florence has hosted many of European history's most notable figures, including Botticelli, Donatello, Dante, Boccaccio, and Niccolò Machiavelli. 

In the afternoon indulge yourself on the decadence of Tuscany's culinary delights. A walking tour of the city together with a guide is the perfect way to discover the region's history and find the best off-the-beaten-path gelato and coffee shops. Sample wares from city markets to find the best of the best. Try truffle panini, fresh-pressed Tuscan olive oil, handmade chocolate focaccia, finished with a glass of chilled prosecco or Chianti wine.

Day 5: Tour of Tuscany & Wine Tasting

Siena Cathedral and medieval Old Town
Siena Cathedral and medieval Old Town

In the morning head to the Tuscan countryside to explore the Chianti Region. Your first stop is the medieval village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located an hour away from Florence which is famous for its Vernaccia wine and award-winning gelaterias. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city and before grabbing a coffee in an open-air cafe. 

Continue to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery. The unique characteristics of the local climate have made the region unfavorable to most crops and ideal for growing wine grapes. Alternating fields of olive orchards and vineyards characterize this idyllic landscape.

The Chianti wine, made primarily of Sangiovese grapes, is the local staple. Tour the cellars and vineyards, then enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by a delicious Tuscan lunch of pasta, cured meats, cheeses, and local desserts. 

In the afternoon visit nearby Siena, located a scenic hourlong drive away, to see the magnificent Cathedral, Torre del Mangia, and Town Hall, site of the famous Palio horse race. Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress of Monteriggioni before returning to Florence for the night.

Day 6: Free Day in Florence

Leather sandals at San Lorenzo
Leather sandals at San Lorenzo

Today is a free day to explore some of Florence's other notable attractions and highlights. Recommendations for the day include:

  • Spend some time learning about Florence's history in the Basilica di Santa Croce history museum
  • Explore science and art at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (history and art museum) and the Museo Galileo - Institute and Museum of the History of Science 
  • Visit the Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele, which served as the granary for the Sisters of San Michele in previous years, 
  • Shop for hidden treasures and your lunch special in the San Lorenzo market, 
  • Head to the south bank of the Arno River to the Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoint for panoramic views of the city,
  • Stroll through the peaceful and relaxing greenery of the Boboli Gardens 

Head to La Terrazza Continentale next to the Ponte Vecchio bridge for a pre-dinner cocktail on the terrace while you enjoy the sunset, then make your way to the Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood for dinner accompanied by a glass of Tuscan wine.

Day 7: Florence to Rome, Full-Day Rome Excursion

Ancient Roman ruins at sunrise
Ancient Roman ruins at sunrise

After a relaxing breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to the 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 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. 

Spend the day exploring the city's highlights and see for yourself why Rome is considered one of Europe's Top 3 Cities. There's a lot to see, so pick your top destinations from the following list and head out for your first look at the Eternal City: 

  • Start with the Colosseum and travel back in time to relive the grandeur 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
  • Make your way to the Vatican Museum to tour the world-famous Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica to see the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Bernini. This is considered one of Rome's top attractions 
  • Go for a stroll in the central Piazza Navona where families and tourists gather on warm days, see the beautiful Trevi Fountain and the iconic Pantheon
  • Hop on a tour boat to explore the city banks from the Tiber River
  • Walk through the ornate rooms of the Galleria Borghese and explore the splendid frescoes, stories, and masterful techniques behind the of world's most beautiful art museums. End the tour with a peaceful stroll around the Villa Borghese gardens, enjoying its beauty and calm far from the chaos of the city
  • Find the perfect weekend antique market, downtown boutique, or shopping mall to find the perfect items in one of the fashion capitals of the world
  • Enjoy the sunshine in the orange groves of the Gardens of Palazzo, on the city's Aventine Hill 

At night, see the city come to life and take in the buzzing nightlife on a 4-hour tour of Rome after dark. Start your evening over family-style pizza in a neighborhood cafe, then visit top city highlights to see the nighttime light show. Wrap up the night with a cup of creamy gelato before returning to your hotel for the night.

Day 8: Pizza Making Class in Rome

Rome at sunset
Rome at sunset

Spend the morning exploring more of the city, starting with a relaxed brunch at a local neighborhood bakery. 

The afternoon is dedicated to learning how to make the quintessential Italian dish—the humble pizza. From its simple beginnings as street food to its worldwide popularity, pizza has gained fame and popularity—and for good reason. 

Starting with handmade dough, local ingredients and traditional techniques, spend the day learning how to make the perfect pizza guided by a professional Italian chef. At the end of the lesson, enjoy the fruits of your labor along with an appetizer and gelato for dessert.

Day 9: Goodbye Italy!

Little details of life in Rome
Little details of life in Rome

Time to say goodbye to the country of love! After one last cappuccino over breakfast, head to the airport for your connecting flight home. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Food & Wine in Italy: Bologna, Florence, Rome - 9 Days
Map of Food & Wine in Italy: Bologna, Florence, Rome - 9 Days