Not sure where to go? Try one of these common itineraries to take on your own, or mix and match destinations to plan your own independent trip.
1. Italian Highlights Tour
Approximate Time: 2 Weeks
Rome - Florence - Vernazza - Venice - Rome
Many people choose to fly in and out of Rome. This is a great central location with a major airport and flexible flight options. Rome is a large city that is a quintessential part of a trip to Italy. The city requires at least a few days to explore. You can begin your trip with some time in Rome, or save this great city for the end of your trip.
If you decide to save Rome for the end of your trip, it may be possible to catch a train on to Florence on the day you arrive if your flight is early enough. There are both local and express train options available. It is worth the added expense to catch an express train as the time difference is significant and you are likely to be tired from your flight.
Florence is a beautiful city that is worth several days of exploration. If you have enough time, a day trip to Sienna is a popular option. There are countless museums and impressive architecture throughout the city. There is also wonderful shopping and excellent local restaurants.
Cinque Terra is a favorite destination for many visitors to Italy. Although the area has grown in popularity in recent years, it still holds on to its old world charm. The vineyards and spectacular and the five towns are separated by a beautiful hiking trail that meanders along the dramatic coastline. Allow yourself plenty of time to linger in Cinque Terra. A favorite city to spend the night is the quaint Vernazza.
Venice is also a quintessential part of a trip to Italy. It's a fascinating place to explore with many meandering streets where you can wander. If you have several days, consider taking a day trip to Murano, with its glassblowing, and Burano, with its colorful homes and wonderful pastries.
Finally, make your way back to Rome. There are many places to explore in Rome. If you have time, it is also possible to take the bus to Pompeii for a long day trip. It is wise not to make this trip on the last day of your vacation in case you accidentally miss the bus back to town.
2. Southern Italy Itinerary
Approximate Time: 2 Weeks
Rome - Naples - Pompei - Sorrento - Capri - Bari
Southern Italy provides a beautiful trip that is slightly less popular than the northern route. Hightlights of the trip, such as the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii still experience crowds similiar to elsewhere in Italy, but it is possible to find more remote off the beaten path destinations as well. Choosing a season outside of the popular summer months will help ensure that that crowds are less.
Because of its central location, Rome provides a nice starting point for the southern trip as well. From Rome you can head south to Pompeii and Naples. Pompeii requires several hours to explore. It is best to arrive early before the crowds and cruise ships reach the site. Pompeii is very touristy, but many consider it a necessary and worthwhile part of a trip to Italy. From there, continue to Sorrento and the Isle of Capri. Sorrento offers picturesque beauty in a wonderful climate. It is the perfect place to relax, dine, and leisurely explore for a few days.
You'll find that the trains are much slower once you head south of Naples. It's important to consider this when looking into destinations and connections. Many people choose to base themselves in Bari for a couple of days. This is a good city where you can explore popular towns such as Alberobello or Matera.
From here, many people continue on to Sicily. If you plan to include Sicily in your trip, remember that this is a great distance to travel. If you are short on time, consider spending more time in the cities above and less time on the road. Alternatively, this is also a good place to catch a ferry to Croatia and experience a different country.
3. Sicily Overview
Approximate Time: 2 Weeks
Palermo - Cefalu - Polizzi Generosa - Taormina - Catania - Piazza Armerina - Agrigento - Marsala - Erice - Palermo
A trip to Sicily offers a unique perspective on Italy. Many people begin their exploration in the city of Palermo. From there you can head in the direction of Taormina, with several stops along the way. Many people enjoy visiting towns such as Cefalu and Polizzi Generosa. Cefalu is a picturesque coastal town with a lovely cathedral. Polizzi Generosa is surrounded by the beautiful and diverse Madonie Natural Park.
From Taormina you can head to Catania and Mt. Etna which sits 3,340 meters above sea level. It is a spectacular place to visit. Then it is time to head toward the western side of Sicily. Piazza Armerina offers impressive ruins of the Roman Villa of Casale. There are interesting mosaics and impressive sights. From there, Agrigento is the place to visit the complete Doric Temples. This is a good place to spend the night as the Temples are lit up beautifully in the dark.
Marsala is a popular place for those interested in wine. It's is the most famous wine producer on the island and there are local wineries which you can explore. From Marsala you can continue on to the medieval hillside town of Erice. There is a castle worth visiting that is built on the remains of the Venus Temple. From there, continue the loop and finish back in Palermo.