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Italy Itinerary: One Week in Italy




Easily my most popular article on this site is my suggestion for the perfect two-week Italy itinerary. It’s ideal for the first-time visitor, but not everyone has two solid weeks of vacation time to put toward an Italy trip – or you’ve got two weeks, but you’re hoping to visit more than just Italy in that period of time. Either way, if a week is all you’ve got set aside for Italy, here are some options for a one-week Italy itinerary.

And if you want to take charge of your own trip, here’s my step-by-step guide on how to make your own Italy itinerary.

Itinerary Planning Assumptions

Colosseum at night || creative commons photo by Umberto Rotundo

Colosseum at night || creative commons photo by Umberto Rotundo

First things first – when I say “one week,” I mean one week’s worth of work or school days, meaning you’ll be taking five days off. The actual itineraries involve you flying out on a Friday night or Saturday morning and not flying home until Sunday of the following week, though, so the time you’re gone is actually more like eight-nine days. I’m trying to squeeze as much vacation time as possible out of one week for you.

Second, this itinerary – like my two-week itinerary – is focused on what I call Italy’s “Holy Trinity” of Rome, Florence, and Venice. There are different options for day trips and other stops that will add different flavors to your trip, depending on which you choose, but the basic premise is that you haven’t been to Italy’s big three before.

Third, I strongly recommend that you choose lodging in the historic center in each destination, purely to eke out even more time spent exploring. Sure, you may save a bit of money by booking a hotel on the outskirts. And when you need to take the bus or Metro to the attractions each day, that’s time you’re not actually visiting the attractions. Staying closer to the sights can give you more vacation time.

Finally, in order to maximize the amount of time you spend exploring Italy itself – and not in transit – this itinerary is designed around what’s known as an “open-jaw” airline ticket. This means you’ll fly into one city and out of another, rather than backtracking at the end of your trip. These are typically around the same price as a simple round-trip ticket, and they’ll give you much more time on the ground. Here are some tips to finding cheap airfare to Italy.

One Week in Italy: Itinerary Ideas

The “Holy Trinity” + Pompeii

One Week in Italy: Venice, Florence, Rome, Pompeii

Because this itinerary not only includes Italy’s big three but also one of its most popular tourist attractions – Pompeii – it’s a winner for travelers who love checking must-see sights off their travel wish lists. It’s also great for history fanatics who get chills at the notion of walking the same ancient cobblestones that the ancient Romans did.

Venice: 1-2 hotel nights (optional half-day trip to lagoon islands)
Florence: 2 hotel nights (optional half-day trip to Pisa)
Rome: 4 hotel nights (including a day trip to Pompeii; optional half-day trip to Ostia)

For this itinerary:

  • You’ll fly into Venice (VCE) and out of Rome (FCO).
  • You can take the train everywhere, so there’s no need to rent a car in Italy.
  • The number of nights you spend in Venice will depend on just how long your “week” is. If you’re squeezing a full nine days out of a week-long trip, stay two nights. It’s worth it.
  • The optional side trips are listed to give you some suggestions if you want to cover more ground, but you could easily spend a day in Venice and two full days in Florence with no need of any other city’s distractions. In Rome, after a day trip to Pompeii, you can also be completely content in The Eternal City for the rest of the time – or a side-trip to Ostia can give you a chance to see the excavation of another ancient Roman city plus a visit to the beach, all within a half-hour train ride from Rome.



The “Holy Trinity” + Siena

One Week in Italy: Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome

Most of us have that friend who’s been to Italy and just can’t stop gushing about Siena. There are lots of good reasons for that, so why not go see it for yourself? You’ll get time in Italy’s big three, plus a little extra time in this quintessentially Tuscan town (an overnight stay makes it even better).

Venice: 1-2 hotel nights (optional half-day trip to lagoon islands or Verona)
Florence: 2 hotel nights (optional half-day trip to Pisa)
Siena: 1 hotel night
Rome: 3 hotel nights

For this itinerary:

  • You’ll fly into Venice (VCE) and out of Rome (FCO).
  • You’ll take public transportation for the whole trip, so there’s no need to rent a car. The train will get you nearly everywhere, though the more efficient route from Florence to Siena is by bus.
  • Anyone who wants to skip Siena and use that extra day to wander a bit more aimlessly in Tuscany can certainly do so – for that, you’ll be happier renting a car for a day or two.
  • The number of nights you spend in Venice will depend on just how long your “week” is. If you’re squeezing a full nine days out of a week-long trip, stay two nights. It’s worth it.
  • The optional side trips are listed to give you some suggestions if you want to cover more ground, but you could easily spend a day in Venice and two full days in Florence with no need of any other city’s distractions.

The “Holy Trinity” + The Cinque Terre

One Week in Italy: Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome

To many, summer trips to Italy don’t quite feel complete without some time near the sea. This itinerary option includes a swing through Liguria, with two nights in one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre. They’re no longer sleepy fishing villages – they’ve become supremely popular with American and German backpackers and hikers, particularly. They’re still beautiful, whether they’re on or off the beaten path. The beaches here are not among Italy’s best, but the one in the biggest Cinque Terre town (Monterosso al Mare) is relatively good-sized.

Venice: 1-2 hotel nights
Cinque Terre: 2 hotel nights
Florence: 2 hotel nights (optional Pisa visit en route from Liguria)
Rome: 2 hotel nights

For this itinerary:

  • You’ll fly into Venice (VCE) and out of Rome (FCO).
  • You can take the train everywhere, so there’s no need to rent a car.
  • The number of nights you spend in Venice will depend on just how long your “week” is. If you’re squeezing a full nine days out of a week-long trip, stay two nights. It’s worth it.
  • Trains from the Cinque Terre to Florence often require a change in Pisa, so stash your bags at the train station’s luggage office and catch the bus into the center to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You don’t need more than two hours to see the tower, baptistery, and cathedral, and it’s a fun way to break up a travel day.
  • The most popular hiking trail in the Cinque Terre is the one linking the five villages, so it’s also the most crowded. There are lots of other trails throughout the National Park that covers the area, however, so if you’re keen to escape the crowds hire a hiking guide or get a very detailed trail map.

The “Holy Trinity” + The Amalfi Coast

One Week in Italy: Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast

This is another itinerary for summer trips, when just looking at the water isn’t enough. Spending time on the glittering Amalfi Coast gives you a chance to get on the beach and into the water for a couple days at the end of your trip. Keep in mind that during the summer, these beach towns are incredibly popular with vacationing Italians as well as foreign visitors. Book lodging well in advance if possible.

Venice: 1-2 hotel nights
Florence: 2 hotel nights
Rome: 2 hotel nights
Amalfi Coast: 2 hotel nights

For this itinerary:

  • You’ll fly into Venice (VCE) and out of Naples (NAP). Schedule your flight out of Naples later in the day so that you can make the trip from the Amalfi Coast – that will save you from needing to relocate to a hotel in Naples for your last night.
  • You’ll take public transportation for the whole trip, so there’s no need to rent a car. For the Amalfi Coast, there’s no train service, so you’ll take the bus from Sorrento.
  • You have several options for towns in which to base yourself on the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento isn’t technically part of the Amalfi Coast, but it’s similar – and it’s a transportation hub for the area, making it a good option if you’re keen on day trips. The better beaches are in places like Positano and Amalfi, however. Note that Positano in particular is a very vertical town – you’ll be climbing lots of stairs to get to and from the beach.

2 responses to “Italy Itinerary: One Week in Italy”

  1. IshaniD says:

    Could you help me to book the train? Its very confusing

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