Which cities are best to visit in Italy for the first time? How to plan a cultural holiday in order to understand the country and make the trip as interesting as possible?
For the first time going to Italy, I would advise three versions of the program, designed for 7-10 days:
- Rome, Florence and, possibly, Naples - the right approach if you plan to return and explore the land of sun and wine gradually;
- Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice - you will get tired, but you will see a lot;
- Milan, Venice, Verona, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples - if you are going to Italy for the first and, most likely, last time.
Let's consider all the options in detail and start with the correct approach based on my experience:
Rome, Florence and possibly Naples
After Rome, all other cities, in terms of the number of attractions and history, will seem a little mediocre. Rome for the first time definitely needs to be given at least a week. I am surprised by the tourists who claim that here you can see everything in a day.
I lived in Rome for only 7 years and every day I never get tired of discovering new interesting places. We have more than 400 beautiful churches, each, like a museum, and I have not visited every one.
Yes, "for show" you can go over the main attractions, but I hope that the readers of our site are more curious and not such superficial travelers. For the first time, I advise Rome to take at least 4 days, and preferably a week. For a day you can ride to Naples without spending the night there, visit the volcano Vesuvius and Pompeii. For 2-3 days, call in Florence and Tuscany.
Perfect day plan
- Arrival, check-in at the hotel, read the tips. Dinner in a delicious traditional restaurant or an excursion "Immersion in Trastevere", which will help you navigate the features of Roman gastronomy.
- Walking around the sights of Rome at dawn, ideally with a guide, but you can peek at the ideal route in the description of the tour. Lunch, rest. In the evening - a walk in the area of the Pantheon, Navona, Campo dei Fiori and Trastevere.
- Visiting St. Peter's Basilica at dawn, and, if desired, the Vatican Museums. All our programs in the Vatican are in this section. Lunch, relaxation at the hotel. In the evening, visit interactive excursions at the Caesar and Trajan Forum - read here.
- You can get enough sleep on this day, although I strongly recommend that you go into rhythm and break the rest during the day into two parts: sleep at night for 5-6 hours and add up to 1-3 hours in the afternoon - so you will avoid crowds of tourists, heat and will enjoy the Eternal City on a completely different level. On the fourth day, you can plan a small independent walk in the places you like. In the morning, practice Italian with a local resident, and in the afternoon visit an excursion to the Capitoline Museums or the Borghese Gallery. I can only recommend professional art historians and historians to go to museums in Rome on my own. Without a qualified guide there is nothing to do there, read more here, do not waste your time “for show” in vain. Do not like museums, take an excursion to the Eure district - see modern Rome or take a walk in Borghese park.
- You can see the surroundings of Rome, for example, go to Tivoli to the villa of 100 fountains or to Ancient Ostia, which is not inferior to Pompeii in the preserved buildings. For those who like to eat, I recommend a gastronomic excursion to Castelli Roman or visit the land of olive oil from Leonardo.
- Not the sixth day, accustomed to the noise and energy of the Eternal City, consider the option of a trip to Naples. There is an interesting program all of Naples in one day, which includes a sightseeing tour, a visit to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. Leaving Rome in the morning on a high-speed train, here is the instruction, try to arrive in Naples no later than 9 in the morning. I do not recommend walking for the first time in Naples on your own without a guide - this is a southern, poor and sometimes dangerous city in which absolutely everything can happen to you, and this is not an exaggeration. I advise you to leave all gold jewelry and other attributes of luxury in a hotel safe in Rome. To try to understand Italy, you should definitely see Naples. Later in the evening we return for dinner in Rome, since in Naples all restaurants open no earlier than 19:00. After Naples, Rome will seem to you a modern, quiet, European city.
- The remaining three days I would spend in Florence - this is the perfect vacation plan. In the morning, we leave for Rome from Rome by high-speed train, check in to the hotel, have lunch until 14:30 - then the restaurants will close for a break. I advise you to start with a sightseeing tour and a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. In the evening, dinner is definitely worth a try Florentine steak.
- It is worth a trip to Tuscany, see the options here - Val d'Orcia, Lucca, en-gastronomic tour of the villages with tastings of local delicacies. In the evening we return to Florence.
- The last day in Florence I would devote to a walk around the city at dawn and a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio, Boboli Gardens and observation decks.
- We return to Rome by the morning train and happy fly home.
So I see a plan for a perfect acquaintance with Italy, after seven years of life and exploring this country. I hope most readers will listen to my experience.
We pass to the second, more saturated version of the program in which we will have:
Get tired but see a lot
To the program mentioned above, you can add Venice, spend 2 days there sacrificing the study of Rome or visiting Naples. The first three days remain unchanged, we carry out the minimum program - Trastevere, Rome at dawn, the Vatican. On the fourth day we go to Naples. Then we leave for 2 days in Florence, spend a day in Venice and return to Rome by high-speed train or fly off immediately home.
And finally, the most eventful option for those who are going to Italy for the first, but most likely the last time, wants to check the maximum number of attractions:
View all in one go
Let's try to see a maximum of 10 days - the sights of Milan, Venice, Verona, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples. We will move from north to south, learn about the country gradually. It is possible and vice versa, but I would prefer it from the north.
- If you arrive at Malpensa Airport, you will immediately go to Milan and check into the hotel. In the afternoon, go on a sightseeing and gastronomic tour. If you arrive at Bergamo airport, you can linger for a day in this wonderful city - it is very beautiful there.
- In Milan, we saw the Sforza Castle, the Duomo Cathedral - and enough. We move to Venice, check in at the hotel. You can stay in the Mestre district or in the historical center close to the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. I would not make plans for the evening, I limited myself to a short walk and dinner.
- For the first time, Venice needs to be met only in the morning, otherwise you risk hating this city, the most popular and expensive in Italy. Ideally, book a sightseeing tour at dawn or walk on your own from about five to eight in the morning, then breakfast at the hotel and leave.
- We move to Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, here is the instruction. To save on sightseeing, I advise you to purchase Verona Card. In Verona, you can book a sightseeing tour and a trip to Lake Garda or in the winery.
- After breakfast, we leave from Verona to Florence. In the afternoon we devote a walk around the city and visit the Uffizi Gallery.
- In the early morning we go to Pisa from Florence. I advise you to lay no more than three hours on Pisa, since there is nothing to watch there except for Miracles Square - they made an original picture with a falling tower and the plan was completed to the maximum. In the afternoon, you can visit our original tour of Lucca and the surrounding area, or return to Florence. Lucca is only 30 minutes away by train from Pisa, so I recommend to consider it - it is very beautiful there.
- It's time to go to the Eternal City. Here, as in the first ideal variant, we spend the afternoon and have dinner in Trastevere.
- At dawn, we walk around Rome, have lunch, at 13:30 we go to the Vatican Museums, watch the Sistine Chapel and Peter's Cathedral.
- We are going to Naples for a day, we are watching Pompeii and Vesuvius. In the evening we return back to Rome.
- We fly home or stay one day to restore strength. Read tips on how to spend your last day in Rome.
Before moving, as a tourist, I came to Italy about ten times, and only to Rome and Naples. The first visit to Rome was 4 days. I immediately fell in love with the Eternal City, since I had a girlfriend who showed the city from the right angle.
We walked at night and at dawn to the most popular places, saw Rome at night, drank in restaurants for locals - this is what we share in Rome now during our original excursions at dawn. For inspiration, watch my friend Oliver's video clip:
I immediately wanted to return and just a few months later I flew back again, already for a week. The real study of Italy began only in 2013 after the final move to the country of sun and wine and the founding of the site italy4.me.
For example, the first time I got into the Coliseum was only in 2016, although by that time I had already seen the dawn hundreds of times outside. Yes, I was in no hurry to check.
Zen comes when you do not need to run to the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and other most popular attractions, when you can safely walk around the city and go at random into the courtyards and countless churches, just enjoy the atmosphere, then Rome will begin to slowly open.
- I advise you to read about: my favorite places in Italy where I want to return.
By the way, an alternative plan - just come for the first time only to Rome, live for 4-7 days, be sure to read this article and settle in the right area, and don’t worry about anything else. Do not take excursions, do not read about the sights, come to explore and just feel the city. Go to restaurants, walk in the morning and evening, and relax during the day. Come back in a couple of months and come to us for excursions.