I'm planning a trip to Italy...any opinions on how to best spend a week there? (no rush)

A friend of mine is having a wedding in Italy (her fiancé is Italian and has family there).

Obviously I know where I will be for the wedding but, as long as I am flying there, I figure I should take advantage and travel the country. (this is a year from now so assume no COVID)

Unfortunately, there is probably too much to see on on one trip. Florence is a bucket-list item for me but Milan, and Nice (I know, France) and Turin and Genoa and Florence and Bologna and San Marino and Rome and Naples are all places I have wanted to see…the list is long. And, a friend said he rented a motorcycle and drove up the west coast and said it was awesome. He said the small towns are where the real charm is at.

Obviously, there is too much to see and too little time. So, if you had six days to roam Italy how would you do it?

(NOTE: I have been to Venice. I am happy to rent cars or take trains…either is fine. I prefer not to fly once I am there but if I have to that’s fine too.)

I haven’t seen enough of Italy to give you the best advice. I love history and museums. My favourite cities are Florence and Venice. I liked these cities more than Rome and others. But I never went to the Amalfi Coast or other great places. What do the relatives suggest? For a week I would suggest visiting 2 maybe 3 well chosen places is better than spending all your time travelling.

Heh…I never thought to ask. Good idea to ask them.

What time of year?

June. So probably hot. And I am not very good with heat. I much prefer cool or even cold weather. But June it is.

Definitely hot - and probably well-touristed in most “name” places. I’d expect Florence to be packed.

For a place slightly off the beaten path*, consider Ravenna and its amazing mosaics.

[* Okay, very slightly]

Florence is my suggestion. Getting to San Marino is tedious. Look for high-speed trains between cities if you want to spend, say, a day in Rome while you’re using Florence as a base.

ETA: Ravenna is on my list next time.

For a cooler place, perhaps the Lake District, in the north.

I think it was a Bond movie that made me want to see Lake Como. Worth a visit? Or stick to the “main” attractions (Rome, Florence, Milan).

That looks great.

While the “biggies” seem a must do (Florence, Milan, Rome) I am always happier with charming side bits that aren’t tourist-101 (even if I am doing tourist-101).

Well, there’s a big Capuchin (I think) crypt in Rome that you wouldn’t look at twice from the street but it’s pretty interesting inside. That’s somewhat but not highly touristy.


The internet says it’s not big, but it was bigger than other crypts I’ve been to.

Does that include Lake Como?

Pompeii is incredible. I’ve been there twice. I hope to go again.

I would not roam at all. There are many, many places in Italy where you could happily spend well over a week and still only scratch the surface. If you only have a week, spending many hours travelling by car or train between a variety of different Italian cities is a waste of those hours.

Pick one city, or at most two cities that you can travel between in less than half a day. Rent an apartment in a central location on Air B’n’B so that you can walk to lots of places. Pick smaller cities to increase walkability. Maybe avoid the major tourist destinations for reasons already mentioned in the thread.

I suggest Ferrara, which is a small and friendly city of great interest. Read The Garden of the Finzi-Contini by Giorgio Bassani before you go — it is to Ferrara what Ulysses is to Dublin. Then use it as your guidebook once you get to Ferrara. For a two-city trip, combine it with Bologna, less than an hour away by train, which is a larger but still highly walkable city. Take in an opera or a concert at the Teatro Communale. Shop in the city’s incredible food shops and markets - the gastronomic quarter is just east of the Piazza Maggiore - and have amazing meals in your apartment.

FWIW I kinda see travel as part of the fun and pleasure. I get not wanting to spend a lot of time in airports or train stations (and I agree) but relaxing with a glass of wine as the countryside rolls by on a train doesn’t sound completely bad either. A car lets you stop in local places as you go. My friend (mentioned above) who rented a motorcycle and drove up the west coast with his GF had wonderful stories of the trip.

I’m not saying it is what I will do (I have not decided) but I think travel can be a part of it. Just avoid time in airports/stations (and if I must then do them early).

Ferrara is definitely going on the short list (as is reading the book you mentioned). Thanks! My GF happens to LOVE Ulysses (all things James Joyce really…she observes Bloomsday) so I think she will be intrigued as well.

Traveling by train is a good idea. It is possible that Italy will be less touristy given the current Covid-19 restrictions, otherwise indeed it will be very busy in all the usual tourist locations.

What are you interested in? For art/musea you really have to prioritize Florence and Rome, which are also excellent just for walking around in a city atmosphere. For getting the more leisurely Italian atmosphere as you see in movies, I’d suggest the Tuscan countryside (Siena, San Gimigniano). That is easy to combine with Florence.

And there are lots of places worth a visit on their own, but you can’t do all in one trip. For instance, Capri is a beautiful island near Naples just for walking around, but rather out of the way of other attractions (except it is also close to Pompei).

From my visits to Italy I mainly remember things related to the atmosphere of the country, not so much the particular touristy highlights. For example, I attend a classical concert held in a small church, aimed at tourists but still an excellent performance, I visited San Gimigniano by scooter, driving through the fields. I’d suggest reserving some time for getting impressed with the country itself, not merely running after tourist highlights.

Is summer the “high season” for tourists?

Seems hot and not great. Much better to go late summer or early Fall I would think. But I dunno.

I will be there in June because of the wedding so my timing can’t be helped.

It will be high summer, and coincides with European school holidays and the visit of every single person who put off visiting Italy in 2020-2021-2022. Unless you really like queuing with miscellaneous European and Asian tourists in muggy weather, avoid the name tourist attractions. At the very least, find out how to get pre-booked tickets for anything you do want to see.

My wife and I went to Italy for our honeymoon. We spent a few days in Rome, Florence, and Milan, taking high speed rail between the cities. From each city we took day tours to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, and Venice.