Every year I take 2 weeks to explore a part of the world I haven’t seen before. Last December was Italy. This trip was particularly special because it was also my elopement and honeymoon rolled into one. You can imagine I wanted every moment to be special so prior to the trip, I spent months researching where to stay, what to see, and where to eat. To save you a little time when planning your trip, I am sharing the itinerary I roughly followed.
If you’re going to be visiting multiple parts of Italy, you want to start either from the north end and work your way down or vice versa. We started our trip in Rome and ended up in Milan (mostly because the only direct flights available were to Rome). So to start, here’s how to spend 3 days in Rome:
Day 1: You’ve just arrived so you may want to take it easy. Take a leisurely walk to the Spanish steps and see the neighboring stores.Walk 8 minutes and see the famous Trevi Fountain. The fountain is more beautiful in person than in pictures. If you want to avoid the crowds, make sure to visit either very early in the day or late at night. For a bite, visit Pane E Salame nearby. This eatery offers amazing charcuterie boards and fresh sandwiches with options for almost everyone. Although it may seem like a tourist trap, the quality of the food speaks for itself. You will see many locals also wait for Pane E Salame’s beautiful boards.
Another 7 minutes walk later and you’ve arrived at the Pantheon. The Pantheon is free to enter. Just like all of the other churches in Italy, people use the Pantheon as their place of worship. Make sure to be respectful of those inside and keep your indoor voices. There are many restaurants around the area but for dessert, check out Mr. Tiramisu. Featuring 100 different tiramisus, Mr. Tiramisu is where you go if you love this dessert. They also have wine and charcuterie tastings and dessert wines that pair well with the tiramisus.Day 2: Visit the Vatican Museum. If you are visiting Italy during the busy season, make sure to buy tickets ahead of time online and skip the line. I actually recommend this no matter what time of the year you go, but during the busy season, it is at least an hour wait just to buy tickets.
A tip to keep note: museums are closed on Mondays in Italy. Make sure to check the hours especially if you are visiting during the holidays. Everyone goes to the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel, but the museum holds so much more. The entire building is a work of art itself from the details on the ceilings to the arches in the doorways. Without a doubt, the most beautiful museum I have ever stepped foot in.St. Peter’s Basilica is located just outside of the Vatican and is also open to the public. I didn’t actually see the inside because the line was just ridiculous, but make an early enough stop and you may beat the crowds.
If you’re looking to catch a view of the city, stop by Castel Sant’ Angelo which is a 7-minute drive or 20-minute walk from the Vatican. For dinner, go outside of the city and check out Trastevere neighborhood. Full of restaurants and hip crowds, this area is completely catered to the locals. Blend in, find a restaurant, and get ready for an authentic Italian meal. Italians don’t have dinner until 8 or 9 pm so if you want to truly blend in, come at 9 pm. Just be ready to wait for the majority of the restaurants.Day 3: Time for the Colosseum. Just like the Vatican, make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online to skip the line. There are multiple levels in the Colosseum but you can only access the underground level if you book a tour. I found that tours booked directly through their website are the cheapest option, and you know you’re not getting scammed.Your ticket also includes admission to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Expect to spend at least 2 hours to see all three; the Palatine Hill is quite a vision and you can spend a good amount of time strolling through the gardens. Afterward, walk on over to the Monument of Vittorio Emmanuel II. Made of white marble, this impressive sight also offers an amazing view of the city. For a fee, you can take an elevator to the top or just climb the stairs and get ready to be awed. Now, if you’re looking for an exquisite dining experience, make reservations for the only 3 Michelin star restaurant in Rome, La Pergola. I will dive into this restaurant in more detail in the next post.If you have an extra day, I do recommend stopping by Naples for a day trip. Naples is known for their pizza and their espresso. Although I had an amazing pizza outside of Naples, it still was a great experience. As for their espresso, I do believe it was the best one I had while in Italy. Ride the train for about 1 hour from Rome to Naples and head towards Piazza del Plebiscito. There you can find Pizzeria Pavia, one of the most popular pizza places in Naples. For dessert, try sfogliatella frolla or sfogliatella riccia, a special dessert in Naples. The frolla is the shortcrust pastry version while the riccia is the crunchy variation.
Although Rome has delicious food, I suggest trying Roman pizza. Every city in Italy has its own way of making pizza. However, Roman pizza was the most different from all of the other pizzas I had the opportunity of trying. Thick crust with various toppings, it is truly unique on its own.If you’re ready to leave Rome, take the train for 1 1/2 hours and head on over to Florence. You can buy tickets online beforehand but you are required to pick a time. If you buy the tickets at the station, you are free to take the train at your convenience; however, they are more expensive. Money, not an issue? Splurge and take the first class train. Roomier seats, more luggage storage space and overall much more comfortable than Economy.
Rome is a large city and this itinerary barely scratches the surface but these are the major attractions that most agree are worth visiting. If there are any other notable places that I did not include, please write a comment so I know to visit the next time I am in Rome!
Next up: La Pergola