- Explore the world-famous Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
- Discover ancient legends and Rome's darker side at the Colosseum
- Explore the lesser-known and stunning Umbria region of Italy
- Wander through Florence's beautiful medieval piazzas & cathedrals
- Tour the Romantic city of Verona and see Juliet’s balcony
|Day 1||Arrive in Rome||Rome|
|Day 2||Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica||Rome|
|Day 3||Self-Guided Tour of the Colosseum||Rome|
|Day 4||From Rome to Orvieto||Orvieto|
|Day 5||Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto||Orvieto|
|Day 6||From Orvieto to Florence||Florence|
|Day 7||Historic Walking Tour of Florence||Florence|
|Day 8||Local Cooking Class in Florence||Florence|
|Day 9||Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano||Florence|
|Day 10||From Florence to Verona||Verona|
|Day 11||Guided Verona City Tour||Verona|
|Day 12||Self Guided Visit of Venice from Verona||Verona|
|Day 13||Depart Verona|
Day 1: Arrive in 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, so 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. After the entrance was blocked for centuries to protect against grave robbers, 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 C.E. 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: Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
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 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.
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 secret details and untold stories throughout the tour.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Stroll through the Centro Storico, the historic center, of Rome 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 through the piazza, stopping for some pizza, gelato, and people-watching.
Day 3: Self-Guided Tour of 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 in time 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.
As you approach the Colosseum, you will see the Outer Wall with 3 levels of arches. Near the Colosseum, stands the Arch of Constantine which was constructed to honor Emperor Constantine’s victory in the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill are all located very close to each other in the same archaeological area.
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 & 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 might a good idea then to start your visit 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.
In the evening head to the Monti neighborhood for dinner at an osteria or a trattoria, followed by drinks at a trendy wine bar.
Day 4: From Rome to Orvieto
Discover the lesser-explored Umbria region of central Italy. Easily connected to both Rome and Florence by frequent trains and almost equidistant between these two larger cities, Orvieto makes for the perfect stop to compliment your travels. With its hilltop location and medieval architecture, the city is home to a stunning Cathedral as well as a network of underground caves built by the Etruscans.
From Rome, set out by train or self-drive your way the 2 hours into Umbria. Once you arrive in Orvieto, make your way to your hotel. Take the afternoon to explore the historic center on your own or with a guided tour.
If you opt for some self-guided exploration, we suggest climbing the Torre del Moro for some spectacular views from this hilltop town to the surrounding region. Or, head over to the Pozzo di San Patrizio, a historic well and a highlight of the town. This engineering feat is a marvel was designed to obtain water from the depths of the bluff it sits on. From there, venture to the edge of town and walk along the city walls to take in your beautiful surroundings in this enchanting place.
In the evening, head to the center of the city where the piazzas come to life with and bars and restaurants fill up with locals. Head to Piazza della Repubblica to enjoy the atmosphere and settle in for a delicious dinner.
Day 5: Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto
Spend the day exploring Orvieto and discovering all it has to offer. Around midday, meet your guide to begin your journey back in time on a 2-hour tour of Orvieto's Underground City. Make your way to the entrance of the grottos and underground tunnels hidden inside the cliffside of Orvieto. Created by the inhabitants of the city approximately 2500 years ago, you'll set out to discover the extensive underground of Orvieto. This hour-long route inside the well-lit cave-like labyrinth is easily accessible alongside your local guide.
Journey your way back across thousands of years of history, hearing the stories that this unique geologic wonder has born witness to from your guide. Orvieto's underground has served many purposes spanning Etruscan history, and these seemingly endless tunnels, passageways, and caverns make up an incredible ancient adventure to discover. What started first as wells and cisterns to hold water expanded over time to include cellars, shelters, and even spaces for the production of goods like pottery.
After your visit, come back to the present day and continue to see what makes modern Orvieto special. Your guide will take you to a locally beloved spot nearby for a light lunch and wine tasting. With a lovely view of the Duomo to enjoy throughout your lunch, sample an array of local products such as white wine, cured meats, and cheeses. Take the rest of the afternoon to continue to explore Orvieto on your own.
Day 6: From Orvieto to Florence
Make your way to the train station to catch an afternoon train from Orvieto into Florence. Once arrived at the station, you'll head to your hotel and settle in. Afterward, head out on your own for a relaxing stroll and dinner downtown.
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 your time at some of these spots:
- Head to Studio Artemisia, located steps away from the Ponte Vecchio for a class in ancient fresco painting techniques
- Visit the Mercato Centrale, a 19th-century open-air market, to browse for a wide selection of vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses, and a variety of lunch spots
- 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
We suggest heading 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: Historic Walking Tour of Florence
Spend the day exploring the city's top sites, starting with a guided half-day walking tour. 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 explore the beautiful squares and architecture that make Florence so picturesque. Soak in the atmosphere before heading over to the Ponte Vecchio, where you can admire the Arno River.
You'll then make a stop at the iconic Duomo, with its terracotta-tiled dome, where across the way Giotto's Bell Tower and the Baptistery with its bronze doors create an unforgettable scene. Finally, with Skip the Line entrance tickets in hand, you'll head to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Your guide will share stories of Michelangelo and how this masterpiece came to be.
In the evening, head over to the trendy Piazza Santo Spirito for some pre-dinner aperitivos.
Day 8: Local Cooking Class in Florence
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Florence, with breakfast at your hotel and a few slow strolls through the historic 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.
In the afternoon, you'll meet your host near the center of Florence for a traditional Italian cooking class. They'll welcome you with a glass of prosecco. Enjoy the venue as you begin the experience with an appetizer of Italian cheeses and other local products.
Next you'll roll up your sleeves and learn to cook regional Italian pasta from recipes passed down through generations. Your hands-on Italian cooking class will last about three hours. You'll learn to cook four dishes from scratch, including a side or dessert. Observe the chef's different tricks and techniques involved in cooking Italian family recipes. In the summer months, you might be able to use the small vegetable and herb garden in the courtyard where zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs are grown.
The best part of the class is at the end, where you'll enjoy your freshly-made dinner in a traditional Italian style, shared with your hosts.
Day 9: 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 located an hour away from Florence. 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 horserace 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 10: From Florence to Verona
From the birthplace of the Renaissance to the home of Shakespeare's infamous love story, today you'll leave Florence and make your way up the Italian peninsula to the city of Verona. Head to the train station and settle in for your journey, usually about 5 hours total with a stop in Bologna. When you arrive, make your way to your hotel to check in.
After you settle into your hotel, you'll have time to explore. Head to the Ponte Pietro, the historic arch bridge facing the San Giorgio in Braida Church, and from there venture up the stairs nearby to the Piazzale Castel San Pietro for a stunning view of Verona and a perfect place to watch the sun go down. This centuries-old fortress perched on a hilltop is an impressive architectural wonder in and of itself, but the view it gives of the city below is what makes it so special. Admire the church towers, river, and city skyline below before making your way back to the city center.
Head to Piazza delle Erbe for dinner, relaxing with a glass of wine and enjoying your beautiful new surroundings.
Day 11: Guided Verona City Tour
Today, take a 2-hour guided tour of the romantic city of Verona with a local guide. You'll see for yourself why this city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and get to know firsthand the culture and history behind Verona. Apart from being the setting for the most famous Shakespearean love drama, Verona is rich in history and archaeological importance.
Your walking tour will start with one of Verona's most notable landmarks, the Arena in the Bra Square. Still used today, this ancient Roman amphitheater is one of the best-preserved of its kind. From there, wander through the cobblestone streets and arrive at the central Piazza Bra, the largest square in the city and the perfect spot to delve into the importance of the ancient economic and political life in the quaint market Piazza delle Erbe.
Nearby, you'll visit the house of Verona's famed lovers and see Juliet's balcony and the Casa di Giulietta, said to have inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. However, Verona isn't only known for its romance. Continue your tour and learn more about why Verona holds such an important place in Northern Italy's medieval history and visit the former political center Piazza dei Signori.
Crisscross your way through side streets and back alleys as your guide points out the best local cuisine and traditional food to add to your list of places to try. Make your way to the River Adige, where you'll be able to admire a beautiful view of the Ponte Pietra, The Roman Theatre, and the Archeological Museum.
After your tour, take the rest of the day to explore on your own. Spend some time exploring inside the Roman Theater and Archaeological Museum. Admire the impressive archaeological feats before heading over to the Castelvecchio. First, cross the Castelvecchio Bridge, constructed centuries ago in the 1350s. You'll travel back in time as you walk over its red brick and take in the incredible scenery of the Adige river from this ideal vantage point. As you reach the other side, you can visit the Castelvecchio Museum. This small castle built for military purposes is a lovely example of the Gothic architecture of the time.
Head back to Piazza Bra in the evening where restaurants and bars are buzzing with locals and visitors alike. Grab an aperitivo before tucking into your meal.
Day 12: Self Guided Visit of Venice from Verona
Take the day to venture over to Verona's neighboring city, Venice. Just a little over an hour away, frequent trains connect the two cities. Once you arrive at the Venice train station, hop on the 'vaporetto' water buses that act as public transportation around the canals of Venice.
We'd recommend starting at the center of it all in St. Mark's Square, or Piazza San Marco. Take a moment to breathe in the sights and sounds of this famed square before getting a deeper look inside the impressive buildings and architecture that surround it.
Admire the impressive Basilica San Marco from outside before venturing in. While admission is free, there is a skip-the-line fee that can be purchased online to avoid lining up in busy months. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing entering inside. Marvel at the incredible mosaics that adorn the inside of the building. If you're up for it, you can climb the campanile, the bell tower of the Basilica that offers incredible views! Here, we'd recommend buying tickets ahead of time online.
From here, turn your attention to Doge's Palace, also located in St. Mark's Square. This almost 600-year-old building has served many purposes over the course of time but always continued to remain 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. Before entering for a visit of the incredibly lavish interior of the palace (buy your admission tickets online to save yourself time!), walk over to the Grand Canal side of the palace for a 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 of St. Mark's Square, it's time to make the 10-minute walk to Rialto Bridge. As you explore Venice on foot, you'll surely cross one of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. The Rialto Bridge is the oldest and arguably most well-known. Linking the districts of San Marco with San Polo, the bridge gives amazing views of both sides of the canal.
A little further down along the Grand Canal you'll find the Rialto Market. This iconic food market is buzzing with local life and flavors. Overlooking the canal, you can stroll around this lively epicenter of daily Venetian life and culture seeing and tasting the local products that make up its incomparable cuisine. Note that the market shuts down around midday and is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
As you leave the center of Venice, venture further into the Cannaregio district. This area of Venice, known for holding the Jewish Quarter is the perfect place to simply walk through admiring the unique, iconic architecture. Cannaregio has plenty of artisanal shops to explore and not to mention a plethora of delicious restaurants and lively bars to stop in for dinner before heading back to the train station to head back to Verona.
Day 13: Depart Verona
After one last cappuccino over breakfast, head to the airport for your connecting flight home. Check Milan and Venice International airports for your best flight options closes to Verona. Have a good trip!