You have been dreaming about your once in a lifetime trip to Italy.  You have been hearing stories from friends about their amazing trips. You have been seeing pictures on social media depicting all the dreamy destinations in Italy.  You know you want to go, but you are not sure how to make it happen.   In this article “10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary”, we will give you an itinerary for some of the best sites in Italy. This trip will give you the time to truly enjoy and appreciate these historic locations while at the same time seeing as much as possible in the time available.

In a previous post, “Plan Your Dream Trip to Italy and France” we discussed a basic itinerary for a trip. In each of these next two posts, we will be going through our travel log, showing you the actual results of each part of the trip. The hope is that our experiences will give you great ideas for how you actually want to work out the details of your trip.   So, without further delay, let’s get this trip going.   

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, the best trip planner app on iOS and Android

 

Day 1 Arrive Rome Italy

You may recall from our previous post, the main purpose (or excuse) for this trip was to visit our son who was studying abroad for a semester in Southern France. He wanted to travel cheaply in Italy for a week and what better way to do that than to have mom and dad pay for most of it. We decided to meet in Rome and make our way north so that in about a week we could send him back to his school in France as we continued our adventures in France for two more weeks.

10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We flew from Minneapolis to Paris with a short layover and then on to Rome. We had shared transportation scheduled from the airport to our hotel, but this was our first experience in Rome and found that not everything runs on time. The bus was about 45 minutes late and then it took about an hour to get to our hotel in heavy traffic. The driver was a bit confused as to who was on the bus and what hotels he needed to stop at. So we saved money with shared transportation but had a lesson in patience in Rome.

We checked into our wonderful boutique hotel, The Bailey’s Hotel Roma. We shared one room with two beds with our son. It was lovely and comfortable. The service was fantastic and the recommendations for food and activities were spot on.

Stairway The Bailey's Hotel Rome 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Stairway The Bailey’s Hotel Rome – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Before we connected with Mark, we had some spare time to so some exploring on our own. Anne is an amazing researcher so she, along with the wisdom of the must have book Rick Steves Italy 2018, had a complete list of what we wanted to do each day. Be sure to download the Rick Steve Europe Travel App onto your phone before you travel. The app has all kinds of content and tours that we found to be invaluable to us on our trip.

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Castel Sant’Angelo Rome – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Note: To help make transportation around the city as easy and as flexible as possible, we purchased the Big Bus Premium 2 day Hop on Hop off Rome package. This first gave us a much needed overview of the city, and then later helped us get from place to place as we were not familiar with the area and with the bus routes. This was very easy and convenient to use and we would highly recommend it.

The first two stops on our tour were of course the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini. Standing 86 ft high and 161.3 ft wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Sabrina Goes to Rome and Roman Holiday.
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10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Trevi Fountain Rome – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Trevi Fountain is very busy all the time so expect crowds, be patient and take it all in. If you want to see the fountain when there are not many people around, arrive before sunrise and beat the crowds. But crowds or no crowds the place is still breathtaking.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Spanish Steps 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

The monumental stairway of 174 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725[citation needed], linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
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You will get a bit of a workout going up these steps but it will be worth it for the view.

We finally connected up with Mark and grabbed a relatively quick dinner. We were looking at google reviews for places to eat to have some idea what would be the right food at the right price. Of course, everything was available.

Come Il Latte – Best Gelato in Rome

At the end of the day were were looking for a wonderful local treat. The metradie recommended Come Il Latte Rome as the best gelato place in Rome. He was right – it was amazing! Try it, you will not be disappointed.

 Best Gelato in Rome - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Best Gelato in Rome – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itineraryh

Day 2 Exploring Vatican City

On our first full day in Rome, we woke up energized and ready for a full day of exploration.

We started the day with a terrific breakfast at the hotel. One thing that seems to be pretty standard at most of the hotels we stayed at is a continental breakfast with coffee, cheese, sliced meats, boiled eggs, assorted fruit, some breakfast cereals etc. They were generally not heavy meals that would weigh you down, but they were meals that would get you ready for a day of exploration.

Exploring Rome - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Exploring Rome – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We got into the habit of grabbing some extra fruit, bread, meat, cheese and yogurt that would serve as our lunchtime meals on many days.

Vatican City

The main place that we were going to be exploring in our first full day in Rome was the Vatican.

The Vatican 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Vatican 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty, it is distinct from yet under “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” of the Holy See. With an area of 110 acres, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.

The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is, religiously speaking, the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.

Within the Vatican City are religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. They feature some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures. The unique economy of Vatican City is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps and souvenirs, fees for admission to museums, and sales of publications.

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The reality is that it is one of the most amazing collections of art in the world. Of course we had to go and we would recommend that you go as well.

Gallery of Maps -10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Gallery of Maps – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We took a taxi to the Vatican and got there pretty early in the morning. We had to get our “skip the line tickets” and meet up with the tour agency that was actually going to get us in to the Vatican. Once we were in we would be completely on our own with the Rick Steves app and audio Tour.

Getting in was still a bit of a trick. There were huge crowds that were waiting in line to get in. The skip the lines tickets are a must, but the company that had our skip the line tickets apparently messed something up. The company takes a group of about 20 tourist to the front of the line at a specific time where there was a security guard and a lot of excitement. The security guard told our leader that something was not in order. Our leader took us aside and called headquarters to attempt to straighten things out. Someone from headquarters ran over with some extra paperwork and we went up to the guard again. Again we were not allowed in.

Apparently if you miss your scheduled time slot there is no chance of getting in. Tension was going up a bit. Again a call to headquarters, again another rush. Apparently that time it worked. Everything appeared to be in order. What I think was actual happened was that the guard was sick of seeing us or a bribe was paid. But either way, finally we got in.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are Christian and art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by popes throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments.

 

Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2017, they were visited by 6 million people, which combined makes it the 5th most visited art museum in the world.

There are 54 galleries in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world.

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Walking through the Museums can be a bit overwhelming. First of all, there is just so much to see. Secondly the crowds can make it a bit more stressful.

Wherever you can, get off to the side and take a rest. If a window is open at the museum, stop by the window and take a deep breath and take in the view. Change things up a bit.

Vatican Museums - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Vatican Museums – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Make sure you are well fed and have had plenty to drink to stay well hydrated. This is a bit like a marathon. Preparation matters.

There were places for bathroom breaks so there is nothing to worry about there.

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Sistine Chapel – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.

During the reign of Sixtus IV, a team of Renaissance painters that included Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, created a series of frescos depicting the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on 15 August 1483 Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass in the Sistine Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption, at which ceremony the chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Between 1508 and 1512, under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the chapel’s ceiling, a project which changed the course of Western art and is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization. In a different climate after the Sack of Rome, he returned and between 1535 and 1541, painted The Last Judgment for Popes Clement VII and Paul III. The fame of Michelangelo’s paintings has drawn multitudes of visitors to the chapel ever since they were revealed five hundred years ago.

Wiki

This Sistine Chapel was everything we imaged and so much more. It was amazingly beautiful and completely overwhelming.

The Sistine Chapel - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Sistine Chapel – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Why do they scream at you No Photo??

Do you know why they scream “No Photo” in the Sistine Chapel?? Read this article for the real scoop. It will blow your mind. The reason for banning photography is no longer valid, but they continue the mantra making that part of the visit unpleasant for no reason.

St Peter’s Basilica

I have a confession to make. We snuck into St Peter’s Basilica based on the recommendation of travel expert Rick Steves.

St Peters Basilica - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
St Peters Basilica – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Rick recommended an easy quick way to get into the Basilica if you aren’t part of a tour group. While you are still in the Sistine Chapel, you will see tour groups congregating and preparing to to into the Basilica. When you see that, put your head down and get very close to a group and pretend you are with that group. Then you will get ushered into the Basilica and not have to wait in another line. We tried this trick and it worked like a dream.

St Peters Basilica - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
St Peters Basilica – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peter’s Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.

Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world.[3] While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.

Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.

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St Peters Basilica - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
St Peters Basilica – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

It is hard to describe the grandeur of this place. It simply takes your breath away. It is an absolute must visit!

Day 3 Exploring Rome on Steroids

On day 3 we knew we had a lot to covers so we got up early, ate a great breakfast and took a taxi over to our first destination. The Coliseum.

Colosseum

The Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81–96). These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius).

The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, having an average audience of some 65,000; it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.

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The Colosseum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Colosseum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We had purchased a skip the line pass via Crown Tours Italy. We were on time, they were on time, but it was raining. Apparently when it is raining the ground in the Colosseum can get slippery so they stop people from going in for a while to let it drain. After half an hr or so we met with our guide and we were able to get in.

It was off season so the crowds were smaller than mid summer but there were still plenty of people attempting to get into this great wonder.

The Colosseum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Colosseum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

As our tour got going we realized how wonderful our tour guide was. He was a German gentleman that was a great storyteller and obviously loved history. He took us from spot to spot regaling us with many great tales.

While we were in the Colosseum, it continued to rain, sometimes pretty hard but that did not dampen any enthusiasm for squeezing out every bit of wisdom and knowledge of this place.

The Colosseum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Colosseum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

At the end of the tour, our guide made a point about the most important purpose of the colosseum. It was a powerful propaganda tool for the emperor to recruit an army for the next grand campaign. Our guide informed us that the event was scripted in such a way that all the peasants were entertained and put in awe of the great powers of the emperor they would do anything for him. Then a week or so after the event the peasants would get their papers to join the army for the next campaign and die for the emperor. And they would happily do it. I thought it was very ironic that a German gentleman would be telling us about masterful use of propaganda knowing Hitler was indeed a master of the same tool.

So this is was an absolute must do tour. Figure out a way for your group to do it.

Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch. The arch spans the Via triumphalis, the way taken by the emperors when they entered the city in triumph.

Though dedicated to Constantine, much of the decorative material incorporated earlier work from the time of the emperors Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138) and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), and is thus a collage. The last of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, it is also the only one to make extensive use of spolia, reusing several major reliefs from 2nd century imperial monuments, which give a striking and famous stylistic contrast to the sculpture newly created for the arch. This earned it the derisive nickname of Cornacchia di Esopo Aesop’s Crow.

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Arch of Constantine  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Arch of Constantine – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

You can see the Arch from within the Colosseum. That caught our attention so we knew we had to check it out.

Piazza Navona

This place made it on the list again because of Anne’s indepth research. You must go here and spend as much time as possible.

Piazza Navona is a square in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones (“games”), and hence it was known as “Circus Agonalis” (“competition arena”). It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona.

Defined as a public space in the last years of 15th century, when the city market was transferred there from the Campidoglio, Piazza Navona was transformed into a highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture and art during the pontificate of Innocent X, who reigned from 1644 until 1655, and whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced the piazza. It features important sculptural and creations: in the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius; the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi, Carlo Rainaldi and others; and the aforementioned Pamphili palace, also by Girolamo Rainaldi, that accommodates the long gallery designed by Borromini and frescoed by Pietro da Cortona.

Piazza Navona Flooded by Antonio Joli. Circa 1760
Piazza Navona has two other fountains. At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575) to which, in 1673, Bernini added a statue of a Moor, wrestling with a dolphin. At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574) also created by Giacomo della Porta; the statue of Neptune, by Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to create a balance with La Fontana del Moro.

During its history, the piazza has hosted theatrical events and other ephemeral activities. From 1652 until 1866, when the festival was suppressed, it was flooded on every Saturday and Sunday in August in elaborate celebrations of the Pamphilj family. The pavement level was raised in the 19th century, and in 1869 the market was moved to the nearby Campo de’ Fiori. A Christmas market is held in the piazza square.

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Let’s take a look at a few of the marvels here.

Fountain of the Four Rivers

Fountain of the Four Rivers  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Fountain of the Four Rivers – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is a fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. It was designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza as did the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone of which Innocent was the sponsor.

The base of the fountain is a basin from the centre of which travertine rocks rise to support four river gods and above them, a copy of an Egyptian obelisk surmounted with the Pamphili family emblem of a dove with an olive twig. Collectively, they represent four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread: the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas.

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The Fountain of Neptune

The Fountain of Neptune is a fountain in Rome, Italy, located at the north end of the Piazza Navona. It was once called “Fontana dei Calderari” because it was located close to a small alley with blacksmith’s workshops, makers of pots and pans and of other metal based businesses, all of them generating heat.

The restoration of the Roman Aqua Virgo aqueduct in 1570 was immediately followed by the start of work on a continuation water supply pipe towards the district of the old Campo Marzio, which following the diminution of the city’s size and importance was left as the most densely populated part of the city. Restoration of a piped water supply in turn permitted the construction of several public fountains. The basin of the Fontana del Nettuno, (without the sculptures), was designed in 1574 by Giacomo Della Porta, who was also responsible for the Moor Fountain at the other side of the square. It was sponsored by pope Gregory XIII. The lower part of the basin consists of white marble and the upper part of the local stone from Pietrasanta. For the next 300 years, the fountain survived without statues.

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The Fountain of Neptune  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Fountain of Neptune – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Pantheon

To us, The Pantheon in Rome was one of the most amazing places to see and experience in the entire city, for three simple reasons. 
1 The age.
2 How well preserved it is.
3 The incredibly amazing architecture.

The Pantheon  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Pantheon – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Pantheon is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). It was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. Its date of construction is uncertain, because Hadrian chose not to inscribe the new temple but rather to retain the inscription of Agrippa’s older temple, which had burned down.

The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 142 ft.

It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a churchdedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” (Latin: Sancta Maria ad Martyres) but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda”. The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon is a state property, managed by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism through the Polo Museale del Lazio; in 2013 it was visited by over 6 million people.

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The Pantheon  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Pantheon – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

I don’t know about you, but to us, that was just crazy. To consider how much has gone on in this region, how many people have lived and died here, and yet to have a piece this amazingly beautiful still standing is almost beyond comprehension.

The Pantheon  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Pantheon – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Were we right? This plaza is just amazing! Just image what it would be like to live around this area. We would be overwhelmed with beauty and history all the time and would never be able to get anything done.

Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola

As we were walking away from the Piazza Navona towards our hotel, we wanted to do our best to keep taking in everything we possibly could so that we would not miss any experiences. On of the places we found was Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola or Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius. It was so beautiful that we had to check it out.

Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius is a Roman Catholic titular church, of deaconry rank, dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, located in Rome, Italy. Built in Baroque style between 1626 and 1650, the church functioned originally as the chapel of the adjacent Roman College, that moved in 1584 to a new larger building and was renamed the Pontifical Gregorian University.

The Collegio Romano opened very humbly in 1551, with an inscription over the door summing up its simple purpose: “School of Grammar, Humanity, and Christian Doctrine. Free”. Plagued by financial problems in the early years, the Collegio Romano had various provisional centres. In 1560, Vittoria della Tolfa, Marchesa della Valle, donated her family isola, an entire city block and its existing buildings, to the Society of Jesus in memory of her late husband the Marchese della Guardia Camillo Orsini, founding the Collegio Romano. She had previously intended to donate it to the Poor Clares for the founding of a monastery. The nuns had already started to build what had been intended to become the Church of Santa Maria della Nunziata, erected on the spot where the Temple of Isis had stood.

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Wow, what a day. We had seen so much and were exhausted. Time to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up for an amazing meal!

Osteria 44

Osteria 44 - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Osteria 44 – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

By this point in the week we were getting a bit tired. We wanted one of those perfect memorable meals from Rome. We had learned to trust the recommendations of the maître d′ at our hotel, The Bailey’s Hotel Rome, because he had been spot on for every other recommendation so far!

First Plate Osteria 44 - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
First Plate Osteria 44 – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

He recommended Osteria 44 and it turned out to be just what we were looking for to experience interesting, beautiful, memorable food and wine for a perfect evening.

We made reservations and headed over. Being we are Americans, we go out to eat a bit earlier than most of the locals so when we got there is was not very full. Our first impression was that the place was beautiful and professionally run.

Entree Osteria 44 - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Entree Osteria 44 – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We were quickly greeted by a friendly, warm, well dressed, middle aged gentleman who we later found out to be the owner Sergio Mignanelli. He asked where we were from and hearing Minneapolis he quickly chatted about Bob Dylan, Prince and the sad Minnesota Vikings. We were quickly laughing and we knew this was going to be an amazing night.

Sergio asked each one of us what were our likes and dislikes and from there he crafted a menu for each one of us. Of course we ended the evening with limoncello!

Dessert Osteria 44 - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Dessert Osteria 44 – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Needless to say, the meal was “To Die For” and the evening was enchantingly memorable. Thank you so very much Sergio!

Day 4 Goodbye Rome Hello Florence

It was hard to believe but it was time to leave Rome already. We had seen so much but there was some much yet to be explored.

We were scheduled to take a train from Rome to Florence. It was supposed to be a 1.5 hr train ride. The train was 35 minutes late departing, which seems to be pretty typical of many trains in Italy. The ride was uneventful.

Florence

We walked from the train station to our hotel “Palazzo Ruspoli Br” which was right in the historic district just a stone’s throw from el Duomo. I guess it was considered to be a bed and breakfast. Our room was spacious, comfortable and lovely. Again another perfect find!

As we were walking to the hotel, we came around a corner and saw the amazing view of The Baptistry and el Duomo. It took our breath away and was everything we had imagined it might be.

el Duomo Florence Italy - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
el Duomo Florence Italy 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

That afternoon we picked up our Firenze card, allowing us to skip to the head of some lines and allowing us entrance into some of the most sought after tourists locations. We immediately started touring the city.

The Florence Baptistry

The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John, is a religious building in Florence, Italy, and has the status of a minor basilica. The octagonal baptistery stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto.

The Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. Although the Florentine style did not spread across Italy as widely as the Pisan Romanesque or Lombard styles, its influence was decisive for the subsequent development of architecture, as it formed the basis from which Francesco Talenti, Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, and other master architects of their time created Renaissance architecture. In the case of the Florentine Romanesque, one can speak of “proto-renaissance”, but at the same time an extreme survival of the late antique architectural tradition in Italy, as in the cases of the Basilica of San Salvatore, Spoleto, the Temple of Clitumnus, and the church of Sant’Alessandro in Lucca.

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The Baptistry Ceiling - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Baptistry Ceiling – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

While there was so much to see in and around The Baptistry, the ceiling is extra spectacular. As you are viewing the craftsmanship, you may actually find yourself mouth opened, in awe.

The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The east doors were dubbed by Michelangelo the Gates of Paradise.

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri and many other notable Renaissance figures, including members of the Medici family, were baptized in this baptistery.

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The Baptistry Doors - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
The Baptistry Doors – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Duomo Museum

Right behind el Duomo there is a museum of the church. The church is mostly empty right now due to renovations and many of the pieces are in the museum. It was certainly a relatively quick worthwhile tour.

Duomo Museum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Duomo Museum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) in Florence, Italy is a museum containing many of the original works of art created for the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral (Duomo) of Florence. As of August 2013, the director of the museum is Fr. Timothy Verdon, an American.

The museum is located just east of the Duomo, near its apse. It opened in 1891, and now houses what has been called “one of the world’s most important collections of sculpture.”

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Duomo Museum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Duomo Museum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Collection
Among the museum’s holdings are Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral called the Gates of Paradise, the cantorias, or singing-galleries, designed for the cathedral by Luca della Robbia and Donatello, Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene.

The collection also includes The Deposition, a pietà sculpted by Michelangelo which he intended for his own tomb.

Although it was reported on August 6, 2013, that a tourist had accidentally snapped a finger off of a 14th-century statue of the Virgin Mary by Giovanni d’Ambrogio, the finger was from a later repair and not part of the original work.

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Duomo Museum - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Duomo Museum – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

First Dinner in Florence

Mark had a serving of Risotto at a previous lunch that he let us all try. It completely and totally blew our minds. So we decided to find a restaurant that specialize in Risotto in Florence.

First Dinner in Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
First Dinner in Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We found a place that was highly ranked in google reviews and we went. We were not disappointed with amazing risotto and blow your mind home made ravioli.

First Dinner in Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
First Dinner in Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Of course we had to have wine also. When in Italy..

Dessert in Florence

Even after an amazing meal like that, we still wanted to be able to enjoy some of the local sweets. Keep in mind, we are walking 25,000 steps a day on this trip so we will not have any issues gaining weight during this adventure no matter how much we eat.

la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria

la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria was one of the most highly rated places on our walk home to we had to check it out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4tQc-JAEiU
la Cattedrale Bar Gelateria – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

You are right, wow this looks amazing.

Did you notice that Pink was playing in the background in the video above? That was one thing we noticed on the trip, you will hear American music everywhere. I had no idea American Culture was that influential everywhere you go. It was hard to find and Italian restaurant that was playing Italian music. I digress.

la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
la Cattedrale Bar and Gelateria – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The gelato was indeed delectable and we would highly recommend it.

After that, we headed back to the hotel for much needed sleep to prep for the following big day of touring!

Day 5 Florence Whirlwind

Day 5 was scheduled to be our day to go to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David and much much more.

Of course we had our skip the line tickets and we still got in line before the place opened so that we would be the first people around the amazing Statue of David.

DAVID – Galleria dell’accademia

Galleria dell’accademia or Gallery of the Academia, might also be known as the “The Cathedral of Humanism”, the center of the Renaissance. Although this era was based on Roman Humanism it was not secular humanism that rejected God. Studying Michelangelo you will find him to be a devout Christian, but he used his work to show man was created in the image of God and is therefore of great worth. David represents devine victory over evil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9sbclpRgaY
First view of Michelangelo’s David Gallery of the Academy of Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created in marble between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. David is a 5.17-metre (17.0 ft)[a] marble statue of a standing male nude. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence.

David was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, but was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. The statue was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, in 1873, and later replaced at the original location by a replica.

Because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defence of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.

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Remember again, this is the David from the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, the shepherd King. Like David changed the world, Michelangelo changed the world with the statue.

This status was supposed to be for the roof of el Duomo. But city visionaries decided to move David someplace else.

Michelangelo's David Gallery of the Academy of Florence  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Michelangelo’s David Gallery of the Academy of Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

It was truly totally and completely magnificent!

Wayne decided to take up marble sculpting after seeing this amazing work of art. We will see if he carries through on that promise?

There was so much more to see in this gallery and we would highly recommend it but in the effort to keep moving along we will direct you to our photo gallery for many more images and details.

 

Hop on Hop off Bus Florence

In an effort so see as much of the city as possible is an short of time as possible we again decided to take advantage of a bus tour. We decided to use Hop on Hop off Tours of Florence for this option. It was a good tour but we wished we had a live tour guide so that we could ask questions and interact with the guide. We tend to enjoy those even more.

Piazzale Michelangelo

One of the main goals of the Bus tour was to get to Piazzale Michelangelo for an amazing iconic view of the city. While we were there, a rainbow appeared in the sky and ended right at el Duomo. We must be living right, it just does not get any better than that.

Piazzale Michelangelo View of Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Piazzale Michelangelo View of Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Piazzale Michelangelo History

This Florentine piazza was designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi and built in 1869 on a hill just south of the historic center, during the redevelopment of Oltrarno, the left (South) bank of the Arno river. In 1869, Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was involved in an urban renewal, the so-called “Risanamento” or the “Renovation” of the city’s neighborhoods. Lungarni (riverside walkways; “lungarno”, singular) were built on the riversides. On the right bank, the fourteenth-century city walls were removed and turned into the Viali di Circonvallazione, mimicking the French “boulevard” design, six lanes wide and lined with trees. On the left bank winding up the hill of San Miniato the Viale dei Colli was built, a tree-lined street over 8 kilometers long ending at the Piazzale Michelangelo which was built as a terrace with a panoramic view of the city.

The square, dedicated to the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, has bronze copies of some of his marble works found elsewhere in Florence: the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo. The monument was brought up by nine pairs of oxen on 25 June 1873.

Poggi designed the loggia in the neoclassical-style that dominates the whole terrace, which today houses a restaurant. Originally it was intended to house a museum of works by Michelangelo, never realized. In the wall of the balcony, under the loggia, there is an epigraph in capital letters referring to his work: Poggi turned this into his monument in 1911.

The view captures the heart of Florence from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce, across the lungarni and the bridges crossing the Arno, including the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello and the octagonal bell tower of the Badia Fiorentina. Beyond the city are the hills of Settignano and Fiesole.

 

Wiki

The Godfather

While we were up on the top of that hill, we needed to make some change to use the pay bathroom. Wayne went into an upscale restaurant before 11:00 am. It was not open but he saw some people in it. He decided to go in a little further to see if he could get someone attention. He saw a table a serious people eating and looking like they did not want to be disturbed. All of a sudden a scene from The Godfather came to mind and he decided to leave very quickly. The bathroom could wait.

Hop on Hop off Bus Delay

As we were ready to leave, we went to our bus stop. The bus was supposed to come every 15 minutes. For some reason it did not come for 45 minutes. We were able to grab some lunch so it was not an issue but we were again reminded that the pace of life was different in Italy than it is in America and it was necessary to exercise patience and flexibility.

Rick Steves Self guided Walking Tour

Like we had mentioned before, Rick Steves has a plethora of materials for traveling through Italy. Be sure you have his app on your phone and down load the appropriate audio tours while you have wifi coverage.

For the afternoon, we decided to walk along with his Renaissance Walking Tour. It was filled with rich insight and great recommendations. This tour eventually took us to the Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio

Seeing this scene for the first time was indeed breathtaking, but why was it important?

Ponte Vecchio - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Ponte Vecchio – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Ponte Vecchio “Old Bridge” is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. The Ponte Vecchio’s two neighbouring bridges are the Ponte Santa Trinita and the Ponte alle Grazie.

The bridge spans the Arno at its narrowest point where it is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times, when the via Cassia crossed the river at this point. The Roman piers were of stone, the superstructure of wood. The bridge first appears in a document of 996. After being destroyed by a flood in 1117 it was reconstructed in stone but swept away again in 1333 save two of its central piers, as noted by Giovanni Villani in his Nuova Cronica. It was rebuilt in 1345. Giorgio Vasari recorded the traditional view of his day that attributed its design to Taddeo Gaddi — besides Giotto one of the few artistic names of the trecento still recalled two hundred years later. Modern historians present Neri di Fioravanti as a possible candidate. Sheltered in a little loggia at the central opening of the bridge is a weathered dedication stone, which once read Nel trentatrè dopo il mille-trecento, il ponte cadde, per diluvio dell’ acque: poi dieci anni, come al Comun piacque, rifatto fu con questo adornamento. The Torre dei Mannelli was built at the southeast corner of the bridge to defend it.

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Day 6 Art Galleries and el Duomo

This day was going to be gallery and amazing art day and Florence has at least two of the best galleries in the world. We were excited to see some amazing fine art!

Uffizi Gallery Tour

The Uffizi Gallery is without a doubt one of the most spectacular art museums in world and you will certainly recognize many of the artists and many of the works.

Birth of Venus - Uffizi Gallery Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Birth of Venus – Uffizi Gallery Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Uffizi Gallery, is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy. One of the most important Italian museums, and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world, and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.

After the ruling house of Medici died out, their art collections were gifted to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress. The Uffizi is one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865.

Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence and one of the most visited art museums in the world.

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Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Angels, the Archangels Michael and Raphael Domenico Ghirlandaio Uffizi
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Angels, the Archangels Michael and Raphael Domenico Ghirlandaio Uffizi
Primavera Spring Sandro Botticelli Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Primavera Spring Sandro Botticelli Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Two Peasant Girls And A Servant Justus Suttermans Uffizi Gallery Florence Italy
Two Peasant Girls And A Servant Justus Suttermans Uffizi Gallery Florence Italyh

and just one more masterpiece.

Adoration Of The Christ Child Gerard Van Honthorst
Adoration Of The Christ Child Gerard Van Honthorst

More information is available on these and many more at our gallery. Fine Art Masterpiece of the Uffizi.

Bargello Museum

By the time we arrived here, some in our group were a little burned out on taking in more fantastic fine art. So part of this tour became taking in the amazing architecture of the place.

Bargello Museum Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Bargello Museum Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The Bargello, also known as the Palazzo del Bargello, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Palazzo del Popolo(Palace of the People), is a former barracks and prison, now an art museum, in Florence, Italy.

The museum houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, such as his Bacchus, Pitti Tondo (or Madonna and Child), Brutus and David-Apollo. Its collection includes Donatello’s David and St. George Tabernacle, Vincenzo Gemito’s Pescatore(“fisherboy”), Jacopo Sansovino’s Bacchus, Giambologna’s Architecture and his Mercury and many works from the Della Robbia family. Benvenuto Cellini is represented with his bronze bust of Cosimo I. There are a few works from the Baroque period, notably Gianlorenzo Bernini’s 1636-7 Bust of Costanza Bonarelli.

The museum also has a fine collection of ceramics (maiolica), textile, tapestries, ivory, silver, armour and coins. The formerly lost right-hand panel of the Franks Casket is held by the museum. It also features the competing designs for The Sacrifice of Isaac(Sacrificio di Isacco) that were made by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi to win the contest for the second set of doors of the Florence Baptistery (1401).

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Bargello Museum Interior Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Bargello Museum Interior Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

After we had been exploring the art museums, it was time to explore the Florence piece de resistance, which is of course el Duomo.

el Duomo Florence

el Duomo Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
el Duomo Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in English “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower”), is the cathedral of Florence, Italy (Italian: Duomo di Firenze). It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white, and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.

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el Duomo Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
el Duomo Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Reflections of el Duomo Florence - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Reflections of el Duomo Florence – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

If this place does not take your breath away, you may have to check to see if you are breathing at all.

el Duomo Bell Tower

Giotto’s Campanile is a free-standing campanile that is part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Standing adjacent to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St. John, the tower is one of the showpieces of Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto, its rich sculptural decorations and its polychrome marble encrustations.

The slender structure is square in plan with 47.41 ft sides. It is 277.9 ft tall and has polygonal buttresses at each corner.The tower is divided into five stages.

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Top of el Duomo Bell Tower - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Top of el Duomo Bell Tower – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

And the view from the bell tower top was spectacular!

Day 7 Cinque Terre Italy

Alas, it was already time to say goodbye to Florence, a truly magical, beautiful, inspiring city. You will be greatly missed.

It was time to move on to the charming rugged coastal area of Italian Rivera called Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands”. We had been seeing this is pictures for years and we were dreaming to go.

Monterosso Cinque Terre

Classic Bike Shot - Monterosso Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Classic Bike Shot – Monterosso Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We stayed in Monterosso at the Hotel Margarita. The train station is in the newer side of Monterosso. Our hotel is in the old town. To get to the old town, it is normally a 5 minute stroll past a few hotels, a sheer cliff, then into a tunnel. But due to recent heavy rains, the trail is frequently closed to caution against injuries from rock slides. When the trail is closed, you have two options to get to old town, you can wait for the small bus and push your way in for a seat (which we did once, that makes for an entirely different story), or hire a taxi. I recommend the taxi, we got 7 people comfortably into a taxi with no wait at a cost of 2.50 euro. But it took 30 minutes for the trip, I know, crazy.

Charming Monterosso Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Charming Monterosso Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

But Sunday morning when we need to leave early that same taxi will cost 30 euro.

Doors and Bikes - Monterosso Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Doors and Bikes – Monterosso Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We checked into Hotel Margarita. It was lovely, comfortable and served a wonderful breakfast.

Charming Monterosso Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Charming Monterosso Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

The hiking trails around Monterosso were closed due to recent heavy rains. Wayne was pretty depressed about this as he assumed we wouldn’t be able to see much of any of the cities. He was wrong.

Manarola Cinque Terre

Manarola Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Manarola Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We took the train to Manarola for a hike and an attempt at sunset images. Manarola has a tiny harbor with a boat ramp, picturesque multicoloured houses facing the sea and a tiny piazza with seafood restaurants.

In Manarola starts the famous path Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) which is a very scenic path that leads you to Riomaggiore in only 20 minutes.

Manarola is a small town, a frazione of the comune (municipality) of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. It is the second-smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists.

Manarola may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating from 1338. The local dialect is Manarolese, which is marginally different from the dialects in the nearby area. The name “Manarola” is probably a dialectical evolution of the Latin, “magna rota”. In the Manarolese dialect this was changed to “magna roea” which means “large wheel”, in reference to the mill wheel in the town.

Manarola’s primary industries have traditionally been fishing and wine-making. The local wine, called Sciacchetrà, is especially renowned; references from Roman writings mention the high quality of the wine produced in the region. In recent years, Manarola and its neighboring towns have become popular tourist destinations, particularly in the summer months. Tourist attractions in the region include a famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell’Amore, “Love’s Trail”) and hiking trails in the hills and vineyards above the town. Manarola is one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Most of the houses are bright and colourful. Manarola was celebrated in paintings by Antonio Discovolo (1874–1956).

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After this quick tour, we took the train back to Monterosso and found a place for dinner. We ate at Ristorante Il Moretto. The gnocchi and the sauce was to die for. Wine is always good.

Day 8 More Cinque Terre

This was the day to try to explore a few of the towns of Cinque Terre as richly and deeply as possible. For this particular day, we decided to go to Riomaggiore and Corniglia.

Riomaggiore Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Riomaggiore Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Riomaggiore Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore is a wonderful picturesque gem.

Riomaggiore is a village and comune in the province of La Spezia, situated in a small valley in the Liguria region of Italy. It is the first of the Cinque Terre one meets when travelling north from La Spezia.

The village, dating from the early thirteenth century, is known for its historic character and its wine, produced by the town’s vineyards. Riomaggiore is in the Riviera di Levante region and has a shoreline on the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Genoa, with a small beach and a wharf framed by tower houses. Riomaggiore’s main street is Via Colombo, where numerous restaurants, bars, and shops can be found.

The Via dell’Amore is a path connecting Riomaggiore to its frazione Manarola, also part of the Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre, all connected by trail. The water and mountainside have been declared national parks.

Riomaggiore inspired paintings by Telemaco Signorini (1835–1901), one of the artists of the Macchiaioli group.

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Corniglia Cinque Terre

Corniglia is considered a more sleepy little town high up on a hill above the water. Yes the hike up the hill is a bit rigorous, but it is worth it.

Corniglia Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Corniglia Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Corniglia is a frazione (“fraction”) of the comune of Vernazza in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy with a population of about 150 (in 2016). Unlike the other localities of the Cinque Terre, Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 metres high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, the fourth side descends steeply to the sea. To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 382 steps or, otherwise follow a vehicular road that, from the station, leads to the village. Sometimes a small bus runs.

The village stretches along the main road, Fieschi Road, and the houses have one side facing this road and the other facing the sea. Corniglia is characterised by narrow roads and a terrace in the rock from which all other four Cinque Terre’s villages, two on one side and two on the other, can be seen. The town planning structure presents original characteristics compared to those of the other villages: the houses are lower set, and only more recently higher, similar to those of the villages of the hinterland.

Corniglia is mentioned in a famous novella of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and in the novel The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan.

 

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Day 9 Saturday Vernazza the Gem of Cinque Terre

Vernazza Cinque Terre

Vernazza is considered by many to be the gem of Cinque Terre. We would have to agree.

Vernazza Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Vernazza Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Vernazza is a town and comune located in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northwestern Italy. It is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre region. Vernazza is the fourth town heading north, has no car traffic, and remains one of the truest “fishing villages” on the Italian Riviera. It is the only natural port of Cinque Terre and is famous for its elegant houses.

Vernazza’s name is derived from the Latin adjective verna, meaning “native”. The aptly named indigenous wine, vernaccia (“local” or “ours”), helped give birth to the village’s moniker.

The first records recognizing Vernazza as a fortified town date to 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility, it was a likely point of departure for naval forces in defence of pirates.

Over the next two centuries, Vernazza was vital in Genova’s conquest of Liguria, providing port, fleet, and soldiers. In 1209, approximately 90 of the most powerful families of Vernazza pledged their allegiance to the republic of Genova.

The first documented presence of a church dates to 1251, with the parish of San Pietro cited in 1267. Reference to the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia of Vernazza occurs in 1318. Some scholars are of the opinion, due to the use of materials and mode of construction, that the actual creation of the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia took place earlier, some time in the 12th century. The Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia was expanded upon and renovated over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, and thereafter was erected the octagonal bell tower that rises from the apse.

In the 15th century, Vernazza focused its defence against the dreadful and regularly occurring pirate raids, erecting a fortifying wall. In the mid-17th century, like many of the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza suffered a period of decline that negatively affected wine production, and prolonged the construction of the trail system and harbour molo (mole constructed to protect against heavy seas).

In the 19th century, after a long period of stagnation, Vernazza returned to wine production, enlarging and creating new terraced hillsides. The result was a revitalisation of Vernazza’s commerce. Also at this time, the construction of the Genoa–La Spezia rail line began, putting an end to Vernazza’s long isolation. The population of Vernazza increased by 60% as a result. Meanwhile, the construction of La Spezia’s naval base also proved important to Vernazza in providing employment for many members of the community.

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Vernazza Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Vernazza Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

We hiked round the city finding breathtaking views. Of course we had to spend some time observing the locals and enjoy a wonderful Italian seafood lunch.

Vernazza Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Vernazza Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Afterward, it was time to get back to Monterosso. The hiking trail to Monterosso was closed due to the recent rains and rock slide danger, but Mark decided to hike back any way. We took the train back and then we explored in Monterosso a little more deeply.

Vernazza Cinque Terre  - 10 Days in Italy - The Perfect Italy Itinerary
Vernazza Cinque Terre – 10 Days in Italy – The Perfect Italy Itinerary

Many more great images of Vernazza are available at our Amazing Italy Gallery.

Dinner with New Friends in Monterosso

That evening we experienced one of the most interesting experiences on the trip so far. We ate dinner in Monterosso with an Austrian couple that we had met the day before. We were talking about everything from art, philosophy, travel, food, politics and religion… how amazingly interesting. Then he said he remembered the day J.F. Kennedy was shot and his mother cried, “hope is dead”. We are so very connected in this world.

Day 10 GoodBye Italy Hello France

We left Cinque Terre for the last time via a train ride to Nice, France. We stayed in Nice and Mark continued on to Montpelier, France back to his host family for his semester in France. We planed to joining him on Thursday to meet his host family. More on that later.

How Do You Make This A Reality?

We know this trip looks amazing. It is also amazingly complex to set up and make sure all the details work. When you decide to make this a reality, contact the best, contact Travel Leaders, to plan the perfect trip that is right for your budget. You will be glad you did.

Conclusion

Weather this is your first trip abroad or your one hundredth trip, it will be a trip of a lifetime. You will learn, enjoy and be changed all at the same time. You might even wish you had done it years ago. But no matter what, you will be very glad that you did it.

And until next time, get out and capture the adventure!

 

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Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
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