Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life – Anna Akhmatova
Italy’s a colourful country, with one of the richest cultures in the whole world; getting to know everything in just one trip is believably impossible. Rome alone–the mother of all cultures–takes years of extreme dedication to get to know. Did you know that 40% of what’s declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the whole world, resides in Italy? This means that almost half of the world’s art comes from this boot-formed country. HALF! Amazed by Italy yet? Now try their food, their wine, stay at their villas, sail on its waters…that’s quite something.
I’ve been to Italy twice now, and feel like I’m ready to share a to-do list that manages to meet the basics in just 5 days time. I hate to hurry when there’s plenty to see, specially in a paradise like Italy where it’s hard to narrow down what the basics are. Nevertheless there’s lots of us who can’t spare that much time sometimes. So here’s how I did it:
5 Days in Italy
Day 1: Arrival-Venice
Whether you fly in, or drive, day 1 is for arrival; settling in at the hotel, and if there’s some time to spare, for walking around Piazza de San Marcos and having some pizza or pasta for dinner. Venetians love their seafood, so be sure to try some! After dinner, you can can wander around, do some shopping, and then head back to the hotel to prepare for the next day!
Day 2: Venice-Pisa-Florence
Day 2 is for getting to know Venice and heading to Florence with one stop along the way: PISA! So first thing in the morning, it’s breakfast in Venice, and then it’s time to do some sightseeing. At first, walk around and cross over Venice’s bridges so you can really take Venice in. Once you’ve walked and seen a little bit of Venice, it’s time for a gondola tour through the city’s famous canals. You can book your gondola tour on the spot with no problem. From the gondola, you’ll see the city from a spectacular perspective. You’ll see the bridges, the water, the other gondolas, you’ll also appreciate Venice’s architecture, and the classic clothes hanging outside people’s apartments. Here’s a little bit of what you’ll see:
After the gondola tour, it’s time to enter St. Marks Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), and marvel at it’s outside and inside design and architecture. Once that’s done it’s time to get some gelato, and head to Burano Island to appreciate how blown glass items are manufactured. Blown glass items can be bought there–cheaper than they are offered in Venice. So make sure you wait and buy your glass souvenirs at Burano Island.
Here’s how to get from Venice to Burano:
After you’re back at Venice, it’s time for lunch before hitting the road on our way to Pisa to marvel at its Inclined Tower!
At Pisa you can take your time to photograph the tower and the magnificent architectural monuments that surround the plaza. You can chill as you lay on the grass, eat some gelato, and then prepare for the ride to Florence! Getting to Florence from Pisa is not a long drive; nonetheless, it has already been a long day, so you’ll be arriving at Florence at night. So it’ll be time to have some dinner, sleep tight, and prepare for the cultural, architectural, and magnificent experience that will be Florence in the morning!
Day 3: Florence-Rome
Ahhh Florence!!! There’s such a special place in my heart for a city like this one. It’s got it all!! Just walking in its streets is a cultural experience; getting to know its plazas, shops, restaurants. Sipping espresso at its cafés’ terraces, and watching people walk by is soothing in this city. Be sure to eat gelato, and shop for leather items in the market; they are simply the best quality in Florence, and the balance price-quality is the best.
This day is to enjoy Florence, and then head to Rome in the afternoon. Schedules may be tight when traveling on the fast lane, but there’s enough time to enjoy the city, the food and the culture! When travelling this way you can experience a little of everything, and then decide where you would like to visit again for a longer trip.
KEY Museums to visit while in FLORENCE:
- Accademia Gallery: It houses Michelangelo’s David, easily the most famous sculpture in the world!
FACT: The sculpture was so perfect and so human-like that Michelangelo decided to make its hands notoriously large, as a symbol of the greatness that human race could achieve with just their hands.
- The Ufizzi Gallery: It houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli and Michelangelo, as well as a large collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. Without a doubt one the world’s top art museums.
There are way more museums to visit in Florence but we’ll have to let them become one more reason to book another trip exclusively for Florence in the future!!
For our day-tour in Florence, it’s now time to grab some lunch at any of its many restaurants, before walking by the iconic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, as it’s called in English.
Here you’ll find the most exclusive jewellers in Florence, as they have maintained over the years. You can walk around and enjoy the views, the environment, and the shopping! It will then be time to get back on the road, in direction of the mother of all cultures: ROME.
It’ll be getting dark in Rome by the time we get there, but before heading to the hotel, it’ll be time to grab a delicious dinner in the city center, where there’s lots of options to eat. We’ll stroll around Piazza Navona, where there are fountains, people selling art, and lots of restaurants. This place in the light of night is just divine; the experience and ambiance is a must when in Rome. After dinner, it’s time to sleep!
Day 4: Rome-Vatican City
Day 4 is to taste a little bit of Rome, and Vatican City. It’s best to visit Vatican City in the morning, before it gets too crowded, so that’s where today’s itinerary will start! The best way to to do Vatican City is with a tour guide from the premises; when I did it, we had an exceptional experience, all thanks to the tour guide who taught us, showed us, and inspired us with everything the Vatican has to offer. Marvelling at the Sistine Chapel is by far one of my favourite activities from the trip. To sit in silence and stare at the ceilings of the holiest art in the world is a world class experience, and can’t be missed when entering Vatican Museums. You’ll be amazed at every painting, every sculpture, the gardens…everything. After Vatican Museums, entering St. Peter’s Basilica is another must-see from Vatican City–again with a specialised tour guide from the Vatican. You’ll be illuminated by the immensity just like I was. You’ll visit and be able to pray on Pope John Paul II’s tomb. You’ll see, you’ll learn, you’ll understand–if you’re anything like me–you’ll cry, you’ll reflect, and be undoubtedly, mind blown.
After visiting Vatican City, it’ll be Rome time. This is the time to visit the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and Trastevere. After these you can take your time for dinner after heading back to the hotel.
Day 5 will be interesting, and so beautiful! The day starts with breakfast in Rome, we then drive in direction to Naples, where we’ll embark a ferry that’ll take us straight to Capri Island for our day adventure. Capri is a beautiful island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, one of my all-time favourites! In Capri you shop, you walk around, you eat, you marvel at its beauty, and you photograph. You can visit Augustus Gardens and its luxurious hotels, too. This day is more about relaxing, having a delicious lunch, and walking at a tranquil pace. You can also visit Ana Capri, above Capri, and appreciate the amazing views.
After this, it’s then time to head back to Rome, and prepare to fly out the next day.
So this is Italy on the fast lane! 5 days and you’ll have checked off your bucket lists Venice, Pisa, Florence, Rome, and Capri! You’ll have visited Vatican Museum, seen Michelangelo’s David, the Sistine Chapel, Pope John Paul II’s tomb, and learned and experienced a real Italian experience. One that’ll have you making one more list with more locations to visit in the future, just wait and see…
Until next time Italy!!!