*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I will receive a teeny weeny commission!*
Italy is the trip of a lifetime. It’s all very possible to make that trip happen in 10 days. My husband and I chose this destination as our honeymoon spot. We knew that if we didn’t bunker down and check this off our bucket list now, we never would. Only because, well, I’m not a big flyer. And because our finances allowed us to at the time, we didn’t want to chance what down the road looked like. Besides, we’re young, and able to get around to be enriched in the full experience of it.
Planning a trip can be dreadful (at least it is for me). First off, I over-pack, every time. And this would be the first time I had been across international waters and using my brand new passport, so I thought I had to take my entire wardrobe with me. I’m always too afraid of the ‘what ifs’ in a place that isn’t Florida native, or simply American. So some think 10 days in Italy isn’t that much time, while others would probably vouch being able to hit multiple cities in half that time.
Well, we decided to split those 10 days into checking off three cities – Venice, Florence and Rome. Giving ourselves basically three whole days in each city, that was plenty time to get in exactly what we wanted to do with downtime in between. How did we make this happen, you ask? Easy – I can tell you how to plan the perfect 10 day itinerary to Italy. From transportation to each city, to all the things we got to experience without the ‘rush’ and ‘go, go, go’ feeling through this 4-part blog series.
How To Plan The Perfect 10 Day Itinerary To Italy
Decide on where you want to fly in
Mapping it out, we were very hesitant on starting our trip in Rome. Being the biggest city with the most to do, we knew we were going to be jet-lagged (And I certainly was). Also, the airport was a fair distance away from the actual hustle and bustle (Over 30 minutes to be exact), and we weren’t prepared for that after a 12 hour plane flight from Florida. So we chose to fly into Venice first, where from the airport were multiple ways to getting to the actual city of Venice (boat or bus). From the multiple stops along the way, we chose the stop closest to our hotel, and it was a cake walk from there.
Choose your hotel accommodations based on location of your ‘recreational must-haves’
This is important. Mainly because you don’t want to choose a place that is on one end of the city, while everything you want to do is all the way on the other side. Granted, yes, choosing a hotel in the busy areas or hustle and bustle is convenient, but it’s also the priciest and can be noisy. So step off just beyond the outskirts of the city, and you can’t go wrong. But the goal is to be within all of the site seeing areas, museums and tourist attractions, yet far enough away to get a little taste of the local, quiet and authentic experience.
As a tip, if you can’t handle the noise of a busy city, choose accommodations outside or along the outskirts of the main areas of cities. In Florence, we had a hotel right along the outskirts of the city’s epicenter, and being that it was Friday, Saturday and Sunday we stayed, at 3 or 4 in the morning people were still walking the streets singing and what sounded like banging on trashcans or metal light poles (I kid you not), and ambulance/police sirens blared about every 15 minutes all throughout the city. And I’m an extremely light sleeper, so I heard it all. The hotel’s windows were obviously not very sound proof, and you can’t determine that by research beforehand, so it’s important to be aware of whether you can handle that when choosing your accommodations.
But it was definitely a must have for my husband and I to not center ourselves as being complete tourists. I wanted to experience the locals hot spots, the hole in the wall places and hidden gems – not be bombarded by people constantly trying to sell me on tourist food, junk and nick-knacks. Although, some like that sort of thing – but again, I wanted to experience the richness outside the tourist trap.
Now, hostel or hotel?
My husband and I knew right away we couldn’t bare to do a hostel. Again, we weren’t trying to be that cheap for this trip (knowing we’d probably only get to go once). A hostel is basically a dorm, where you share a general bathroom, if not a room as well, with other travelers. Today there are private rooms and bathrooms available, but for being newlyweds we definitely wanted our privacy. The hostels are meant for holding and catering to a lot of people, and is extremely beneficial for travelers and solo travelers because the housing is so cheap (not in a bad way to scare you off) and it is easy to connect with other travelers. If you can stand to share a room or bathroom with multiple people, then go for it. The only difference money wise is that hostels closer to the popular areas of the cities are going to be more costly, so at that point you might as well get a hotel with more privacy.
The hotels can be a wide price range, and my husband and I spent most of our time researching into that over anything else! Many hotels will offer breakfast or free beverages with your accommodations (which might be some of the reason for a fair price). But ultimately, if you’re OK with walking about 10-15 minutes within distance of your hotel to activities, then you’ll hit the jackpot budget wise.
For the love of God, get the tourist fast pass
If you’re big on the museums, no matter the time of year, get any of the available fast passes to all of the museums. I think the only popular and known one is in Florence, which includes fast admission into the Uffizi, Accademia and the Duomo (and probably a few more options included). My husband and I went to Italy during the shoulder season (which is technically in the lower season, so we thought we scored ourselves!), but little did we know we were dead wrong. Museums, especially in Florence, were still crowded (at least 2+ hours of a wait – outisde, in the rain). And it was impossible to get within 50 feet of the statue of David – that’s how crowded it was.
I remember we ran around our first day in Florence in search of the Firenze Card – until we noticed ONE American couple with the bright red badge around their necks out of thousands of people surrounding the Piazza Del Duomo. It was an adventure in itself to find where to buy those fast passes, so it’s easier to do what we did not and to buy them at the train station.
Going against or along with the myth of the tourist trap areas
You can believe what you want to hear about the ‘tourist traps’. Yes, they’re going to get you, suck you in and spit you out. But honestly, that’s all part of the fun. That’s like coming to Orlando and never experiencing the shopping and exploring of and around Disney. Just don’t make that the focus. Branch out – go to the places where the crowds recede, and pick places to eat that don’t have hundreds of families waiting in line for.
The tourist traps are easy to spot – they’re busy, obviously. And there are people constantly taking pictures and walking in circles. It’s like they were purposely put there – now that I look back on it. My husband and I would walk through and we’d come out wide eyed and never wanting to go back. Granted, I was hastily walking around with my Nikon D3200 taking pictures from every angle that I could.
From this picture below of my darling husband, this was in Venice. A tourist hot spot. You can see how busy it is, but this was the only open spawn of personal space we could get for this picture.
We didn’t stay in the tourist traps for long. They were great for pictures, and then to quickly get out. The majority was spent looking for hidden gems of cafe, shops, churches and recreation. You’d be surprised some of the amazing things you find that seem more beautiful than the those you hear and read about in books and on TV.
Make time for things other than the touristy mumbo-jumbo
This will take some research, but trust me when I say it’s well worth it. Unless you’re like my husband and I – we get in and out of those museums faster than you wouldn’t believe. I’m not keen on shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, and in every museum we went to in the month of April was swarming with people. Hold your tongue – don’t worry – I got enough pictures to make it all worth it. So we had a lot of free time as well – which was incredibly enjoyable, especially when you have only three days in each city. So if you happen to have that down time – utilize it, seriously. Whether you go back to the hotel for a nap in the afternoon – make a point to stay up a little later for some night life.
But as for this down time, there are plenty of things you can do in each city. Although, we didn’t do our research beforehand – thinking we wouldn’t have any down time at all – but we walked around a lot, or strolled I should say. We had time to purposely ‘got lost’, as if we knew the place from the back of our hand. We had gelato at least 3 or 4 times in a day – yes, do it – we ate when we felt like it, or picked a place and settled in for a few glasses of wine. We relaxed, like we were locals (or like we were on a date), just reflecting on this beautiful place and what we enjoyed thus far. Doing this made the trip feel longer and it has been those moments that I enjoy looking back on the most.
What to pack for 10 days
I was very nervous about this. I had never been away, let alone out of the country, for over a week span. Even though we checked almost every day what the weather would be like in April, it was settled that we were looking at in the 60s that week. Which, here in Florida, is perfect weather – when the sun is shining, of course. For me, I can usually handle that weather in jeans and a t-shirt, or shorts and a long sleeved shirt or jacket.
So, that’s what I packed. I also brought a couple sweatshirts just in case, but mostly long sleeved flannels, jeans, shorts, t-shirts and a few dressy tops for classier outings. Basically, enough outfits to wear one each day, and to interchange if needed. There were still some of the clothes I never wore. And I’ll tell you why.
Shoes wise, my husband brought one pair – his hiking boots. You’d think with all of the walking we’d be doing I would automatically see it as a good idea to bring tennis shoes. Well, I took the advice of a friend who lived in Italy for over two years, who said, ‘No, bring cute shoes, too. The walking you’re going to be doing isn’t ‘theme park’ walking. You’re strolling, not in a rush – time stops over there – you need to enjoy in the moment, not be running around like a bunch of tourists.’ That’s the thing, we are tourists. But I heeded her advice and brought one pair of tennis shoes, loafers, cute sandals, flip flops and a pair of vans.
Upon stepping off the plane in Venice, I immediately fought a blistering cold wind in my face. Yes, blistering. What happened to 60s? I was beside myself, going through my wardrobe in my head thinking, ‘I didn’t pack right for this.’ I would be suffering wearing the two hoodies and couple pairs of jeans I had brought for a ten day span.
Long story short, weather wise, Venice was actually the best in terms of weather: it was sunny most of the time, and with hiding from the wind due to the buildings on the island made the weather actually perfect. Florence, however, rained or misted almost the entire three days, with temperatures in the 50s. Both of my only hoodies I brought were damp, and began to get that ‘wet smell’. And the shoes I brought, well, they were wet, too. Then, Rome – back to beautiful, but still with temperatures in the 50s and very breezy, which made it quite unbearable in my dampened hoodies and jeans by now. It was Rome that I had to force my husband to go looking for a wet resistant, warm jacket for me to wear – because there was no way I could get through the rest of the trip without one.
Did I even get to wear the shorts I packed? Nope. Thank heavens for the three pairs of jeans I brought instead – which all had wet stains at the leg hems by the time Rome came around. So, clearly, I learned that the 60s are completely different in Florida than they are in Italy.
My word of advice? No matter the time of year you go, bring something wet resistant and warm. Pack for any extremes – OK, maybe do without the snow jacket if you’re going in the summer – but you know what I mean. Bring that one parka, just in case. And expect that you’ll probably wear outfits more than once. Half way through the trip I sincerely gave up on trying to look decent for being on our honeymoon – it became about comfort and ultimate survival.
Day-to-day itinerary in Venice, Florence and Rome
In the upcoming 3-part series, I will go into more depth on our day-to-day schedule in each city. From the hotels we stayed, site-seeing spots, museums, cafes and restaurants to the things we stumbled upon traveling through each city. Learn how to space out your day to get the maximum amount of enjoyment of your trip without running around frantically with your head cut off.
Stay tuned by subscribing to theMRSingLink newsletter, or follow me on social media for blog updates!