Over the past few weeks friends have been telling me they are off to Rome and Italy for vacation. (Lucky devils.) My concern for them was that they had booked so many days in Rome and not enough time in smaller towns. While I have great respect for Rome and truly love its history, the metropolitan life set amongst the ruins just doesn’t do it for me, especially in comparison to the rest of Italy. It shouldn’t shock you I feel the same way about Paris, French countryside, and Cote d’ Azur.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t go to Rome, I’m saying, take it on as a tourist challenge. You can see SO MUCH in two days if you plan ahead. After you see the sites, then rent a car, hop on a train, and head to one of the more provincial towns (even Florence!) or the coast. The interior of Italy is so beautiful that getting lost on a country road is actually a great day. As for the coast, parts can be a bit touristy, but when you find a cozy hotel and stroll the cobblestone streets, you can’t help but fall in love with the provincial charm. It feels like the movies.
The key is to talk to the locals. They are SO friendly and enjoy sharing their culture, in particular the details of food and wine, with you.
I’ve had the pleasure of going to Italy several times and visiting Rome, Florence, Milan, Genoa, Naples, Portafino, Santa Margarita, Sorrento, and Capri. Florence and Milan were my favorite cities to explore while Portafino and Sorrento romanced my heart. Somehow Venice has not made it on an itinerary yet, but one day it will!
My suggestions for visiting Italy:
- Pick one or two major cities. Choose between Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice.
- Plan a road trip and interesting destination outside of one of them. The Tuscan countryside outside Florence was my choice!
- Pick a small town to be your landing spot for at least 4 days R&R. The Amalfi coast is the most popular, but you really can’t go wrong anywhere.
- Plan a day trip outside of this spot.
Guides to help you plan:
- Luxe City Guides to your major cities (order online or get the app) for best walking tours
- Michelin Green Guide for food. Michelin Maps for driving.
- Fodor’s gives a thorough explanation of the history of each place