Italy, the land of the Dolce Vita, has an amazing amount to offer visitors from India. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that it’s hard to know where to start when planning your trip! The ideal itinerary for your time in Italy should include the top cultural, historical and artistic attractions as well as giving you the opportunity to visit the nation’s best-loved cities. Therefore, using local knowledge, past experience and trusted recommendations, we’ve put together the ultimate travel itinerary for visitors to Italy from India.
This itinerary is a very good one to consider for a first time visitor to Italy. Please note that most of the day tours or food tours that I have mentioned can be booked through Viator.com.
Fly From India To Rome.
To start your visit to Italy it’s best to fly into Rome. Not only are there plenty of airlines that fly into Rome but you’ll also be landing right in the heart of Italy. Rome, Italy’s capital, welcomes more than 10 million tourists each year and has so many historic attractions that no trip to the country would be complete without spending some time in the ‘Eternal City’.
When you fly into Rome it’s easiest to take a flight that stops over in the Middle East. The flights tend to be cheaper than a direct flight from India but it also gives you a wider choice of carriers. A great free tool to help you compare the available flights and their prices is the Google Flights app.
From the Rome Fiumicino airport (FCO), take the Leonardo Express train to Roma Termini (the main train station of Rome). The Leonardo Express departs very frequently from the train station attached to the airport. You can buy the train ticket from the ticket office next to the tracks or online. Most of the major tourist attractions, except the Vatican and the Colosseum are close to the Roma Termini train station.
Stay Near The Trevi Fountain In Rome.
To make the most of your visit to Rome, book a hotel or motel that is between the Roma Termini train station and the Trevi Fountain. You can find relatively inexpensive accommodations if you book earlier. This is a great area to stay and you can walk to most of the major tourist attractions. This neighborhood is very active and there are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes.
If money is not a concern, there are hotels like the Singer Palace Hotel that provide top-quality accommodation that’s just a few minutes walk from Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Via del Corso. This classically decorated, boutique hotel has a spectacular rooftop terrace and restaurant, a free breakfast buffet each morning and a lovely selection of rooms, including luxury suites. The hotel has a 24-hour reception with friendly staff, luggage storage, laundry services and free airport transfers are available for guests by arrangement.
Sightseeing In Rome.
From your base between the Trevi Fountain and Roma Termini, you are perfectly situated to explore the historic heart of Rome. When you first arrive, you should allow yourself some time to find your feet and wander around the surrounding area, stopping off for lunch in a local restaurant, dropping into a few boutique stores and taking a look at the amazing architecture that epitomizes central Rome.
However, it’s also a good idea to join a few guided tours. This allows you to jump the lines and learn all about the history of the places you are visiting. Below are a few tour ideas to help get you started.
Walk To The Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona And River Tiber: From you base near Trevi Fountain you should be able to walk to some of the most visited places in Rome including the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the River Tiber. As you walk around you will see buildings and Churches that are thousands of years old.
Tour Of The Vatican, Sistine Chapel And St. Peter’s Basilica: The Vatican is the spiritual heart of the Catholic religion and is arguably Rome’s most famous landmark. During this 3-hour small group tour, led by an expert guide, you’ll visit the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, one of the finest artistic creations of the Italian Renaissance.
Tour Of The Colosseum, the Roman Forum And Palatine Hill: Ancient Rome was built around the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the legendary Colosseum where gladiators fought for the crowds. You’ll see all this and more during this 3-hour tour, guided by a local historian who will tell you all about the stories and myths that are associated with these impressive locations.
Food Tour Of Trastevere: Trastevere is a lively Roman neighborhood that is best known for its boutique stores, art galleries and thriving culinary heritage. This food tour of the area departs at either 11 am or 5 pm, depending on whether you’d prefer lunch or dinner, and includes wine tasting, snacks and lots of delicious food tastings, as well as a full dinner or lunch.
You’ll have the opportunity to taste antipasti, such as cold meats and cheeses, main courses, pasta dishes and much more while learning about all the ingredients, recipes and traditional techniques that go into making the food.
Take A Train To Florence.
After you’ve had the chance to explore the ancient city of Rome it’s time to travel to Florence, the birthplace of the 14th Century Italian Renaissance that revolutionized the art, science and culture of Western Europe. Florence is a magnificently beautiful city that boasts some of Italy’s top galleries, exhibiting masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue. If you can afford it, take the Frecciarossa express train from Roma Termini to the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence. It will cover the distance in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Florence’s most famous landmark, the Florence Cathedral, known locally as the Firenze Duomo, is centrally located and is the ideal place to stay near. From here, you can easily access the entire city during your sightseeing and in the evening you can walk beside the picturesque River Arno or visit a riverfront restaurant for a candlelit dinner.
The Hotel Santa Maria Novella is a beautiful 4-star hotel that is located right in the heart of central Florence. With a lovely rooftop terrace and restaurant with views of the Duomo, luxuriously decorated rooms, a solarium, a sauna, baggage storage and a 24-hour reception desk, this Florentine hotel takes Tuscan hospitality to the next level. All rooms have free WiFi, a minibar, an en suite bathroom, tea and coffee-making facilities and stunning views of the city.
Sightseeing In Florence.
From your hotel near the Duomo, you are ideally positioned to explore the historic center of Florence. As well as numerous lovely restaurants, cafes and boutique stores right on your doorstep, some of Florence’s cultural treasures are just a stone’s throw away.
Tour Of The Accademia Gallery: See The Statue Of David: With the option to choose a time that suits your schedule, this short 1 to 2 hour tour takes you around the renowned Accademia Gallery to see the Statue of David as well as countless other Renaissance masterpieces. Your guide will inform you about the historical context of the art and explain the processes that the artists used to create the works of art.
Medici Tour Of Florence: The powerful Medici family played a foundational role in Florence and sponsored many of the leading artists of the Renaissance. As a result, you can find the Medici family’s footprints all through the history of Florence and Tuscany. This fascinating tour of the city will show you some of the city’s highlights, including the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Campanile di Giotto, Uffizi Gallery and the Cupola del Brunelleschi.
Take A Day Trip From Florence: Take a day trip from Florence and visit Siena, San Gimignano and stop at a Tuscan winery for wine tasting and lunch. This wonderful day trip from Florence takes you on an enchanting journey through Tuscany, stopping off at the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, Siena and its gothic cathedral and the medieval town of San Gimignano. At lunchtime, you’ll visit a traditional winery where you can taste the produce of the vineyards while enjoying an organic farmhouse meal.
During the day, you have plenty of time at each stop to take photos, do a little souvenir shopping, take in the scenery and have a walking tour of Siena. You’ll be driven in an air-conditioned vehicle and your knowledgeable guide will give a detailed commentary along the way.
Catch The Train To Verona.
Take the train to Verona from Florence and stay near the Verona Arena, which is the heart of Verona. After a relaxing train ride from Florence to Verona, you’ll arrive in the small city that was the original setting for William Shakespeare’s classic story of star-crossed love, Romeo and Juliet. Situated on the banks of the Adige River in Veneto, Verona is a charming city that is home to the Verona Arena, the Piazza delle Erbe with its famous street market, the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore and the Museo di Castelvecchio.
The Hotel Gabbia d’Oro is located next to the Piazza delle Erbe and is just 10 minutes walk from the Verona Arena. Decorated with lovely antique paintings and original frescoes, this quirky hotel has a great selection of rooms that have a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, oriental carpets, a mini bar, and an en suite bathroom. You can start the day with a delicious buffet breakfast and in the evening you can unwind in the hotel’s Orangerie eatery. The hotel is surrounded by boutique stores, restaurants, shops and many of the city’s top attractions.
Sightseeing In Verona.
Verona is the city of love and is a very compact city which means that you can easily explore its historic center on foot. With a city map in hand, which you should be able to get from your hotel’s reception, you can make your way around the main attractions. Even so, if you’d like to join a guided tour, there are some great options available to you.
Walking Tour Of Verona: Typically Verona walking tours last about three hours. The tour takes you through the romantic cobblestone streets of Verona and includes a visit to the Verona Arena. You’ll pass many of the city’s best-known monuments and squares along the way as your guide tells you all about the city’s interesting history.
Verona Food Tour: If you’d like to experience Verona’s unique gastronomic heritage while taking in some of the city’s attractions along the way, including a wonderful cable car ride, then this half-day tour is just what you’re looking for. The tours are tailored to the season and you’ll visit some of Verona’s best restaurants, specialty delicatessens, wine bars and eateries along the way to taste cheeses, cold meats, tortellini or gnocchi and other delicious treats.
Day Trip To Sirmione And Lake Garda: This 4-hour tour departs from Verona and takes you to see the stunning Lake Garda and the resort town of Sirmione. Once you reach Lake Garda you’ll start your boat cruise around the lake before taking a guided tour through the medieval town of Sirmione. There’s plenty of time for shopping in the town and lots of opportunities for photos during the day.
Take The Train To Venice.
Catch the train at the Verona Porta Nuova station and arrive in Venice just over an hour later to begin the next leg of your Italian itinerary. Make sure you book a hotel that is within 15 minutes of walking distance to the Saint Mark’s Square. Venice, also nicknamed the ‘Floating City’, is built on over 100 islands in the Venetian Lagoon on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The spectacular city is one of the jewels in Italy’s cultural crown and is defined by the unique Byzantine architecture and crisscrossing canals.
The majestic Baglioni Hotel Luna is situated in a gorgeous 12th Century building and is just a few minutes away from Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica. The hotel has an on-site bar and lounge, a gourmet restaurant, a terrace with stunning views, luggage storage, a 24-hour reception and a free breakfast each morning. There’s a wide range of rooms to choose from with air conditioning, en suite bathrooms, flat screen TV, room service and a private balcony. The hotel even has a private mooring on the water where you can catch a gondola or water taxi to get around the city!
Sightseeing In Venice.
The majority of Venice’s major attractions are located in a small radius around Saint Mark’s Square. This means that if you’re staying nearby you’ll be able to walk with ease from one landmark to the next. Of course, no stay in Venice would be complete without taking a ride on a gondola but you should also visit some of the Lagoon’s islands to get a taste of Venetian life outside the city center.
Take The Venice In One Day Tour: Typically such tours includes visiting the Basilica San Marco, Doge’s Palace and a Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal. This 6 to 7 hour tour of Venice’s highlights is led by a guide who provides a commentary on the history and stories of the attractions you visit. Along the way, you’ll explore Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and the impressive Doge’s Palace before you take a gondola ride on the Grand Canal. Groups are limited to a maximum of 20 people although the guide will personalize the tours to suit the interests of the group.
Visit The Island Of Murano: The charming island of Murano, in the Venetian Lagoon, is famous for its glass blowing traditions. After taking a ride in a boat to reach the island you’ll be able to visit the workshop of master glass blowers and watch them as they create beautifully intricate glass works. You’ll also be able to join an exclusive tour of the workshop’s private collection of glassware and artifacts which is not usually open to the general public.
Day Trip To Dolomite Mountains And Cortini D’Ampezzo: This 9-hour day trip from Venice takes you from the bustling canals of Venice up into the snow-capped Dolomite mountains to experience the natural beauty of the pristine meadows and lakes. You’ll be driven in a luxury, air-conditioned minivan and stop off at Lake Misurina and the traditional alpine town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. This day trip includes guided tours and commentaries as well as an opportunity to enjoy a laid-back self-guided nature walk.
It’s worth noting that during the winter, the tour also stops at the San Candido Christmas Market and between mid-November and late March the tour stops at Braies Lake instead of stopping at Lake Misurina.
Take The Train From Venice Back To Rome.
As your once-in-a-lifetime tour of Italy comes to an end, it’s time to jump on a train and return to Rome. The high-speed train back to Rome takes less than 4 hours and departs regularly throughout the day. Prices are extremely reasonable as long as you avoid the busy rush hours. If you can spare the time in your schedule, it’s nice to spend a few days in Rome before you catch your flight back to India. NOTE: For your first visit to Italy, I would not recommend visiting Milan, Turin, Genoa, Naples, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terra. Check them off one by one in your subsequent visits!