World ? Europe ? Italy

Italy: Suggested Itineraries

It would be a delight to get "lost" in Italy, wandering about at your leisure, discovering unspoiled villages off the beaten path. But few of us have such a generous amount of time in the speeded-up 21st century. Vacations are getting shorter, and a "lean-and-mean" schedule is called for if you want to experience the best of a country in a ridiculously short amount of time.

If you're a time-pressed traveler, as most of us are, with only 1 or 2 weeks for the country, you may want to take our "Italy in 1 Week" trip or else "Italy in 2 Weeks" if you have more time. If you've been to Italy before, especially Rome and Florence, you may want to cut short your time in those cities and, say, spend a week touring increasingly chic Tuscany. Families might want to consider the family-fun tour, with more focus on sights that appeal to kids.

Italy is so vast and treasure-filled that it's hard to resist the temptation to pack in too much in too short a time. It's a challenging, daunting destination, and you can't even skim the surface in 1 or 2 weeks -- so relax, don't even try. If you're a first-time visitor, we recommend you go just for the nuggets, such as Rome, Siena, Florence, and Venice.

Italy ranks with Germany and France in offering Europe's best-maintained superhighways (called autostrada), and it also boasts one of the fastest and most efficient public transportation systems in the world, especially its national rail line. Rome or Milan stands at the hub of a vast transportation empire with many once-remote cities or towns now within easy reach of either metropolis -- for example, Florence can be reached in only 2 hours from Rome, Naples in 2 1/2 hours from Rome.

The itineraries will take you to some major attractions and some charming towns. The pace may be a bit breathless for some visitors, so skip a town or sight occasionally to have some chill-out time -- after all, you're on vacation. Of course, you can use any of these itineraries as a jumping-off point to develop your own custom-made trip that more closely matches your interests.

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