Last year, my boyfriend, Keith, and I took a trip to my beloved Italy. As the granddaughter of Italian citizens, I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to visit Italy countless times throughout my childhood. However, this was my first time traveling overseas alone for an extended period of time and Keith’s first time ever visiting Italy. In total, we spent 10 days exploring Venice, Pordenone (where my grandparents live), Roma, and Cinque Terre. It was an incredible trip and one which we reflect on regularly.
Since our visit, I’ve received many questions from friends and acquaintances regarding how we budgeted this trip and how we planned our time there. In an effort to share my knowledge and to encourage more people to visit my homeland, I’ve outlined our 10 day itinerary, where we stayed, our experiences, and what we packed.
Italy Travel Itinerary
Keith and I knew we wanted to go to Italy, so we kept an eye on deals and ended up with flights on Air Canada for about $1,200 round trip. (A few months later we discovered the flight tracking app, Hopper. Wish we had known about it at the time! Probably would’ve saved more $.) Next, I did a bit of research on Google (Rick Steve’s is so helpful) and used the site RoutePerfect to design our 10-day schedule (mapping it out and knowing the time between cities ensured we booked the right trains using ItaliaRail).
I knew we’d for sure be seeing my grandparents for four days, but the rest of the time was undecided. Since we were flying into Venice, we decided to start there, then take the train to Pordenone (which is about an hour north). After staying with them for four days, we’d take the train to Roma (Keith is a huge history buff so obviously had to go here and I was also excited to show him where I was baptized) and spend three days there before continuing onto Cinque Terre, and flying back out of Venice.
Our Travel Itinerary
- August 24th: Left the USA
- August 25th: Arrived in Venice, Italy. Took a water taxi to the city. Spent six hours in Venice before taking a train to Pordenone.
- August 25th to 29th: Visited with my grandparent’s in Pordenone.
- August 29th to 31st: Roma
- August 31st to September 2nd: Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.
- September 2nd to 3rd: Venezia. Departed Venezia on the 3rd.
- September 4th: Arrived in the USA.
In hindsight, Keith and I wish we had skipped over Venice and Roma. We would’ve either preferred to have spent more time in Cinque Terre and with my grandparents in Pordenone or to have visited Tuscany and Florence (two of my favorite areas). In our experience, Rome and Venice were too touristy. We would’ve preferred to have had more time with family, by the beach, or exploring the countryside. Please keep in mind, this is not something I’d recommend for all, just what we observed through our own experience during this past trip.
In total, we spent approx. $2,400 on airfare and approx. $310 on train tickets for the two of us.
Where We Stayed
Once we had the trip outlined, I got onto Airbnb to book our vacation homes. Pordenone was taken care of since we were going to stay with my grandparents, but we still needed to find accommodations for the rest of the cities. Thankfully, we found some great spaces in each!
- Roma: While here we stayed at a Charming apartment 2 minutes from the Coliseum (approx. $93/night). This spot was easy to get to by train and in a safe area. Plus, we did not have to grab a taxi to get to the Coliseum (we did use one to get to the Vatican).
- Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre: Each of the five towns are gorgeous in their own right. However, I chose to stay in Riomaggiore since I’d seen many photos of it on social media and had heard it was where the Europeans liked to vacation (apparently Americans go to Vernazza). We were not disappointed in our decision. Camera vista mare “Zia Maria 2”($138/night) is a charming, quaint apartment overlooking the sea. We loved how close it was to the water and to all the great restaurants.
- Venezia: On the last night of our trip we stayed at a B&B ($144/night). We picked this rental since it was close to the water ferry and the airport.
When booking your accommodations, I recommend looking at a map, ensuring they have air conditioning (if this is important to you — many European rooms do not have it), and checking the cancellation policy. Also, make sure to bring extra Euro for the trip since many Airbnbs require a visitors tax that is paid when you arrive.
In total, we spent approx. $606 on rentals on this trip.
So, real talk: I didn’t do much planning for this trip. I’m going to be honest with you here, I may be the most type-a person you’ll ever meet, but I’m also not one for planning day-to-day activities — especially in a city/country I know well.
That being said, we did know ahead of time that we wanted to see a few famous spots in Rome: the Colosseum (approx. $14), Forum, Pantheon, and Vatican(approx. $29). I had read online that it was smart to book these ahead of time for lower prices and shorter lines. It paid off. (Pro tip: when booking tickets, check their schedules and dress-codes.)
As you’ve probably noticed, Keith and I aren’t much of the touristy type. Instead of taking tours through each of these monuments, we instead grabbed maps and rented headsets to go through at our leisure. Definitely not something I’d recommend for all, but it worked for us. 🙂
- Venice: We enjoyed walking around the city and Piazza San Marco, grabbing lunch and gelato at a local pizzeria, popping our head in the churches, and viewing the city from the water taxis we took.
- Pordenone: I greatly enjoyed this leg of the trip since it meant not only being able to spend time with my wonderful grandparents but because it also gave Keith a taste of “real” Italian family life in my hometown. While there, we relaxed, ate my Nonna’s delicious cooking, and went on many walks in the countryside. My grandparent’s also took us to their local winery, for lunch at the Proscuitto Factory in San Daniele, to the beach in Caorle (where we witnessed a beautiful Italian wedding!), on a drive through Lake Garda, to visit the Diga del Vajont dam memorial, and to Gorgazzo to see the statue of the Christ.
- Roma: We played tourist here, visiting the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican. Something I didn’t expect to enjoy: the nightlife! My 2nd cousin took us out for spritz at a local bar on our last night. It was fun to experience this city in a way I never had before. Make sure to go out! Another highlight of our trip: having dinner at an exquisite seafood restaurant while sitting right next to Willem Dafoe.
- Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre: Most people choose to spend their time here by hiking to each of the five villages. We did do this — sort of. Since we had limited time, we decided to spend our first-night enjoying vino (try the Cinque Terre DOC) and pesto pasta by the water. On our second day, we took the train from Riomaggiore to Manarola, then hiked from Manarola to Vernazza (come prepared to pay an entrance fee for the trail and with extra Euro for granita breaks). After a pizza and prosecco lunch in Vernazza, we took the ferry back to Riomaggiore (do this for the most stunning views of the cities) where we rented snorkeling equipment. Heads up: the beach is topless, rocky, and there are a few jellyfish — but definitely a good time (the water is so clear). On our last night, we bought a bottle of wine and walked around the town before settling down with some gelato on the seawall. It was magical and the perfect ending to our trip.
In total, together we spent approx. $43 on museum tickets and $1,000 on experiences.
What We Packed
Keith and I planned to pack lite since we knew we didn’t want to carry or keep track of a ton of bags. However, we did end up borrowing an extra small bag from my Nonno while we were there since we needed more space for the treats we were buying for ourselves and friends back home. (P.S. if you are bringing back wine, learn from our mistake — use LOTS of bubble wrap).
Here’s what we brought with us:
- Passport and License — Obviously 😉
- Cotopaxi Cusco 26L Daypack Backpack — We each used one of these awesome (local!) packs and had zero complaints. Very comfy and fit so much stuff!
- Herschel Duffle Bag — A bag like this would’ve been perfect to hold our souvenirs.
- Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones — Keith calls these a “game changer”!
- Kindle Fire — One of our flights didn’t have a tv (crazy!), so we were glad we downloaded movies to bring with us.
- Otter Box — So important to have when you’re constantly taking your phone out to take multiple photos and videos.
- TSA Luggage Lock — Protect your goods! Make sure to lock up your bags even when you’re in your hotel/Airbnb.
- Money Belt — No, I’m not being overly cautious. Keep your money and your passport safe when walking around town.
- Travel Bottles — I’ve got very curly Italian hair, which means I absolutely can’t leave home without my DevaCurl Shampoo and Conditioner or Moroccan Oil.
- Travel Adapter — When I was a kid, most European hotels and homes still had European outlets. I found on this last trip that those are becoming few and far between. However, it was still useful to have on-hand whenever we had to charge our phones.
- Sneakers — Keith wore Sperrys most of our trip and I wore Keds. They even worked for our Cinque Terre hikes. I also packed a pair of cute H&M sandals.
- Jacket — I didn’t expect it to be too warm since we went during the early fall. Therefore, we each packed a light rain jacket and sweater. No complaints!
- T-shirts — We each packed three neutral t-shirts.
- Swimsuit — Be sure to pack one if you’re going to the coast. Keith wore Chubbies and I brought a one-piece from Nordstrom.
- Dress clothes — We knew we’d be stopping in churches while in Italy. Therefore, Keith brought a pair of JCrew Chicos and a dress shirt and I brought a skirt and a dress. It’s all about options 😉
Lastly, don’t forget to exchange your dollars for Euro and to call your banks to let them know you’ll be abroad. This can save you lots of $ and headaches!
In total, we spent just over $4K on our 10-day Italy trip (about $2K each) — including airfare!
Keith and I enjoyed every single second of our trip to Italy last fall. I hope the learnings we’ve shared here will ensure you and yours will have an equally wonderful, if not better, experience.
Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions for us or suggestions for others planning to travel to Italy in the near future.