Italy in a week – Veneto, Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio
Italy in a week?! Yes it’s possible and it’s amazing! I wish the title of this post was “Italy in a month” (or even a year) because I didn’t want to leave the borders of this extraordinary country! I would love to spend a whole month there, exploring each city for days (eating and eating), but how many of us can really do this? Unless you are a successful travel blogger, you probably have a full-time job, which is likely going to stop you from travelling for a whole month. We wanted to make the most of Italy in a week and see the most popular destinations, so we created a very exciting road trip plan.
Our Italian road trip included Verona, Venice, the Italian Riviera – Santa Margheritta Ligure and Portofino, as well as Pisa, Florence and finally Rome! We drove over 1200 km in total and we loved every minute of it. You might think that it was a rushed holiday but we managed to plan the trips in a very balanced way so we had time to relax, time to explore and of course time to EAT. After a week of delicious carbohydrates I came back to London with a few extra kilos on me, but I didn’t care, I was in food heaven!
Road trip plan for 7 days in Italy
You can plan the same trip yourself, it’s easy. This is how we planned our “Italy in a week” trip but the plan is flexible and if you have more time you can also visit some of the smaller towns and villages when you are driving from one city to the next. Here is a summary of our 7 day road trip:
Day 1: Fly to Milan (we landed at Bergamo airport), pick up a car and drive to Verona (1 1/2 h drive). If you have more time you can spend a day in Milan first as well but we had both visited Milan recently so we decided to skip it. Spend the first day exploring Verona.
Day 2: Drive to Venice (1 h drive). Spend the day in Venice and drive back to Verona in the evening.
Day 1 & 2 are covered in more detail further below in this post.
Day 3: In the morning, drive from Verona to the Italian riviera (3 1/2 h drive). On your way you can stop to see lake Garda. We went to a stunning village by the lake – Sirmione, where you can also visit a beautiful castle. In the Italian Riviera, we stayed at a beautiful hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure, but there are a few resorts you can choose from, they are all located right next to each other. Spend the day in the village or drive around the coast.
Day 4: Visit Portofino. You can drive (10 min drive) to get there but I recommend getting a boat. There are boats every hour from each of the resorts nearby that will take you to Portofino.
Day 3 & 4 are covered as part of this post: Santa Margherita Ligure & Portofino, Italy Road Trip Part 2
Day 5: In the morning, drive from the riviera to Florence (2 1/2 h drive) , stopping for lunch in Pisa and a quick visit to Piazza dei Miracoli (square) where you can see the famous Leaning tower. Continue to Florence and spend the afternoon and evening sightseeing.
Day 6 & 7: You can spend some more time in the morning in Florence or drive straight to Rome (3 h drive). Drop off your rental car as soon as you arrive in Rome (trust me, you don’t want to be driving there) and spend the rest of your holiday in Rome. From Rome you can get a returning flight back to your home country.
Day 5-7 will be covered in Part 3 (coming soon).
This is how we saw the best of Italy in a week! There is lots more to see but maybe there will be a second road trip plan one day! :)
Italy in a week (Part 1): Verona and Venice (Veneto region)
The first two destinations of our “Best of Italy in a week” trip were Verona and Venice, which are both located in the region of Veneto. We landed in Milan Bergamo airport and from there we picked up our rental car (a cute Italian Fiat 500) and drove straight to our hotel in Verona.
Verona – city of romance
Verona is charming and romantic, not too big and not too small. It’s the perfect size for a city and although it’s hard to choose, it was my favourite destination from our road trip! It felt like Verona had somehow managed to maintain its authenticity better than the other touristic Italian cities. Not all buildings were renovated and a lot of them had their original facades preserved, which looked very beautiful and shabby. I know nothing about architecture but I think Verona has definitely managed to preserve some of its older chic. This applies to Venice as well. There were a lot tourists everywhere of course, but it wasn’t as crowded as Florence and Rome for example, which we discovered later on.
We stayed at a cute little B&B La Magnolia, in a century-old house. This was the only hotel from our trip, where we could park the car for free. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge in Italy because in the city centres it’s impossible to find a parking spot, let alone for free. Luckily we were sort of prepared for this. We only used the car to get from one city to the next but we rarely used it to drive in the city. The B&B was about a 10 minute walk to the city centre, clean, with modern furniture and a cheap 3€ breakfast. The only downside was that it was right next to some train tracks so you could hear trains from time to time but otherwise the street was very quiet and it was perfect for a 2 night stay.
Our walk in Verona started with a visit to Arena di Verona, the beautiful Roman amphitheatre, which you have probably heard of. You can read all the fascinating facts about it online but I have to admit that I was a bit more excited by the food market right next to it! We were lucky to be in Verona during a food market event on Piazza Bra – “Le piazze dei sapori” (The Squares of Flavours). Food stalls with Italian cheese, bread, meat and wine from local farmers, as well as lots of street food! I had to try to control my excitement! My first meal in Italy was this Pomodoro gnocchi on the picture below, yum! I then tried some cheese and bought a bag of freshly baked little oval breadsticks called Taralli, which are a popular snack in Italy.
We then continued down this narrow main shopping street – Via Mazzini, which was very busy but you could still see the beauty of it. It was a warm spring Saturday – the perfect day for a walk.
A quick stop for our first Italian gelato for this trip (definitely not the last one). Everything in Verona is about Romeo and Juliet so our first gelato choices were Baci di Giulietta (Juliet’s kiss) and Baci di Romeo (Romeo’s kiss). Even the food there is romantic!
I didn’t want this day to end! Walking around the beautiful little streets, eating my gelato – priceless. Eventually we ended up on this absolutely stunning square – Piazza delle Erbe. It was our first day but even after 7 days in Italy, I still think it was the most beautiful one of all the “piazzas” we saw and there are A LOT of squares in Italy! I fell in love with the authentic old facades and cute little cafes and shops.
In the middle of the square you can see the beautiful fountain Madonna Verona and at the end – an old historical palace Palazzo Maffei, decorated with statues of Greek gods. Let’s not forget the super tall Lamberti bell-tower that has stunning views of Verona. We had to stop for a slightly expensive espresso and fresh orange juice and soak up the sun. We then visited some other popular spots in the city like Juliet’s balcony, although she didn’t really existed but we all like to think that this was actually her balcony. :)
If you would like see some stunning views of Verona, there are two places you can go. First one is the Piazzale Castel San Pietro (on the picture below). You can walk or use a car to get there but I recommend walking as you will go through a beautiful narrow path going up the hill. Second panoramic spot in Verona is the Santuario Madonna di Lourdes. A beautiful church located high up on a quiet hill, there weren’t that many visitors up there so it was very peaceful. We chose to go with the car but if you have more time you can probably walk as well.
We often use tripadvisor to find good restaurants but this time we relied on the recommendation of our B&B owner. He sent us to this little restaurant – Osteria Casa Vino, located on a tiny, cute street in central Verona. The food was fantastic! We had dinner outside and ordered some of the specials for the night. The starter was Courgette flowers stuffed with Ricotta, which I tried for the first time and I really liked it. Our mains were two different seafood pasta dishes. I don’t know a lot about wine but I probably had one of the best wines I have ever tried! It was a local light Soave white wine from the Veneto region (I am still trying to find it online).
After dinner we had a lovely evening walk around Castelvecchio, a beautiful castle with a bridge that overlooks the Adige River. What can I say, I fell in love with this city, it really is romantic!
Venice – city of canals
Ah, Venice…! Overcrowded with tourists, but if you manage to escape from the busy streets around the tourist attractions, you will be able to see the real beauty of it.
Getting to Venice by car
From Verona, it’s about a 1 hour drive to Venice. You can’t take your car inside Venice of course, so there are several public parking areas you can use if you are driving. We parked the car at the Venezia Tronchetto Parking, which is the closest one to the actual town and there is a convenient public train service, which you can take for just 1.50€ and it will take you to Venice. On your way to the train, you will probably run into people trying to sell you boat transfers, but don’t fall for that. One of them actually told us that we can’t go to Venice without a boat and that the train will not take us inside Venice, but we chose not the believe them and got on the train, which was quick, cheap and convenient and it did actually go to Venice.
The boats will take you straight to the tourist places like Piazza San Marco but the train will take you to Piazzale Roma, which is a bit further away. From there it’s about a 20-30 minute walk to Piazza San Marco and I am so glad we chose to go this way because the streets we walked through were much quieter, with fewer shops and cafes, less tourists and I feel like we saw the REAL Venice. So many cute tiny bridges, so many beautiful authentic buildings! We also went to the main tourist places of course like the Rialto Bridge and the San Marco square, which were impressive but much busier.
If you want the complete Venice experience, you can rent a gondola. It’s going to cost you though, 80€ for 30 minutes. I managed to negotiated the price down to 70€ and it was worth it! There are just some places in Venice you can’t see walking.
We didn’t spend the night in Venice, we explored during the day and then went back to Verona for dinner. I don’t have any food recommendations for Venice as we didn’t spend much time there but it wasn’t easy to find a decently priced place with good quality food. We had lunch in one restaurant and the food was OK but nothing special.
Even though Venice is overcrowded, you can still see the beauty of this unique city of canals! I think a 1 day visit is ideal for Venice if you are on a tight schedule, after all we wanted to see the best of Italy in a week!
So yes, seeing the best of Italy in a week is possible and it’s great fun! Head over to Part 2 of our Italian road trip, expect some spectacular views of the Italian Riviera!
Here are some other foodie posts about Venice from fellow bloggers that you might be interested in: