Europe, Italy

2019 Summer Italy Itinerary

2019 Summer Italy Itinerary

My parents went to Italy this summer for about a week and a half to spent time with my sister & her boyfriend (with out Will & I, we’ve been busy with house renovations). My mom asked me to plan the trip with/for her; I love planning trips but it was so hard planning a trip to Italy (a place I love & have been to many times) for my them without me :(. I had to really work to balance what first-timers need to see versus my own special memories that I wanted them to experience. I also didn’t want to over plan for them because part of the beauty of Italy is slowing down plus my dad likes afternoon naps (or morning naps or evening naps lol).

So here is the gist of their itinerary! It’s a great model to follow for first-time travel to Italy for 50-something year olds.

Passports with hat

Thursday, June 6

My parents had a 2:35 pm flight out of Miami International and they arrived in Rome Friday morning at 10:00 am.

Italy trainsPadua city

Friday, June 7

After arriving in Rome, I had them grabbing sandwiches for lunch and jumping immediately on a train to Padua (about a ~3 hr trip). This way they could unpack in Padua and leisurely get acclimated to the Italian pace of life. There’s officially planned for them this evening besides taking a evening stroll & a long dinner.

Venice grand canalVenice San Marco signVenice San MarcoVenice Santa Maria della Salute

Saturday, June 8

Venice is a great, short day trip away from Padua and I much prefer to stay in Padua because it is quieter and easier to navigate than Venice is (especially totting your luggage around!). The train is on 30 minute so no need to get up at the crack of dawn, but ideally you want to spend most of your day enjoying Venice. Once in Venice I made some suggestions for their day:

  • Enjoy getting lost in the maze
  • Rialto bridge
  • Water taxi around the canals
  • St Mark’s Square with the Doge’s Palace & Cathedral
  • Popping into tiny churches
  • if there is time...the Academia & Guggenheim

Oh and of course Venice and it’s Lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Read more: Venice: The city of the Rialto, Renaissance engineering, & the sea

Arena Chapel exterior, Paduabasilica of st anthony, paduaBotanical garden pond, Padua

Sunday, June 9

We made a 10 am reservation for my parents to see the Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel painted by Giotto in the early 14th century. This was one of my highlights from my 4 months teaching in Italy and although Padua may not make it on most people’s “first-time-in-Italy” list I really wanted to share this with them. And hey, what’s the benefit of your daughter being an art history major if it isn’t for gems like this!?

After the Scrovegni Chapel, they had a leisurely lunch and spent the afternoon in the Cathedral (it is Sunday after all) to catch a glimpse of St. Anthony’s tongue & see his tomb. 🙂 St. Anthony of Padua is my husband’s patron saint so we asked them to bring something back for the house.

The Cathedral doesn’t take too long and it is a short walk to the UNESCO World Heritage Botanical Garden. This garden, which is part of the University of Padua, is one of the oldest in the world!

Read more: Padova Part I: Arriving & Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua

Florence street view

Monday, June 10

Monday it’s good-by to Padua, hello Florence! They depart Padua at 9:00am for about a 3 hour train ride to Florence. Perfect time to nap, catch up on reading or editing photos. The moment they arrive in the Florence Santa Maria train station I told them to pick up their Firenze Cards (literally THE BEST thing to get during your stay in Florence) and after they check into their AirBnb it’s free time to walk around Florence. There is soooo much to do in Florence and I did a study abroad there for 6 weeks in college so rather than cram in everything for my folks in a few days, I just made a list of my favorite things & things that I felt were “must sees” included on the Firenze Card for first-timers in Florence:

  • Palazzo Vecchio
  • Palazzo Medici Riccardi
  • Santa Maria Novella Church
  • Cappella Brancacci
  • Cappelle Medicee
  • Galleria degli Uffizi
  • Pitti Museums & Gardens
  • San Marco
  • Museum dell’Opera del Duomo
  • Santa Croce
  • Casa Buonarroti
  • Casa di Dante
  • Duomo Baptistry
  • Climb the Duomo Bell-tower OR Dome
  • Santa Reparata Crypt

In case you weren’t sure, Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 🙂

Florence Santa CroceFlorence stained glass

Tuesday, June 11

Today my parents checked things off the Firenze Card list (see above) but I told them they need to spend the morning in the Uffizi Galleries!!! You can’t say you’ve “been” to Florence if you missed this premier museum. My sister & her boyfriend are meeting up with my parents today too so I’m sure they’ll find things of mutual interests to do.

Walking out of the city to Piazza Michelangelo brings you to a gorgeous view & the church, San Miniato, up there is adorable (they have Gregorian chanting on Sundays!).

Read more: Florence: The city of rebirth, art, & the Medici

Pisa leaning towerPisa skyline

Wednesday, June 12

Although you can literally spend ages in Florence and not see it all, it’s also important to plan a trip with balance. My dad only had two things on his “must see” Italy list so I made sure to honor his request. One was see Venice, done! The second was to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I told him it wasn’t worth it but he wanted to do it so here it is!

Today I planned a day trip from Florence: spend the morning in Pisa and the afternoon in Lucca. Both are only about 30 minutes away and neither “need” a full day. In Pisa they have an appointment to climb the tower at 10 am and then they can use the rest of their time walking around the Field of Miracles (aka the Cathedral complex, which is a UNESCO Site). The baptistry & cathedral are gorgeous inside – don’t miss them!

I don’t have anything specifically planned in Lucca (a UNESCO Site) because the beauty of Lucca is walking around this medieval town. However, I did make a list of things to see to give them some directions for the day:

  • Cathedral & main plaza
  • Walk along the city walls
  • San Michele in Foro Church
  • Choose one tower to climb up for gorgeous views
  • San Frediano Church

Florence Rialto bridgeFlorence Santa Croce St Francis altarpieceFlorence museum with stations and me

Thursday, June 13

Today is more sightseeing using the the Firenze Card:

  • Palazzo Vecchio
  • Palazzo Medici Riccardi
  • Santa Maria Novella Church
  • Cappella Brancacci
  • Cappelle Medicee
  • Pitti Museums & Gardens
  • San Marco
  • Santa Croce
  • Casa Buonarroti
  • Casa di Dante

Florence Duomo complexFlorence baptistryFlorence duomo exteriorFlorence Duomo dome with me

Friday, June 14

Today is the day to devote to the Duomo (Cathedral) of Florence! I personally think it requires at least half a day, if not a little more, to fully enjoy it. Here is my list of must sees for the Florence Cathedral complex.

  • Santa Reparata crypt under the cathedral
  • Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
  • I climbed up the dome (totally awesome) but since my dad is 6’3″ I figured it would be better for them to climb up the tower
  • Baptistry (my favorite!)
  • Duomo Museum (Opera del Duomo)

After lunch, there are a few more outdoor things to get to in Florence (no need to do it all, just enjoy your time wandering):

  • San Lorenzo leather market
  • Ponte Vecchio & walk along the Arno
  • Piazza della Signoria
  • Central Food Market

Read more: The Churches of Florence

rome capitoline museum room

Saturday, June 15

Today my parents leave Florence for Rome. Their train is at 9:40 train and the journey is about an hour and a half. So they should arrive midday to check into their AirBnb. I told suggested spending the afternoon in museums and save the monuments for later days (although it’s inevitable to see them anytime you walk around Rome). I tried to find a variety of museums that I felt my parents (& sister) would find interesting for them to choose from (this does not even come close to a full list of Rome’s museums!).

  • Villa Farnesina
  • Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
  • Palazzo Altemps
  • Palazzo Barberini
  • National Etruscan Museum

I literally think all of Rome is a UNESCO Site, at least the whole historic center is. Too much history here to explore even in one whole lifetime!

rome colloseum with will & merome column of trajan detailrome piazzarome spanish steps church

Sunday, June 16

Today the goal is to explore Ancient Rome! I don’t usually choose to do group tours myself but I think some sites in Rome are better with a guide. My parents are doing a Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill tour starting at 10am. Gives them enough time to not wake up at the crack of dawn, get to the tour and finish before lunch. When searching for a tour you have to balance the size of the group, the price, the time, and length of the tour. Carefully look at all those factors so be sure you are getting what YOU want out of it.

I would never, ever suggest doing back-to-back tours so for the afternoon I found things nearby the Colosseum that they could easily do on their own after lunch.

  • Trajan’s Forum/Market/Column
  • Museum & Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
  • Spanish Steps
  • Santa Maria della Vittoria

Read more: AP Art History Hunting in Rome, Italy

Vatican st peter square at night with fountainSt peter dove

Monday, June 17

Like I said above, sometimes are better with a tour and the Vatican Museums is one of those things. Not only do you “skip” the line, you also get a guide through the miles and miles of artworks in this venerable vault. The earliest appointment my mom could get was 10:30 am (early morning is best!) so they will enjoy a nice morning walk over to the Vatican (be sure to get there about an hour before your appointment time for logistics).

*Note: Vatican City (which is technically not part of Italy) is it’s own UNESCO Site.

Bar Ba' ghetto with kindlebar ba'ghetto foodsant'ignazio ceiling

After a long morning in Vatican I told my parents they have to eat at my favorite place: Bar Ba’ Ghetto in the Jewish Ghetto. I stumbled upon this restaurant my second time in Rome and I made sure to take Will back during our weekend in Rome. Unfortunately we did not have enough time this past winter but I love this place. It is not often that I make a note of where I eat but for some reason Ba’ Ghetto is just stuck in my mind!

After lunch it is more sightseeing in Rome. This time I tried to focused on the Baroque & church history of Rome:

  • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Piazza Navona
  • Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
  • Pantheon
  • Trevi Fountain (great to do at night too)
  • Church of Sant’Ignazio (My favorite church in the world. No joke.)

Read more: Monday in Rome, Part I: Church Hopping

rome st john's peters chaircatacombs-of-st-callixtus

Tuesday, June 18

My sister is popping over to the university for a business meeting so I’m sending my parents off on an adventure that may not be Jeanette’s cup of tea: the Church of St. John Lateran (the Cathedral of Rome) & a catacomb on the Appian Way. I told them to choose one & to take the bus that stops in the plaza of St. John’s. These three are the ones I put on their list because they were the easiest to get to:

  • St. Sebastian
  • St. Callixtus
  • St. Domitilla

I figured whenever my sister meets up with them they can continue to work through the lists I gave them above. I don’t them to rush so much they don’t enjoy their last day in Italy!

Wednesday, June 19

Nothing planned today besides getting to the airport for their flight home!

I’ve traveled around Italy many different ways and each time it shows me something beautiful & new. My first time in Italy was a 6-week study abroad in Florence one summer in college, then I taught English in Novara for 3 months where Will met up with me for a 2 week “gems of Italy” trip, and most recently we spent a 10-day trip leisurely making our way through Tuscany & Umbria. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do it!


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