Italy is one of those destinations most people dream of visiting. Like Britain's London or France's Paris, all wanderlust-filled roads eventually lead you to Rome.
But from its fine Renaissance Heritage draw-cards to its sublime Amalfi Coast beaches, there is just so much to check off the Italy bucket list.
It can be daunting.
Fortunately, well-travelled locals Walks of Italy have some advice when it comes to your first visit to this southern European enclave of style and culture: "Don't try to see it all in one go".
"The main problem for anyone planning a trip to Italy is that it’s impossible to see everything you want in one trip!" they say, "We hate to be the bearers of bad news but overloading your itinerary is a recipe for stress."
This is potentially the number one mistake most travellers make when visiting most iconic destinations.
But not only do they sympathise with your dilemna, they also have a few itinerary solutions packed with useful advice to creating the "right rhythm" to your Italian adventure.
"Narrow down your focus and divide your time accordingly."
Rome is easily doable for a two-week stretch without exhausting all the city has to offer - but according to Walks of Italy, you can and should be more budget-savvy by mixing things up a little.
"After many years of traveling in Italy and interacting with other travellers, we have honed the rhythm of these itineraries to perfection. In this case, the where isn’t important; it’s the when that matters.
If you're wanting to make the most of Italy's major cities, here's how to budget your time:
The Major Cities Itinerary:
"This sample itinerary is perfect for the first-time visitor who wants to 'see all of Italy'but can’t choose between zones. It gives a great overview of the most historically significant parts of the country. As a bonus, it will also help you plan where to focus your sightseeing during your return trip to Italy.
"The Major Cities trip is a great introduction for those who want to see the most famous art and architecture in the country.
"Italy has more major tourist cities than most countries. There is no more quintessential Roman experience during your trip than a dawn visit to the Spanish Steps. Of course, the capital is a must, but cities like Florence and Venice are big draws and, honestly, must-sees.
"This itinerary includes the Colosseum, the Duomos of Milan and Florence, and the canals along St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
Walks of Italy also suggest how to shave off certain attractions if you have a little bit less than the suggested two weeks in order to have a more leisurely trip.
Break up your two weeks across these four key cities:
Rome: 4 days
Florence: 3 days
Venice: 3 days
Milan: 4 days
For anything less than two weeks you can make the following amendments:
10 days: Cut one city entirely or one day from Rome and one day from Florence. But don’t cut more than one day from each city as you will again be increasing the stress factor.
One week: Cut a city. Rome and Florence have the most to offer the majority of visitors to Italy so they should probably remain on your itinerary.
Choosing between Venice and Milan depends on the time of year and what you are looking for.
Venice has more tourism draws like the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and of course, all those canals.
However, it is also packed with tourists in the high season.
Milan is not as pretty and has fewer attractions but it’s cheaper, less crowded, and has better food. If going in the summer we would recommend Milan. On the other hand, an autumn or winter trip to Italy would have us favoring Venice.
5 days: Choose one of the major cities that you are dying to see and stay there.
Seriously, one is enough. Even in a city as small as Venice you will have more than enough to keep you occupied as long as you take your time and really immerse yourself.
When you plan your trip to Italy, consider no fewer than 3 days in Rome. As both the ancient and modern capital of Italy, it’s a hub for a lot of things you’re going to want to see. The history, sights and feel of the city can hardly be seen with less time.
Venice can be visited in a day trip, and many people do it that way, but they miss out on the fantastic nightlife, the feel of Venice with fewer tourists, and the beauty of the city by night. If you really can’t give it three days, you should at least try staying for one night.
Take the next day to visit the Venetian islands of Burano and Murano.
- Dedicate all of your time to each major city and don’t stray, there’s no time on this Italian travel plan to visit small towns
- Plan your travel days in advance: you can book high-speed train tickets between cities at TrenItalia or ItaloTreno;
- If you have only one week but don’t cut a city, you’re still committing the biggest mistake travelers make in Italy.
Click here to see their Regional and Thematic sample itineraries