Ultimate Italy: The best of Italy in two insane weeks

A perfect two-week itinerary in Italy that includes just about everything: Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscan hilltowns (including Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano), the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, the Cinque Terre, the Italian Lakes, and Milan

Here is an itinerary that takes in a sampling of everything Italy has to offer in just two weeks. It is the most jam-packed two-week Italy tour on this site.

Where to spend each night

Hotels in Rome (days 1-5)
Hotels on Amalfi Coast (day 4 option)
Hotels in Florence (days 6–9)
Hotels in Cinque Terre (day 10)
Hotels in Venice (days 11–13)
Hotels in Verona (day 13 option)
Hotels in Sirmione (day 13 option)

Hotels in Milan (days 14-15)
Hotels on Lake Como (day 15 option)

It spends several days each in the great cities of RomeVenice, and Florence for all the ancient Roman ruins, Renaissance art, and canal cruises you can handle.

You visit the ancient ghost city of Pompeii and explore the hilltowns of TuscanyPisa with its Leaning Tower, Gothic Siena, the wines of Chianti, and the medieval towers of San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

The itinerary is not all just about art, ancient Rome, and the Middle Ages, though.

You also get to mingle with the jet-set in the Amalfi Coast towns of PositanoAmalfi, and Sorrento (even Capri, if you're particularly ambitious).

You will hike the Cinque Terre fishing villages at the tip of the Italian Riviera, and check out the fair city of Milan and Verona, where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet and the ancient Roman amphitheater still hosts operas and rock concerts under the stars.

And at the end there is time to relax on the shores of two of the fabled northern Italian lakes: Lake Garda and Lake Como.

Rome: The heart of Rome

00:00

Most transatlantic flights land in Rome in the early morning (around 8am), and by the time you collect your bags, go through customs/immigration, get downtown, and check into your hotel, it'll by 11am—plenty of time to check in, splash your face, and head out for an afternoon of sightseeing.

10:30

Check into your hotel—Just don't give in to the urge to lie down and take a cat-nap. Trust me. Those first-day "catnaps "have a nasty habit of lasting until 7pm, at which point it takes supreme willpower to drag yourself out of bed to find dinner. Best just to stay moving and stay awake.

Now I know the first day can be rough, what with jet lag and the fact that you probably didn't sleep well on the plane, so today, though it seems packed with activity, is really not all that taxing. It's mostly just poking around the greatest churches of the Tiber Bend, the center of the old city (plus one small museum).

Plan to spend only about 10–15 minutes inside each church—give yourself permission just to look at the highlights and not to try and appreciate every altarpiece and architectural element—and you will keep on schedule and not feel too overwhelmed.

11:00

Sitting down to a leisurely lunch will only exacerbate the jet lag, so just grab a quick bite en route to Rome's prettiest square.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

11:45

After your fast lunch, head to the gracious, fountain-studded, cafe-lined Piazza Navona.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

12:20

Pop out of the north end of the piazza to see the church of Sant'Agostino with its works by Caravaggio and Raphael.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

12:40

Now head S to San Luigi dei Francesi for more great Caravaggios.

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

13:00

Continue S to the courtyard hiding the curly-cue dome atop Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

13:20

Walk through the courtyard, past the church, and out the east side of the building to Piazza Sant'Eustachio, home to the most famous cappuccino in Rome at the Caffé Sant'Eustachio. Don’t linger too long, or the jet lag will start to catch up with you (an extra cappuccino or two helps).

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

13:50

Just a bit farther E is the noble Pantheon, the only ancient Roman temple to survive the millennia virtually intact and one of the best sights in all of Rome (if you skip everything else on this day, at least see the Pantheon).

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

14:40

The area around the Pantheon is the best spot in Rome for ice cream fans, so don't forget to try some gelato (Italian ice cream) in between the sights (gotta keep your strength up, after all).

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

15:00

Just south of the Pantheon, on the piazza with the Bernini statue of an elephant carrying a tiny obelisk on its back, rises Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a gothic church with Michelangelo's Risen Christ statue and Filippo Lippi frescoes inside.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

15:25

Head N, past the baroque optical illusions in the church of Sant'Ignazio...

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

15:45

...and the ancient Roman Column of Marcus Aurelius...

Time to spend there:
 
5 min

15:55

...then turn E across the Corso to find the iconic Trevi Fountain, into which it's tradition to toss a few coins and will ensure that, one day, you'll return to the Eternal City.

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

16:20

Head north again from the Trevi Fountain, perhaps pausing for another gelato at nearby San Crispino—after all, how will you know which is best if you don't try them all?

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

16:35

Head N, aiming for the lovely and lively Spanish Steps. Mingle for a while, then window shop down fashionable Via dei Condotti and the surrounding streets.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

17:15

By now, the evening passeggiata see-and-be-seen stroll will be in full swing, so you can strut your stuff with the Romans along main drag Via del Corso and Via del Babuino.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

17:55

Via del Corso and Via del Babuino lead north to converge at Piazza del Popolo.

Time to spend there:
 
9 min

18:09

The piazza is home to the fabulous church of Santa Maria del Popolo at the far end of the square. If you manage to make it here before the church closes at 7pm, so much the better, as inside are works by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini.

Time to spend there:
 
35 min

18:45

Passeggiata your way back south to find a hearty and well-deserved dinner somewhere in the Old City.

(I know you're exhausted, but Italians eat late, so try to hold out until at least 6:30 or 7pm before heading to a restaurant).

Rome: Rome of the Caesars

08:30

Start your day with a baroque jewebox of a site, the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria which has some fabulously theatrical Bernini sculptures.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

09:30

Stroll southeast on Via E. Orlando to the elegant traffic circle of Piazza della Repubblica.

Time to spend there:
 
5 min

09:49

Check out Santa Maria degli Angeli flanking the piazza's north side, converted by Michelangelo out of a section of the ancient Baths of Diocletian.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

10:15

Continue southeast on Via d. Terme di Diocleziano to spend an hour amid the antiquities of the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme branch of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

11:30

Turn right out of the museum and right again to get to the large bus plaza on Piazza dei Cinquecento. In the center is an entrance to the Metro (subway) system; get on the B line headed towards Laurentina and ride it one stop to "Cavour." Continue walking down Via Cavour until, just past the Grand Hotel Palatino on the right, you see a staircase headed up to the left. Climb up these steps and through the tunnel-like street to the tiny piazza hiding the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, home to Michelangelo's Moses—but be sure to get here before it closes for riposo at 12:30pm.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

12:30

Continue down Via Cavour to grab lunch at the old-school wine bar, Cavour 313.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

12:40
★☆☆
 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
€€
Cavour 313
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome
 
13:40

Farther down Via Cavour is the entrance to Trajan's Markets, the world's first multi-level shopping mall and the coolest part of the Imperial Forums.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

14:20

Via dei Fori Imperiali is lined by the remains of Imperial Rome.

Time to spend there:
 
5 min

14:45

As you stroll down the street, peek into the various Imperial Forums, built by a succession of emperors.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

15:00

Try to arrive at the Forum by 3pm to spend an hour or so wandering the ruins where orators once held forth, senators debated, and Julius Caesar strode the streets. Unfortunately, there's little of the Forum left to see save some standing columns and paved pathways—it takes a lot of imagination to conjure up the city of the Caesars—but so much the better, as there's still much more of Rome to see.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

15:40

Make sure you climb up to see the ruins of the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill.

Time to spend there:
 
18 min

16:00

Next, pay a visit to the Colosseum (save time in the often long lines by booking your entry ahead).

If you manage to get out of the Colosseum by 4pm, you're in good shape and have time for both of the next big sights (by which I mean San Clemente and Capitoline Museums, not the Arch of Constantine, which you just sorta look at and move on). If it's after 5pm, you only have time for one, so pick.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

16:45

Next to the giant amphitheater, between it and the Forum exit you used earlier, is the Arch of Constantine (which many people don't even see when they first walk right past it, since the Colosseum is filling their view).

Time to spend there:
 
2 min

16:55

Walk around the back of the Colosseum and a few long blocks southeast along Via San Giovanni in Laterano to tour the church of San Clemente, with medieval mosaics glittering in the apse, Renaissance frescoes in the chapels, and a door off the gift shop leading down to the first of several basements that provide an unparalleled tour through Rome's layer cake of history: below the current, medieval church is a 4C church, and below that is a pagan temple to Mithras and the remains of several ancient Roman buildings, streets, and the splashing waters of a still-functioning aqueduct (go ahead and fill your water bottle; the water is clean, cold, and delicious).

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

17:45

Go to Via Labianca (behind the church) to catch bus 85 or 87 headed west ("left") back around the Colosseum and up Via dei Fori Imperiali to Piazza Venezia, at the north end of the Forum. Walk around the giant Vittoriano monument and down Via del Teatro di Marcello to the stairs up to the elevated square Piazza del Campidoglio, where the Capitoline Museums will entertain you with ancient sculptures and Renaissance and baroque paintings until 7pm.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

19:00

Make sure that before sunset you nip around the back of the right side of the central building on Piazza del Campidoglio where you're treated to a surprise panorama of the Forum from above, with the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum as a backdrop.

Rome: St. Peter's, the Vatican, and medieval Trastevere

06:30

Be up bright and early so that you beat the legions of tour buses to the grandiose church of St. Peter's Basilica, which opens at 7am.

Time to spend there:
 
105 min

08:45

By 8:45am, have exited the church, turned left under the start of the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square out front, and be walking around the Vatican walls to get to the entrance to the world-famous Vatican Museums, which open at 9am.

You'll have time only for the highlights of its artistic wonders: the Pinacoteca painting gallery with Raphael's Transfiguration and Caravaggio's Deposition, the Raphael Rooms, and Michelangelo's incomparable Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Time to spend there:
 
2.5 hr

11:30

By 11:30am, head out of the galleries, back around St. Peters, and to the massive papal stronghold of Castel Sant'Angelo, built atop Hadrian's tomb. (Note: If this happens to be a Monday, the castello is closed—but this is otherwise a great day to do the Vatican, as it's one of the few museums open Mondays in Rome.)

Time to spend there:
 
70 min

13:00

Pausing to admire the statue-lined Ponte Sant'Angelo leading from the castle, stay on this side of the river and start making your way south along its curve.

Time to spend there:
 
1 min

13:02

Jump off Lungotevere Gianicolense onto the parallel Via della Lungara to have lunch at the ultra-genuine Da Giovanni.

Time to spend there:
 
85 min

14:45

Farther south along Via della Lungara are the Renaissance and Baroque Old Master paintings inside the National Gallery of the Palazzo Corsini (though if you're all art-ed out after the Vatican, I won't tell anyone you skipped it).

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

16:10

Continue south along Via della Lungara toward the medieval Trastevere district.

16:20

Wander Trastevere's narrow, cobblestone streets and alleys, wending your way across the neighborhood, crossing Viale di Trastevere, to get to the church of San Francesco a Ripa with its ecclesiastically erotic Bernini sculpture.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

16:50

Walk north on Via Anicia, right on Via della Madonna dell'Orto, and left onto Via di San Michele to get to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

17:30

Head back across Viale di Trastevere to the heart of Trastevere and its public living room, Piazza Santa Maria, where you can visit the medieval church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Time to spend there:
 
35 min

18:15

Trastevere is jam-packed with great little trattorie, pizzerie, and restaurants for dinner.

20:00

Optional: You may be all tuckered out (it's been a looong day), but I like to end an evening in Trastevere with a climb up the Gianicolo Hill for a nighttime panorama of the city below.

Amalfi Coast: Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, & Capri

06:00

While it's possible to do Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast in a single day—and even to do so on your own—the train connections are confusing and time-consuming, so this is one trip where it pays either to take a direct shuttle, or best left to a group bus tour.

It will take all day, include lunch, and probably also a stop to see some of the sights of Naples on your way south, past Mt. Vesuvius, to the ancient Roman ghost town of Pompeii.

If you take a tour, great; it means you get to spend all of tomorrow (Day 5) in Rome. If you decide to go it alone, however, I highly recommend staying the night down in the Amalfi Coast (or Capri), which does mean you'll spend the next morning simply returning to Rome, leaving only the afternoon for sightseeing.

OK, so to go it alone:

07:00

Grab an early morning train to Naples (earliest you can drag yourself out of bed for; seriously: try the 7:25am Frecciarossa which will have you in Naples by 8:33am, then run downstairs, since the Pompeii train leaves at 9:09am).

At the Napoli Centrale train station, head downstairs to switch to the separate Circumvesuviana commuter line (a more-complicated-than-it-needs-to-be procedure detailed here). The ride takes 36 minutes. You should aim to get to Pompeii by 10am.

Spend the remainder of the morning and early afternoon amid the ruined city (either have packed a bag lunch, or grab a panino from one of the stands across from the entrance). Make sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat. Try to be out of the Pompeii site by 1pm.

Time to spend there:
 
3 hr

13:00

Continue on the 13:17 Circumvesuviana to the end of the line at Sorrento (about another 30 minutes). If you're staying here in town, drop your bags at your hotel before hopping the Amalfi Coast bus. If not, leave the train station and take one of the following two options:

14:26

OPTION 1: Catch the local city bus down to the docks and a ferry over to spend the night on the island of Capri.

14:00

OPTION 2: Hop one of the Amalfi Coast–bound buses parked just out front of the Sorrento train station. If you choose to go the Amalfi Coast route, you have your pick of where to spend the night: posh Positano, historic Amalfi, or (via another bus from the town of Amalfi) the garden hilltown of Ravello. (If you're staying in Sorrento, after you've wandered around Amalfi a bit and seen its handful of sights, hop the return bus back up the coast.)

17:00

SQUEEZE IN CAPRI?: Real gung-ho types might even be able to swing hopping the 5pm a ferry (in summer only) from Positano over to Capri to spend the night there—I wouldn't necessarily recommend this, as you're squeezing your time a bit too tightly, but some folks just dream of visiting Capri.

18:30

BACK TO ROME?: Real, real gung-ho types who want to return to Rome for the night will be back in Amalfi town after an early dinner so they can catch the bus to continue down the (more scenic and less-developed) southern half of the Amalfi Coast to Salerno, and once there get aboard a late train all the way back to Rome.

You can do it, but you'd have to be sure to be on the 7pm bus from Amalfi to Salerno at the latest; that gets into Salerno at 8:15pm, leaving you precious little time to make the 8:38pm train back to Rome—last one of the night, arriving at 11:49pm.

Rome: Hidden treasures

07:30

Get up early and make your way back to Rome (or, if you did Day 4 as a day trip from Rome, feel free to sleep in and spend the morning as you wish).

You should arrive back in Rome in time for lunch.

14:00

After lunch, grab a bus to the Porta Pinciana. You'll see a park across the street; it's called the Villa Borghese.

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

14:30

Enter the park and take the first path on your right (Viale di Museo Borghese) to get to the Galleria Borghese at least 15 min before your scheduled entry time of 3pm (TIP: you will need to purchase tickets in advance for this; see the "Before You Leave" tip at the end of this itinerary). Tour its collections of amazing early Bernini sculptures and Raphael and Caravaggio paintings until they kick you out two hours later.

Time to spend there:
 
2 hr

17:00

Take whatever time you have left in the day to do whatever the heck you feel like. You've earned it—and you're probably getting tuckered out.

Personally, I'd spend it back in the medieval artisans district across the Tiber known as Trastevere, visiting its little churches, hanging out in a café, and soaking up the Roman lifestyle until it was time for dinner—again, Trastevere is positively packed with restaurants, from the traditional to the trendy, so there's no way you exhausted the possibilities when you ate here back on Day 3.

Florence: Renaissance 101

08:00

Grab an early train to Florence and drop your bags by the hotel.

10:45

Head directly to the Duomo (cathedral). Seeing the inside of the Duomo itself takes only 15–20 minutes, but you need to give yourself another hour to make it up to the top of...

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

11:20

Brunelleschi's dome, that most glorious (and ingeniously engineered) of church cupolas—and you get to climb up, in between its two onion-sheet-like layers, for (1) a close-up of the frescoes on the inside, and then (2) a spectacular city panorama from the top, just below the elaborate lantern.

Keep in mind you have to book this ahead of time, so do it well in advance to make sure you get the entry time (11:30am) you want—even in the off-season, they can be booked up several days ahead of time.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

12:00

Duck into the adjacent baptistery to marvel at the mosaics inside and the massive bronze doors outside—the ones facing the Duomo are so beautiful they became known as the Gates of Paradise.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

12:30

Behind the cathedral is the great Duomo Museum, where they have the restored original panels from the Gates of Paradise (those left on the baptistry to withstand the rigors of pollution and erosion are replicas), plus many sculptures by Donatello and others.

Time to spend there:
 
50 min

13:25

Be sure you extricate yourself from the cathedral group before 1:30pm so that you can wander a few blocks S for a lunch on-the-go at I Fratellini, a traditional fiaschetteria, a hole-in-the-wall joint with no seats, just a counter selling wine by the glass and scrumptious sandwiches to patrons who stand in a crowd on the flagstones of the sidewalk and pedestrianized street.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

14:00

Continue a few more blocks to the stage set of Piazza della Signoria, filled with statues and lined by buildings the Medici would still recognize. Take 20 minutes to wander and admire them all.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

14:25

Opening off the south side of the square is world's premier gallery of the Renaissance, the Uffizi (TIP: Another museum for which you'll want to purchase tickets before leaving home). Spend 3 hrs communing with Giotto, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian. Be sure to save some time at the end to enjoy a cappuccino in the Uffizi's rooftop cafe above the Loggia de' Lanzi. You will need the refreshment, because we're on to more art!

Time to spend there:
 
3 hr

17:30

Walk back into the Piazza della Signoria and head right up the steps in Florence's ancient city hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, with frescoed halls, sculptures by Donatello and Michelangelo, and the private apartments of the early Medici.

Time to spend there:
 
90 min

19:00

Get in the scrum-like line early to be seated at a communal table and indulge in a gut-busting Tuscan feast at Il Latini lubricated by plenty of good wine. Afterward, take a nighttime wander back through the medieval heart of Florence between Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo.

Siena: Tuscany: Hilltowns, vineyards, & leaning towers

07:15

OK, you could conceivably fit in two or three of those towns listed above on your own using public transportation—maybe four if you rent a car and do everything at a dead run.

But honestly, the only reasonable way to cram this much Tuscany into one day is to let someone else do the driving—and the parking, and the guiding, and the entry tickets, and the taking care of finding everything and knowing all the background information...

That's why I highly recommend the Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour offered by our partners at Viator.com. It is a long one—12 hours, getting up before 7am to meet your group (tours leave at 8am and 8:15am) and not returning to Florence until 8pm or 8:30pm—but you get a lot for your $133.

Cruise past the walled hilltown of Monteriggioni en route to the king of the Tuscan hilltowns, Siena, which you can tour with the guide or on your own. (If you opt for the latter, try to squeeze in both the wondrously frescoed rooms of the Palazzo Pubblico town hall on the main square, the gorgeous sloping scallop-shell of Il Campo, and a quick spin around the zebra-striped 12C Duomo, with its medieval carved pulpit and a library frescoed in bright, Fujifilm colors by Umbrian master Pinturicchio—helped by a young apprentice named Raphael).

After a drive through the Chianti—and lunch and a wine-tasting class at a Chianti vineyard—you check out the Medieval Manhattan of San Gimignano, a picture-postcard hilltown bristling with stone towers.

Last stop: Pisa, with its gorgeous gaggle of Gothic buildings on the Campo dei Miracoli (The "Field of Miracles"), and a chance to climb the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

BOOK

08:15

The tour drops you back off in Florence around 8pm or 8:30pm (traffic willing)—exhausted, but with loads of famous Tuscan sights added to your list of vacation accomplishments. Time for a celebratory dinner—and early bedtime.

Florence: Michelangelo & The Medici

07:50

Reserve the earliest tickets possible (8:15am) for the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David and other artistic treasures.

Time to spend there:
 
70 min

09:20

Renaissance Brother Fra' Angelico freosced the cells of his fellow monks at the monastery of San Marco.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

10:25

Spend an hour browsing or shopping amid the stalls of the outdoor leather market around San Lorenzo.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

11:30

The Medici family church of San Lorenzo is filled with Donatello sculptures and a library designed by Michelangelo.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

12:00

Some of these Medici Family tombs are adorned by striking Michelangelo sculptures.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

13:00

This area around Florence's central market is packed with great lunch spots, from lampredotto (tripe sandwiches) at the storied Da Nerbone stall in the market itself to the Da Mario osteria favored by market workers and the fabulous Trattoria Zà-Zà.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

14:00

The church of Santa Maria Novella contains many artistic treasures, including Masaccio's groundbreaking Trinità, the first work painted in true perspective of the Renaissance.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

14:50

Walk S down Via dei Fossi to Piazza Goldoni and cross the Arno River on the Ponte alla Carraia. Work your way through the artistan's quarter of the Oltrarno to the church of Santa Maria della Carmine hiding one of the great fresco cycles of the early Renaissance (one Michelangelo himself studied as a young artist): The Brancacci Chapel, brilliantly decorated by Masolino, Masaccio, and Filippo Lippi.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

15:25

The classic Brunelleschi interior of Santo Spirito is brightened by a series of colorful altarpieces, any of which would have pride of place in another church and another town other than masterpiece-stuffed Florence.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

16:00

The Medici expanded the sprawling Oltrarno Pitti Palace to serve as their sumptuously decorated home. It now houses an art gallery of great Renaissance and baroque canvasses, elaborate apartment suites, smaller collections of modern art, costumes, cermaics, and objets d'art, and a hillside of terraced Boboli Gardens where the world's first opera premiered. This will take up the rest of your day.

Time to spend there:
 
3 hr

19:10

The Oltrarno is chock-a-block with great places to eat. After two art-packed days, it's time to sit back, toast the Renaissance with some good Chianti wine, and relax at dinner.

Time to spend there:
 
2 hr

Cinque Terre: Hiking the Italian Riviera

07:00

If you're going to do this in a single day by public transport (as opposed to taking a roundtrip tour from Florence), it is imperative that you get the 7:34am train from Florence to Riomaggiore (via two train changes, at Pisa and La Spezia).

This will get you into the southernmost of the Cinque Terre villages at 10:20am: plenty of time to check into your accommodations and start hiking.

If you miss that train, the earliest you can get into the Cinque Terre is 11:42pm—and you've wasted the bulk of the day.

10:45

Set out as soon as you can to hike the coastal trail that links all five of the colorful fishing villages that make up the Cinque Terre, inaccessible by car (though linked by a regional rail line that spends most of its time tunneling from town to town through the sea cliffs) and as yet only moderately touched by tourism (except June through August, when it's packed with Rick Steves' fans—Damn you, Rick!).

The trails from town to town get progressively steeper and more challenging as you move north—from an easy 45-minute Via del Amore stroll between Riomaggiore and Manarola, to the largely level path above a beach Manarola and Corniglia (the only cliff-top village of the five), to a scenic mix of moderate-to-tough trails and one long staircase between Corniglia and Vernazza (the postcard village of the bunch, picturesquely curved around a cove), and finally the tough, two-hour steep ascent and descent between Vernazza and Monterosso, the northernmost of the Cinque Terre.

Or, you know, vice versa. You can hike it either way.

My advice: Take the train all the way to Monterosso and start the morning with the two real workout stretches of trail. Besides, coming in this direction, the first view of Vernazza as you come around the cliff is unforgettable (and if you do forget, it's plastered on postcards everywhere).

Also, this way lets the going get easier as the day winds down, allowing you to finish with a sunset stroll back into Riomaggiore.

Venice: Paintings & gondolas

07:00

There's really no way around this: To get from the Cinque Terre to Venice requires some tiresome train changes and long journeys. The best option leaves Riomaggiore at 7:27am and arrives in Venice at 12:34pm (with changes at La Spezia, Pisa, and Florence).

(Another option for die-hards who don't want to waste a second of sightseeing is taking off the night before on the overnight train that leaves Riomaggiore at 9:06pm and arrives in Venice at the yawningly early hour of 5:19am the next day, though note that the train changes—11:10pm at Parma, and a midnight three-hour layover in Bologna—aren't terribly convenient for sleeping.)

If, however, you've done the Cinque Terre as a guided day trip and are leaving from Florence, there's an hourly bullet train called the Frecciargento that makes the trip in a cool 2 hr 14 min—leave Florence at 8:20am, you're in Venice at 10:34am; sleep in and leave on the 9:20am and you're still in Venice by 11:34am, with loads for time to check into your hotel and get a proper lunch.

OK: assume you're arriving from the Cinque Terre directly. At least those five hours on the train will give you plenty of time to rest up, grab lunch from the cart or restaurant car, and prepare, once you arrive in Venice, to dive into the city of canals (well, not literally).

12:35

Luckily, the vaporetto (public ferry—kinda the city bus system of Venice) from the train station to all sights in the historic center cruises right down the famous Grand Canal.

13:30

Check into your hotel as quickly as possible then head over to see the Renaissance masterpieces in Venice's Accademia Gallery (yes, it has the same name as a museum in Florence; this is because both are part of their city's "Academy" of Fine Arts).

Time to spend there:
 
2 hr

16:00

If you have time (and for a chance of pace), also try to fit in an hour or so admiring the modern art—yes! Italy has modern art, too!—at the lovely Peggy Guggenheim museum nearby.

Time to spend there:
 
1 hr

17:30

Have dinner.

20:00

After your meal, just wander the quiet, romantic streets for a while.

Venice: Of doges, St. Mark's, & getting lost

08:40

Since the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower) actually opens before the basilica itself, hit this one first for stupendous city panoramas from the top. (Though please note that, in winter, it does not open until 9:30am, so adjust accordingly.)

Take a bit less than half an hour for the elevator ride up, photo ops at the top, and the ride back down—because you want to be in line at the Basilica of St. Mark's before it opens at 9:45am to avoid the long lines.

Time to spend there:
 
25 min

09:30

Kill two birds with one stone by being at the Basilica di San Marco before it opens at 9:45am; that way you (a) get to see its treasures and the thousands of square feet of glittering mosaics swathing its interior, and (b) won't have to wait in a long line, which can stretch the wait to as long as an hour or more later in the day.

Do pay the small, separate admission fees to see the Pala d'Oro altarpiece and to visit the Marciana Museum upstairs (great close-up view of the mosaics from the balcony level). Don't dawdle too long, however, because you have lots to see and les thant a day in which to see it.

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

11:00

Wander over to take a look at the Piazza San Marco's lovely Renaissance Clock Tower, with its 24-hour clockface/horoscope marker and two bronze figures who ring the bell at the top.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

11:11

Be at the Doge's Palace before the 11:35am start time to take your (pre-booked) "Secret Itineraries" tour, which in 75 minutes gives you an amazing insider's glimpse into the hidden offices, courtrooms, archives, and prisons from which the true Venetian Republic ruled for 900 years.

Time to spend there:
 
75 min

12:50

The tour pops you back into the main part of the Palazzo Ducale. Take another half hour for a quick spin on your own through the palazzo's public rooms, smothered in paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other giants of the Venetian Renaissance.

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

13:20

There are several great places to grab a quick lunch nearby. I recommend the simple yet hearty and authentic fare at Osteria a la Campana hidden in plain sight on the main drag headed north toward the Rialto.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

14:30

After lunch, tour the Ca' d'Oro, a glorious private palace on the Grand Canal now turned into a museum and art gallery.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

15:30

Cross the fabled Rialto Bridge, a Renaissance stone span lined by shops. Pause at the top for the classic Grand Canal shot.

15:45

Take a few minutes to wander the stalls of the Rialto Market on the far (S. Polo) side, then thread your way south through the S. Polo district to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

15:55

Pop in to admire the dozens (yes, dozens) of spectacular Tintoretto paintings in the amazing Scuola Grande di San Rocco, basically a Renaissance frat house for Venetian bigwigs, all dark wood and big oil paintings in a suitably clubby atmosphere.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

16:50

Venice has its fair share of monuments, museums, and decorated churches, but frankly just about the best thing you can do with your second afternoon is ignore all the sights and just wander the streets aimlessly.

If you can, try to get lost. Honestly. I do it all the time, and it's great. You'll stroll past slowly decaying Gothic palaces decorated with pointy Byzantine windows, stumble across pocket-sized campielli (squares) where local kids are kicking a soccer ball around a medieval well, and duck into the shade of a tiny bar to share a glass of wine with the well-weathered locals. Ahhhh; perfect.

You can seek out secondary sights if you like. Or shop for Murano glass or Carnival masks. Pop into random small churches. Grab an espresso from a bar. Just experience Venice.

Time to spend there:
 
90 min

18:25

The area around the Rialto Market is filled with many excellent cicchetti bars. Hit several of them in a cicchetti crawl, sampling snacks and glasses of wine or a spritz in each.

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

19:15

Yes, they're touristy, yes they're overpriced, and yes they're hackneyed, but if you can put all that out of your mind, they're also pretty cool, relaxing, and romantic—and who wants to go all the way to Venice and not ride in a gondola anyway?

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

20:10

Congratulations. It's been a long day, stuffed with art and history. Time to celebrate by digging into a sumptuous meal—seafood, if that's your thing, because it certainly is Venice's.

Time to spend there:
 
90 min

Venice: Explore the outlying islands

08:30

It's time to get out of Venice—or at least the tourist-ridden downtown part of the city. Take your third day to do perhaps my favorite activity all of Venice: a circle tour of the best outlying island in the Venetian lagoon.

09:00

To catch a vaporetto to Murano, head either to San Marco (no. 4.1 or 4.2) or Fondamente Nove (nos. 12, 13, 4.1, or 4.3). The ride from Fondamente Nove take 30 minutes less, but if you happen to be closer to San Marco, the walk to Fondamente Nove will take around half an hour anyway, so you might as well grab the 4.1 or 4.3 at San Marco, take the longer way around, and relax.

Murano is the birthplace of that famous Venetian glass. Check out its glass factories, shops, and glass museum, as well as a pair of pretty little churches.

Time to spend there:
 
110 min

09:45
11:35

Have lunch on Murano at the Trattoria da Romano.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

12:00
★☆☆
 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
€€€
Da Romano
Venice: The Northern Lagoon
 
13:19

Continue on to the candy-colored houses of Burano. Just spend the hour until the next ferry departure wandering around this pretty island.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

15:00

Vaporetto no. 9 shuttles every 15 minutes between Burano and Torcello, a laid-back island with a spectacular church, small archaeology museum, and pretty pathways.

Time to spend there:
 
120 min

17:12

Head back to Venice proper and relax until its time for dinner.

Verona: Verona & Lake Garda

08:20

The main train line from Venice to Milan (where you need to end up tomorrow) has trains every half hour—try and catch the 9:10 Frecciarossa—which stops at two equally compelling places where you might want to get off. The first, arriving at 10:38am, is the Veneto city of Verona, of Romeo and Juliet fame.

(Since you are only visiting for half a day and moving on, just carry a daypack and check your main bag at the Deposito Bagagli inside the station.)

10:55

Either sign up for and grab a bike from the Verona Bike bike-sharing rack (just down the block across the river), or get two bus tickets (one for the return) from the Tabbacchi just to the right of the station exit and go out and grab bus no. 11, 12, 13, or 51.

Ride to Piazza Brà to see the Arena, the world's most intact ancient Roman amphitheater. Amazingly, this midget Colosseum still hosts open-air operas and concerts. It's well worth sticking around town and getting a hotel in town if there's a performance on for the night and tickets are still available (not an issue, in my experience, and I've been three times).

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

11:45

Walk up the chic shopping street of Via Giuseppe Mazzini about 3–4 blocks to Via Scudo di Francia and turn right for lunch in a 130+-year-old Veronese wine tavern.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

13:00

Pop through the love-graffiti-filled tunnel into the courtyard of "Juliet's House" (which, of course, it isn't really, but it does have a balcony so you can kinda picture it being real). It's not truly worth going inside unless you insist on posing on that balcony while someone takes your picture from below.

Time to spend there:
 
10 min

13:15

Walk up the street to Verona's bustling market square, Piazza delle Erbe.

Time to spend there:
 
5 min

13:25

Walk under the whale rib hanging from the Arco della Costa on the piazza's N side and take a look at the Gothic and Renaissance palazzi lining the pretty Piazza dei Signori (a.k.a. Piazza Dante).

Time to spend there:
 
2 min

13:27

Just N of the piazza on the right are the large Gothic carved tombs of the Arche Scaglieri.

Time to spend there:
 
3 min

13:30

Make your way SW to the medieval Museo di Castelvecchio and its collection of Renaissance art. (If you did the bike share thing, you can grab another one at the station on Piazza Indipendenza, just around the corner, and ride it here, where there is another one where you can drop it off; otherwise, it's about a brisk 15-min walk.)

Time to spend there:
 
45 min

14:45

You're about a 15-min walk from the Basilica of San Zeno, Verona's most rewarding church to visit. (Again, you could grab a bike at the Castelvecchio and ride it here faster, as there is another drop-off point at San Zeno.)

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

15:28

Take a taxi, bike, or grab the no. 30 bus head S (stop near Via Tomaso da Vico 14) to make your way back to Verona's Porta Nuova train station to collect your bags and then from the bus ranks out front hop the 4:10pm LN026 bus headed toward Brescia. Get off at Sirmione-Porto after about an hour.

18:15

Sirmione is a pretty little medieval village-turned-resort (with the scenic ruins of a Roman villa) perched near the tip of an impossibly skinny peninsula jutting up into the massive Lago di Garda, largest of the Italian lakes. Walk over the bridge, under the guard tower, and past the pocket-sized castle that guards this little medieval island-village.

Find your hotel, drop your luggage, and take a stroll to eat gelato or simply sit at a café and watch the sun set beyond the lake's shores, the Alps glowing purple off to the north in the distance.

Milan: The Last Supper and more

08:15

Be at the Sirmione Porto bus stop in time to catch the 8:47am LN026 bus to Desenzano del Garda (a 23-min ride) where you change for the 9:23 Frecciarossa train to Milan (a 52-min ride).

10:15

Drop your bags at your Milan hotel.

11:15

Your first order of business is visiting Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper—but this is one you have to have booked ahead—at least a month in advance if possible. I am serious. They are often sold out 2-3 months in advance. It's insane.

Aim for the 12:15 entry time to give yourself plenty of time to get here—especially as you have to retrieve your tickets at least 20 minutes ahead of time. Don't forget to bring the ID of the person named on the ticket booking form. (Just read the "Tips" on my page about the Last Supper. They have A LOT of rules.)

After all that, you only get to spend 15 minutes with the fresco.

Time to spend there:
 
15 min

12:30

Ride the #16 tram to the Duomo stop, cross the bustling cathedral square (don't worry; you'll come back in a few minutes), and join the throngs of locals and businessmen on break and grab a panzerotto from Luini for a typical Milan lunch on the go.

13:15

Turn right out of Luini, then left at the next corner down Via San Raffaele, then right again on Via Berchet into the grand glass atrium of the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant 19C shopping mall.

13:25

Pause at the galleria's crossing to take a spin on the bull, and turn left to head towards the southern entrance where, on the right, you can enjoy a view of the Duomo facade while sipping Italy's prototypical aperitif, a Campari-soda, in the very bar that invented it, the Caffè Camperino.

14:00

Now cross the square to explore Milan's enormous Gothic Duomo. Be sure you make it up onto the roof—my favorite Milan experience—to duck under buttresses and wend your way between the statue-topped spires for thrilling citywide panoramas that, on the few winter days when industrial smog doesn't interfere, stretch all the way to the Alps.

15:30

Walk back straight through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to end up at the La Scala opera house, where you can check into last-minute tickets for tonight's performance (which would alter the plans for later today, but in the best way possible! Basically: Skip right to the Brera, then come back to get your tickets and see the show.)

16:00

Walk up Via Alessandro Manzoni to pop into the private collections of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli for 30 minutes.

16:35

Spend some time window-shopping the world-famous boutiques of Quadrilatero d'Oro.

17:10

Now head over to peruse the artistic giants in the Pinacoteca di Brera, where you can peruse the paintings until you get tired or they kick you out at 7:30pm.

19:30

Hop on a tram down to the Navigli, Milan's trendiest restaurant district and nightlife scene, strung out along the remnants of the city's old canals.

Lake Como: Bellagio & Como

07:45

The easiest way by far is to take a guided day tour like the nine-hour Lake Como Day Trip from Milan, which visits the town of Como, with time for sightseeing, shopping, and lunch, then takes a cruise along the lake to the village of Bellagio before returning to Milan in the early evening. The nine-hour tours depart at 8:30am and 9am.

07:30

If you want to go it alone on public transportation, hop a train at Milan's Stazione Centrale direct to the lakeside town of Varenna (1:03 hr.). There is a train only once every two hours, so try for the 8:20am from Milan so you're there by 9:23am.

10:25

In Varenna, wander the terraced gardens of Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi, then board the 10:25am ferry across the lake to the postcard village of Bellagio. The boat takes only 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to meet at Piazza della Chiesa 4, just up the main road from the port, for the 11am tour of the gardens and mansion of the famous Villa Serbelloni (for which you must book ahead).

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

12:30

Splash out on lunch in Bellagio at Barchetta.

Time to spend there:
 
2 hr

14:42

Now move on down the lake to the town of Como, famous for centuries for its fine silks.

The bus is more frequent but slower (70 min).

Faster and far more scenic is a Lake Como cruise (40 min.) along the lake's southwestern arm, sliding past elaborate villas surrounded by sumptuous gardens that run all the way down to the water's edge.

You might catch the 2:42pm ferry—which arrives at 3:25, giving you more time in Como—if not, the next boat to Como leaves at 3:45pm, arriving in Como at 4:07pm.

Time to spend there:
 
40 min

15:30

From Como's lakeside Piazza Cavour and adjacent Giardini Pubblici gardens, find your hotel in Como. Drop your bags and hit the town.

16:15

Make your way to the town's main square, Piazza del Duomo with its statue-studded Gothic-Renaissance Duomo.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

16:50

South of here, amid the tangle of medieval alleys lined by wood-beamed buildings of shopping drag Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, rises the ancient church of San Fedele.

Time to spend there:
 
20 min

17:15

Tucked into the city's southwest corner is the gorgeous Romanesque Basilica di Sant'Abbondio church, built in the 11th century and elaborately frescoed inside in the 14th century. (Note: If it's winter, the church closes at 4:30, so you'll have to skip it.)

Time to spend there:
 
30 min

18:00

In summer especially, you might have time to take a quick trip up the Brunate Funicular on the northeast end of town for some spectacular lake views.

Time to spend there:
 
60 min

19:30

There are plenty of good restaurants in Como. A favorite: Ristorante Sociale.

General: Heading home

07:00

Most flights back to the U.S. leave either in the morning or early afternoon. Either way, the day's largely a wash. You'll spend the morning getting to the airport and the day in the air.

If you stayed last night in Milan and did Lake Como as a day tour, here are the details for getting to the airport.

If you stayed last night in Como, here are the details for getting to the airport.

Remember: Even if you have a 3pm flight, you have to check in by 1pm, which means you have to head to the airport by noon, which means you have to leave your hotel by 10:30... The day's pretty much shot by the time you wake up.

So look at your flight departure time, back it up two hours, and figure out what train you have to catch that will arrive at Malpensa in time:

  • Como (6:35am) - Malpensa (7:40am)
  • Como (7:35am) - Malpensa (8:40am)
  • Como (8:35am) - Malpensa (9:40am)
  • Como (9:35am) - Malpensa (10:40am)
  • Como (10:16am) - Malpensa (11:40am)
  • Como (11:16am) - Malpensa (12:40pm)
  • Como (12:16am) - Malpensa (1:40pm)
  • Como (12:46am) - Malpensa (2:10pm)
  • Como (1:16pm) - Malpensa (2:40pm)

I hope you had a great trip. Try to catch up on your trip journal on the plane—oh, and be sure to grab some good plane snacks before you head to the airport (foccaccia's my favorite)—Italian food beats airline food any day of the week.

What the grey and blue time bubbles mean

Since this itinerary takes into account travel time (walking, taking the Métro, driving, whatever):

  • The times in grey circles are the times by which you need to start moving in order to go to the next stop.
  • The times in blue circles are the times by which you should arrive at that stop to begin the fun.
 
Escorted tours links
Active tours links
Family tours links
Activities, walks, & excursions links

Tips

How it all fits into 2 weeks

A tall order for just two weeks? You bet. But there are three tricks to fitting all you can into such a short time here.

  1. Two weeks actually lasts 16 days (figuring you leave on Friday night for your overnight flight, and you don’t return until two Sundays after). » more 
  2. You're going to fly "open-jaws" into Rome and out of Milan.This will save you a full day of traveling back to where you started to pick up the return flight» more 
  3. You are going to take some guided daytours to visit the towns and sights outside the big cities in order to (a) pack as much sightseeing as possible into a limited amount of time, (b) get a professional guide, and (c) provide all transportation so you can spend your time seeing the sights and not waiting on train and bus connections.

Don't forget to pay attention to the "What to do before you leave" section (next tip) covering all the details you need to take care of before leaving home—and be sure to read the "Foolish Assumptions" page about how these itineraries are meant to work.

What you need to do before you leave home
How to use this itinerary

The basic itinerary above is pretty packed—a lot of early morning wake-ups, a lot of churches and museums—because there's simply so much to see and do in Italy.

By all means, feel free to prune this itinerary down to something a bit slower paced if you don’t want to spend so much time running around (say, leaving out a few hilltowns, or perhaps the Cinque Terre, or maybe Pompeii). I've even gone ahead and whipped up a sane version of this itinerary that leaves out Pompeii and the Cinque Terre.

Think of this more as a blueprint to squeezing in the maximum possible. You should, above all, have fun.

Don't overplan

I will freely admit to being as guilty as anyone of this, but: Please try not to overplan your trip to Italy. That's a two-fold plea:

  1. Plan everything, but don't feel compelled to stick to the plan. I think it's a fine idea to work out all the details of what you plan to do—if nor no other reason than it will help you get a handle of what you are able to get done, and start making the hard choices of what you have time for and what you should leave for the next trip to Italy. (Always assume you will retrun!)

    But then do not book absolutely every second in advance (that leaves no room to adjust things as you go to accommodate changing interests, sudden festivals, or unexpected invitations), and please do not attempt to stick to the schedule if it turns out to be overly ambitious and startrs making you miserable.

    Rememeber Clark W. Griswold, the Chevy Chase dad in the Vacation movies, always bound and detemrined to get to WallyWorld come hell or dead aunties? Yeah, don't be that guy. No one in that family was having any fun.
  2. Don't try to pack too much in. A vacation is not meant to be all about checking sights off a list or dashing from place to place to fit in as much as humanly possible. It's about enjoying yourself.

    So do that. Enjoy yourself. Take a hint from the Italian concept of la bel far' niente—the beauty of doing nothing—and take a break from the sightseeing every once in a while.

    Leave some time to stop and sip the cappuccino.
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for rail travel

English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
train treno TRE-no
car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
seat posto PO-sto
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
     
punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
City / Train station names
English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
Rome Roma Termini
Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
Milan Milano Centrale
Genoa Genova Porta Principe
Naples Napoli Centrale
Leghorn Livorno Centrale
Turin Torino Porta Nuova

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Useful Italian for car travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah


Typical road signs / terms » more

English (anglais) French (français) 
Stop Stop
Exit  Uscita
Staffic light Semaforo
One-way Senso unico
Dead-end Strada senza uscita
Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).