We totally fell in love with Italy! We enjoyed every destination, meal, person and sight we experienced. One of the hardest parts when planning a trip to Italy was narrowing down the destinations. There is A LOT to see and it can become a logistics nightmare. We wanted to see several areas without feeling like we had to repack our bags each day. Check out our 16 day Italy Itinerary full of luxury and adventures for a glimpse into how we spent our time. There were several areas that we had to put on the list for our next trip. Our Italy Itinerary included Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Sardinia and Rome!
“One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination.”
Day 1-2: Venice
In all honesty, we had read mixed reviews on Venice. We knew it was an area we wanted to see and form our own opinion. We decided it would be a good idea to start here so we didn’t compare it to other areas of the country. After experiencing Venice, we would highly recommend coming here first as well. While it’s an interesting place, we found it to be extremely touristy and crowded due to the number of cruise ships that visit each day. Check out all the details of our weekend in Venice.
Getting There: We flew from Houston, TX to Venice, Italy on Delta Airlines with a stop in Atlanta, GA. Upon our arrival, we booked a private water taxi from Venice Link. Splurging for the private transfer was worth every penny. After the long international flight, it was nice to have a direct ride to our hotel. The public water taxis were quite large and packed with people so we were certainly happy with our private ride.
Venice Hotel: Savoia & Jolanda – Highly recommend, great location! This hotel was within walking distance of many of the main attractions. The rooms are a bit dark but spacious and well decorated.
One of the great perks of this property is the included breakfast buffet. They have a gorgeous patio with water views while you eat. It was the highlight of each morning!
Doge’s Palace with Secret Passages We scheduled a couple tours with Walks of Italy. If you’ve followed our travels on this blog, you know we prefer small group or private tours versus massive groups. As a bonus, Walks of Italy offers the secret passages areas of the palace in addition to the main tour. We felt so exclusive going through secret areas that the majority of visitors do not have access to!
Canal cruise with a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore Island scheduled with Walks of Italy. The great part of this tour is the ability to climb the bell tower and get some gorgeous aerial views of Venice!
St. Marks Basilica – While you can pay to take a tour of this gorgeous place, we decided to attend mass and therefore we had the opportunity to sit and admire the inside without paying a fee!
Private Gondola Ride – We had heard mixed reviews of these rides. They are quite pricey but the good thing is that you can negotiate a rate with one of the gondoliers that are open. We don’t recommend booking this in advance as it’s easy to get one at the time you wish. It’s a complete tourist trap but we had to do it!
Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti – This small museum took us about an hour to walk through. It provided us with a short break from the hot summer sun while admiring some gorgeous art pieces. Nice quick activity!
Notable Places to Eat:
Florian Cafe – Great live music and piazza views. We sat here and enjoyed tea time with some fantastic bites.
Cantina do Mori – Great place for drinks and bites! It is said to be one of the oldest bars in Venice dating back to the early 1400’s. It’s a small space but offers quite a variety. Make time to spend some time here.
Don’t miss a trip to Harry’s Bar which is home to the Bellini! Get more tips in this Venice Travel Guide.
Day 3-6: Tuscany
The Tuscany region is quite large therefore it was hard to pick a spot. We ended up planning our trip around our accommodation. What better place to stay while in Tuscany than in a castle?!?
Getting There: From Venice, we took the train to Florence. The train system is quite easy to understand and very efficient. We had no problems at all. Once you arrive at the train station, getting to the rental car pickup location was a bit of an issue for us. We had to take a taxi as it is a bit outside the main station area. Once in our rental car, we had about an hour or so trip to our accommodation.
Tuscany Hotel: One of my visions of our Tuscany stay was to be in a castle! We found the perfect B&B at Castello delle Serre! It is family owned and they have turned this historic castle into such unique accommodations. There are several rooms in the main castle building but we decided to book the tower. It’s larger, more private and offers a terrace at the top. It was such a dream to stay here. The family was extremely friendly, served amazing breakfast each morning and were great with helping to plan our day. You can read more about our experience here.
Winery Tours: Obviously one of the biggest draws to the region are the wineries. We hired a private guide for the day from Tours around Tuscany and visited both the Montalcino and Montepulciano regions. Our guide was fantastic and offered a vast array of information about the history of the region. It was a fabulous day! You can read more about our wine experience here.
Cooking Class: What better spot to learn about authentic Italian cooking that in Tuscany! We booked Chef Ryan for a private class for the day and had prepared several courses for a fantastic experience. Chef Ryan welcomed us into his home and we had a lovely afternoon getting to know his family while learning our way around the kitchen! It was a real highlight of our trip. Check out the full experience here.
Notable Wine & Drink
Tenuta di Arceno – One of the prettiest wineries we visited during our time in Tuscany.
Ristorante Podere Le Vigne – Gorgeous outdoor patio with winery views. Amazing gnocchi – some of the best of our trip!
Osteria La Porta – Don’t miss the prosciutto with truffles! They also have a gorgeous patio for outside dining with winery views.
Day 7-8: Florence
Honestly, we almost skipped Florence. We’re not that into art and thought we could gain 2 days by skipping. We used Florence as a base to get to Tuscany and decided to add two days of our itinerary dedicated to exploring the area. We were so glad we did! Check out how we underestimated this great city here.
Getting There: We had a quick drive from Tuscany back to Florence. We decided to return the rental car as we had read the city can be confusing to drive in. It was a really great decision as it was easy to navigate by foot.
Florence Hotel: We booked a room in the boutique hotel Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1. It is a historic building and the rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated. It was one of our favorite hotels during our trip! Not only does this property knock it out of the park in setting and location, it elevates itself with the incredible breakfast and rooftop terraces. They offer gorgeous views of the city while you dine or enjoy your cocktail!
We spent most of our time here just walking and taking in the beautiful sites. The narrow streets were filled with markets and shops. The main square, Piazza della Signoria, was full of activity and offered a sculpture garden as well. It was awesome!
We also decided to hire a professional photographer while in Florence as we rarely capture photos of just the two of us. It was so fun to spend the morning capturing us and this beautiful city.
Spend some time at Piazzale Michelangelo. This is an area that offers incredible views of the city below. There are areas to sit while enjoying the view from the top and that’s just what we did!
Days 9-11: Sardinia
Getting There: We flew from Florence to Alghero via Air Italia. It was a smooth flight but the worst part was the LONG line to pick up our rental car at Auto Europe. It’s a small airport and several flights arrived at the same time so plan on spending at least an hour to get your car. A car here is a must!
Alghero Hotel: We continued our historic property stay by booking a few nights at Villa Las Tronas. It’s a historic property with gorgeous water views. We had a few complaints but overall would stay here again. You can check out the pros & cons here.
One of the big draws for us was to explore the beaches. It was fantastic to relax! We would just drive until we would pass a “Spiagga” sign and then pull over. We really found some secluded spots! You can check out the full list here but our favorite beach was La Pelosa Beach!
Neptune’s Grotto – There is a grotto that it accessible both by boat or 650 step walk down a cliff. We would highly recommend a walk down the cliff to get to the grotto. Inside you will get a guided tour to see the cave formations. It’s a really nice way to spend the afternoon filled with incredible views!
Boat Tour – Also you must get on a boat and explore this area from the water! We booked a day trip aboard the Andrea Jensen. We had a fabulous day snorkeling, sailing and swimming the coves. Additionally, they serve an incredible lunch aboard to really elevate the trip.
Old Town Alghero – Lastly the main town is about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. We went there each evening due to the variety of restaurants along the water. No cars are allowed in the main square, therefore it was a nice leisurely place to grab a drink, eat and shop each evening.
Pork is a very popular dish in Sardinia. There are so many restaurant options along the strip that we really couldn’t choose which to recommend. All of the options were wonderful and you really can’t go wrong. You may have to be prepared for a wait especially if you want to dine outside but with the fabulous setting and a glass of Prosecco in hand, the wait will pass by quickly!
Day 12-16: Rome
We decided to end our trip in Rome as there were several flight options to get back to the states from here. There was so much to do in Rome that we could have easily spent double the amount of time here. We really had to be efficient and selective with our bookings.
Getting There: We flew on Air Italia from Alghero to Rome. Our hotel offered to book a private transfer from the airport to the hotel which worked out really nicely!
Rome Hotel: We stayed at Hotel Forty-Seven. While it’s not historic like the other properties we visited during this trip, it was still quite lovely. The rooms were plainer than we had experienced but spacious and comfortable. In addition, the location was within walking distance to many of the main attractions. Plus, Hotel Forty-Seven offers great views of the city from the gorgeous rooftop deck. See our full pros & cons here.
We booked 3 semi-private tours with Liv Italy and we could not recommend them more. They offer no more than six people in the group making a very intimate experience. The guides were friendly and highly knowledgeable which was the perfect fit for us!
Walking Tour – We were able to visit the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and the Parthenon.
Vatican Tour with Early Entrance – In our opinion, a small group and early entrance are essential when visiting the Vatican. It was the most crowded place we visited the entire 16 days.
Colosseum and Underground – We had an exclusive tour including the underground areas of the Colosseum! Such a fun way to see a bit more than the average traveler.
Vespa Tour – One of the highlights of our trip to Rome was booking this private Vespa tour with Scooteroma. We had such a fun afternoon zipping around on the back of a scooter while taking in many sights around the city! Our guides were fun and friendly. In addition to the attractions, the tour is also food focused, therefore, you get to stop at several areas for local bites to eat! Check out all the fun here!
See an Opera – During the summer months, they show operas at the Baths of Caracalla. It’s such an interesting setting to be in Rome, seeing an opera amongst the ancient ruins! Highly recommend if there is a show while you are there.
Lastly, make sure you plan time to just walk around the city. There are so many pizzas each with its own character. It’s a lovely space to grab a coffee and enjoy the setting!
Notable Places to Eat:
We could not get enough of the food here! So many amazing spots. Prosciutto, pasta, and wine were a staple for us at both lunch and dinner!
Roscioli – It’s located in the heart of Rome and is a deli inspired restaurant. It serves several types of meat and cheeses and is the perfect spot for lunch!
Flavio al Velavevodetto – One of our favorites. Gorgeous outdoor seating and incredible pasta! A perfect spot for a romantic evening.
Spirito di Vino – You must visit the wine cellar here! It’s one of the most historic wine cellars in the city. Not only is their selections of wine amazing but the food is spectacular as well!
Panella – A local bakery with amazing espresso! Definitely worth a visit.
Trapizzino – This is Rome’s street food. It’s their version of a meatball sandwich and it’s incredible! Many varieties of meats to choose from here. They are looking into expanding to the USA ergo there could be a local option in a city near you soon!
Overall we had an incredible stay in this country and can’t wait until we have the opportunity to return. There were so many other regions we could have visited but felt we had a nice balance of maximizing our time while seeing as much as possible in our 16 day Italy itinerary. Hope this helps you narrow down your options for a trip to Italy!