Italy 1-Week Itinerary: Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome


Here’s one popular option for a one-week itinerary in Italy – the “holy trinity” of Venice, Florence, and Rome plus one overnight in Siena (rather than a Siena day-trip from Florence).

Itinerary Assumptions

There are a couple things that need to happen in order for you to make this itinerary work.

  1. It’s a work week’s worth of vacation time – five business days – but this itinerary is actually more like eight or nine days long. The assumption is that you’ll leave home on a Friday night or a Saturday, and not return home until the Sunday of the following week.
  2. You won’t be able to do all of this if you fly in and out of the same Italian city. A short itinerary means that if you’re trying to cover a lot of ground you need to make sure you’re not wasting your time back-tracking to get to an airport. For this trip, you’ll fly open-jaw – into one city and out of another.

Who Might Like This Trip

This Italy itinerary is a good option for first-time visitors with a particular affinity toward Tuscany, as it includes Florence, Pisa, and Siena. It can also be good for off-season visits when the weather may not be ideal, since there aren’t any beach locations included. This route hits lots of art- and museum-related places, so it’s appealing to people who want to see many of Italy’s world-famous museums and artworks.

Flights

You’ll fly into Venice (VCE) and out of Rome (FCO).

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Transportation


This itinerary is easy to do on public transportation (train and bus). If you want to tweak this itinerary slightly you could stay an extra day in Florence and skip Siena, using your extra day to rent a car and explore the back roads of Tuscany.

1-Week Italy Itinerary

Venice

1-2 hotel nights*
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You’ll arrive at Venice Marco Polo Airport, likely in the morning. Get to your hotel, get situated, and go out to explore the city on foot. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and any other churches or museums on your must-see list, but otherwise just enjoy wandering through the islands. On day two, you can continue exploring the islands, or take a half-day trip – the other islands in the lagoon (Murano, Burano, and Torcello) can be visited easily by vaporetto, or you can take the train to nearby Verona for the morning. You’ll take an evening train from Venice to Florence to get a head-start on the Renaissance capital. (If you’ve been lucky to get into Venice on Saturday morning rather than Sunday morning, you’ve got a bit more time to explore – which means you could include both the lagoon islands and Verona, or just enjoy more laid-back strolling through Venice itself.)

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* If you’re able to take an overnight flight to Venice from home on Friday night, you’ll spend Saturday and Sunday nights in Venice. If you leave home on a Saturday morning, you’ll spend only Sunday night in Venice.

Florence

2 hotel nights
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You’ll spend your first full day in Florence ticking off as many of the big sights as you can (on short trips it’s an even better idea to book museum visits ahead whenever possible), including the Uffizi, Accademia, Duomo and Bargello. Walk or take the bus up to the Piazzale Michelangelo in the early evening to see the sun set over the city. On your second day in Florence, you can visit more of the city’s great museums and churches, and if you need that quintessential leaning tower photo you can take a half-day-trip to Pisa in the morning. Take an afternoon bus from Florence to Siena. Choose a hotel right in the city center – you aren’t in town for very long, and you’ll miss out on the most charming aspects of Siena if you’re not in the historic part.

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Siena

1 hotel night
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Siena empties out dramatically as day-trippers leave, so although you can do it as a day-trip from Florence it’s often more magical if you spend the night (as you did last night), so you’re apt to see a quieter and even more charming city the evening you arrive. Try to squeeze in a passeggiata in the Campo, preferably with a gelato in hand. The next morning, visit Siena’s main attractions (especially the Duomo) and just enjoy wandering through the gorgeous alleyways. You can take an afternoon train from Siena to Rome (about 3-3.5 hours, with one change) or take a SENA/Eurolines bus (about 3.5 hours, departing every other hour). Settle into your Rome hotel and, if you’re nearby, go take a walk to find one of the major outdoor monuments all lit up.

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Rome

3 hotel nights
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Your two days in Rome should include a half-day spent in Vatican City and a nearly-full day spent exploring the Ancient Rome sights (Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, etc.). There are countless other things you could do to fill your remaining time in Rome, including several world-class museums or simply wandering through the pretty Trastevere or Monti neighborhoods. Enjoy a final gelato and a peek at some of the famous monuments before you go to bed on your second full day in Rome, and on your flight home the following day you can begin plotting your return trip.

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photo by dsearls