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Italy 2-week city tour Package 1

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Venice – 2 Days

You’ll begin your Italy trip in Venice, one of my favorite cities on earth, in what is likely a flight arriving in the morning. Venice doesn’t have a real off-season. It’s always somewhat crowded, and that doesn’t stop it from simultaneously offering quiet and romantic corners. Many travelers think that by visiting Venice as only a day trip that they’re avoiding the worst of the crowds, but Venice is at its most busy during the day specifically because of the day-trippers and cruise-goers. By staying at least one night in Venice, you give yourself a chance to enjoy a city that can be difficult to love.

Venice has a few attractions that most people think of as “must-see sights,” but the main thing to do in Venice is to simply wander, explore, and get lost. And because the island is quite small, you can easily cover the whole of Venice in a day. Going into churches and museums then becomes easy to add to your itinerary.

Aside from aimless wandering, Venice’s main attractions include St. Mark’s Basilica and piazza, the Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge. Venice isn’t a town known for its nightlife, but when the day-trippers have departed you’ll be able to take one of the best nighttime strolls of your life.

Venice’s Santa Lucia train station has regular service to destinations all over Italy and into the rest of Europe. After two nights in Venice, you’ll leave on an early morning train for your next stop in the Cinque Terre, which will likely include a transfer in Milan. The trip will take about 6-7 hours.

Cinque Terre – 2 Days

The secluded charm of the Cinque Terre is what drew visitors here in the first place. These five villages no longer feel very secluded, as they’re often crowded with tourists who come to hike the trails that connect the towns and to marvel at buildings that seem to grow right out of the rocks. The Cinque Terre has become one of northern Italy’s most popular places to visit, and – like Venice – is often a day trip destination. That means spending the night gives you a better chance of seeing the best aspects of the area.

You’ll arrive in the afternoon in the Cinque Terre, in time to settle into your hotel and explore that town. You may even have time to hop on the slow train that runs between the villages to explore another town in the evening, perhaps even having dinner there before heading back to your hotel or apartment. Spending two nights gives you one full day in which to do all the hiking you’d like to do – if there’s time the first afternoon when you arrive to do some additional hiking, that’s a bonus.

There isn’t much to do in the Cinque Terre besides hiking, lying by the sea, swimming, and relaxing – so take your time and enjoy your hike (best to go first thing in the morning before it gets too hot), cool off with a swim in the afternoon, and feast on local seafood for dinner.

After two nights in the Cinque Terre, you’ll take a train bound for Florence. Because the trip is only 2.5-3 hours long (even with a change in Pisa), you don’t need to worry about an early start if you’d rather go for a morning hike. If you’re planning to stop in Pisa for 1.5-2 hours to see the leaning tower, however, I’d recommend getting an early train so you’ll have time for a Pisa visit and still get into Florence for a leisurely evening.

Florence – 4 Days

Florence could easily be the focus of a two-week vacation in Italy all by itself, and you still wouldn’t see everything the “Birthplace of the Renaissance” has to offer. With four nights in Florence and three full days, you’ll have enough time to see the major sights at a slightly more leisurely pace and squeeze in a day trip if you so desire.

The “must-see” sights in Florence include the fabulous Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, the pretty Ponte Vecchio, and the multicolored Duomo – but the list doesn’t end there. The good news is that the bulk of the city’s main attractions are concentrated in its historic center, which means that although this will be your first taste of Italian city traffic since your arrival in the country, you’ll mainly be focused on the parts of the city that are more pedestrian-friendly than they are choked with cars.

Since you cleverly stopped in Pisa en route to Florence, if you’re itching to see the Tuscan countryside before heading south to Rome then I’d recommend a day trip while you’re in Florence. Siena is perhaps the most popular day trip destination from Florence (after Pisa), and although it’s a large city now, there’s an historic medieval core that’s quite appealing. It’s the sort of place people fall in love with instantly, and when you get there you’ll probably understand why. Another popular day trip option from Florence is San Gimignano, a small walled town with a plethora of medieval towers. Both Siena and San Gimignano are easy to reach from Florence by bus. Keep in mind that both are popular day trip spots, which – like Venice – means they’re extra-busy during the day. If you can’t spend the night in either city, however, then a day trip is the next best thing.

After four nights in Florence, you’ll board a train the next morning bound for Rome. It’s a 2.5-3 hour trip.

Rome – 5 Days

Even without ever having set foot in Rome, no doubt you know just how important the city is – and has been – for more than two thousand years. Even with the gravitas of all that historic significance, Rome is very much a city on the move – a modern metropolis with no time to slow down for visitors. I’ll admit that the first few times I went to Rome I found it to be overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve come to respect Rome, and I’ve learned to love it, but it didn’t come easily.

Rome is big. It’s sprawling. (The bus/metro/tram network is intricate. Get to know it – it means you’ll avoid exhausting yourself by walking everywhere.) One of the things that helps immensely is giving yourself enough time to ease into Rome rather than trying to see everything in two days. Having five days in Rome means you won’t punish yourself with an overly-ambitious itinerary. You can go back to the hotel room for a midday break if you need it, or spend an extra hour in a piazza watching the fountain and eating gelato. In short, don’t beat yourself up about trying to “conquer” Rome. You’re on vacation, remember?

The “must-see” list in Rome is extensive. You can see the major sights of ancient Rome – the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Capitoline Hill, and Palatine Hill among them – in a day. It’s best to give Vatican City the better part of a day. There are museums and art galleries to visit, markets to scour, and lots of great Roman cuisine to enjoy. You might be content to savor Rome for your four full days in the city before you fly home, but if you can’t bear to be this close to Pompeii and not see the famous archaeological site, you can do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome.

Pompeii is actually a much easier day trip from Naples or even Sorrento, since it’s so close to those, but you can do Pompeii in a day trip from Rome. You’ll just need to plan on an early morning train, and make sure you’ve researched the train connections ahead of time. You can also book a guided tour of Pompeii from Rome to leave the logistical wrangling to someone else.

You’ll fly home from one of Rome’s airports, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a flight that doesn’t leave at the crack of dawn you might have enough time to check something else off your to-do list in the Eternal City before you head out of town. Even though this is the end of your trip, you might consider bringing your Italy guidebook on the plane in your carry-on bag – you’ll be able to start planning your next trip to Italy on the flight home, picking up on the Italy wish list where you left off this time.

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