Your trip starts with tours through Rome's historical core, where ancient history, eclectic neighborhoods, and a vibrant food scene await. From there, head south to explore the glass-roofed Galleria Umberto shopping center, enjoy coffee on the medieval Piazza del Plebiscito, and try the seafood cuoppo in Naples. Visit the Pompeii ruins, hike around Mt. Vesuvius, and visit colorful bohemian villages on the Amalfi Coast.

Highlights

  • Soak in the tradition and culture as you see Rome's top cultural sites
  • Explore the ancient ruins of Pompei & hike Mt. Vesuvius
  • Experience the vibrant culture of Naples and try a famous Neapolitan pizza
  • Spend time enjoying sunshine, fresh seafood, and medieval villages on the Amalfi Coast
  • Escape to the island of Capri, a playground for ancient Romans

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome Rome
Day 2 Self-Guided Vatican City Visit Rome
Day 3 Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum Rome
Day 4 From Rome to Naples Naples
Day 5 Street Food Tour in Naples Naples
Day 6 Naples to Sorrento - Visit Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius Sorrento
Day 7 Capri and Anacapri Day Tour from Sorrento Sorrento
Day 8 Free Day in Sorrento Sorrento
Day 9 From Sorrento the Amalfi Coast Amalfi Coast
Day 10 Vespa Tour of the Amalfi Coast Amalfi Coast
Day 11 Free Day on the Amalfi Coast Amalfi Coast
Day 12 Depart Naples  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rome

Streets of Trastevere, Rome
Streets of Trastevere, Rome

Welcome to Rome, known as the City of the Seven Hills! According to legend, Rome was founded by brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE atop Palatine Hill. As the long-time center of the powerful 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, you'll transfer to your hotel in the historic center. Settle in and relax, then head out for a stroll and your first look at the Eternal City. The next few days will involve lots of sightseeing, and you'll spend your first few hours enjoying some of the highlights. Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Catacombs of Priscilla, which were originally used from the 2nd to 5th centuries as burial grounds for the elite families of Rome. The entrance was blocked for centuries to protect against grave robbers, but the catacombs were rediscovered in the 16th century. Visitors can see the original structures, as well as paintings and artifacts from various time periods. 

  • Stroll through the tangle of narrow streets in Centro Storico, one of Rome's most historic districts, to see classical Roman and baroque architecture. 

  • Stop to see the Colonna di Marco Aurelio, a Doric column with a spiral of relief sculptures. It was erected in the 2nd century to celebrate the victories of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. 

  • Head to the Colle Aventino, one of Rome's famous seven hills. Stroll through the Roseto Comunale, the rose garden which sits on the site of a former Jewish cemetery. Then continue to Parco Savello (Orange Tree Park), where you can find the famous keyhole that gives visitors a direct view of the Vatican. Grab a cappuccino and snack from one of the adjacent cafes.

  • For an authentic market experience, stop by the Mercato dei Fiori, where locals shop for fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, and cheeses. Browse for authentic Italian pasta and other souvenirs, then take a break with coffee and a pastry at one of the many cafes surrounding the market. 

For dinner, head to the Trastevere neighborhood for some of the city's best trattorias.

Day 2: 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.

Recommendations

The Vatican Museums are open every day except Sunday from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, with the last entry at 4 pm.  It's best to start your day early! It's highly recommended to buy entrance tickets ahead of time online- skip the line tickets are also well worth it, saving you time waiting in often long lines. 

Keep in mind that the Vatican and Saint Peter's are both holy places and enforce a dress code to enter. Avoid wearing low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, mini skirts, and hats.

Day 3: 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 or upscale Prati, brimming with art nouveau architecture.

Day 4: From Rome to Naples

Backlit street in Quartieri Spagnoli
Backlit street in Quartieri Spagnoli

Time to say goodbye to Rome! After breakfast, you'll head to the train station and catch your high-speed train down to Naples, the journey taking just over an hour. Naples sits on a bay near the still-active Mount Vesuvius, which buried nearby Pompeii in 79 CE. There's a lot to see and do here, so make the most of your time in Naples with these suggested activities: 

  • Visit the Naples Archaeological Museum to see Roman, Greek, and Renaissance-era ruins, including artifacts from nearby Pompeii.
  • Tour the Castel dell'Ovo, a seaside castle located on the former island of Megaride.
  • See the 16th-century Museo Cappella Sansevero, which houses thousands of veiled sculptures. 
  • Go underground to see the network of tunnels and passageways built under the city streets. 
  • Get outside and see the dormant Solfatara volcano, located a half-hour drive west of Naples.

In the evening, we recommend going for a stroll along the Caracciolo e Lungomare di Napoli, a waterfront promenade, then heading to the Quartieri Spagnoli, a lively commercial hub, for dinner at a trattoria. On the way, stop at the Toledo Metro station, the Stazione della Metropolitana dell'Arte, to see beautiful mosaic inlays.

Day 5: Street Food Tour in Naples

One great way to experience Naples is on a street food tour. You'll snack your way through the city's historic streets while visiting back-alley markets, modest bakeries, old bars, and various food stalls, on the hunt for sweet and savory eats.

You'll meet your guide in the morning and discover how Naples’ unique culinary history informs its street food scene. Meander over to the 'Mercato della Pignasecca' market. This market is abuzz with activity as vendors of local produce and fish proffer their goods.

Naples is famous for its Napolitano slice of pizza, but on this tour, you'll learn about the other culinary delights that make the city so unique.  From “sfogliatella” – a sweet shell-shaped filled pastry, to the traditional cafés and espresso drinks, there's something to satisfy everyone. 

With a full belly, you'll have the afternoon free to explore the city at your own pace. Continue to discover the Centro Storico of the city, and pop into one of the world's oldest pizzerias for dinner.

Day 6: Naples to Sorrento - Visit Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

Ancient street in Pompeii
Ancient street in Pompeii

In the morning, you'll leave Naples and head south to the Sorrentine Peninsula, home to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. However, you'll be stopping for a visit of the area's most notable attractions, Pompeii and nearby Mount Vesuvius.

Start by visiting the ruins of Pompeii, a once-flourishing Roman coastal city that was famously buried under ash and volcanic debris by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. The ash, which killed many of Pompeii's residents, acted as an archaeological time capsule, preserving many of the city's original buildings completely intact. You'll stroll the remains of Pompeii's ancient streets, which are lined with well-preserved villas, shops, public buildings, and plazas.

Afterward, it will be time to visit Mount Vesuvius, which is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere World Reserve. It's a brisk 30-minute hike up a trail to the top. At the summit, you'll be rewarded with stunning views inside the crater as well as panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and the Tyrrhenian Sea

After the excursion to Vesuvius, you'll continue on to Sorrento. This city is a long-time favorite with Italian and international vacationers for its beautiful views, tranquil atmosphere, and terraced lemon groves. After checking in to your hotel, take a quick stroll around town.

The city's focal point is the Piazza Tasso, a central square built over a gorge that splits the city. Other notable sights in and around Sorrento include the nearby bay of Marina Piccola, the ruins of Villa Pollio in Capo di Sorrento, the church monastery San Francesco d'Assisi, the 11th-century Duomo, and the Basilica di Sant'Antonino. The latter houses the remains of Saint Anthony, Sorrento's patron saint who died in the 7th century. 

Day 7: Capri and Anacapri Day Tour from Sorrento

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 along the Sorrentine coast to the Port of Sorrento, where you'll catch a hydrofoil to Capri, about a 20 minute ride. 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," located inside a hollowed sea cave. Afterward, we recommend spending the remainder of the afternoon soaking in the sunshine on the beach, before catching the hydrofoil back to Sorrento for the evening.

Day 8: Free Day in Sorrento

View of  Sorrento from a hotel terrace
View of Sorrento from a hotel terrace

Today is a free day to explore the city. You could soak in the sunshine in Piazza Tasso, Sorrento's largest and most popular gathering place. If shopping is on your mind, stroll from the piazza down Corso Italia, a busy street lined with shops and boutiques. 

Here are some other options for activities in Sorrento:

  • Go shopping at the colorful Via San Renato street market, a weekly open-air market selling everything from clothes to household items to fresh produce and delicious cheeses.
  • Get lunch in Marina Grande Beach, Sorrento's fishing village that's famous for its seafood restaurants and volcanic sandy beach (the perfect place to relax after a delicious meal).
  • Tour the nearby coastal city of Salerno and the ancient Greek city of Paestum (the site contains some of the world's best-preserved Greek temples). 
  • Enjoy a private sommelier-guided wine tour of two prestigious estates in Campania’s rugged Apennine Mountains.

In the evening, head to the Puolo neighborhood for dinner. Its crescent beach and waterfront promenade are popular with locals.

Day 9: From Sorrento the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento, Italy
Sorrento, Italy

After a leisurely breakfast, it's time to make your way down and around the Sorrentine Peninsula to the Amalfi Coast. This stretch of coastline south of Naples is renowned for its exceptional beauty and iconic medieval cliffside fishing villages. Lemon groves and sprawling summer villas cling to the steep cliffs that lead to sparkling blue waters. 

After arriving at your new accommodation, soak in the views of the coast and sunshine as you stroll through these colorful villages. 

Day 10: 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 on 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. Not to worry if you've never been on a Vespa, your expert guide and drive will take care of zipping along the coastline so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Day 11: Free Day on the Amalfi Coast

Enjoy your free day on Amalfi
Enjoy your free day on Amalfi

Today is a free day to explore the area and enjoy the slower pace of life on the coast. Go for a walk on the Lemon Path in Minori or see the illuminated sea cave Grotta dello Smeraldo. Learn about the local ceramics manufacturing process in Vietri, or go for a half-day hike on the Path of the Gods

Other suggestions include: 

  • Visit the beautiful Villa Cimbrone and Terrace of Infinity in Ravello 
  • Soak in the sunshine on Gravitella Beach in Vettica Maggiore, Lannio Beach in Centra, or Arienzo Beach in Positano
  • Try your hand at windsurfing in Praiano
  • 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 striking countryside crisscrossed with hiking trails

For dinner, head to Ristorante Pizzeria Giardiniello in Minori for the best Italian pizza, paired with a glass of delicious local wine.

Day 12: 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 Rome, Naples, & the Amalfi Coast - 12 Days
Map of Rome, Naples, & the Amalfi Coast - 12 Days