Recommended itineraries in Italy

Portofino from the Castle - Photo © R. Schmuck
Portofino from the Castle – Photo © R. Schmuck

Ten itineraries all over Italy:

The Alps, the lakes
The Italian Riviera – Milan to Turin
Cities and Courts in the Po Valley: From Milan to Venice
Cities and Courts in the Po Valley: From Venice to Milan
Adriatic and Venetian Civilization
From the Romanesque to the Renaissance
The Land of the Etruscans: From Florence to Rome
The land of the Etruscans: From Rome to Florence
Where the Name of Italy was born
Beaches, abbeys and castles between Rome and Naples
The five civilizations of Magna Graecia
Castles and Cathedrals in Apulia. This is another land of ancient civilizations
Nature and Art in Sardinia

My goal at is to introduce my readers to the lesser-known gems that Italy has to offer. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend that first-time visitors concentrate on the well-known places – Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.

I am NOT a travel agent, and I do NOT sell airplane tickets, hotel stays, car rentals or train tickets, my only purpose is to help you to plan your next vacation in the Bel Paese, my country of origin.

historic hotel historic restaurant

Whenever possible, I will guide you to the special and most unique accommodations, like hotels in historic castles or abbeys, and typical and special restaurants. The small symbols above will guide you to such places.

To help you plan the flow of your travels, it will be useful for you to know how far it is from place to place, how best to get from place to place, and how long (ideally!) to stay in each place once you get there.

The itineraries I suggest for your independent travel are based on round-trip flights into and out of the same city. But many European airlines (and some US carriers as well) will let you fly into one city and out of another for no extra charge, check on this before you start planning your ground arrangements, because although Italy is not that big, it will save you one useless trip and overnight stay if you can avoid having to return to your arrival point.

Those of you who can fly into and out of different cities can use the information below to rearrange a more practical itinerary to suit your personal plans.

If you are driving from an European country, of course you have to add the driving time from your place of residence to Italy and back to your country to the suggested itineraries.

Your first visit to Italy

Italy The First Time – Flying Into and Out of Rome
Rome – 3-4 days 1
Train to Florence (2 hours)
Florence – 2 days 2
Rent a car 3
Tuscany – 3-4 days (or skip Florence, stay a week at a villa or farm, and visit Florence from there)
Drive to Venice (4 hours) and drop off car 4
Venice – 2 days
Train to Sorrento (6 + 1 hours – change in Naples) 5
Amalfi Coast and Capri – 4 days
Train to Rome and overnight in Rome
Taxi or private transfer to the airport

Italy The First Time – Flying Into and Out of Milan
Train to Venice (2 hours) 1
Venice – 2 days
Train to Rome (4 hours)
Rome – 3 days
Train to Sorrento (2 + 1 hours – change in Naples) 5
Amalfi Coast and Capri – 3 or 4 days
Train to Florence (1 + 4 hours – change in Naples)
Florence – 2 days 2
Rent a car 3
Tuscany – 3 or 4 days (or skip Florence, stay a week at a villa or farm, and visit Florence from there)
Drive to Milan (3 hours) and overnight in Milan
Drop off car at the airport, or drop it off the day before and take a taxi or private transfer to the airport

Italy The First Time – Flying Into and Out of Pisa
Train to Florence (1 hour) 1
Florence – 2 days 2
Rent a car 3
Tuscany – 3 or 4 days (or skip Florence, stay a week at a villa or farm, and visit Florence from there)
Drive to Venice (4 hours) and drop off car 4
Venice – 2 days
Train to Rome (4-5 hours)
Rome – 3 days
Train to Sorrento (2 + 1 hours – change in Naples) 5
Amalfi Coast and Capri – 3 or 4 days
Train to Pisa (1 + 2 + 4 hours – change in Naples and Rome) and overnight in Pisa

Lake Maggiore

You have already been in Italy

Return visitors will probably have favorite places they’d like to see again, and they’ll know how much time they’d like to dedicate to that. Here are some ideas that you returning visitors can mix and match, assuming that you’ll take care of the “repeat locations” on your own.


1 – If you are coming from the USA, consider your first day mostly wasted, as you will at best have half a day, and you’ll probably be pretty tired for most of it too. Also, take travel time into account as you plan your itinerary: for instance, if you have to travel from Venice to Sorrento, that is not a day in Venice or Sorrento – it’s a day of sightseeing out the window!
2 – Be sure to make advance reservations for the museums!
3 – We strongly urge you to rent a car for your time in Tuscany. Because of the hills, there are almost no direct train routes from anywhere to anywhere, forcing you to waste valuable time waiting for connections, and most of the stations are in the ugly modern part of town, which means you have to then take a bus up to the ancient hill town.
4 – Of course you know you can’t have a car in Venice! You can drop off your rental car in Piazzale Roma, across the Grand Canal from the main rail station. From Piazzale Roma you can take the vaporetto (public water bus) to any location in Venice.
5 – If you wish to avoid driving on the Amalfi Coast, you should stay in the town of Sorrento (make sure your hotel is not on the outskirts of town). From there you can visit Amalfi, Positano, Ravello and Capri by boat, and take the commuter train to Naples (well worth the visit!), Pompeii and Herculaneum.
6 – The coast of Liguria is one place you do not need a car, because the trains and boats are so well organized. A great way to include this incredibly picturesque part of the country in your trip is to fly into Pisa, because there is a train station inside the airport, and you can be in the Cinqueterre area within an hour of landing. Or train to Lucca, only half an hour away and a perfect base for this itinerary.
7 – The ferry service to Sicily is one of the best organized things in Italy. There are public ferries and private ferries – the only difference is that trains literally ride inside the public ferries, which cost slightly less than the private ferries (but both are inexpensive). Both take cars or walk-on passengers, are easy to find in Villa San Giovanni and Messina, and leave every 15-20 minutes, 24 hours a day. No advance reservations are accepted, but except in August, you will rarely have to wait in line to get on.

Where to stay in Milan

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses available, check it out and make a reservation here or  buy, rent or sell a timeshare in Italy.

William Dellorusso
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy

Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.

The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)

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