From Tuscany to Veneto to the Italian Riviera, this 12-day itinerary is perfect for indulgent travelers who want to see and taste the best of Italy. You'll start in Northern Italy, with a  tour of Verona and then see romantic Venice. You'll visit the birthplace of the Renaissance in Florence, then tourTuscan vineyards, and visit Pisa's 'leaning tower.' Your adventure will end with the former fishing villages of the Cinque Terre where you'll sample the foods of Liguria — the Italian Riviera — including seafood, pesto, and focaccia.

Highlights

  • Traverse the romantic streets and winding canals of Venice
  • Climb to the top of the 'leaning tower' of Pisa
  • Marvel at Renaissance masterpieces in Florence
  • Sip a variety of Tuscan wines
  • Hike through some of the five villages of the Cinque Terre

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Verona Verona
Day 2 Day Trip to Soave Verona
Day 3 Day Trip to Venice Verona
Day 4 Lake Garda Peschiera del Garda
Day 5 Arrive in Florence Florence
Day 6 Florence Cooking Class Florence
Day 7 Tour Lucca Lucca
Day 8 Day Trip to Pisa Lucca
Day 9 Tuscan cooking class Lucca
Day 10 Cinque Terre Monterosso al Mare
Day 11 Cinque Terre Monterosso al Mare
Day 12 Goodbye, Italy  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Verona

Juliet's balcony, Verona
Juliet's balcony, Verona

From Milan, you'll transfer to the romantic city of Verona — home of Romeo & Juliet — 96 miles (155 km) or about two hours east. 

After you settle into your hotel, you'll have time to explore. Some of the sights that you might see are Piazza Bra where you can people watch, the former political center at Piazza dei Signori, the Roman Arena, or the gothic Scaliger tombstones — which house the remains of the Della Scala family. A must-see is Juliet's balcony and the Casa di Giulietta, which is said to have inspired Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." You can spend the evening relaxing, or trying a meal of typical Veneto cuisine.

Day 2: Soave

Wine-growing grapes
Wine-growing grapes

In the morning, you'll travel from Verona to Soave, 18 miles (30 km) away. The town is known for its white wines and olive oils, and you'll have a chance to sample its bounty during your day of exploration. You'll visit a renowned wine cellar, where you'll not only taste the vintages, but learn about the area's vinification methods. Another stop will be a tour to Soave Castle, before returning to Verona in the evening.

Day 3: Venice

Waterfront and Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy
Waterfront and Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy

Your next stop will be to tour the fascinating city of Venice, 72 miles (116 km) east on the Adriatic Sea. With nicknames like "Queen of the Adriatic," "City of Water," and "The Floating City," it's clear that its myriad canals are its main draw, also giving it its mysterious quality. Stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon, the city has long been a trading hub, and was formerly one of the most powerful cities in the world, giving it a rich artistic and cultural history, spanning art, music, and design. 

Your walking tour will start at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district. You'll tour Palazzo Ducale (The Doge's Palace), which was built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340. Adjacent to the palace you'll see San Marco's Basilica, one of the best surviving examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture with art, gold mosaics, and exquisite marble floors. You'll also visit the Bridge of Sighs, which has joined the two buildings since the 16th century and features a small window onto Venice's harbor, which earned its grisly name from the prisoners' sighing as they got one last glimpse of the city on their way to execution.

After the tour, you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to continue exploring Venice, before the evening drive back to Verona.

Day 4: Lake Garda

Malcesine Castle on Lake Garda, Italy
Malcesine Castle on Lake Garda, Italy

After breakfast, it'll be time to make a quick drive to Lake Garda 18 miles (29 km) away. After you check-in to your lakeshore accommodation, you'll explore the beauty and varied landscapes of the region on a coach tour. The tour conveniently departs from a number of locations around the lake, giving you the flexibility to hop on and off wherever you want.

You might visit the northern villages of Bardolino, Riva, Malcesine, Gardone, or Limone —which are smaller and have a more romantic mountain feeling. Or, you can see the southern locations of Sirmione and Desenzano, which are somewhat larger, with a vibrant nightlife, trendy bars, and restaurants. You can even cross the lake by boat, to soak up the sunshine and views, before returning to your hotel in the evening.

Day 5: Florence

Florence, Italy
An uplifting view of the Duomo's marble facade

Travel from Garda to Florence 150 miles (243 km) away, as you head south to Tuscany. Before you start your exploration of the birthplace of the Renaissance, you'll have lunch at the city's busy central market "Mercato Centrale" where you can try authentic Tuscan cuisine. Throughout the day, you'll learn more about the city's history as an important artistic, cultural, political, and financial center as you tour palaces and churches like the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza del Duomo, Pitti Palace, and Uffizi Gallery. 

Day 6: Florence Cooking Class

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Various cured meats in the Mercato Centrale

Continue your time in Florence with an afternoon dedicated to cooking. First, you'll learn how to make pizza, starting with handmade dough, and local ingredients, under the guidance of a professional chef. You'll also learn how to make gelato, which is said to have originated in Florence.

At the end of your lesson, you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor. In the evening, you'll go for a gentle cruise on the Arno River which runs through the city, and enjoy a pre-dinner aperitivo (drink and snacks) with a view of the city's famous 'old bridge' or Ponte Vecchio.

Day 7: Lucca

Lucca, Italy
Lucca, Italy

In the morning, you'll head for the next stop on your tour to Lucca, a city whose founding goes back to the Etruscans and Romans, with its medieval fortification walls still intact, which are now used as a walking path that circles the city center.  You'll explore the city during a three-hour guided tour where you'll see the Roman amphitheater, the Torre Guinigi and Torre dell Ore towers, which provide sweeping views, and the Byzantine-medieval Church of San Frediano. Walk through the Via Fillungo, which winds through the historic downtown, connecting ancient buildings and modern-day storefronts. You'll also learn about renowned composer, Giacomo Puccini, who was born in Lucca, and is known for works like La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot. You'll finish your afternoon with a glass of wine or prosecco at a local enoteca (wine bar).

Day 8: Pisa

Gelato in Pisa, Italy
Gelato in Pisa, Italy

From Lucca, you'll take a day trip to Pisa to see the famous 'leaning tower.' You'll begin your tour with a walk around the city's medieval walls as well as a tour of its cathedral. You'll also see it's 12-century baptistery and cemetery, before getting a chance to marvel at the peculiar angle of the tower, and even climb it to take in views. Your tour will conclude with a stop at a wine shop for local tastings. You'll head back to Florence in time for dinner. 

Day 9: Tuscan cooking class

wine tasting in Italy
Wine tasting in Italy

You'll travel through the Tuscan countryside from Lucca to the medieval hill town of San Gimignano, where you can take in sweeping views from its many towers. In the morning, you'll have a cooking class featuring typical Tuscan cuisine. You'll also have a chance to sample the town's famous Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a sweet white wine that is produced from grapes that are only grown in the vicinity around the town. In the evening, head back to Lucca for a relaxing evening. 

Day 10: Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy

From Lucca, you'll leave Tuscany for Liguria, the Italian Riviera. Your final destination will be Cinque Terre, and the five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The area is part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once you arrive in Cinque Terre, you'll enjoy a typical Ligurian lunch, which might include focaccia, pesto on pasta, or locally-caught seafood.

Day 11: Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy

You'll have the day free to explore Cinque Terre by boat or train. In spring and summer, you'll have the chance to catch a boat that travels among the five villages, or you catch a train in any season which travels frequently among them. Or, you can also opt to hike between a couple of the villages, but be sure to check with the tourist office or your hotel, as many of the trails are often closed due to deteriorating conditions.

Day 12: Goodbye, Italy

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Your exploration of Italy will end after breakfast with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination.

Map

Map of Taste of Italy: Florence, Pisa, Venice, Cinque Terre - 12 days
Map of Taste of Italy: Florence, Pisa, Venice, Cinque Terre - 12 days