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One week in Italy for the first time, where to go?

My wife and I have seven days in Italy in early May. We have never been to Italy and want to experience the culture and cuisine (and the vino, of course). This is not a family trip but a 20 year anniversary vacation. We hope to visit with the kids in the near future and do the more touristy things. We have to fly in and out of Rome. Any itinerary ideas would be great! Our budget is definitely not unlimited but I don't want to cut corners.

14 Answers

top answer by
Paul from London


The first time I went to Italy I spent a week in Rome and I came away feeling that I'd only just scratched the surface. I went back last year for our 25th anniversary. It was my 10th visit to Rome and I still discovered many parts of the city I'd never been to. In fact it was one of my most enjoyable trips because I discovered many lesser known sights that were just as interesting as the major sights.

My point is that you could spend a great week getting to know Rome or you could gloss over it and sweep through a number of other places. It depends on your personal view.

As it's your 20th anniversary one thing you should definitely do is book dinner at La Pergola restaurant. It's the only 3 star Michelin restaurant in Rome. It's location at the top of a hill looking down on Rome and Vatican City is magical at night. Make sure to book a outside table on the terrace. It's a splurge but it will be a memorable one.

In Rome I highly recommend taking organized walking tours. You'll get to see all the main sights and you will get the full history of them. A big bonus is that groups get into places like the Colosseum without having to queue.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. La Pergola (restaurant)
  3. Vatican City (city)
  4. Colosseum (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Lauren from Toronto

Try not to cut off more than you can chew as Italy is huge! I'd spend time seeing Rome of course, and then maybe head to Tuscany/Florence area. It is a great area, lots to do, delicious food & wineries :) 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Tuscany (state)
  3. Florence (city)
3 thanks

answered by
Kemkem from Malaga

I would stick with Rome and Florence. It should fill your week up nicely. You might do the first 3 nights in Rome seeing the usual stuff, then take the  train Termini (you can take the slower train, l think it takes 3 hrs, but costs like €12 and they are pretty comfy). Three nights in the romantic city,then back to Rome for your last night and flight home. Safe journey.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Termini (attraction)
2 thanks

answered first by
Brenda from Long Beach

Go north or south and do rome on another occasion. I would go north to Florence and then rent a car and meander through the hilltowns: Montalcino,Montepulciano, Pienza and Siena. Drink wine and soak up the local color.  

Or go South to Sorrento and explore the Amalfi Coast, Naples, and visit Pompei. Also very romantic and beautiful. Whatever you do, skip Rome this trip and plan another trip to see the historic sites and visit the city.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Florence (city)
  2. Montalcino (city)
  3. Montepulciano (city)
  4. Pienza (city)
  5. Siena (city)
  6. Sorrento (city)
  7. Amalfi Coast (attraction)
  8. Naples (city)
  9. Pompei (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Maria from Dublin

Lombardy (for the lakes, Milan & Bergamo) Puglia, Tuscany, UmbriaVenice and Emilia-Romagna are all worthy places to visit. The coastal region around Génova is also beautiful, especially the Cinque Terre. How are you travelling? I suggest forgetting the car and taking the train. Here's what I would do: Make your base someplace like Bologna. It's a beautiful small city in its own right and is known as the culinary capital of Italy. By far the best reason though, is it's a great rail connection for a lot of places. You can travel to Florence in 35 minutes, Venice in 1 hour 25m, Milan in just over an hour (on the fast train) and Siena or Rome in just over 2 hours. Italy is a huge country so a week will not do it justice at all but by basing yourself in one place and avoiding the disruption of moving luggage etc you can see a lot! Italy is my favourite country and I travel there whenever I can. Last year I travelled around Italy, alone, on the train for 2 weeks and had a wonderful time. These are the places I visited: Bologna, Florence, Siena, Modena, Parma, Milan & Bergamo. I flew in to Bologna and out of Bergamo. I overnighted in hotels in Bologna, Florence and Bergamo. Most small towns have a railway station and train travel is heavily subsidised and very reasonable. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lombardy (state)
  2. Puglia (state)
  3. Tuscany (state)
  4. Umbria (attraction)
  5. Venice (city)
  6. Emilia-Romagna (state)
  7. Génova (city)
  8. Cinque Terre (hotel)
  9. Bologna (city)
  10. Florence (city)
  11. Milan (city)
  12. Siena (city)
  13. Rome (city)
  14. Modena (city)
  15. Parma (city)
  16. Bergamo (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Gery from Brussels

My only advice would be not to overdo it. If you come to Italy, the best thing you can do is to indulge. Choose a few sites you really want to go and visit in Rome, and for the rest, just relax and savor the intense quality of life, the wonderful light, the fragrances of history, the refined food, the typical hustle and bustle of the city, the unique wines and coffees. Wander around, take a few unusual pictures, start sketching, listen to local music, write a poem...

After 4 days visits in Rome, you'll just be exhausted. Why do not you try a couple of days in a truly medieval town in the countryside, not far from Rome? I love Civita di Bagnoregio, which has kept a breathtaking historical soul. A very nice way to taste the "real" Italy (far from the herds of tourists).There is a unique B&B I recommend in the old town: Corte dellà Maesta (see So authentic! Here is how to get there from Rome:
 Let us know! Gery

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Civita di Bagnoregio (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Rebecca from Mobile

If you're up for a for a food adventure, I would recommend grabbing some tartufo (truffle) gelato.

I would also recommend seeking out The David located at Gallery of The Academy, Florence. To avoid the 2-6 hour wait, I recommend booking tickets online for a guided tour (translated in English via headphones). Many sites sell combined tickets with the Uffizi.

One important note: many places are closed on Sundays and/or Mondays, especially in Rome.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Gallery of The Academy (attraction)
  2. Rome (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Luca from Palermo

Hi Steve, 

In one week you have to make choices.. better few places then running from one to another.. never been?

mmm maybe Venice, Florence and Rome. 

Second time.. come to south Italy, out of ordinary tourism traps.. just real and plenty of incredible places and cultural attraction have nothing to envey to the rest of italy. But first time sure.. the above are a must to see. 




1 thanks

answered by
Sandy from Memphis, Tennessee

I'm Italian and catholic but would not spend your entire time in Rome for your anniversary. Cinque Terre is beautiful and romantic! We always rent a car with no it entry so we can stop where we want. It depends what month your going! We have been their many times and suggest you buy into a small group tour at Vatican City or it can take hours in line purchasing tickets! Most all are great!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Cinque Terre (hotel)
  3. Vatican City (city)

answered by
Russell from Columbia, South Carolina

To echo fellow posters, don't try to do too much and go to Firenze as well. There are plenty of sights to see in Roma, you will not see them all, so do not even try. Before you go pick three or four "must dos" in Roma and pick up a good guide book (Rick Steves) to plan.  Do the same for Firenze.  Leave yourself "free days" to wander and relax. Check out the Opera at St. Paul's within the walls in Roma or at St. Marks in Firenze.  My personal favorite restaurants, Ai Fienaroli in Roma & Cibreo in Firenze. 

answered by
Ihsan from Amman

Vatican City, Colosseo, Trevi FountainSaint Michael the Archangel and Saint Magnus and the Spanish Steps 

A gondola ride for an hour in Venice and a tour in Murano Island

In Florence there is a lot to do actually... a trip to Pisa and museums trips and vineyards .

Enjoy the coffee and the pastries

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vatican City (city)
  2. Colosseo (attraction)
  3. Trevi Fountain (attraction)
  4. Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Magnus (attraction)
  5. Spanish Steps (attraction)
  6. Venice (city)
  7. Murano Island (attraction)
  8. Florence (city)
  9. Pisa (city)

answered by
Jose S from Antioch

Rome is an amazing place in itself.  We went for the first time this past Sept 2014 and cant wait to go back.  

We spent 9 days over Labor Day weekend and only left our Rome base for a day trip to Pompei...that being said, we could have easily spent all 9 days just wandering the streets of Rome and still come away with the feeling that we only scraped what Rome has to offer.  Its a city where the major attractions do not disappoint.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Pompei (attraction)

answered by
alessandro from Asciano


you can start from Rome for 2/3 days then, go towards Florence, stop first in Siena, the countryside around Siena,  Pienza.

Continues to Pisa or Lucca, turn back to Rome .

Have a nice time in Italy.


alessandro draghi

il molinello

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Florence (city)
  3. Pienza (city)
  4. Pisa (city)
  5. Lucca (city)

answered by
Sérgio from Lisbon

If you do not want to rush keep it simple, Rome and Florence, travelling by train between the two, and if you want to drive around Florence Tuscany is beautiful.

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