Italy is a country I’ve always wanted to visit, mostly because my great grandmother immigrated to Brazil from there.
Though my immediate family is Brazilian, the blood running through their veins is very much Italian. Case in point: Everyone talks with their hands, constantly argues, there’s no such thing as “inside voices,” and every single meal is like a Thanksgiving feast — even if it’s just lunch for my mom and I.
I love every minute of it, and I’ve always dreamt of visiting the country where my family originally came from. In October 2017, I finally made that dream come true. I spent two weeks traveling through the country, in which I was able to wander the historic streets of Rome, climb the Duomo in Florence, drink wine in Tuscany, hike between the colorful fishing villages of Cinque Terre, and visit a Very Famous Tower in Pisa.
Below, view the two-week Italy itinerary I settled on.
Five days in Rome
Rome is the biggest city of the five I chose to visit, which is why I allocated the most days here. It’s a city home to thousands of years worth of art, architecture, and culture — there’s so much to see it can be a little overwhelming.
Here are a few things not to miss when you’re there.
Highlights from my visit:
- Free walking tour. There are a few companies that offer tours; I went with Rome’s Ultimate.
- Piazza del Popolo. The historical entrance to Rome.
- Spanish Steps. Grab a gelato, sit on the steps and people watch. It’s also a nice sunset spot, but make sure to grab a spot up top near the entrance of the Trinita dei Monti church.
- Trevi Fountain. Toss a coin and make a wish. Tip: It’s packed at all hours of the day, every day, so if you want it less crowded, go early in the morning or late at night.
- Pantheon. The famous Roman temple is open to the public free of charge.
- Sunset at the top of Gianicolo (or Janiculum). The view of the city from the top of this hill is spectacular. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset. Tip: Bring a blanket, and don’t forget a bottle of wine.
- The Colosseum. Buy your ticket in advance and get in line around 8 a.m. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.
- The Vatican. Here you’ll see the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church I’ve ever entered in my life.
Four days in Florence
From Rome I took a train to Florence (1.5 hours), where I discovered one of my favorite cities in the world. Florence is a lot smaller than Rome, but there’s still a lot to see.
It has a more laidback vibe and all of the tourist sites are within walking distance, meaning you’d probably be able to hit them all within two to three days. I loved the Florentine culture so much that I extended my stay to four days.
- Free walking tour. I went with La Bússola.
- Duomo del Firenze. The cathedral is a major symbol of the city and one of the largest in the world. Entrance is free, but if you want to climb to the top of the dome for an incredible view of the city (you should), you must buy a ticket ahead of time.
- Ponte Vecchio. Florence’s signature bridge.
- Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. Another beautiful view of the Arno River, Florence and beyond.
- Boboli Gardens. Picturesque gardens home to the royal Pitti Palace.
- Accademia museum.by Michelangelo.
| READ MORE: Top 10 Things to do in Florence
Three days in Lucca
Lucca is an easy train ride away from Florence. It’s a charming small town that’ll give you a taste of Italy’s Tuscany region. It’s known as the city of 100 churches, and its historic center is encircled by a well-preserved Renaissance-era wall.
There isn’t much to do other than walk around its tiny cobblestone streets, eat delicious Tuscan food and indulge in La Dolce Far Niente — the sweetness of doing nothing.
- Walk the wall. You can walk or bike the walls that circle the city’s historic district.
- Piazza dell Anfiteatro. Once a Roman amphitheater, this square has a distinct elliptical shape.
- Bike around. Rent a bike and wander around the scenic Tuscan countryside, visiting small villages on the way.
Four days in Cinque Terre
Has Instagram ever convinced you to visit a place?
That was the case for me when it came to Cinque Terre, home to the heavily photographed colorful cliff-hugging fishing villages on the west coast of Italy.
There’s not a ton to do except eat, go to the beach, and hike between the five towns — Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare — so it’s up to you how much time you’d want to spend here. It can be very romantic, and Guil and I took our sweet time to explore each town.
- Hike between the five towns. The trail that connects the five fishing villages is strenuous at times but offers beautiful views of each town and the Lingurian Sea. Sometimes a portion of the train is closed, but you can always skip that portion by hopping on the train that connects all five.
- Go to the beach in Monterosso. Truly a gorgeous beach.
- Eat pesto. The region is famous for the green sauce.
| READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Iceland in the Summer
One day in Pisa
Cinque Terre is pretty close to Pisa so I figured why not?! Let’s check out that leaning tower. I spent the day wandering the city’s cobblestone streets and shopping before my flight to Barcelona that night.
- Leaning Tower of Pisa. Take all the ridiculous photos.
- Arno River. Like Florence, Pisa can be quite picturesque. Take a walk along the river to see for yourself.
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