It most certainly CAN be done (without limiting your food intake or sleeping in hostels, although there is nothing wrong with that!) My first tip would be to PRIORITIZE – what are your ‘musts’ for Italy? For us it was the food. We didn’t want to skimp on the delicious pasta and fresh wine, so we allowed ourselves to splurge on that, for everything else, we did our best to discern what was important and what wasn’t. Without further ado, our itinerary:
SCOTT’S CHEAP FLIGHTS! If you haven’t heard of it, look it up and get their free email. It will notify you when flights go on sale (which is pretty frequent to Italy). We snagged our tickets for $445 a person.
We made sure almost every hotel had a continental breakfast to save on at least one meal of the day. The Turner Hotel in Rome was decked out in romantic-era decor and cost us a whopping $57 (+ 12€ tourist tax). It was within walking distance from the bus station so our only transportation fee was the 6€ (per person) ticket on the Terivision Bus from the airport to Rome. After exploring the city a bit, we had dinner at Florian’s Cafe (23€) and then of course helped ourselves to some 5€ gelato.
Time to head South! We spent 24€ for transportation from Rome to Naples (a 3 hour ride) and then 8€ to ride the Circumvesuviana from Naples to Sorrento (1 hour). Our hotel cost $58 (although I bet it would have been more in high season). We stayed at Hotel Il Faro in Sorrento and the views were AMAZING. Dinner was at Da Gigino and we both agreed it was our best meal of the trip! We paid 32€ for our meal (a half liter of wine is 4€ filling up our glass FOUR TIMES!) and then we obviously had to top it off with gelato for 3€.
We stayed in the same hotel for $58, paid 10€ round trip to Pompeii (on the Circumvesuviana ), and 12€ round trip to Vesivius (you take the EAV blue bus). We also bought water for 1€, the Vesivius Park Entry for 20€, pizza for lunch for 14€, and entrance to the Pompeii ruins for 26€. After a cold, rainy day trip the 3€ Crepe was necessary. We had dinner at Ristorante L’Abate in Sorrento for 38€ (we wouldn’t suggest it).
Capri is not the cheapest place, but the beauty of the island is well worth the trip. Hotel 4 Stagioni cost 65€ (no continental breakfast) and is family run and quaint. The boat trip from Sorrento to Capri was 40€ and quite rocky, making for an early night for us without dinner (we did go to a nearby grocery store and bought some snacks for 8€, but we weren’t feeling dinner). If you are able to go to the Blue Grotto we highly suggest it, but if the waves are too high, it isn’t possible. We enjoyed our time running/ hiking around the island and seeing Arco Naturale, Monte Solaro, and the Gardens of Augustus.
35€ brought us on the boat back to Sorrento where we did a little more exploring. We hiked to Villa Comunale to take in the views and the public park next to Imperial Hotel Tramontano. We had a quick lunch that cost us 20€ and then hopped on the bus to Minori (7€ ). The bus ends in Amalfi so we got off and had gelato (6€). We then took a bus to Minori where we got some lemon cake for 4€ cake and had dinner at Le Botte (29€). We spent the night at Hotel Caporal for $46 (+ 4€ tourist tax).
From Minori we hopped on the 4€ bus to Salerno, missed the 32€ train to Rome, and bought 4€ gelato as consolation (we eventually made the late bus). We spent $39 on our hotel (#winning) (+ 8€ tourist tax) and 30€ for dinner at Mama Angelas (super crowded, but so very worth it).
You may be a little confused why our itinerary has us going to Rome, 3 different times, well this is your answer. The first Sunday of every month EVERYTHING IN ROME IS FREE! That’s right. Colosseum? Free. Roman Forum? Free. Vatican? Free. There will be people trying to sell you a “fast pass” into these monuments, but you literally are in line for 10 minutes so turn them down. We stayed at the same $39 hotel (+ 8€ tourist tax) to save money for a more expensive hotel in Venice. We ate lunch for 22€, gelato for 7€, and bought some snacks at the grocery store for 2€.
Now this is where planning ahead could have done us a whole lot of good. You can take a train (and buy the cheap seats) for the same price as it costs to take a bus. Our tickets for the bus cost 80€ and it is a bit of a walk to get to the bus station in Rome (it is NOT the same as the train station). The bus will stop for a little bit in Florence and then continue on its way to Venice. We decided to “go big” and book a 5 star hotel (with an all-star breakfast) and it was $79 (+ 6€ tourist tax) a night. BUT Y’ALL HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP RIGHT HERE – they upgraded us to the honeymoon suite! So Palazzo Veneziano is a YES. We went all out for dinner as well, spending 60€ at Osteria alle Testiere. My husband was OBSESSED with his seafood pasta; I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating a small dish for $40, but you only get one honeymoon, right?
We spent the day walking around Venice and enjoying the small cobblestone streets, lack of cars, and stunning canals. We went to lunch for 15€, dinner for 35€ (unfortunately I can’t remember the name of this restaurant, but they give you free limoncello), and 3€ gelato. Again, our hotel was $79 (+ 6€ tourist tax). If you are looking for a less expensive option, I have heard good things about the Generator Hostel which has a bar/ cafe/ great views of the canal. There is also a cafe called Alla Bragora that has great pastries located nearby.
The key to making your last day your best day is to stop at Giolitti in Rome. This 19th century cafe is touristy, but well-worth the wait! We bought both of our gelatos for 6€. We stayed in a cheap hotel near the bus station to make our early morning easy ($42 + 8€ tourist tax, but we wouldn’t suggest it). The other expenses of the day was a 15€ boat to the train station (gondolas are great, but very expensive and you get the same views by taking a water taxi), a 57€ train ride back to Rome, and then 24€ for dinner.
In total, we spent $2,575 (an average of $155 per day). Again, there are definitely ways to make it cheaper, but we really wanted to make the most of our time in Italy, and we felt we were able to do that by saving in the hotel expenses and splurging on the food! What would you have done differently? Would you have added anything – we really wanted to do the Cinque Terre, but 10 days just didn’t allot us enough time. Let me know how your travels go!