In Rome, Venice, and Florence

1 week in Italy, itinerary for first timers.

Italy has always been on my bucket list and here’s why it should also be on yours…

I mean for one…THE FOOD! But also, in Italy you are quite literally immersing yourself in a city and culture rich in ancient history. To top that all off, each city is so uniquely beautiful that it all comes together to make Italy a destination like no other in the world!

On our first trip to Italy we decided to spend a week split between three major cities: Rome, Venice, and Florence. We then set off for 4 days in the Amalfi Coast. I separated these two blog posts first of all, because I think it would just be information overload if it was all on one blog post but also, I feel like they can be planned as two completely separate trips since they are so different.

Click Here for my Amalfi Coast Itinerary!

Italy itinerary at a glance:

Day 1: Rome –

Day 2: Vatican City & Rome –

Day 3: Venice –

Day 4: Venice to Florence –

Day 5: Florence –

Day 6: Tuscany & Florence –

Day 7: Florence to Naples –

Detailed Itinerary: 

Day 1: Rome –

I will start off by saying I definitely watched the Lizzie McGuire Movie right before this trip just to make sure the song would be stuck in my head as I walked around Rome haha. No but seriously, it took me long enough to come to this beautiful city. We loved every minute we spent wondering the streets of the Eternal City.

We got in from Miami on a direct flight around 11am (we booked through Delta but actually flew their partner ITA Airways, it was okay but not great). We took a taxi straight to our hotel on Piazza Navona to drop off our bags at our hotel (Click here for our awesome Hotel in Rome: Hotel Raphael).

I was STARVING at this point (again, airplane wasn’t great on food/snacks) so we headed to Saltimbocca Ristorante which was absolutely delicious. From here, we took a taxi to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill to begin indulging in the history of the ancient Roman Empire. Here’s the tour we booked: Colosseum Skip the Line + Arena Floor tickets. My dad is a huge history buff and so I grew up watching Nat Geo and Discovery channel shows about ancient Rome so being able to walk amongst these ruins was very surreal for me.

After spending some time walking the Forum and Palatine Hill it was time for our check in to the Colosseum. I just want to say that no matter how many times you’ve watched “Gladiator” this place is still jaw droppingly huge and astonishingly gorgeous! Seeing it and visiting it was a lifelong dream of mine and it truly lived up to all it’s glory. Again, in case you missed it here’s the tour I booked: Colosseum Skip the Line + Arena Floor tickets. A ‘skip the line’ ticket is a must unless you want to stand in the hot Italian sun for hours. The ‘Arena Floor’ portion of our tour was also cool because you got to walk on to the actual Colosseum floor which is extra impressive! There is a reason this is now one of the 7 wonders of the World.

After marveling at the it’s beauty on the inside, walk over to a street named “Via Nicola Salvi” for the perfect photo with a backdrop of the Colosseum.

After taking in all the beauty and history we bought public transportation tickets for the day (10€ for 24 hours) and then took the public bus to Altare della Patria. You can buy bus tickets at any ‘Tabacchi’ shops which are little newsstands near most major bus stops. This is a large national monument built between 1885 and 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. It is a giant architectural marvel sitting on a hill overlooking Rome.

Next, we headed to aperitivo. This is the Italian term for “Happy Hour” and is a total must before dinner in Italy. Remember, Italians drink only wine with their dinner (not cocktails). This means, any authentic italian places will not have cocktails on their dinner menu so if you want a cocktail make sure you make it to the ‘aperitivo’ before dinner! I 100% picked this place mostly for the view… but I’ve heard their food is just as impressive. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to have dinner here because Jeremy cannot wrap his head around MICHELIN Star restaurants that serve small portions so I had to settle for the aperitivo only. The bar is called “The Court” and the restaurant is called “Aroma.” The drinks were actually delicious, and they brought out so many apps with them!

From here, we took the bus to a town called Trastevere, known for it’s amazing food! We went to a place called Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 and it has ruined pasta for me forever, in the best of ways. I can never have pasta again without comparing it to this mouth watering perfect carbonara!

We then took the bus back to Piazza Navona where our hotel was located. I want to share that we LOVED staying in Piazza Navona! Other than it’s obvious beauty, I feel like it is close to everything and the area is lively and fun both at daytime and nighttime.

Day 2: Vatican City & Rome –

We had an early start to our day since we had our Vatican Tour at 7:30am this day (Link: Complete Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel and Dome Climb). We loved this tour so much (shoutout to Cristina our guide) and we are so glad we did the 7:30am start time because it really allows you to walk the dome and St. Peter’s Basilica before the crowds pour in. Remember you must cover your knees and shoulders to enter the Basilica.

People have asked me if I went to the Vatican because I am Catholic. I think my religion has little to do with why I came here. Although it is the ultimate symbol of Catholicism, it is also much more than that. The Vatican museums house the largest collection of world relics. The Basilica is the most jaw dropping structure I’ve ever seen. The Sistine Chapel is a marvel and even that, just a small glimpse into the immense talent of Michelangelo. I do not think you have to be Catholic to visit this wondrous place, and moreover I think you would greatly regret it if you did not visit here at least once in your life.

The dome climb is challenging but 100% worth it. The view is very impressive from the top. Just be prepared to climb a lot of stairs!

Then you’ll have a quick lunch break and the tour continues with ‘skip the line’ access into the Vatican Museums that will ultimately lead you in to the Sistine Chapel. I normally HATE tours… but this was one place I wanted to visit with a guide who could really share the history and information of the Vatican with us and it truly paid off. The Vatican Museums are a place I definitely recommend a guide, there’s just too many rooms and corridors and without someone pointing you to the ‘main’ pieces you could get lost for hours in here. There was a moment on our climb up to the dome that our guide took us through a “secret” door that opened up to a narrow viewing area on the inner part of the dome looking down into St. Peter’s Basilica. This was the first time I saw the inside of the Basilica and I was overwhelmed with emotion, it was just truly a site I can’t describe or even show in photos because they will never do this place justice. Also, there are no photos/videos allowed in the Sistine Chapel.

After spending most of our day at the Vatican we took the bus and headed back into Rome for lunch at Borghiciana Pastificio Artigianale (there was a small line, but worth it) and then we walked over to Castel Sant’Angelo and the St. Angelo Bridge.

Then, took the bus to the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna. This area was SOOOOO busy compared to the rest of Rome, not sure why… but we were overwhelmed with the crowds here so we did not stay long. We did do some shopping here, since all major stores are located right by here but then headed to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is free to visitors but the line is crazy long so pro tip: buy an audio guided tour online that lets you skip the line. Here’s the one we bought for $16 – Pantheon Guided Tour.

Time for the infamous Trevi Fountain…

If you want to see it without 10000 people, apparently you have to be there at 5am (we did not do this). It is worth a visit anyway, I did not expect it to be as big as it was!

I was getting hungry again by now so we decided to head back to our room to get ready for aperitivo and dinner at Divinity Restaurant & Lounge Bar. The Lounge bar is a rooftop with great drinks, vibes, and views. The restaurant was delicious, the pizza was one of my favorites! We skipped dessert at the restaurant to have tiramisu at a place called Two Sizes. I will never get over this pistachio tiramisu!

I confess, I was very obsessed with the Vatican, so I decided to go back one more time and see it at night. In conclusion, I do not know which time of day is more impressive here…

Day 3: Rome to Venice –

We took the fast train from Rome (Roma Termini) to Venice (San Lucia) bright and early and in just 4 hours were in Venice (book here: ItaliaRail). Once we arrived at the train station in Venice we headed to a ticket booth to get our 24hr water taxi pass in order to get around Venice easily (24€ per person). We noticed right off the bat that Venice was a more expensive city in comparison to Rome. We took the water taxi to out hotel which conveniently has a stop right in front of it! Click here for our gorgeous Hotel in Venice: Palazzo Barocci. We loved our hotel in Venice, the staff was extremely nice and very attentive. Pro Tip: add the breakfast option, it is served in the outdoor terrace and the food is really good and for 10€ per person you can’t beat it!

After checking in to our hotel we set off for the Rialto Bridge. This is the oldest bridge in Venice (out of the 300 or so) and therefore the most crowded haha.

On the opposite side of the bridge there’s a sandwich shop that is all the hype on social media. We grabbed lunch at L’ Bacaro de’ Bischeri and sat by the water to enjoy lunch with a view and can confirm this place lives up to it’s TikTok popularity!

We were ready for our gondola ride by this point so we ended up taking a gondola from the Grand Canal through smaller canals all the way to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. The gondola rides are pretty standard either 80€ for 30 minutes or 120€ for 45 minutes cash. We negotiated the 45 minute one down to 100€ and it felt like a steal even though it’s very pricey in the grand scheme of things. But, you didn’t come all the way to Venice to not ride a gondola. We loved our gondolier (Lucas) and he actually taught us a lot of cool facts about Venice, like it being composed of 117 small islands connected by about 300 bridges.

We then went back across the Grand Canal to St. Mark’s Square, arguably the most popular spot in all of Venice. The line for both St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge Palace wrapped around the square so we decided to skip going inside these two sites. I recommend you buy skip the line tickets if you want to visit them.

After spending some time at St. Mark’s Square we decided to head back and change for aperitivo and dinner. We had aperitivo at Bar Longhi in the Gritti Palace. The sunset view on the Grand Canal from here, plus amazing drinks was great.

We then walked over to Bistrot de Venise were we had dinner reservations. This place has a bunch of MICHELIN Stars and the service plus the amazing dishes prove to you why it has that many.

Day 4: Venice to Florence –

We felt pretty comfortable with everything we had seen in Venice in 1 day so after a yummy breakfast at our hotel we took a private water taxi to leave Venice in style haha. We now had officially taken all forms of water transportation options in Venice.

The train took us from Train Venezia San Lucia to Firenze Santa Maria Novella in just 2 hours! We arrived at Florence and headed to meet our Airbnb host Luca. Click here for our Airbnb in Florence: Mini Suite with Duomo View. Yes, it is that small but we didn’t care because we wanted the view. One of my best friends stayed here on her trip to Florence a few years ago and we just had to follow suit.

After taking in the view we dropped of our bags and headed to lunch at Trattoria Dall’Oste. I am not a steak person but my beef tenderloins were mouth watering. Jeremy swears this was the best steak he’s ever had in his life, and he eats a lot of steak! In summary, go here!

We then headed to visit the surreal Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The entire cathedral is made of marble and it is truly unbelievably beautiful. Entrance is free and the line moves very fast, especially with a gelato in hand.

Florence is such a beautiful city that literally feels like you’re in an outdoor museum on every street you turn. We didn’t want to miss anything so we decided to walk everywhere (Florence is definitely a walkable city).

We walked over to the Basilica of Santa Croce then to Osteria All’antico Vinaio for some famous florence paninis. We packed our paninis up and headed to Piazzale Michelangelo for dinner with a view over Florence. Piazzale Michelangelo is a gorgeous hill with amazing city views. They have a bar up here for your daily aperitivo so fret not! It’s a little bit of a hike up but there are handy electric bikes available if that’s easier for you. We opted for the bike’s on the way up.

We headed to Piazza della Repubblica for shopping gelato, cannoli, and a moonlight carousel ride.

Florence is known for their leather goods, so you will see many vendors around the city selling all sorts of leather items. We had reached our shopping maximum by now but it they make for great souvenirs to bring back home. For another authentic experience visit the Central Market to eat like the locals do or just people watch haha.

Day 5: Florence –

Started our morning with a sunrise view of the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (at sunrise) and a yummy breakfast at La Ménagère. Let’s just marvel at this view one more time…

Walk over to Piazza della Signoria where you will find Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery. Get ready to enjoy more of Florence’s beautiful art and charm!

We then had lunch at La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant right by the Arno River. You have to try their bruchetta, it is unbelievably good! Next, If you continue walking along the Arno River you will reach Ponte Vecchio. This is the only bridge in Florence spared from destruction during the Second World War. Butchers, tanners, and farmers initially occupied the shops on this bridge, which have present day been replaced with gold jewelers.

After the sunset over the river we had a delicious dinner at Osteria Cinghiale Bianco, as recommended by our Airbnb host. We loved it so much (my phone was dead by now).

Day 6: Tuscany & Florence –

Before heading to the Tuscan countryside we had breakfast at Caffè Rosanò. The staff here was just amazing, so much so it almost takes away from the yummy food.

At this point we were so happy and full we were ready for a day of wine tasting in the countryside! But before, we made a quick pit stop at the Riccardi Medici Palace. The Medici family was an Italian banking family and political dynasty that first began to gather prominence in Florence in the 15th century. The Medici family have claimed to have funded the invention of the piano and opera, financed the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria del Fiore, and were patrons of Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli, Galileo and Francesco Redi among many others in the arts and sciences. Their original home is now a museum in central Florence.

Book our Tuscan Country tour here: Chianti afternoon wine tasting tour

The first winery we stopped at was whatever but the second was AWESOME. The staff was super sweet and they truly went all out for the tasting. We loved it so much we became club members and bought wine bottles for all our friends back home (they will ship them for you)!

In between the two winery stops we stopped at Greve in Chianti for lunch and town exploring. We didn’t do much exploring here since we spent the time eating at Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina.

We also visited Castellina in Chianti a super charming medieval town at the top of the mountain overlooking the wineries that all produce the famous sangiovese grapes only grown in these region that make up the delicious Chianti wines! Fun fact: to be considered a Chianti Classico wine it must contain at least 80% sangiovese grapes.

When we made it back to Florence, it was time for some dinner at Ristorante Brandolino and more Grom Gelato. Grom Gelato was my ultimate favorite place, I think we went like 4 times haha.

Grom Gelato

Day 7: Florence to Naples –

After a quick breakfast at Caffè Gilli (which is gorgeous and delicious, by the way) we took the train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Napoli Centrale.

Caffè Gilli

We were ultimately on our way down to the Amalfi Coast but since the train had a stop in Napoli we decided to spend a few hours here to try pizza in the place where it originated!

We visited Galleria Umberto I and then had lunch at Pizzeria Brandi. Napoli is a very hussle and bussle town and I cannot stress enough how crazy the driving is here (please avoid driving in Italy in general, but especially in Naples)!

Galleria Umberto I

After full bellies with delicious authentic Neapolitan pizza it was time to hit the beach on the Amalfi Coast…

You can read all the details on my seperate blog post dedicated solely to this part of Italy by following this link: Amalfi Coast Itinerary.

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One Comment

  1. Manuel Ferrer

    This was an incredible journey I took via your sight, would love to do this in person some day with Elena. The sights, the information you shared, and the food were all inviting.

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