Italy is both a civilization which printed several times its brand throughout Europe and a young country that attempts to unify the past 150 years. The extraordinary density and diversity of heritage that is hidden in its rocks, its cultures, cuisines and lifestyles makes it a unique destination. From northern Italy to southern Italy, they are worlds to discover a blend of dissonant but so endearing regions.
From Tuscany, where every church in every village has hidden treasures, the hectic and eternal Rome, sulphurous Naples and incomparable Pompeii, Romeo and Juliet in Verona, plus Venice, to name only a few in a country with more sites listed as World Heritage Site as any other on this planet.
Ideal for long weekends in its cities of art and history, Italy offers magnificent scenery on its Sicilian volcanoes or too little known in the Dolomites. This is probably the paths of national parks, cycling tracks and waterways and more wonders that curious travelers still have to discover. In each region, without exception, you will gain to take these back roads, take the time to dawdle in the squares and markets, sink a little in the countryside and less known cities to seek local specialties.
Things to know when traveling to Italy
Everywhere, you will discover little treasures, hidden behind the profusion of important monuments but elsewhere would be extolled. Whether the Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Italian golden ages swarmed their mark throughout the country. A heritage density that requires the traveler to take time and come back. In Tuscany, we have a tenderness for fall, so particular in light of the region is as sublime. Rome and Naples can be visited all year. Naples in April is a memorable getaway.
How to plan a trip to Italy on your own
If the idea is to have a trip of 15 days to Italy, surely you would seek to maximize your time. Therefore, the proposal that follows is optimized depending on the rate of unaccelerated travel, while trying to make the best offered by the road at every stage along the way including making extensive breaks in some of the essential points to see.
The itinerary is short, the opportunity to see the essentials of central and northern Italy are at a reasonable pace and to enjoy without rushing. The route is designed to take by car which you can rent both from Venice or Rome, as the road is possible in either direction, especially knowing that Italy is a fantastic country to drive and explore from one point to another.
In my case I had the experience of traveling in the country by car and remember it as a journey in which we must resist stopping at every moment as in each kilometer there appears something to see. For example, after three days in Rome the route follows five days in the region of Tuscany, and if we made an exhaustive trip we might spend 15 days only in this region of the famous hills.
Hernan Piñera (Venice)
In particular I remember on my trip I had targeted about 20 interesting medieval villages to see in five days in Tuscany, which is impossible. Obviously you can change the points to stop, but I recommend seeing one to two villages a day to be realistic and enjoy.
Summary of the proposed route: Rome (stay three days without need for a car)> Siena (and surrounding villages as Monteriggioni or Montepulciano in two days)> Florence (two days)> Lucca + Pisa (one day)> Cinque Terre (two days)> Portofino + Milan (one day)> Lago di Como (one night)> Verona (one day)> Venice (end the trip with two days without need for a car).
Total distance: 1,116 km
Hours behind the wheel: 15 (although they seem few hours to fifteen days, we'll see that a distance of a thousand kilometers in beautiful Italy can involve dozens of stops and unexpected detours.
Rome (three days)
Three days in Rome is the minimum to program in this great city. It's enough to have a fairly complete picture for example, see on the first day the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, a second day to walk around the city, discover the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, steps of Plaza de Spain. In fact, Rome can largely be explored on foot in two days in its historical part, and the third day to book a visit to the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
Siena (and surrounding villages as Montepulciano or Monteriggioni in two days)
The next tranche and the beginning of the route will be the introduction to the region of Tuscany. Siena is the most important city on the first day, even the recommended overnight stop, then continue by other cities in the smaller environment as Monteriggioni or Montepulciano. The suggestion is to arrive in the evening of the second day in this region to Florence.
Florence (two days)
The sixth and seventh day of travel will be dedicated to Florence, a charming town. Two days seem few to tour major museums, but we could select one of the essential for a full afternoon (Uffizi Gallery), and then lay out a walking tour of the city, a visit to the Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore , and without hesitation, a sunset in Piazzale Michelangelo.
Loïc Rolas (Lucca, fortified city and undeniable charm)
On the eighth day the recommendation is to leave for Lucca, a fortified city that could be found in one morning. In the afternoon a few kilometers we will be in Pisa, to dedicate a visit to the famous leaning tower next to the Piazza del Duomo to spend the night in the city.
Cinque Terre (two days)
After a night in Pisa is the turn two day road trip touring the coastal region of Cinque Terre (La Spezia Province). The suggestion is to spend the night in Riomaggiore, and go one to one Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola (and self Riomaggiore). In fact, they are small villages and are not so far apart. After a week of traveling we may need a more relaxed pace to regain energy, especially to continue the journey after impregnate magic and charm of the Italian coast and its people.
Portofino + Milan (one day)
We begin our eleven days it's time to regain rhythm. Portofino is a small station, a village in a magnificent coastline environment requires a walk to take pictures. In the afternoon will be the highlight of the day: Milan, the city where we will stay the night.
Lago di Como (one night)
The next day we could spend the morning to finish exploring the essence of Milan, and end the day (and overnight) in one of the cities on the shore of Lago Di Como till dawn in a hostel or guesthouse with stunning views. Here are six villages perched next to Lake Como if you want to explore and stretch the stay.
Verona (one day)
Verona will be almost the end of the tour, a city to which we devote a full day (the thirteenth) to continue to Venice at sunset and deliver our car.
What better to finish our route (or start if we reverse) in Venice, a city to which we will devote two days before our return. Venice is the ideal time to change a car for the vaporetto, or gondolas opportunity (but not run very own). Browse and walk, walk the Piazza San Marcos and its surroundings, lost in its labyrinthine streets. To have time for a trip to islands like Lido, Burano, or a visit to the Basilica and the Ducal Palace. They can arrange a visit to Venice with this post: What to see, like visiting Venice depending on number of days.
While I travel on different trips, I think it's a route optimized to maximize at a reasonable pace. Something like a great introduction to Italy, which will surely leave us wanting to come back and pick up new paths.