Independent Travel Itinerary for Two Weeks in Italy

Part 1 - The Glories of Rome

rome-colosseum.jpg
••• Rome Colosseum. By Martha Bakerjian

Ah, Italia! It's everybody's favorite destination.

I'll show you how to experience the best of Italy in just two weeks with our suggested independent travel itinerary. You'll experience the grandeur of Rome, the romance of Venice, and the simple pleasures of Italy's heartland.

On my sample itinerary, you'll spend a few days in Rome, use a one-week house rental to visit the Tuscan or Umbrian hill towns and countryside, and end with a romantic stay in Venice.

Rome

Rome is a good starting point. You can fly there easily from the United States and you won't need (or want) a car. Plan to spend at least three or four days in Rome. Choose a hotel that's near public transportation. If this is your first visit, you might want to choose a small hotel or bed and breakfast inn offering personalized service. My favorite is the Daphne Inn, especially good for your first visit to Rome. The helpful, English-speaking staff will map out your days, make restaurant recommendations, and even give you a cell phone so you can call them if you get lost or need advice. (See Places to Stay in Rome for more recommendations from budget through luxury)

On your first day, take some time to just wander around and get used to Rome (and get over your jet lag!). Choose an area near your hotel and just wander--don't worry about seeing all the tourist sites. For an overview of Rome, you can hop aboard bus number 110 (the touristic circuit) at Termini Station.​

Plan to spend one day touring Ancient Rome archaeological sites. Another day can be spent seeing the Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Pantheon, Trevi fountain, and Spanish steps (all free!) and visiting museums. My favorite districts? Trestevere, the Jewish quarter, and the up and coming Testaccio, where you can dine on real Roman food--the parts of the animals usually ignored by consumers.

Here's my Recommended 3-day Itinerary for Rome.

You'll also need a day if you want to visit Vatican City including the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and Castel Saint Angelo. Tip: If you want to see the Pope, go on Wednesday and get tickets far in advance. See How to Request an Audience with the Pope from Europe Travel.

Travel Information:
How to Get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome
How to Get from Rome to Other Parts of Italy
Train Travel in Italy

Page 2: A week in Tuscany or Umbria
Page 3: A romantic stay in Venice

Tuscany and Umbria

For the next part of your vacation, you'll rent a vacation house or agriturismo in Tuscany or Umbria, where you can visit some great Renaissance and Medieval towns, drive through beautiful countryside, and experience Italian life as more than just a tourist in a hotel.

By staying in a house for a week, you can usually save some money, shop and eat where the locals do, and spend more time relaxing.

I always look for a house with a washing machine, too, so I can pack light and wash my clothes in the middle of the trip. And I enjoy shopping at Italian farmers' markets and specialty food shops so renting a house lets me buy food to eat or cook at home (another way to save some money).

You'll need to arrange your house a few months before you want to go. You can choose a house in a small village, in a city, or out in the countryside in an agriturismo (renovated farm house). If there are certain cities you really want to visit, be sure the house is within easy driving distance so you can get there and back in one day. In Tuscany, Le Torri vacation apartments is well-located between Florence and Siena. If you want to visit both Tuscany and Umbria, the holiday houses at Il Fontanaro Organic Farm in Umbria near the border of Tuscany make a good choice.

Italy's train system is inexpensive and pretty efficient (see Train Travel in Italy).

I recommend taking the train from Rome to a city near where you have arranged your house rental. Then pick up your rental car (which you have also pre-arranged) and drive to your house. I recommend booking a car through Auto Europe as there are no hidden extra charges. If you're renting a vacation apartment in a town you may not need a car.

Most house rentals run from Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday morning. Since Italian shops are generally closed on Sundays, you will want to do a little shopping when you arrive to stock up for the weekend (you will at least want bottles of water and wine!). See Food Shopping in Italy for shopping tips. Then spend a little time walking nearby.

Tuscany and Umbria are fairly compact, so you will be able to visit a number of places easily. If you want to visit Florence or some of the other larger cities, save yourself some hassle by driving to a nearby train station and taking the train.

Popular Tuscan destinations include Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca, the wine towns of Montepulciano and Monalcino, the Chianti wine region, and Cortona (made famous by Under the Tuscan Sun).

In Umbria, you can visit Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto, Spoleto and other medieval hill towns as well as Lake Trasimeno and some Roman ruins.

Tuscany Travel Planning

Best Places Go in Tuscany
Places to Stay in Tuscany
Tuscany Distance and Rail Map
Books About Tuscany

Umbria Travel Planning

Best Places to Go in Umbria
Umbria Agriturismo
Places to Stay in Umbria
Umbria Map (on Europe Travel)
Umbria Pictures

Page 1: The Grandeurs of Rome
Page 3: A romantic stay in Venice

Venice

After your week in your house, drop off your car and take the train to Venice. In Venice you'll get around by walking or taking a vaporetto (like a bus on water).

You'll want to visit San Marco square, the Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, and some museums, but give yourself some time to get away from the tourists and wander the back streets and small canals to get a real feel for Venetian life.

Before lunch, stop in a bar and order some cicchetti (little Venetian snacks) and a glass of wine. If you want to take a gondola ride, read what to know about gondola rides in Venice . Read more about Visiting Venice and Venice Attractions.

You'll want to spend at least 2 or 3 days in Venice. If you have a longer time, it's possible to rent an apartment for a week here, too. Take a look at our Venice Sestiere map and guide to choose the neighborhood where you want to stay.

From Venice you can fly back to Rome or take the train to Milan and fly home from Malpensa Airport, spending a night or two in Milan, Lake Como, or Lake Garda. See Milan to Venice and the Lakes Suggested Travel Itinerary.

Venice Travel Planning

Top Rated Venice Hotels
Free Sights and Attractions
What to See in Venice
Venice Photos
Books About Venice
Venice Travel Directory

Page 2: A week in Tuscany or Umbria
Page 1: The Grandeurs of Rome