Traveling by high-speed train, this 15-day itinerary covers Italy's three most famous cities: Rome, Florence, and Venice. Not only will you see the top attractions and trendy neighborhoods, but you'll break up the trip with excursions that include making wood-fired pizza, tasting Chianti, and boating to lesser-visited islands on the Adriatic. To round out this epic adventure, you'll also have three relaxing days in the Cinque Terre to partake in its hiking trails, Mediterranean beaches, and west coast sunsets.


  • Visit some of the Vatican's 54 museums, like the Sistine Chapel, with a private guide 
  • Learn how to make wood-fired pizzas (and taste wine) in a hilltown outside of Rome
  • Take a museum break at Uffizi's top-floor café for sweeping views of Florence
  • Enjoy relaxing free time to hike and hit the beaches in the Cinque Terre
  • Consider an opera performance in Venice on your last night of the trip

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome, Explore Rome
Day 2 Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica Rome
Day 3 Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum Rome
Day 4 Pizza Making & Wine Tasting Experience Rome
Day 5 Train to Florence, Explore Florence
Day 6 Historic Walking Tour of Florence Florence
Day 7 Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano Florence
Day 8 Visit the Uffizi & Galleria dell'Accademia Florence
Day 9 Train to the Cinque Terre, Explore Cinque Terre
Day 10 Explore the Cinque Terra, Sunset Cruise Cinque Terre
Day 11 Free Day in the Cinque Terre Cinque Terre
Day 12 Train to Venice, Explore Venice
Day 13 Venice Self-Guided City Tour Venice
Day 14 Murano & Burano Half-Day Excursion Venice
Day 15 Depart Venice  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rome, Explore

Take a pinch-me-now walk through Rome to see famous Roman squares and fountains

Welcome to Rome! According to legend, Italy's capital was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE atop Palatine Hill, which you'll have a chance to see in the coming days. As the long-time center of the mighty Roman Empire, you'll find nearly 3,000 years of architecture, history, and culture throughout the city. After arriving at one of Rome's airports, transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Settle in and then step outside for a stroll. The next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, so spend your first few hours enjoying some of the highlights at a relaxed pace. 

Perhaps you want to start at the Catacombs of Priscilla, originally used from the 2nd to 5th centuries as burial grounds for the elite families of Rome. Visitors can see the original structures as well as paintings and artifacts from various time periods. Another good idea is to stroll through the tangle of narrow streets in Centro Storico, one of Rome's most historic districts, to see beautiful fountains and classical Roman and Baroque architecture, including the Pantheon, a 2,000-year-old temple.

You can also go to Colle Aventino, one of Rome's famous seven hills, and Parco Savello (Orange Tree Park), where you can find the renowned keyhole that gives a direct view of the Vatican. This is an excellent place to grab a cappuccino and snack from one of the adjacent cafés. Or, for an authentic market experience, stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, and cheeses. When it's time for dinner, head to the hip Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.

Day 2: Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Square and the Vatican
A private guide will show you around St. Peter's Square and the Vatican

You can visit Vatican City's museums and other top sights during a three-hour guided morning tour. The Vatican is rich in history and art, housing some of the most important Renaissance masterpieces in the world. Though there are 54 museums, you'll start with the Pio Clementio Museum, the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps

Continue through the museums to the Raphael Rooms, where you can admire the frescoes before entering the incredible Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Your guide will help you experience the allure of Renaissance art by divulging personal details and untold stories throughout the tour.

The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Stroll through more of Rome's historical center to see iconic monuments and architecture, such as the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Then 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 through the piazza, stopping for pizza, gelato, and people-watching.

Day 3: Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum

Start your self-guided tour of ancient Rome at the world's largest amphitheater

Dive deep into ancient Rome today with a self-guided visit to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum with an entrance ticket that combines both sites. It's best to start early to beat the crowds, as walking through the Colosseum is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the Roman Empire. Learn about its illustrious citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus and Nero, and the Flavian Emperors who built the Colosseum. Keep an eye out for the Arch of Constantine, which was constructed to honor Emperor Constantine's victory in the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 CE. 

A short walk from here is the Roman Forum, where you'll see excavations dating back 2,000 years that reveal the ruins of temples, squares, religious sites, and other buildings. These were the venues for public speeches, processions, elections, and gladiator matches. Historians and archaeologists refer to the Roman Forum as the most prominent place in world history, and you'll see why as you admire its grounds. 

Complete your self-guided tour of ancient Rome at Palatine Hill, located 131 feet (40 m) above the city. Take in the incredible views of the city, with the Forum on one side, Circus Maximus on the other, and the Vatican in the distance. After all this exploring, venture to the nearby Monti neighborhood, less than a 10-minute walk, and tuck into a well-deserved meal.

Day 4: Pizza Making & Wine Tasting Experience

A Pizza Maestro will show you the ropes of making wood-fired pizza

Today is your chance to head outside of Rome for a local pizza-making and wine experience in the nearby town of Frascati. Known for its local products and wines since ancient times, Frascati can easily be reached on a 25-minute train ride from Rome. Take the morning to learn about the town's history and the local food it's known for, such as slow-roasted pork and jug wine. You'll feel a sense of community as your local guide takes you around town and interacts with local shop owners and artisans.

From here, you'll visit one of the remaining wood-burning ovens in Frascati that fills the nearby piazza with an incomparable aroma. Take in the views of Rome in the distance before you get cooking! The secret is simplicity; with just five ingredients, you can make authentic pizza dough from scratch. Your Pizza Maestro will walk you through the process, from kneading and flattening the dough to adding the perfect toppings.

Once it's ready, pop it in the wood-burning oven as you learn about the local Frascati wines from your expert guide. Paired together perfectly, you'll try a few sips before sitting down to enjoy your pizza fresh from the oven. Head back to Rome on the same train in the afternoon and enjoy your last evening in the Eternal City! Perhaps you want to check out the upscale Prati neighborhood, with an abundance of Art Nouveau architecture and trendy eateries. 

Day 5: Train to Florence, Explore

Walk around the Boboli Gardens for great views of Florence

After one last Roman breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the train station for your high-speed ride to Florence. Upon arrival, check into your hotel and then set out on foot. 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. 

You might want to start your exploration by walking through the peaceful Boboli Gardens to see the oval-shaped Isolotto, a small island surrounded by various sculptures and greenery. You can also visit Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele, a church that served as the granary for the Sisters of San Michele in previous years. 

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

Plan your trip to Italy
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Historic Walking Tour of Florence

Explore Florence's compact historic center with a local guide

Today's exploration of Florence begins with a half-day walking tour. First, meet your guide and then stroll through the picturesque historic center, where you'll find the most important squares and monuments, from the Piazza della Repubblica to the Palazzo Vecchio. You'll then stop at the iconic Duomo, followed by visits to Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistery, with its bronze doors. Your guide will share stories of the famous Renaissance artists who called Florence home.

After your tour, continue exploring on your own. Consider taking a short walk over to the Mercato Centrale on the second floor of the Mercado di San Lorenzo, where you'll be able to meander through the stalls of local goods. If you're up for an uphill climb, cross over the Arno River to visit Piazzale Michelangelo (or take a taxi). This spectacular viewpoint offers an incredible view of all of Florence. It is the perfect place to watch the sunset before heading to Piazza Santo Spirito for predinner aperitivos

Day 7: Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano

Drive through the Tuscan countryside and stop in medieval hill towns like 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 located an hour from Florence. Explore the city's beautiful squares, palaces, and churches before taking a break with a coffee in a terraced café. 

In the afternoon, you'll visit nearby Siena, a medieval city with historic sites. You can't miss the great main square, Piazza del Campo, 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 city's skyline. In the summer, the town comes alive with festivities, as the Palio takes place in July and August. This exciting horserace, held twice a year in the main square of Siena, ignites the town in fervor. 

Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress town of Monteriggioni, perched on a hillside, where you can explore the intact castle walls. Continue to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery (with tastings!) before returning to Florence for the evening.

Day 8: Visit the Uffizi & Galleria dell'Accademia

Head to the Uffizi after breakfast, one of the oldest and most famous art museums in Europe

Spend a day exploring Florence and discovering its famous museums at your own pace. Start with the Uffizi to see masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Donatello, and others. Give yourself at least three to four hours to visit this expansive art gallery. Audio guides are provided with your tickets and are helpful when navigating this extensive museum. Booking tickets online ahead of time lets you skip the line, and you'll be given an entry time slot so you can plan your day accordingly.

When you're hungry, head to the top floor of the Uffizi for a stop at the cafeteria. Offering beautiful panoramic views of the Florence city center, have lunch and recharge your batteries before continuing to your next visit: Galleria dell'Accademia. The museum dates back to 1784 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, reorganized the Academy of Arts of Design in Florence into the modern Academy of Fine Arts. The structure was specifically designed to house valuable works of art, and its spectacular architecture is impressive in its own right.

Among other draws, the museum is home to one of the Renaissance's most iconic masterpieces, Michelangelo's "David." This incredible 14-foot (4 m) tall Renaissance sculpture, which depicts the Biblical hero, was created between 1501 and 1504 and became a symbol of the Florentine republic's strength during a massive political change. Give yourself an hour to explore and admire this gallery's great works of art. Like the Uffizi, booking online ahead of time is always suggested.

Day 9: Train to the Cinque Terre, Explore

The Cinque Terre offers five colorful villages along this stretch of dramatic coastline

It's time to travel west to get to Italy's Mediterranean coast! You'll first take a train or private transport to get to La Spezia, where you'll connect to the local train that provides access to the Cinque Terre. This is a rugged strip of the Liguria coastline of five old fishing villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coast, villages, and surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The region is renowned for its beautiful nature and abundant Mediterranean plants covering scrubby hillsides that tumble to turquoise water. The region's historic villages and breathtaking beauty make it a popular choice for travelers. The historic towns prohibit vehicles to preserve the traditional charm, so most travelers arrive by train that runs along the coast or by tour boat. 

The area's coastline hiking trails are some of the world's best, linking the small villages on a beautiful footpath. The path from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore (Italian for Lover's Walk), and its midpoint—The Lover's Lock, a statue of two people kissing—is a favorite place for couples to copy the gesture for a photo. If you're traveling with your special someone, bring a small lock to attach to one of the gates or rails on the way to seal your eternal love.

Day 10: Explore the Cinque Terre, Sunset Cruise

Take a sunset cruise along the Cinque Terre coastline and go for a swim

Take the day to explore the Cinque Terre on your own. Whether it's soaking in the sunshine on a beach, hiking through its breathtaking trails, or wandering around the colorful villages, you'll be enchanted by this incredibly unique area. 

If you like historic churches, you can visit a few, including the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero in Riomaggiore and the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Corniglia. Another option is to check out the 13th-century Castello Di Riomaggiore, which dominates the Cinque Terre coastline. Built to protect the town from seafaring pirates, the castle is now a throwback to a different time and a great place for photographs. Head inside the castle to see the museum exhibit of the centuries of town history.

You can also walk up to the Torre Aurora, a medieval castle at the intersection of Monterosso's Old Town and New Town. Or, visit Cantina 5 Terre in Riomaggiore, the Cinque Terre's only major winery, to learn how ancient traditions mix with modern-day production techniques to produce a unique and flavorful wine. Sample the wines, especially the local white, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. 

In the evening, head out onto the water for a small group sunset boat tour. Sit back and admire the views of the charming fishing villages on a 2.5-hour route from Vernazza. You'll pass by grottos tucked into cliffsides and admire the villages of Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore from the sea. Feel free to dip in the water off the boat's deck and toast your time on the coast with a drink as you watch the sunset.

Day 11: Free Day in Cinque Terre

Monterosso's picture-perfect beach.
Enjoy quality time on Monterosso's picture-perfect beach

Today is a free day to explore the Cinque Terre area. Perhaps you want to soak in the sunshine, sunbathe on the rocks, or dive off the steep cliffs into the turquoise water at one of the Cinque Terre's many beaches. The sandy Monterosso Beach has both public and private sections, the Vernazza Beach is rocky and perfect for sunbathing, and the Levanto Beach is unusually long, which is rare for the area.

For some culture, visit the 17th-century Chuch of San Francesco to see fine art, including a depiction of the Crucifixion by Antoon Van Dyck and other notable Italian painters of the 17th and 18th centuries. Another option is to tour the 1,000-year-old Castello Doria in Vernazza, the Cinque Terre's oldest surviving structure, for sweeping views of the town and harbor. Travelers with energy can climb the Scalinata Lardarina, a steep 377-step staircase that connects the harbor with the village of Corniglia, for some of the Cinque Terre's best views. 

Day 12: Train to Venice, Explore

Say hello to Venice's Grand Canal upon arrival

It's time to say goodbye to the Ligurian coast! At the appointed time, catch a short train to La Spezia, where you'll connect to the city of Venice on the eastern side of Italy. Settle in for the five-hour journey, with usually two train changes. 

Venice is famous for both industry and tourism. With nicknames like "Queen of the Adriatic," "City of Water," and "The Floating City," it's clear that the city's myriad canals are its main draw. Due to its strategic placement, Venice has long been a commercial and cultural hub, stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea. Silk, grains, spices, and art were traded through the Middle Ages, contributing to Venice's wealth.

Venice is also well known for several artistic movements, especially from the Renaissance period. The city's many composers, like Antonio Vivaldi and others, played essential roles in shaping symphonic and operatic music. Numerous artists have called Venice home, and their work draws visitors worldwide. The city is famous for its many beautiful historical attractions, such as the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the Basilica San Marco, the Grand Canal, and the ornate Doge's Palace

Before you experience these highlights, consider taking a gondola to a lesser-visited district called Cannaregio, the site of the former Jewish Ghetto. The area has excellent restaurants, bars, and shops offering kosher Venetian specialties, a Jewish museum, and several tourist-friendly synagogues. Eat and drink through regional specialties as you celebrate your first night in Venice. Buon appetito!

Day 13: Venice Self-Guided City Tour

Take a tour of Doge's Palace, where the former ruler of Venice once lived

Today, it's time to explore Venice on a self-guided tour, starting with Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square). Take a moment to breathe in the sights and sounds of this famed plaza before getting a deeper look inside the buildings and architecture surrounding it. One such place that will likely grab your attention is the impressive Basilica San Marco. Enter early in the day to marvel at the incredible mosaics before the crowds, and if you're up for it, climb the bell tower that offers stunning views. Just make sure to wear appropriate clothing (no bare arms or bare legs). 

From here, turn your attention to the nearby Doge's Palace. This almost 600-year-old building has served many purposes over time but has remained an impressive symbol of Venetian history. Most notably, it was the home to the Doge, the ruler of Venice, and the center of government during the Venetian Republic. Then walk over to the Grand Canal side of the palace to look at another iconic spot in Venice: the Bridge of Sighs. This ornate, Baroque-style bridge connected the palace with its first-floor prison and was used to transfer its prisoners.

Having seen the highlights here, it's time to make the 10-minute walk to Rialto Bridge—one of the four scenic bridges that span the Grand Canal. A short walk from here brings you to the bustling Rialto Market. Stroll around this lively epicenter of daily Venetian life and culture, tasting local products that help create the city's incomparable cuisine. Continue walking along the Grand Canal, then sit at a bar and order a glass of wine and cicchetti (the Venetian version of tapas).

Day 14: Murano & Burano Half-Day Excursion

Boat to two charming islands near Venice—one that's known for glassblowing

Having a few days to spend in Venice allows you to get off the beaten track and visit the lagoon and neighboring islands of Murano and Burano during a half-day tour.

First, board your motorboat in the center of Venice and make your way to the islands, about 45 minutes away. Along the way, your guide will offer insights into the spectacular Venetian lagoon and its various islands. Arrive first at Burano and have free time to explore. Traditionally a quiet fishing village, it's known for its exquisite lacemaking and the colorful houses that adorn its postcard-worthy canals. 

From there, return to your boat and head to the island of Murano, famous for its colorful glass. Visit a glassblower to see a demonstration and learn about the history of glassmaking and the process behind it. Marvel at the intricate pieces, and peruse Murano's many local shops to see the many forms of this delicate craft for yourself. 

After spending the better part of your morning enjoying the sights and sounds of the unique islands, return to Venice by boat in time for lunch at one of its many delicious local eateries. Consider heading to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Modern Art Museum and La Biennale di Venezia Art Museum in the afternoon. Or you can browse textiles, craft shops, unique boutiques, and galleries in the bohemian San Samuele district. Consider seeing an opera performance at the famous Teatro La Fenice to celebrate the last night of your trip.

Day 15: Depart Venice

Arrivederci, Venice!

Say goodbye, or ciao, to Italy for now! Take advantage of any extra time with one last morning stroll or gondola ride around the canals. After one last Venetian breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice - 15 Days
Map of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice - 15 Days