Updated: Sep 6
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Italy is a country with many diverse regions and major cities. If you're planning a trip to Italy, you may be overwhelmed about where to start. My husband and I decided to venture out to Italy on our honeymoon, and we were faced with a challenge right away: which part should we visit? After careful consideration and research, we decided to visit several places instead of just one. In hindsight, if you're going to visit Italy, you might as well make the most of it.
We started in Rome with an exploration of the Vatican City and a day trip to Pompeii. Following that, we were off to Florence with a day in Pisa. Modena and Maranello were next before heading to Milan, and finally, our trip was rounded off in Venice. Here's how we did it.
We arrived at Leonardo Da Vinci airport around 10:30 a.m. and immediately checked into our hotel to head to the Vatican City. We had pre-booked tickets ahead of time to avoid the hour-long lines entering the Vatican Museums. Situated practically in Rome, the Vatican City is a separate country altogether, though a passport isn't needed to enter.
The Sistine Chapel in particular is just amazing as it seems online. Created by Michelangelo, the breathtaking frescoes depict stories from the Old Testament of the Bible. You don't necessarily have to be religious to enjoy the art, so make sure you don't skip it. Besides the chapel, the Vatican Museum itself hosts tapestries on the walls and world-famous statues. All of this is built with St. Peter's Basillica as the focal point.
Dating back to 753 BC, Rome is larger than life, and as a history lover, I was all about it. While in Rome, you can't miss out on the Roman Colosseum where many a battle was fought, or the Forum where public meetings took place. As with the Vatican Museums, pre-booking tickets is the best way to avoid long lines for these attractions. Furthermore, you need to visit The Pantheon - the best preserved ancient monument in Rome, and the Trevi Fountain which once supplied water to the whole city. For more ideas, check out the top things to do in Rome.
On the third day, we took a day trip from Rome to Pompeii, the famed archeological city that was destroyed in 79 AD by Mt. Vesuvius. The feeling is somber, as there are many casts of citizens preserved from seconds before they died, but the step back in history is equally as magnificent. If you're coming from Rome, you can minimize confusion with a guided day trip.
We spent two days taking in all that Florence has to offer, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore pictured above. We climbed to the top of Giotto's Bell Tower for stunning city views and watched the sunset one evening from Piazza Michelangelo. Birth place of the renaissance, Florence is beaming with wonderful museums such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Academy Gallery where Michelangelo's "David" is on display. More ideas can be found in our top things to do in Florence post.
The next day, we headed out of Florence on a day trip to Pisa for its namesake tower. Only about an hour to an hour-and-a-half by train, a trip to see the Square of Miracles was quite easy to do. Along with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the square includes The Cathedral of Santa Maria, a baptistery, and the Camposanto (graveyard). Purchase an all-in-one ticket to get the best out of your time.
I bet you've never seen this one on an itinerary. Modena has a large history when it comes to balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar in Modena is the first created and has the consistency of syrup. In fact, it's so sweet that locals actually put it on their gelato. It comes packaged in a special bottle unique to the region. This quaint town was full of good food and offered a chance to get off the beaten path a little. Interested? Check out the top things to do in Modena.
The birthplace of Ferrari, Maranello was a short bus ride from Modena. We decided to visit Pushstart Maranello, a company that allows you to drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Located directly beside Pushstart is the Ferrari Museum, which gives you a chance to learn more about the supercar and its birthplace.
For two days, we hung out in Milan to discover why they call it the fashion capital, and we left with absolutely no wonder remaining. From the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center to the gothic design of The Milan Cathedral, this city is gorgeous as they come. One of the top things to do in Milan is visit Leondardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper, located at Santa Maria delle Grazie. Book advance tickets several months in advance to ensure your entrance.
Venice is one of the most beautiful places you'll visit in Italy, and the best place to discover it is by water. Opt for a gondola ride at sunset to truly understand the city's magnificence. While wandering around, look out for The Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, which are covered more in our top things to do in Venice post. Additionally, Saint Mark's Basilica is free to visit, and you should definitely spend time in Saint Mark's Square.
On our final day in Italy, we took a water taxi from Venice to Murano Island to visit one of many glass blowing factories. We watched as workers created a figurine and perused shelves upon shelves of glass masterpieces. Shipping is available for those who want to take a piece of Murano back home.
Italy is a wonderful place full of versatility. From ancient history in Rome to modern cities like Milan, and even amazing places I haven't yet had the chance to visit, such as Cinque Terre or Tuscany. I'm sure I'll be back again someday, and until then, share your stories with me in the comments!