La Dolce Vita: Italy

Overview: 

Because there is so much to see, do, and fall in love with in this country, many people choose to include multiple destinations when they visit. I’ve put together various versions of the following itinerary for first-time visitors to Italy, because I believe it does a fantastic job of visiting some of Italy’s favorite cities in a logical, easily followed itinerary that allows for you to travel by train. This gives you two full weeks to experience romanticism and beautiful spirit of Venice, the quaintness and beauty by the sea in Cinque Terre, the essence of Tuscany and incomparable charm with a stay in Florence, and the energy of the Eternal City with a visit to Rome.

This is just the beginning of what I am sure will be many, many visits to the beloved Italia.

Day: 1 Venice

Upon arrival in Venice, you will be met at baggage claim and privately transported to the hotel.

Enjoy a leisurely afternoon and evening in Venice. If I could share with you one thing I think you need to do while visiting Venice, it would be this: GET LOST. Just put your map away and start turning down cobblestoned streets until you find yourself in the midst of true Venetians living a beautiful life. Herein lies the real beauty and magic of Venice.  And there really is no need to worry, as Venice is just a small island and so sooner or later you’re bound to get un-lost! When it doubt, you can always find someone to point you back towards St. Mark’s Square and find your bearings that way.

Day 2: Venice 

On the agenda:

Today, enjoy a private morning tour of Venice including the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's square. 

Next, you’ll set out on the Venetian lagoon and see some of the most colourful islands in Italy! This is a chance to get away from the crowds and experience authentic Venice. On this tour, you will sail to Murano to see how the beautiful coloured glass is made, then on to the pretty islands of Burano and Torcello.  After sailing past the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Public Gardens, the tip of Sant'Elena and the famous Lido beach resort, the boat arrives in Murano, known throughout the world for its glass manufacturing industry. 

The second stop of the tour is at the picturesque island of Burano, famous not only for its lace but also for the fishermen's houses painted in bright colours. Then after a short cruise, we reach Torcello, the earliest centre of civilization in the estuary. Only the Cathedral with its magnificent mosaics and the church of Santa Fosca remain as testimony of its former glory.

Day 3: Venice

On the agenda:

In the afternoon, embark on a delicious adventure that stops off at Bacari wine bars and samples their famous cicchetti dishes. Time to get your foodie game face on with some Venice cicchetti! The tour then comes to an end on the steps of the Rialto Bridge, where you can head back to one of your new favourite bars, or your local guide will be happy to point you in the direction of your accommodation. 

Tonight, even though it’s the most touristy thing you could ever do in Venice, you’ll take a private gondola ride and be serenaded as you float down the canals. Everyone needs this experience at least once in their lives. 

Day 4: Cinque Terre

On the agenda:

You will be escorted to the train station for your journey towards the Italian Riviera to enjoy your stay in the Cinque Terre.

Once you’ve arrived and settled into your charming boutique hotel, head to Vernazza to take in an Italian apertivo at Nessun Dorma, a cliffside bar with a stunning sunset view.

Day 5: Cinque Terre

On the agenda: 

Today, head down to the village of your choice and catch the morning action. It’s a great time to sip a morning coffee and watch the village come alive.

Next up, pick your beach. The beach in Monterosso is the only extensive sandy beach in the Cinque Terre, so visit this one if that is what you are looking for, here are some of other beach recommendations.    

To find Riomaggiore’s beach, go down to the marina (take the steps you’ll find on the left at the bottom of Via Colombo). When you reach the marina take the stairs to the left all the way around past the ferry dock. Just past there, you’ll find a beach. The beach is rocky, not sandy. At first, the rocks look uncomfortable, but you can arrange them to create a nice little nest.

Another swimming spot is in Manarola. You can cliff jump, or just join the Italians who set up camp on the boat launch. If you keep walking north along the walking path jutting out to the point, you’ll be rewarded with village views fit for a postcard. 

For dinner, stay in Manarola and eat at Da Billy. It’s delicious seafood with a view that is to die for.

Day 6: Cinque Terre 

On the agenda:

Cinque Terre is famous for its walking paths. Hiking the Cinque Terre trails is a wonderful thing to do, and there are trails weaving all over the region. Some are paid trails (a day pass costs 7.50), and some are not.

If you just want a taste of the trails, I would suggest the section from Monterosso to Vernazza.Take the train to the village of Monterosso, and then hike the trail to the next village of Vernazza.Spend your hike afterglow in the village of Vernazza. It’s a lovely place to spend the afternoon.

For dinner, eat at one of the best restaurants in Vernazza, Ristorante Belforte. You’ll find it down at the marina. If they have a spot on the lower balcony, take it. If not, there’s a higher one too.

Day 7: Florence 

On the agenda:

Today you’ll head to the train station for your train to Florence.  There will be a reception at train station before being escorted to your hotel.

Make your way to Piazalle Michelangelo to catch the sunset at the most beautiful overlook in the icty.

Day 8: Florence 

On the agenda:

Start the day with your small group tour of the historic center of Florence, including skip the line reservations to the Accademia to view Michelangelo’s sculpture of David.

In the afternoon learn how to make two of Italy’s glorious creations, Pizza and Gelato! The professional pizza chef will guide you to making the best pizza you’ve ever tasted.

Day 9 : Florence

On the agenda:

Today you’ll head out on a private wine tour by a an amazing local Italian passionate about wine and all things Tuscany. You’ll experience the very best vino of the region, as well as taking time to appreciate the stunning Tuscan landscape. It’s a scenic safari away from the crowds of the city, with plenty of stops to take your most beautiful photos. The estates you’ll visit have been personally selected to give you a range of experiences, from a medium sized family estate, to a top winery to taste award winning Chianti Classico, Chianti Reserve, and Super Tuscan. Lunch will be on your own at a fantastic small village, and the day will also include tasting of some genuine olive oil.

Day 10 : Florence

Today you’ll be picked up at your hotel and escorted to the train station for your first class train to Rome.  There will be a reception at train station before being escorted to your hotel.

Day 11 :Rome

On the agenda:

Experience Ancient Rome- Your tour will start from the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. From here you will admire the views of the Roman Forum and Nero’s Circus Maximus where chariot races were once held. You will then continue towards the main landmark of Ancient Rome. Your driver will drop you off almost in front of the Arch of Constantine. With your skip the line tickets you will enter the Colosseum, one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and the largest amphitheater built in the Roman Empire. Learn more about the past of the amphitheater as you walk inside it while listening to tales of gladiators, mock sea- battles and executions. Your tour continues inside the Roman Forum, the marketplace of Rome, considered the central area of political and social life around which the ancient roman civilization developed. 

Day 12: Rome

On the agenda

In the morning, meet up with a professional and local Roman guide to show you the important details of the masterpieces housed here. You’ll learn about the treasures of the Vatican with a local English speaking guide who can bring to life the incredible history of the smallest independent sovereign state in the world. This guided tour includes the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of St. Peter the Vatican Museums. VIP skip the line tickets are included with the tour.

By now you’ve worked up a real appetite. Spend the afternoon and early evening on a food tour in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome and experience Rome like a local in one of the most unique areas and the original foodie neighborhood of Rome.

Day 13: Rome

On the agenda:

This is the day for soaking up Rome. To take in it’s beauty, to appreciate it’s specialness, and to understand what it means to live la dolce vita. Begin the day with a visit to Villa Borghese, the largest public park in Rome. It is a pleasant reprise from the noise and heat of the city, and is home to a lake, temples, fountains, statues, and several museums. 

Consider renting a bike to leisurely get around the park.The must-see museum here is Borghese Gallery, which you must reserve beforehand for a 2 hour visit. You will be mesmerized by painting and ceiling frescoes, along with beautiful sculptures by Bernini, amongst others.

Next, head down a long flight of stairs to Piazza del Popolo. This is the perfect place to grab lunch, have a drink, and do some first-class people watching. Continue your stroll by heading down via Babuino for a visit to one of the world’s most famous squares, Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square), which sits at the base of the Spanish Steps. 

From there, make your way to the Trevi Fountain, one of Rome’s most dramatic monuments, where you must toss a coin in to assure your next visit to the eternal city. This is also a great place to grab a gelato. (Suggestions: Gelateria Valentino or II Gelato di San Crispino)

From the Trevi Fountain, continue on to Piazza Navona, via the Pantheon. considered Rome’s most beautiful square. The large and lively square features three magnificent fountains. You've now concluded your stroll through what is considered the very heart of Rome. 

End your night with a perfectly made cocktail in a chic and trendy atmosphere at Hotel Russie’s Stravinskij Bar. They have a lovely hidden garden in the center of Rome and one of the cities most extraordinary cocktail lists.

Day 14 Rome

Today your la dolce vita experience comes to an end. But all that means is it is time to start dreaming of your next return!