16-Day Itinerary Italy for first timers (Slow travel)

vatican photo sunset italy
Italy is known mainly for the Pope, pasta, pizza, Ferrari, and probably everything beautiful in the world. Armed with a Pacsafe bag (mandatory for European travel), we braved the crowd in Rome and Florence, brisked through a Tuscan town, walked the streets of St. Francis in Assisi, experienced the romantic Venice canals, shopped fashion brands in Milan, learned about Ferraris in Modena and got mesmerized by Lake Como. If you’re ready to experience all the beautiful things in the world, read on. This is our 16-day itinerary in Italy.
We traveled in Fall (October 15, 2017 – October 30, 2017)
  • Day 1 – Arrive in Rome, Flea Market, Colosseum,
  • Day 2 – Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Ancient Rome Tour (via Viator), St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Day 3 – Vatican Museum, Colosseum again, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill
  • Day 4 – Attend Papal Mass, Drive to Assisi
  • Day 5 – Assisi Walking Tour, Drive to Florence
  • Day 6 – Florence – Accademia, Uffizi Gallery, Duomo Museum, View Florence from St. Michael Piazza
  • Day 7 – Volterra
  • Day 8 – Pisa, Cinque Terre
  • Day 9 – Tour Cinque Terre
  • Day 10 – Drive to Modena, Visit Ferrari Museum
  • Day 11 – Supposed to visit Pushstart (Ferrari factory) but found out its exclusively for Ferrari owners, we tried Modena food instead
  • Day 12 – Venice
  • Day 13 – Milan
  • Day 14 & 15 – Lake Como
  • Day 16 – Leave for Luzern Switzerland
vatican photo sunset italy
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, Rome, Italy at Sunset
Our original itinerary had a stopover at Siena before we head to Florence but we were traveling with 2 more adults (one is a senior citizen) and sharing just 1 bathroom. And being all girls in this travel, we spent almost the whole morning just getting ready to head out. Also, this focuses on Rome going north to Switzerland since Switzerland is the final country that we visited during our 21-day trip.

This itinerary is a mix of itineraries suggested in Rick Steve’s Italy, some research online, and suggestion from friends.

Day 1 – Arrival in Rome – Porta Portese and Colosseum

We arrived in Rome early on a Sunday morning. Arriving on a weekend is a good thing because you get to experience weekend flea markets and if you’re lucky, there can be festivals. Upon arrival, we took the train from the airport to the closest station where we are staying then took an Uber ride to our Airbnb rental. If it was just 2 of us, we could’ve taken the bus, but there are 4 of us and my mom brought a large luggage so Uber is our best choice. (Tip: If you’re traveling in a group of 4 or more, it might be cheaper to just get an Uber from the airport straight to the place where you’re going).

After resting and taking a shower, we head out to Porta Portese, a famous flea market in Rome. If you like buying leather stuff, you can visit this place. We went here around lunch time and got a sandwich here for lunch. When we got there, most of the shops are already packing up so I think the best time to go is early morning. I got a good deal on a nice leather jacket though ūüôā


After Porta Portese, we head out to the Colosseum area to check out the place. Based from research, the queue going in is going to be too long. We booked a viator tour of this so we could skip the line so we didn’t enter and just walked around the area. Thre is a spot where you can have a nice view of the Palantine Hill. Checkout the photos below:

roman colosseum
roman colosseum
a different angle of the colosseo
a different angle of the colosseo
nice chapel near the colosseum, near where the view of palantine below can be seen.
chapels nearby the colosseum area
Palantine Hill view from a side street
nice view of the Palantine Hill from our walking exploration

Day 2 – Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Ancient Rome Tour

Spanish Steps

In the ideal world, you’ll arrive at around 8-9am at the Spanish Steps. In reality, we reached the place at half past 10. The spanish steps is just a few minutes walk from the Spagna terminal. Its quite crowded and honestly, nothing too magnificent to see there. We just walked around here quickly since we booked an Ancient Rome Tour via Viator.

Spanish Steps
my group walking around the spanish steps

Ancient Rome Tour Via Viator

Our tour group is at 1pm. We arrived like 5 minutes past 1pm because we had a hard time finding the meeting place. Turns out, the group have left already and we can’t join in the middle of the tour. We requested to be waitlisted and see if we can join the next group at 3pm. While waiting, we had real Italian pizza at the resto nearby the waiting area. The wait was unsuccessful and we just decided to rebook for the following day and just pay rebooking fee. The rest of the afternoon was planned for “Dolce Vita” – the Italian sweet life, which is kinda ironic because of this bitter Viator experience haha!

The Dolce Vita Walk

The Dolce Vita Walk is supposed to start from the Trevi Fountain to Piazza Navona. But we had to end it¬†at the Pantheon because I needed to take the St. Peter’s Basilica sunset shot – saw the beaufitul sunset view while we are in the taxi heading home from Colosseo during the first day.

So our first stop after that failed viator tour was Trevi Fountain – at 3:30pm – it is so crowded, I wonder if if is less crowded in the morning. You can barely take a good shot of the fountain. We opted to stay at a chapel nearby instead and sat on its steps and just people watch while having gelato.

The overly crowded Trevi Fountain
Gelato while people watching

After Trevi fountain, we walked to Pantheon where there are nice shops and a famous coffee shop called “Caffe Tazza D’Oro”. We bought coffee beans here to bring back home. Its nice to walk around Pantheon, there are lots of shop and you can even find the original store that made Pinoccho¬†wooden dolls.

Another Crowded area – The Pantheon, but beautifully crowded. This is my mom.
Pantheon with our friend posing near the fountain
Original Pinoccho store

From Pantheon, we decided to just walk to St. Peter’s Basilica to see more of the sights. While walking, we chanced upon Castel Sant’ Angelo. Since we were rushing for the sunset shot, we just took a photo of this place and continued walking to Vatican.

Castel Sant’ Angelo
St. Peter’s Basilica Sunset Photo

We spent about 2 hours in this area just appreciating its beauty from sunset until it was already dark. There are benches in the Piazza where you can rest so me and Tina rested here while my mom and our friend went to the stores to buy rosaries.

Piazza Navona

Despite how tired we were, we decided to head to Piazza Navona and have our dinner there. The restaurants there, however, are quite expensive so upon taking photos of the place, we walked a few meters more to find more affordable restaurants.

Piazza Navona at night
Restaurants at Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Fountain

Day 3 –¬†Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum again, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill

Its our 3rd day in Rome and we booked the Vatican Museum ticket that allows us to skip the line. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the Vatican’s security system during the day we were there so we still had to queue for about an hour or so.

The Vatican museum is so Grand and full of details, not something that you would expect from a church in my opinion. Since we are an hour behind our schedule, we had to rush viewing because we have a tour scheduled for the day (this is the tour we rebooked from the previous day). The highlight of this morning trip is the Sistine Chapel. You are not allowed to be noisy and to take photos here. Because of that policy, you can really appreciate the beauty of Michaelangelo’s work.

Here are some photos inside the Vatican museum:

The Sistine Chapel

The highlight of this museum is Sistine Chapel’s ceiling art by Michaelangelo. Its like 3D art. The characters look alive, like a hologram or something. If you are getting a Vatican Museum ticket, make sure you have the pass to Sistine Chapel.

Colosseum (Finally!), Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill

Yes, finally, we are at the Colosseum. Unfortunately, we were again left by the tour group. We decided to just queue for the ticket and guess what, the line was not that long as what we had expected it to be. We were in queue for just about 15 minutes.

We spent about 1.5 hours walking inside the Colosseo. After that, we walked to Palantine Hill and queued for another ticket. I liked it better than the Colosseum.

Inside the Roman Colosseum
Me and Tina at the Roman Colosseum
Palantine Hill – Nice preservation of Ancient Rome, hope they could rebuild it.
Me at the Roman Forum

After our self-tour of the Ancient Rome, we headed back to the Vatican to get our tickets for next day’s Papal mass.

Day 4 – Papal Mass and Drive to Assisi

We left the apartment early for the papal mass. We wanted to get a good location so we can see the pope. Upon arrival, the queue going inside where the chairs are, were already too long and it seems like the Pope is already doing his rounds. So we went to the side and looked for a baby. Tip: Go near a baby, chances are the Pope will stop there to get the baby which is what happened to us.

Starstruck with Pope Francis that I wasn’t able to adjust my camera focus. His energy is just so overwhelming. The baby on green jacket was just beside us.

After the mass, we checkout of the apartment and went to the car rental. We probably spent around 1.5 hours waiting for the car so it messed up our schedule. We had lunch on the way and arrived in Assisi almost sunset.

Approaching Assissi

Day 5 – Assisi

Since we arrived late the previous day, we were not able to tour the place as shops close early. Assisi is just a small town, you can walk around it in a day. We woke up early to catch the sunrise.

Sunrise view from our Airbnb (This is the awesome unit we booked, sign up with a new account using this link to get $50 off your booking)

Walking to St. Francis Basilica
St. Francis Basilica
Inside St. Francis Basilica
St. Francis Basilica Grounds
quaint downtown
met a filipina nun and her brother

We were supposed to visit St. Claire’s too but it was closed. We left Assisi around 1pm to drive to Florence.

Day 6 – Florence

We had breakfast in our AirBNB and met a college friend who was also in Florence for vacation.

We were supposed to go to Uffizzi but somehow our research got messed up (luckily) so we went to the less crowded Palatine Gallery instead

Palatine Gallery
Inside Palatine Gallery
Inside Palatine Gallery
With my friend looking at artworks inside the gallery

After hours in the museum, we walked out and had lunch at a nearby restaurant. After lunch, we decided to walk to our next destination which is the Academia where you can see the famous David scuplture. On the way to the museum (which is also close to the duomo), there are a lot of Italian Jewelry shops. The shop we went into had a Filipina sales lady so there was instant connection and my mom got to buy a necklace and a pair of earrings.

Florence Duomo
Duomo at Florence

Around the Duomo are nice leather stores where you can buy nice Italian leather bags and shoes. We weren’t able to buy since we still have days ahead of us and it will be a pain to bring items you shop for with you while you travel.

David Sculpture by Michaelangelo
David Sculpture by Michaelangelo
A street performer in Florence
I’m a sucker for nice wall and store displays

Before sunset, we rushed to Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy the view of Florence during sunset.

Florence sunset view from Piazzale Michelangelo
Florence sunset view from Piazzale Michelangelo

Day 7 – Tuscan Country

The very next day, we went out early to drive around the country side of Tuscany. We drove to Volterra for a daytrip and passed lots of nice valleys on the way.

Volterra is a mountain top walled city and is recognized to be populated by vampires.

Bra Bar of Volterra Tuscany
Bra Bar of Volterra
Tuscan Country Hills
Tuscan Hills
Old walls of Volterra. The city is believed to be inhabited since 8th Century BC.
Cypress Lined Roads Tuscany
Cypress lined roads of Tuscany

Day 8 – Pisa

We had on for a day trip to Pisa via Train as a stop on our way to Cinque Terre. There are left luggage shops in the area so you can just store your luggage at the train station and explore the city without lugging them around.

From the train station, you can just walk to the leaning tower of Pisa and pass by a small town with lots of nice shops.

Duomo in Pisa with lots of people raising their hands (doing the compulsory Pisa pose

Compulsory Pisa Pose
Obligatory Pisa Pose
bridge from the train pisa
bridge from the train pisa
Nicola Pisano statue (Italian Sculptor)

Day 9 – Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre if translated to English means 5 Towns. Its made up of 5 towns along the coast line. We stayed in its most beautiful town, Vernazza. We also visited the town of Manarola.

Vernazza Town
Vernazza Town
Town of Maranola
Town of Maranola
My mom in Maranola
Fishermen in Maranola
Fishermen in Maranola
Lunch at Vernazza
Lunch at Vernazza
Magical Vernazza Sunset
Magical Vernazza Sunset

Day 10 – 11 Modena

Day 10, we leave Cinque Terre for Modena where our first day was planned for rest and laundry. We rented a car and drove from La Spezia (main station to Cinque Terre).¬†Modena is known for fast cars. This is where you can rent and drive a Ferrari for 15 minutes. We’ve also visited the Ferrari Museum and had lunch at Franceschetta 58, co-owned by a 3-star Michelin star chef Chef Massimo Bottura. Chef Bottura also owns Modena’s most famous Michelin starred restaurant, Osteria Francescana.

Note: You have to make advance reservations to both Restaurants.

Vintage Green Ferrari
I’m a sucker for vintage cars so this is probably my favorite Ferrari in the museum

Day 12 – Venice

We left Modena early to head on to Venice via train. Around Venice, you’ll need to ride boats to get around and walk a lot. We decided to leave some of our luggage at the train station and just bring things we need for 2 days since we just stayed here for an overnight. Venice is one of the most picturesque city in Italy with its canals and gothic architecture.

St. Mark's Basilica Venice
St. Mark’s Basilica Venice

Giant Hands along Venice Grand Canal
Giant Hands along Venice Grand Canal
Gondola Ride
Me and Tina on a Gondola Ride
Gondola Boats Men
Gondola Boats Men
Gondola Parking Overlooking Doge's Palace
Mandatory Gondola Photo Overlooking Doge’s Palace

Day 13- Milan

We arrived quite late in Milan the previous day and had to leave early the next day. But we were lucky enough to visit the following places: Corso Como, Duomo at Milan, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. We were also able to see the Bosco Verticale but was not able to take a photo of it since we just saw it in passing while on our way to the car rental. Milan really is a shopping destination, but since we are not in Italy for shopping, a few hours spent in Milan is ok with us.

Corso Como
Corso Como
Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II
Duomo in Milan
Duomo in Milan

Day 14/15 – Lake Como

We drove from Milan to Como and stayed in Bellagio. Drove to Varenna the following day and took the boat that takes vehicles. We also took a boat tour and saw the James Bond house and Sir Richard Branson’s Lake Como villa.¬†

Sir Richard Branson’s Lake Como Villa
James Bond Lake Como house
Lake como boat tour
Verenna, Como, Italy
View from Boat Tour
Quaint stores at Bellagio
View from the Boat Ride
Bellagio, Como, Italy
Strolling around Bellagio

Day 16 – Como to Luzern, Switzerland

During our last day in Como, we drove back to Como for our 12noon bus ride to Luzern. We used FlixBus which only costs 9.9 euros per head from Como to Luzern. The ride was nice with beautiful Swiss scenery.

One of the sceneries from the bus ride from Como to Lucerne
One of the sceneries from the bus ride from Como to Lucerne


  • The best month to visit Italy is October. We did not experience any rain during our travel and had a nice climate throughout our stay. Although Rome can be a bit hot during the afternoon.
  • If I will change our itinerary, we’ll definitely stay longer in Cinque Terre and Florence. I’d definitely do the hike in Cinque Terre if my mom was not with us.
  • Catholic or non-Catholic, you should attend the Paypal mass. Just seeing the Pope brings a different energy to you.
  • Cities I’d go back to if I have the chance: Rome, Como, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre
  • Trains can be quite confusing

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