We recently completed a 3 week trip to Spain & Italy (11 days in each country). Here's a quick summary of our visit in Italy....
Rome (3 nights). Stayed at Hotel Smeraldo - great location central to most all sights, friendly & helpful staff, great breakfast. Followed Rick's recommended walking tours and visited the main sights - busy 3 days. Vatican Musuem tip - we were unable to get regular tickets to the museum, so I bought premium tickets for quided tour including after-hours access to Sistine Chapel - we spent 30 minutes in the Sistine Chapel with fewer than 60 people - an AMAZING experience well worth the price. Great dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria La Sagrestia.
Florence ( 2 nights). Stayed at Haggi's Residence - a little off the central core (10 min walk from Duomo), Alex and Anna are wonderful hosts and their B&B is quiet and lovely and they serve a nice breakfast each morning. Followed Rick's recommended walking tours and visited the main sights - Accademia, Ufffizi, Piazza Michelangeo viewpoint. Nice dinners at Trattoria La Casalinga and FrancescoVini.
Vernazza (Cinque Terre - 2 nights). Stayed at La Marina Rooms - Cristian is a wonderful host (great communication, meets you at the train station, helps with bags, helps with local information & reservations), rooms are modern and nicely furnished, and the view from his terrace overlooking the Mediteranian is stunning. We followed Rick's recommendation to take the local bus up to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio above Vernazza and then walk back down to town. Also hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso and then visited the other towns via train. Nice dinners in Vernazza at Antica Osteria Il Baretto & Gianni Franzi. Lunch in Monterosso at Fast Bar. Breakfast in Vernazza at Il Pirata delle 5 Terre.
Sienna (2 nights). Stayed at Il giardino di Pantaneto - good location, nice quiet rooms, beautiful garden courtyard, nice breakfast, and friendly & helpful staff. Followed Rick's recommended walking tours and visited the main sights - Duomo & Museum, Piazza del Campo. Took the 'Heart of Tuscany' van tour with Tours by Roberto, visiting the towns of Montepulciano and Pienza while driving around the hills of Tuscany. What a fun day - Roberto is a great guide, full of information and very funny. The day ended with late lunch and wine tasting at Roberto's farm just outside Siena. We enjoyed dinners at Osteria Il Carroccio & Osteria La Sosta di Violante.
Venice (2 nights). Stayed at Locanda Casa Querini - small B&B in nice location 5 minutes from Piazza San Marco and San Marco vaparetto dock, friendly and helpful staff, light breakfast. Our reservaton to visit Saint Mark's Basilica was at 11:30am, when the turn on the interior lighting to fully illuminate the mosaic work - it made such a diffence. We also bought the optional musuem ticket which gives you access to the interior & exterior balconies - well worth it. Very nice dinners at Trattoria da Mimmo & Ristorante Antica Sacrestia.
All travel in country was by train.