Two weeks in Italy: a grand tour

Italy offers the perfect blend of culture, civilization, and relaxation. Its rich history and culture give it so many must-sees, it can be hard to know where to start: Venice? Naples? Florence? Rome?

The good news is you don’t have to choose; this two-week tour will help you get your travel planning under way...

Day 1: Piazza San Marco and the Ponte dell’Accademia

Morning Vaporetto is the best way to arrive in Venice. Catch one from the airport and simply wander  get lost, stop for coffee, then walk to Piazza San Marco and have a drink at Caffe Florian. Open since 1720, it’s the oldest cafe in Italy, and the second oldest in the world.

Afternoon Cross the Grand Canal at the Ponte dell’Accademia, zigzagging across Dorsoduro to lively Campo Santa Margherita.

Evening Have dinner at locals’ favourite Osteria Alla Bifora Venezia. 

Day 2: Mass at San Marco and the Venetian Museums

Morning It’s worth getting up early to experience Mass at San Marco. From here you can head north to the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, then visit the Ca’d’Oro to see the Giorgio Franchetti art collection. Take the gondola-ferry across to the Rialto, and experience the market bustle over cicchetti (snacks) in one of the many local bars.

Afternoon Discover how Venetian aristocrats lived at the Ca’ Rezzonico Museum of 18th Century Venice, then dive into the art collections of the Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim.

Evening Head to Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio and watch the world go by in the Al Prosecco wine bar.

Day 3: Florence and the Uffizi

Morning Catch an early train to Florence; explore the Duomo, Baptistry and Campanile, which you can climb for bird’s-eye views of the city. Circuit the Gothic Baptistry to see its east doors.

From here you can window shop your way down Via Calzaiuoli to Piazza della Signoria, dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio. Cross the Ponte Vecchio to Piazza Santo Spirito and stop for a delicious lunch.

Afternoon Walk to the Cappella Brancacci chapel to see its famous frescoes of the Life of St Peter, then head back tinto town to explore works by Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo and da Vinci at the Uffizi. It’s open until 6:50 p.m, so we’d recommend visiting when it gets quieter after 4:30 p.m. 

Evening Wind down with an aperitivo at Procacci 1885 on Via Tornabuoni.

Day 4: Gaze up at Michelangelo’s David

Morning When you’re ready, head to the Bargello — a former prison — to see its Renaissance sculptures. After that, it’s worth visiting the peaceful convent of San Marco and exploring the frescoes by early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico.

Afternoon Visit the nearby Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Afterwards, take the bus to the church of San Miniato al Monte for spectacular views of a different kind, as you look out over the whole of the city.

Evening Walk downhill to the Ponte Vecchio and stop for an aperitivo along the Arno before dinner.

Day 5: Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Morning Pisa is an easy day trip from Florence. Most visitors head straight for the Campo dei Miracoli, but we recommend starting with a visit to the market on Piazza Vettovaglie and enjoying some lunch, before walking it off with a stroll along the Arno.

Afternoon Explore the stunning Campo dei Miracoli and climb Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower.

Evening Head back to Florence for dinner  we love Il Latini on the Via dei Palchetti.

Day 6: Rome and the Colosseum

Morning Catch the Frecciarossa (high speed train) to Rome. When you get there, we’re pretty sure you’ll need gelato - we get ours at Piazza Navona. The Pantheon is nearby, so you can explore here before crossing the Ponte Sisto for lunch in one of lively Trastevere’s trattorias.

Afternoon Catch a tram to the Colosseum. From here you can walk past the Roman and Imperial Forums to Palazzo Valentini, where you can explore the virtually re-created villa of a wealthy patrician family. Visit the Capitoline Museums, stopping on the café  terrace for a bird’s-eye view of the Forum.

Evening Walk into the former Jewish Ghetto for an aperitivo, then have dinner in a traditional kosher restaurant.

Day 7: Visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Morning Mass at St Peter’s is less crowded if you go early, so we’d suggest starting the day there before visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, then stopping for lunch on Borgo Pio.

Afternoon Jump aboard a tram to the Villa Borghese park, then explore the nearby Museo e Galleria Borghese and the Etruscan finds at Villa Giulia.

Evening Stop at the Caffé delle Arti at Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna for a drink on the terrace, then take a tram to San Lorenzo to sample traditional Roman food at Il Pommidoro.

Day 8: Ancient Rome and the Trevi Fountain

Morning For a change of pace, why not explore the archaeological site of Ostia Antica, where ancient Rome was located? It’s a short trip back to the city, so you’ll arrive in time for lunch in Testaccio.

Afternoon Head to Piazza del Popolo and Santa Maria del Popolo, then climb the Spanish Steps.

Evening If you like seafood, try the incredible Il Simposio. From here you can walk back to the city center via the Trevi Fountain, and maybe even get dessert to go in the form of gelato from San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42).

Day 9: Onward to Naples

Morning Catch the Frecciarossa to Naples and make a beeline for Spaccanapoli  the street that runs through the city’s historic center. About halfway along you’ll find Via San Gregorio Armeno, lined with shops and workshops. See the Gothic Duomo, then stop for pizza at Da Michele.

Afternoon Browse the Museo Archeologico Nazionale’s collection of ancient finds.

Evening Visit the Chiaia neighborhood and look out over the sea as you enjoy a sunset drink, then head to Da Dora for dinner.

Day 10: Capri and the Blue Grotto

Morning It’s easy to get the hydrofoil from Naples to the island of Capri. Here you can explore the narrow alleys of the Marina Grande, shop on Via Camerelle, then to the Blue Grotto for a boat ride through this amazing natural cavern with its ethereal blue glow. 

Afternoon The funicular will take you back to town — we love to stop for a drink or lunch on Piazza Umberto I, then walk across the island to Villa Jovis.

Evening Stay for a drink and some dinner on the island, before catching the last hydrofoil back to Naples. 

Day 11: Explore Sicily’s ancient capital

Morning If you fly to Catania in Sicily, you can take an 80-minute bus ride to Ortigia, the historic centre of Siracusa. Admire the stunning Duomo before walking up to the lively morning market for lunch at the Fratelli Burgio.

Afternoon Stroll down the Lungomare Levante, stopping for a swim at the Forte Vigliena rocks, then visit the Palazzo Bellomo museum of regional art.

Evening Walk along the Lungomare Alfio to the Fontana Aretusa and stop for an aperitivo in a pavement café.

Day 12: The Greek Theatre at Syracuse

Morning Take the electric minibus to the Parco Archeologico Neapolis, home to Sicily’s best-preserved Ancient Greek theatre.

Afternoon For indoor exploration, we recommend the fascinating collection at the Museo Archeologico Regionale. Afterwards, you can swim and relax at the nearby Zen Lido.

Evening Head back to Ortigia for dinner — we love the authentic country cooking at A Putia.

Day 13: Explore Noto and the Vendicari Nature Reserve


Morning It’s worth hiring a car to make the most of your last full day. If you drive to the city of Noto, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to admire its baroque architecture, and you won’t regret grabbing a gelato from Caffè Sicilia, either. 

Afternoon Drive up to the ruins of Noto Antica and follow the path into the ravine, or leave the tourists behind to discover the Roman mosaics at the little-known Villa Romana del Tellaro, then take a peaceful walk through the beautiful coastal nature reserve of Vendicari.

Evening When you get back to Ortigia, we’d suggest dinner at Hotel Gutkowski, which serves inspired versions of traditional Sicilian cuisine.

Day 14: Ortigia and the Duomo

Morning Admire Syracuse’s Cathedral as you breakfast at the lovely Bar del Duomo, then head back to Catania for a flight home.

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