My husband and I love to enjoy good food together, and there’s so much ancient beauty in Italy to experience, so spending almost two weeks in Italy was the natural choice for a destination for our honeymoon in Italy. Besides sitting fountain-side enjoying Caprese salad and a glass of wine, there’s also the beautiful countryside to take in while you’re traveling via train. This tried-and-tested itinerary for a honeymoon in Italy will take you to the highlights of Italy both attraction-wise and food-wise. This Italian itinerary is only for a ten-day trip, however, I include recommendations on easy day trips to add more time onto your honeymoon.
Knowing the geography well from my time studying in Bologna in college, I planned our honeymoon so we could start up north and slowly head down the boot on Trenitalia; trains in Italy are consistent, clean, and very affordable. While planning for our trip, we knew we valued menu and environment over accommodations, so when possible we stayed in apartments/boutique hotels.
Just like booking flight travel, make sure to book all your train trips well ahead of time to save money on the Italian trains as express trains become more expensive the longer you wait. Make sure to note when you’ll arrive in each spot since checking into an AirBnB doesn’t usually allow to leave your bags at the front desk before your room is ready, like a hotel does.
We knew we’d generally want to have a nicer dinner, and our breakfast and lunch would sometimes be on the go (grab a panini as we head to the next landmark-type of thing), so most of our daily meal budget went for dinner; about ⅗ of the day’s allotment.
For sightseeing we decided to do most activities that were low budget; we didn’t do many museums because we knew that the historical architecture and outdoor artwork would be plentiful in these cities that are millennia-old. We also looked through recommended things to do in each city that were under $30 a day and didn’t require a lot of walking. You can never have enough time in Italy, but we found that 10 days gave a good balance of relaxation and sightseeing, which is what we wanted out of our romantic getaway.
Your perfect Italian honeymoon itinerary
Day 1: Bologna
I studied a semester in Bologna my junior year of college, and it’s one of the most undercelebrated places in Italy I’ve ever been to. Even though it had been over 10 years since I had been (ugh, time keeps on ticking), so many of the things I love about the city were still there. It’s less than 2 miles/ 3 km in diameter within the city walls, so anywhere you stay is perfect for walking and taking in the sites by foot. (It’s best to take it easy on your first day flying from abroad!) We booked a pasta making class for our first night and this was a brilliant idea for many reasons:
We met at a market in the center of town to shop for the ingredients to make our 3-course meal, so we quickly became familiar with how the locals live day-to-day by chatting with the merchants and getting a mini-history lesson on everything we were about to make and eat.
As someone with rudimentary Italian language background, it was a great kickstarter to get my brain back in gear for getting around the country; the guides spoke English but encouraged me to speak Italian whenever possible. Besides the intimate experience of learning to cook local cuisine with native bolognese women, we also got their insider intel for the best spots to get pizza, aperitivo, and the namesake bolognese pasta dish. (Read more about the best food in Italy to try here!)
Preparing food with someone is a labor of love, and it was the perfect way to orient us for married life; we love to eat and prepare food together now as it takes us back to that wonderful night.
Day 2: Bologna
After fully sleeping off our jet lag with bellies full of homemade pasta and local wine, we spent our second day exploring and taking in the history around us. Our guides recommended pizza by the Santo Stefano “Seven Churches,” so we strolled over there with a croissant and double espresso in hand. Like most churches in Italy, admission is donation based contribution. Well worth the cost, we spent the morning marveling at a sort of church-ception where basilicas were built around each other over the course of 10 centuries.
After that, we enjoyed pizza across the piazza from the church to fuel up for our next excursion: Le Due Torre. We climbed all 498 steps to get a beautiful 360° view of the city. This is a bit of a challenge so I don’t recommend if you have breathing or knee problems. If you are able to make the trek, it is very much worth it. We rewarded ourselves with some gelato (the first of many on our trip), and freshened up for dinner for a traditional bolognese lasagna dinner. (For a different experience, you’ll find quite a few food tours in Bologna, which is the foodie heart of Italy.)
Day 3: Bologna
Since the previous day in Bologna was spent doing a lot of walking and exercise, our last day was more for being shown around the city via train. We hopped on the San Luca Express for a panoramic tour of the city and up the hill to the beautiful Basilica di San Luca. The train has an audio tour in 10 languages, and there are return trips every 15 or 30 minutes back to the city.
Once at the top of the hill, you are delivered a majestic view of the hills that are Emilia Romagna, and the icing on the cake is the exquisite marble architecture of the centuries-old basilica. If you are feeling athletic, you can also walk to San Luca through 666 arcades. The walk is a moderate incline of a little over 2 miles/3.5 km. If you walk up, keep in mind you cannot take the train back as tickets are round trip and purchased in Piazza Maggiore at the center of the city.
Editor’s note: For those seeking a different experience, it’s very easy to take a day trip to visit Modena and a few nearby towns famous for their cheeses (Parmesan!). You can easily take the train here from Bologna on your own and look for day tours that will take you to cheese producers, prosciutto producers, and Modena balsamic vinegar producers! Everything is always more delicious at its source!
Day 4: Venice
We took a quick 2-hour train ride from Bologna to our Venice where our hotel was nestled in a narrow street not 5 minutes from the train stop. Don’t be deceived by things seeming close to the train station to be “dangerous” or “loud”; the city layout is so that sound doesn’t travel and all the cozy nooks where your hotel and restaurants are, are just that: cozy. We stayed at Hotel Villa Rosa.
Water travel is the way to get around Venice. We did the quintessential romantic ride in a gondola, just us two. Pro Tip: Gondolas are like medallion holding taxis in that there is a flat government rate per gondola. If you want to save money but get the same experience, you can find affordable shared gondola rides with a fixed rate online.
After walking around the city and testing our love and patience for each other on the first day (GPS is hard as there are hundreds of tiny streets and alleys that look the same), we got a two day pass on ACTV (the water bus) for the rest of our trip. The choice was obvious as it allowed us to see the other islands after walking over Ponte Rialto to Piazza San Marco on the first day.
Day 5: Venice
With a water bus pass, we took full advantage of the surrounding islands: Murano- known for their beautiful blown glass artwork, this is a smaller, less crowded experience in Venetian atmosphere. You can take a tour of their glass factory, which was worthwhile. We picked up lovely gifts for family at a very reasonable price.
Giudecca is a quiet, more local gathering place just across the Giudecca Canal from San Marco, this is a nice place to take a quiet romantic stroll. We grabbed some gelato and spent about 30 minutes looking across the water to a civilization that’s been around for over 1000 years. We hopped right back on the ferry and took it the long way around Venice to enjoy some cichetti at a wine bar near our hotel. (Lovers of beautiful architecture will also love colorful Burano!)
Day 6: Venice off the beaten path (or Verona)
Using our water bus pass for one more trip before catching the train, we headed to Lido for some beach time and food. Pro Tip: Always pack your swimsuit, you never know when you can use it! Lido has a beautiful free beach on the eastern side. It is only a 15-minute walk from the water stop. Grabbing a sandwich at the cafe bus (a double-decker bus across from the beach turned into a sandwich food truck) and spending a few hours at the beach was the perfect end to our Venezia adventure.
Editor’s note: If you’re looking for a bit of romance, consider taking the train to nearby Verona, which is the supposed home of Romeo and Juliet. Here, you can see Juliet’s famous balcony (for free). Beyond the balcony, Verona is a beautiful city with a well-intact coleseum that is still used for operas and concerts. I was lucky enough to attend an opera here and those seeking a respite from the price in Venice will fall in love with Verona’s quiet charm. It’s just an hour on the train, so you don’t need to plan much for this romantic day trip from Venice!
Day 7: Rome/Tuscany
As you make your way to the train, you’ll want to stop and grab a block of hard cheese (pecorino romano, sharp provolone), a block of soft cheese (gorgonzola, smoked mozzarella), a baguette and a bottle of wine; this will make the quick trip to the beginning of modern civilization that much more serene. We dropped our luggage off at our boutique hotel, freshened up and headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner at La Carbonara. With 3 full days in Rome after our arrival it was nice to have a day to relax and plan out the rest of the trip.
Editor’s note: Couples looking for a romantic experience might be interested in getting out of the cities for a bit of fresh air–and some wine of course. Although many associate Italian wine mostly with Tuscany, Italy has countless wine regions, so consider exploring Lazio. You’ll find many half day tours to the Frascati region, which produces nice DOCG whites and reds, that include transportation, wine tastings, and snacks. All you need to do is sit back and relax!
Day 8: Rome
Rome is a big beautiful metropolitan city, so the best way to enjoy the city is in sections. This day was our “Ancient Rome tour”: We bought a combo pass for The Colosseum and The Roman Forums, which is easily 3-5 hours of walking and learning about the ancient city. To get to the area, you get to pass by the monument of Vittorio Emmanuele, which sits atop the modern Rome that looks down at the ancient landscape. We recommend bringing waters with you as there aren’t many places to buy food and drinks nearby. Comfortable shoes are also a must!
Day 9: Rome
This day was our “Food and Beauty tour” day. We spent the day in the Municipio area. Our first stop was Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè for some of the best and most coveted cappuccino in all of Rome. (The recipe is a secret!) Pro Tip: If you want to sit and enjoy your breakfast, the cost is more than just taking coffee and pastries to go.
We strolled over to The Pantheon, then stopped for a quick meal at a “fast food” pasta place: Il Pastaio di Roma. Within minutes we were able to see Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and then make our way to the Spanish Steps for sunset. Lots of great people-watching and love is in the air around those last three spots, for sure. We finished our night with the best meal we had in Rome at Piccolo Arancio. (If you’re looking for a bit more action, you can always opt for a street food tour of Rome!)
Day 10: Rome
Our final day in Italy was spent as a “Holy Tour” day. We took an early morning bus ride to Vatican City so we could get in line early for the Vatican Museums. You can buy tickets to skip the line to get into the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, but if you get there early, the line moves pretty quickly.
If you aren’t a fan of crowds and don’t feel any need to see the iconic Sistine Chapel, you may want to skip the museum and just opt for St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica is free and has enough opulence and beauty for a lifetime of church visits.
Pro Tip: Knees and shoulders must be covered for men and women, NO EXCEPTIONS. They have loosened their requirements since I last went, but vendors are selling scarves outside for tank topped summer visitors, and shorts above your knees are still a no-entry. (Save money by bringing your own scarf with you!) This is also a good final day trip because you can finish up early enough to get back to your hotel, pack, rest, and get ready for an early trip to the airport the next day.
If you’re looking to extend your trip, we recommend also considering heading further south to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Still, you’ll find so many other charming regions off the beaten path, such as Puglia. Alternatively, you might want to add time between Venice and Rome to visit Tuscany and Florence! If you’ll have more time up north, we recommend taking extra time to explore Milan, Turin, and the Piedmont region!