Italy Itinerary

By Rick Steves

So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my top picks for where to go in Italy, and my plan for your best three-week trip. Of course, not everyone has jobs or lifestyles that allow a three-week trip, so make a plan, prioritizing according to your interests and tastes. If you're passionate about Renaissance art, Florence is a must. Want to get high? Head to the hill towns of central Italy.

Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities:

  • 4 days: Rome, Florence
  • 6 days, add: Venice
  • 8 days: Cinque Terre
  • 10 days, add: Siena
  • 13 days, add: Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast
  • 16 days, add: Milan, Lake Como (Varenna)
  • 19 days, add: Padua, Volterra, Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio
  • 21 days, add: Dolomites, or slow down

Rick’s Best Three-Week Trip to Italy

The big-ticket stops in Italy — Venice, the Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, and the cluster south of Rome (Sorrento/Naples/Capri/Amalfi) — are inconvenient by car and easy by public transportation. A car is most helpful for exploring the hill town regions and the Dolomites. Major car-rental agencies have offices in many towns.

Day 1:  Arrive in Milan (sleep in Milan)

Day 2:  Milan to Lake Como (sleep in Varenna)

Day 3:  Lake Como (sleep in Varenna)

Day 4:  To the Dolomites via Verona (sleep in Bolzano or Castelrotto)

Day 5:  Dolomites (sleep in Bolzano or Castelrotto)

Day 6:  To Venice (sleep in Venice)

Day 7:  Venice (sleep in Venice)

Day 8:  To the Cinque Terre (sleep in Vernazza)

Day 9:  Cinque Terre (sleep in Vernazza)

Day 10:  To Florence via Pisa (sleep in Florence)

Day 11:  Florence (sleep in Florence)

Day 12:  Florence, late to Siena (sleep in Siena)

Day 13:  Siena (sleep in Siena)

Day 14:  To Assisi (sleep in Assisi)

Day 15:  To Orvieto and Civita (sleep in Orvieto)

Day 16:  To Sorrento via Naples (sleep in Sorrento)

Day 17:  Capri (sleep in Sorrento)

Day 18:  Amalfi Coast  (sleep in Sorrento)

Day 19:  Morning to Rome via Pompeii (sleep in Rome)

Day 20:  Rome (sleep in Rome)

Day 21:  Rome (sleep in Rome)

Day 22:  Fly home

With Limited Time

If you have less time, skip the Dolomites, since they're out of the way.

With More Time

With extra time, slow down, or add more hill towns. They're worthwhile to visit, though time-consuming to connect by public transportation.