This route takes you through the highlights of Italy while exploring more of each region. Start in Rome, visiting the Vatican and Colosseum before making your way up to the lesser-known Umbria region for a stopover in Orvieto. Enjoy your time away from the big city and delight in the local life. Continue up to the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence. This city's incredible plazas and cathedrals never disappoint. Finish off your trip in the Veneto region, staying in lovely and romantic Verona and visiting its neighboring city, Venice.

Highlights

  • 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

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rome Rome
Day 2 Visit the Colosseum & Roman Forum Rome
Day 3 Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica Rome
Day 4 Galleria Borghese - Free Afternoon in Rome Rome
Day 5 From Rome to Orvieto Orvieto
Day 6 Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto Orvieto
Day 7 From Orvieto to Florence Florence
Day 8 Florence Self-Guided City Tour Florence
Day 9 Local Cooking Class in Florence Florence
Day 10 Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano Florence
Day 11 From Florence to Verona Verona
Day 12 Guided Verona City Tour Verona
Day 13 Dolomites Day Trip from Verona Verona
Day 14 Self Guided Visit of Venice from Verona Verona
Day 15 Depart Verona  

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, 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: 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 which reveal 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 archeologists 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. Also here is the Basilica Julia and Aemilia, a public meeting house that was commissioned by Julius Caesar.

Your tour of ancient Rome ends 131 feet (40 meters) above the city at Palatine Hill. From here you'll have incredible views of the city, 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, which is brimming with art nouveau architecture.

Day 3: Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's Square and the Vatican

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 4: Galleria Borghese - Free Afternoon in Rome

Exhibition of Bernini sculptures
Exhibition of Bernini sculptures

Today is a free day to explore the city. Head to Galleria Borghese, one of the world's premier art museums, for a self-guided visit to see works by extraordinary artists Bernini, Caravaggio, Canova, and Rafaello. The gallery's highlights include sculptures and paintings from Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection (1579 - 1633). 

Admire Caravaggio's most important paintings, including "Boy with Basket of Fruit", and see Bernini and Canova's sculpture collection, boasting works such as "Apollo and Daphne" and "David". Rafaello's "Entombment of Christ" is also a must-see. 

Walk through the ornate rooms and explore the splendid frescoes, stories, and masterful techniques behind the masterpieces. End the tour with a peaceful stroll around the Villa Borghese gardens, enjoying its beauty and calm far from the chaos of the city. Please note that although this is a self-guided tour, a guided option is also available. 

Other suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo history museum. 
  • Tour the Renaissance Villa Farnesina in the Trastevere district.
  • Go for a stroll in the buzzing Monti neighborhood, an eclectic area in the city center full of hip wine bars and trendy boutiques.
  • Head out of the city for a day at the Ostia beach for miles of sand and warm sea.
  • Visit the historic and fascinating neighborhood of Testaccio to see the giant Monte Testaccio, an ancient pile of discarded olive oil jars from the 2nd century CE.
  • Spend an afternoon at the Musei Capitolini, the oldest and one of the best museums in Italy.

Day 5: From Rome to Orvieto

Orvieto Cathedral

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 6: Underground Tour & Wine Tasting in Orvieto

Hilltop top of 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 7: From Orvieto to Florence

Florence skyline

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 8: Florence Self-Guided City Tour

Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site
Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site

Spend the day strolling the streets of Florence and exploring this incredible city with this suggested self-guided route. All together, the route is just a couple of miles, but take your time to enjoy the sites along the way for 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 a modest dress code. As there is often a line to get in, 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, where 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 of Florence's city center and the incredible architecture that embodies it. 

Take a moment to pass through Piazza della Signoria, where replicas of famous statues, including that of Michelangelo's David, line the square and give it an incomparable air of elegance before stopping for lunch nearby.

Across this same piazza, you'll find the entrance to the Uffizi museum. Even if you decide not to make a stop to peruse the expansive art collection, you can cross through its 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 the Florence cityscape. Cross the bridge, stopping to admire the views along the Arno River that passes 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 9: Local Cooking Class in Florence

Learn How to Make Traditional Italian Pasta
Learn How to Make Traditional Italian Pasta

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 10: Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano

Cathedral and Historic Center of Siena
Cathedral and Historic Center of Siena

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 11: From Florence to Verona

Views of 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 12: Guided Verona City Tour

Juliet's balcony
Juliet's balcony

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 13: Dolomites Day Trip from Verona

Dolomites views

Today, set out from the city of Verona to explore the nearby natural wonder of the Dolomite Mountains, which form part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend from the River Adige to the Piave Valley. This full-day small-group tour takes you by car so you admire the views along the way. 

Take a moment to breathe in the spectacular view over the Dolomites. After a few hours, you'll enter into the Val di Fassa, an expansive valley framed by this impressive mountain range. Enjoy the ride before arriving at Pass Pordoi, at an altitude of 7,345 feet. From here, you'll board a panoramic funicular that reaches more than 10,000 feet. This incredible ride offers breathtaking views of the Dolomites. From here, you'll have the chance to walk around, have lunch, and simply admire your incredible surroundings before heading back to Verona in the evening.

Day 14: Self Guided Visit of Venice from Verona

Venice canals

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 15: Depart Verona

Farewell, Italy!

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!

Map

Map of Rome, Orvieto, Florence, & Verona - 15 Days
Map of Rome, Orvieto, Florence, & Verona - 15 Days