When you think of Italy, three things probably come to mind: pizza, pasta, and photogenic ancient ruins. After spending eight days in Italy on Intrepid’s Highlights of Italy tour – hitting up Venice, the Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome – I can categorically tell you there is a lot more to it than that (but don’t worry, pizza and pasta still featured heavily). Here’s your guide to eight perfect days in Italy. Now, let’s check it out our Italy itinerary 8 days blog: From Venice to Rome — How to spend 8 days in Italy perfectly?
Days 1 and 2: Venice
Our trip kicked off in Venice, where I had an entire day to explore the ‘floating city of canals’ – or ‘sinking city of canals’ if you want to be glass-half-empty about it – before meeting the group in the evening.
To make the most of Venice, get up early in the morning and head out to Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square). This will give you time to find a morning cup of coffee and watch the sun sparkling over the water before the square fills with fellow tourists (seriously, you won’t be able to swing a selfie stick by 11am). Stick out the lines to get into Saint Mark’s Basilica and you’ll be rewarded with a view as impressive as the sun shining across the Grand Canal.
And while you’re in the area, pop next door and climb the steps up Saint Mark’s Campanile – the bell tower – for a sweeping panorama of Venice. If your camera or smartphone allows you to take panorama photos, all the better. It only costs €8 to climb the bell tower. Bargain. Next, spend a few hours wandering around Venice getting purposefully lost. Venice isn’t just a couple of pretty bridges, and a nice view or two. Every single corner you turn around – and the city’s labyrinthine passageways and bridges mean there are a LOT of corners to turn around – you will get yet another postcard-worthy scene.
On the second day of the Intrepid tour, me and a few others in the group caught a ferry (approximately €20) out to some of the smaller islands that surround Venice: Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for it’s glass-making, so you’ll get to see lots of hand-crafted glass animals, vases and chandeliers and wonder ‘how the heck did they do that?!’. Burano is known for it’s adorable, colourful houses (Facebook likes on your photos guaranteed). Well worth the trip if you’ve got a spare day to kill.
In the evening, do the tourist thing: ride in a gondola, and watch as the sun sets over the canals. Gondola rides are expensive, so if you get a group of your fellow travellers together it will be cheaper for everyone. Score one for small group touring.
Days 3 and 4: The Cinque Terre
Ah, the Cinque Terre. The string of centuries-old seaside villages that launched a thousand Instagram posts. To say that the Cinque Terre is eye-catching is an understatement – and it also offers a slightly more laid-back and peaceful few days of sightseeing than some of the busier cities in Italy (peaceful by Italian standards, anyway).