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12 days itinerary. First Trip to Italy

My son and I are planning our first trip to Italy. My idea is to start in Florence and make our way down to Amalfi Coast, end up in Rome. Having never been there, everything I read in Best of Italy looks great.
We are not much for museums and such, but will take in a few.
We are more interested in experiencing the culture in both small towns and cities.
We plan at staying at Air B & B's and using mostly public transportation.
I would welcome any suggestions.


Posted by
121 posts

Hi Steve,
Great choice for the 1st trip to Italy and I totally agree with you.
What city will you arrive on your day 1, Florence or Rome?

If you arrive in Florence I would suggest the following program
Day 1 - arrival and relax after flight
Day 2 - Florence exploration with visiting of Duomo(ticket vaild for 72 hours if I'm not mistaken) and Galleria Dell Accademia - must see there
Day 3 - Day trip on your own to Cinque Terre or Pisa and Lucca(you can take Trenitalia trains for an affordable price)
Day 4 - departure to Rome by Italotreno high-speed train and relax
Day 5 - Rome City center exploration (Pantheon, Trevi etc) and Colosseum
Day 6 - Vatican (not working on Sundays)
Day 7 - Relax in Rome
Day 8 - Departure to Naples on Italotreno train (take a taxi or book transfer to Sorrento)
Day 9 - Your own exploration of Sorrento bay, Pompeii or boat tour to Capri
Day 10 - relax on Amalfi coast
Day 11 - relax on Amalfi coast and departure back to Rome (from Napoli Centrale) on Italotreno train
Day 12- departure

Posted by
244 posts

12 days is not a lot for those three locations, it is 'doable' but you'll have to be selective as to what to see. The problem with looking at itineraries that organized tours do is that things take longer 'on your own'. I think they are better 'on your own' cause you get to decide what to see and how long to stay, but you'll probably find there is so much to do in each of those locations you'll wish you had more time. Given that, I would limit yourself to three 'bases' - Florence, Sorrento, and Rome with possible day trips from them. I would probably split the time equally with 4 days in each (this assumes you have a 'real' 12 days, that the 12 doesn't include flying days, if it does include those then you really have only about 10 days to actually see anything). Rome deserves at least 4 days with no day trips. Florence you could easily do one or two (if you have 4 full days) for day trips. The most popular ones are Pisa/Lucca (one day) and Siena. From a base in Sorrento you could do one day to Amalfi/Positano/Ravello (try to take the boat one way and the bus the other for best scenery options) and another day either Capri or Pompeii.

In Italy there are tons of small, family run hotels, I wouldn't limit yourself to Air B&Bs. The small hotels are just as interesting, in many cases nicer, probably about the same price. It's not like in the US where hotels seem to be either chain hotels or expensive high end places.

Depending on where you arrive/depart from you should put the departure city at the end to avoid having to change hotels one extra time. So if you arrive in Florence and depart Rome you would do: Florence, then Sorrento, then Rome.

Here's my photos of Italy -

Posted by
78 posts


Twelve days will make a great trip. I have to disagree about using hotels over AirBnB's. We have utilized them in Florence, Rome, and Venice. We will also be using them on a return trip to Milan, Naples. I would set your starting location depending on where you are flying into and out of. On our first trip we focused on Rome, Florence and Venice with a day trip to Cinque Terre. There is plenty to see in the northern region. I would not spread myself thin if this is your first experience.

Posted by
4646 posts

end up in Rome.

If you follow something like what Alejandro proposed, I would go directly to AC from Florence and end in Rome. Makes for one less transfer and give you more time 'there' vs 'in transit'

Posted by
122 posts

Remember that AirB&B is just the name of the company, meaning you can rent an apartment, a room in someone's home or a stay in an actual Bed&Breakfast on their website.

A true Italian family-run B&B or small hotel can be something quite culturally rewarding.

Personally I love to cook, so usually rent an apartment with my own kitchen, but whenever I have stayed in a true B&B, Inn or family-run hotel in Italy, I really enjoyed the experience.

Happy Travels!

Posted by
9537 posts

A couple advantages to a hotel (with desk services) is the ability to drop the luggage if you arrive in town before check-in time. Most of them will store it for you until you can get into your room. The same often applies if you want to sightsee a bit after checkout before heading off to your next destination or the airport. You also don't have to make prior arrangements for a host to be around to meet to you hand over keys and whatnot.

Posted by
965 posts

hey steve
welcome to the forum
when do you plan on taking this trip, dates and what is your budget in euros? your flights should be multi-city or open jaw (into one city out of another) no wasted time backtracking. is your 12 days total on ground, better to plan nights. when changing places, it's about half day (pack, get ready, breakfast, check out, getting to train then to next city by later afternoon to get acquated to next city. check arrival and departure times, early check in if they hold luggage not rolling the streets waiting.
their are small apartments or B&B's, you don't have to rely on airb&b's. some are within residents places, we like a terrace to enjoy morning coffee or afternoon "happy hour", do you want 1 bedroom/sofabed, mobility issues (?) for stairs/steps, A/C if needed during summer, eating or wine tours, cooking classes, not rushing, enjoy sitting at cafe and people watch, walking the piazzas and side streets.
stay the night before departure in city you fly out of. come back and let this forum help you, it will be good bad and ugly. when you plan and research you are prepared to have a great and fantastic trip.

Posted by
121 posts

@joe32F Great advice, I didn't think about it properly. But I would still stick to the program I mentioned as if I were in Steve's shoes I would relax at AC before leaving for Rome in the end of the trip. IMHO

Posted by
67 posts

If small towns are what you'd both like than I would fly into Florence, see the museums, and then rent a car and drive through Tuscany or Umbria. It is going to hard to see small town Italy taking trains, if you opt for buses I suggest you check out the schedules as some buses only visit towns once a day.

If your 12 days does not include flight days I would split your time between Rome, Florence and Venice with a few days in Lake Como.


Posted by
78 posts

I am confused about the comments regarding Airbnb's. The apartments that we rented were owned by local people in Italy. At our Florence AirBnb, we rented from the owner of the entire building. She was a local architect and her apartment was next to ours. Our Rome apartment was in a historic building with the owners local in the building as well...

Is there something I am missing?

Posted by
23 posts

IMHO: I would recommend little towns along the coast (Minori, Maiori, Furore..etc.). I absolutely LOVED Praiano (north of Amalfi but South of Positano). We stayed in an Airbnb place that was right near the entrance to the beach. We moved onto Positano after that. We spent about 3 days in each location we went to and it was perfect. You can also look into or Airbnb and see what types of tours and trips are available from a particular area. We used and did a day trip to Capri from Praiano.

Google is your friend. I like to see if there's any festivals going on (depending on where you go and what time of year your are going and maybe use that as a factor on where to stay).

I also recommend Airbnb places (cheaper than hotels in most cases) and the hosts are great at recommending places to eat., etc. (I always set my search to only look at Super Hosts so I have some reassurance). The place we stayed at in Praiano had a hot tub room built into the cliff and was a great place to unwind after a long day.

We did not have a car and we took the ferry, the bus, and the train while we were there.