Italy is a gorgeous country with mouth watering food so it is no wonder that it gets its fair share of tourism. My father-in-law is Italian and he lives in the mountains above Florence. It has been many years since we have made a trip to Italy to visit him but we finally made the journey as a family this summer. This was the first time our kids were old enough to remember the trip so we wanted to make sure to show them some memorable Italian sights. I will share our Italy Travel Itinerary with you here (minus the stop we made to visit my father-in-law) and I can tell you that this Italy vacation will be one to remember for a lifetime.
Italy Travel Itinerary For Your Family Vacation
This Italy Travel Itinerary takes 16 days but you can adjust it to suit your needs by picking your favorites off the list.
Day 1 Ostia Antica, Italy
The Rome Airport, Fiumicino, is located a bit outside of Rome itself so we chose to get a hotel right by the Rome airport and then took the public bus to Ostia Antica for some amazing sight seeing of spectacular ancient Roman ruins. It feels pretty amazing to standing among ruins and be looking at mosaic floors and an ampitheater that date back 2000 years!
Ostia itself was very quaint and cute. We walked around and picked up a bite to eat while we waited for the bus back.
Day 2 Rome, Italy
Bright and early, we headed into Rome and got ourselves a hotel that was centrally located to the sights. The first day in Rome, we saw the Colosseum, of course!
We also saw San Pietro in Vincoli (which houses Michelangelo’s famous Moses statue- a favorite of mine), the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the beautiful Trevi Fountain, and the iconic Spanish Steps. Big day! Plus we got gelato at La Romana Gelateria and it was amazing!
Day 3 Rome, Italy
The Vatican City State located within Rome, took up our whole day. Saint Peter’s Basilica is absolutely breathtaking all by itself and then you will want to go to the top for amazing views. You can also catch a view of the Swiss Guards outside of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Then the Vatican Museums are also amazing. We found we could easily have spent all day there admiring the art and artifacts. In fact, we had to keep telling the kids who were listening to their audio guides to come along and stop looking at every little thing! We had dinner that evening at Trattoria Il Girasole where my son says the lasagna was the best he has ever had.
Day 5 Piombino, Italy
Next on our Italy travel itinerary was some beach time. The first half of the day was spent on a train from Rome to Piombino (3 hours) and getting to our cute little AirBNB vacation rental. The rest was spent on the pretty little beach (though a little rocky) below the Piazza Bovio. My daughter loved hunting for crabs and urchin in the rocky area. Piombino is a great little Italian beach town without too many tourist rushing about. The old part of town is just so quaint and perfect. You can catch some beautiful sunsets walking along the streets near the harbor.
Day 6 Piombino, Itally
We had breakfast at Anselmi La Pasticceria and it was mind blowingly good. We went back the next day because I was in heaven. We took a bus and ventured out to Calamoresca Beach. This secluded beach was larger, less rocky, and still not packed with tourist. We came back to Piombino for dinner at Osteria Volturo and another stroll by the harbor.
Day 7 Piombino, Italy
We just relaxed at the little beach below Piazza Bovio, window shopped through the cute Piombino streets.
Day 8 Pisa, Italy
A quick train ride will bring you to Pisa. Of course, you will want to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! You will also want to the Duomo di Pisa, the actual cathedral itself is quite beautiful and in the Romanesque architecture style. The baptistery is also worth checking out and it has some great views in case you don’t get to the top of the Leaning Tower as well as amazing acoustics. A guard demonstrated the acoustic effect by singing out in notes that lasted long after he began the new notes so that he sounded like a small choir all by himself!
Day 9 Florence, Italy
Another quick train ride will bring you to the next stop on my Italy travel itinerary-
Florence. It is a very pretty train ride too as Tuscany is known for it vineyards and fields of sunflowers.
Florence is absolutely amazing. I had been on three previous trips over the years but this was the first trip where we were bringing the kids so we wanted them to see the major sights that they would enjoy and have fun. We always stay with my father in law when we visit Florence so I don’t have any hotel experiences to share with you there.
On our first day in Florence, we did something we had never done before and it was a lot of fun. It is not a major attraction so if you are limited on time, you might have to skip it. However, we really enjoyed the experience and I highly recommend it. We knew that Florence would be packed on the weekend so we opted to visit the Stibbert Museum – Museo Stibbert- because it is off the beaten path we thought our son would really enjoy the armor collection. Little did I know how much we would all enjoy it!
Not only was the collection of arms and armor outstanding and interesting to even me but the villa itself was so gorgeous and a treat to see. The amazing ceiling time work in the smoking room alone was worth the trip:) That is not even mentioning all the costumes (one of which was worn by Napoleon Bonaparte), paintings, tapestries, furniture, archaeological items, and music instruments. Even the garden and the grounds are really enjoyable. Truly spectacular hidden gem.
Day 10 Florence, Italy
Seeing the main cathedral in Florence, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or Il Duomo, as it is more commonly called, is pretty awe inspiring. It rather makes you want to go to church! Seriously, it is hard to describe, just how awe inspiring it is. As you are winding through the tight back streets and alleys of Florence, you will suddenly pop out into the Piazza del Duomo and be stunned by its majesty. Just looking at it from the outside is a treat that could take some time as the marble work is incredible and the there are so many details to look upon. If you studied art history, you will be amazed to be seeing in person the Brunelleschi architecture and famous bronze doors of the Florence Baptistry by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Book your tickets ahead of time online if you’d like to see the insides and believe me it is worth it! We climbed the bell tower this time and it was quite a view.
We spent the rest of the day just exploring on foot. We crossed Ponte Vecchio, “the old bridge”, which is a Medieval stone bridge covered in touristy jewelry shops. We went to the San Lorenzo Market and the Mercato Nuovo looked at the outdoor shops of mostly leather goods and rubbed the Porcellion statue’s snout (a bronze pig)- which we always do since it is supposed to bring you luck in returning to Florence. We ate at the Mercato Centrale which is newer, hip option full of great stalls with all kinds of delicious foods. We also stopped for gelato at a place with a chocolate waterfall- Venchi.
Day 11 Florence, Italy
Don’t miss the Galleria dell’Accademia which houses The David by Michelangelo along with many other impressive works of art and sculpture by other Italian artists. If you don’t plan ahead and buy your tickets on line, you could end up waiting in a three hour line like we did! Still worth it.
The Uffizi Museum is also totally worth a visit but our kids were tired and we had been before. We saw the Palazzo Vecchio from the outside and walked through the Piazza della Signoria which houses some wonderful statues. Really, just walking around Florence is an experience!
Day 12 Venice, Italy
Next up on our Italy travel itinerary was Venice. One can never get enough of Venice! We took the train to Venice and then we took a water taxi to our hotel, which was modest but very nice and reasonably priced. We dropped our bags and went to explore on foot. There are so many canals and bridges and it is just so unique and fun. We just kind of made the rounds and got a look at some of the big sights like Piazza San Marco but didn’t really go inside anything. We were just soaking in being there- loving the canals, statues, streetlights and pigeons. We strolled along the big open Giudecca Canal at sunset.
Day 13 Venice, Italy
We went back to Piazza San Marco and the kids feed the pigeons. We also got to tour the inside of the Basilica di San Marco (get tickets ahead of time) for the first time- lots of beautiful gold mosaics.
Doge’s Palace is beautiful but we have never been inside. We always get swept up by the views of the Grand Canal letting out into the Venetian Lagoon.
We passed the Museo Leonardo da Vinci and we decided on the spur of the moment to go inside because our kids were interested and because my son is named Leonardo after all. It is rather a small museum and not overwhelmingly impressive but my kids really enjoyed the interactive exhibits. I’d say it was worth it and didn’t put too big of a dent in our day.
Day 14 Venice, Italy
For our last day in Venice, we wanted to do something special we hand never done before so we booked a Half-Day Sightseeing Boat Tour of the Venetian Islands- Murano, Burano and Torcello. It was a whole new side of Venice. We passed through Camp San Angelo on the way to our boat tour.
We started with a trip to Murano to watch master glass blowers at work at a trip around the shop to see all the gorgeous glass art works. Then we went to Burano which is a very colorful little island with a completely different look from the main island of Venice. It has a very beachy feel and its very own leaning tower!
The last island of Torcello will blow your mind with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Church of Santa Fosca which are remnants of Byzantine churches. We also stopped for a picture at the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge).
The views from the boat during the whole tour were great but particularly striking as we approached Venice at the end of the trip. Then to end off a perfect day when we got back to Venice, we ate lots of delicious crostini and drank Venetian spritzs.
On the way to the train the next morning, we stopped at the Santa Maria Della Salute Cathedral. I was struck, as I always am, at just how beautiful the non tourist attractions are too!
Day 15 Bolzano, Italy
The last stop on our Italy travel itinerary was Bolzano, a beautiful Northern Italian town. While it has tourist, they are largely European instead of American. The train ride is very scenic and Bolzano feels very different from the rest of Italy you will have seen so far as it is the gateway to the Dolomites mountain range in the Italian Alps. It is very green and lush in July and just beautiful. The train ride is about 4 hours and we were a bit tired from travel so we took it pretty easy. We found the Parco Petrarca and let the kids run and play on all the fun structures while we soaked in the views of the vineyards, river, and mountains. Then we just relaxed at the hotel pool and found a place for dinner and took it easy.
Day 16 Bolzano, Italy
We spent this day exploring Bolzano more fully. We did some window shopping because Bolzano is full of nice shops. We also checked out the street market that had lots of fresh produce and got some street food. The Bolzano Cathedral is a Gothic period church and it has beautiful marble roof. We enjoyed a quick tour of the inside too. Then we spent much of the day at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano because my daughter really, really wanted to see Ötzi the Iceman, a glacier mummy estimated to be at least 4000 years old! The line can be super long so plan ahead!
Day 17 Bolzano, Italy
The last full day in Bolzano was spent hiking. On a different trip we had hiked in the Dolomites but on this trip with the kids we opted for an easy and scenic Renon cable car ride up to SopraBolzano.
You can catch the cable car back down but it was a fairly easy hike back, about 2 and half hours with great views the whole time. Just bring some snacks! You are already in the mountains but you can also get some spectacular views of the Dolomites which are so craggy and iconic. Our day was a bit overcast but you can still sneak a peek of a peak!
When we got back to Bolzano we went for a special afternoon tea time treat at Cafe Monika.
My daughter said she would like to live in Bolzano she liked it so much!
This Italy travel itinerary took us from the July heat of Rome to the cooler Italian Alps and was quite a memorable experience. I hope you enjoyed our Italy travel itinerary. Let us know your favorite stops or hidden gems by tagging @familyfocusblog! After this Italian family vacation, we embarked on a Europe itinerary for 2 weeks more of summer exploration before heading home.