Five of The Best 10-Day Itineraries for Northern Italy

Planning for a trip can be challenging, especially when there is limited time and so many beautiful cities to choose from. To help you, I have designed five perfect Italian itineraries, based on my travels through Northern Italy.

From the romantic canals of Venice to the best things to do in Florence, and the vibrant energy of Milan, these 10-day Italian journeys promise an unforgettable experience for the curious traveler. So, pack your wanderlust, grab a map, and let these be your guide as we unlock the treasures of this remarkable destination.

The Best Itinerary for a 10 Day Road Trip Through Northern Italy

The Best Itinerary for a 10-Day Road Trip Through Northern Italy


FIVE NORTHERN ITALY ITINERARIES

Itinerary 1: Milan to Bologna

Day 1: Milan
Day 2: Milan
Day 3: Milan
Day 4: Lake Como
Day 5: Lake Como
Day 6: Verona
Day 7: Venice
Day 8: Venice
Day 9: Bologna
Day 10: Bologna

Itinerary 2: Milan to Verona

Day 1: Milan
Day 2: Milan
Day 3: Lake Como
Day 4: Lake Como
Day 5: Dolomites
Day 6: Dolomites
Day 7: Venice
Day 8: Venice
Day 9: Verona
Day 10: Verona

Itinerary 3: Venice to Genoa

Day 1: Venice
Day 2: Venice
Day 3: Bologna
Day 4: Bologna
Day 5: Modena
Day 6: Parma
Day 7: Cinque Terre
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Day 9: Genoa
Day 10: Genoa

Itinerary 4: Florence to Milan

Day 1: Florence
Day 2: Florence
Day 3: Florence
Day 4: Pisa
Day 5: Cinque Terre
Day 6: Cinque Terre
Day 7: Cinque Terre
Day 8: Portofino
Day 9: Milan
Day 10: Milan

Itinerary 5: Florence to Bologna

Day 1: Florence
Day 2: Florence
Day 3: Florence
Day 4: Siena
Day 5: Siena
Day 6: San Gimignano
Day 7: Cinque Terre
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Day 9: Bologna
Day 10: Bologna


If you’re nervous about driving or taking trains through northern Italy, consider taking one of these top rated tours:
The wonders of Italy: Rome, Florence, Pisa, Milan and Venice
Private Italy Route: Best of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan
10-Day Private Tuscany Cooking Trip w/ Lodging

MORE ABOUT EACH NORTHERN ITALIAN CITY

Milan

Italy’s fashion and financial capital offers a captivating blend of history and modernity. It is also the perfect place to put on your itinerary for a Northern Italy road trip. Some of the city’s highlights include the iconic Duomo di Milano, an awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral, and the lavish Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, known for its high-end shopping and fine dining.

Duomo di Milano

For something on the artistic side, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last Supper,” is definitely worth checking out at the UNESCO Heritage site Santa Maria delle Grazie. A grand medieval fortress, the Sforza Castle, houses several museums and art collections. Don’t miss the vibrant Brera district, known for its bohemian atmosphere and art galleries.

Milan

As for the city’s Italian food delights, the risotto alla Milanese (Milan’s signature rice dish) and panettone (a traditional Christmas dessert) is something you should not miss out on.

Top Milan City Tour: Milan: Segway Tour


Lake Como

Nestled amidst the breathtaking Italian Alps, Lake Como is a great addition to any Northern Italy itinerary. Cruise along the picturesque lake, marveling at the opulent villas dotting its shores, including the famous Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta with their stunning gardens.

Of course, the lake’s bounties make for savory local cuisines, with dishes like missoltino (dried and salted agoni, a small fish found in the lake) and lavarello (whitefish), complemented by the region’s exquisite wines.

For magnificent views, explore the nearby charming town of Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como,” with its narrow streets and elegant boutiques. Another city worth checking out in the area is Brunate (known as the balcony of the Prealps,) where you can take a cable car and enjoy panoramic vistas of Como from above.

Top Lake Como Tour: Lake Como: Electric Bike Tour

Lake Como

Verona

Ah, Verona. The setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet exudes romance and history. Begin at the Verona Arena, a remarkably preserved Roman amphitheater hosting spectacular opera performances. If you’re a fan of the iconic star-crossed lovers, check out Juliet’s House, where the famous balcony scene unfolded, and leave a love note on the wall.

Let your feet take you through Piazza delle Erbe, the city’s lively market square, filled with colorful stalls and historic buildings. Nearby, you can visit the exquisite Romanesque Verona Cathedral and the stunning Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore. And when it comes to Veronese cuisine, some must-try dishes include bollito con pearà (boiled meat with a spicy bread sauce) and torta Russa (a local dessert).

Top Verona Tour: Verona: History and Hidden Gems Walking Tour

Verona

Venice

The “Floating City” is a unique destination renowned for its intricate canals, beautiful bridges, and captivating architecture. The best way to get around (and explore) the city is by hopping on one of the many gondolas or a vaporetto (water bus), which takes you to different canals and bridges around the city, including the S-shaped Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. Due to the city’s size, however, walking around Venice is also a great (and cheaper) option.

You can start by exploring the iconic St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), home to St. Mark’s Basilica, Campanile, and Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). Next, witness the captivating beauty and hear the intriguing stories about the Bridge of Sighs, just behind the palace. If you happen to visit in February (around two weeks before Ash Wednesday,) its world-famous Carnival is something you wouldn’t want to miss, with its elaborate costumes, masks, and celebrations.

Shopping-wise, Le Mercerie is just the perfect place to be, with streets lined with different shops and stalls that sell souvenirs, clothing, and whatnot. Mercato Rialto is great if you’re looking for fresh produce and seafood, especially if you have access to a kitchen. Don’t miss trying Venetian specialties like cicchetti (small plates similar to Spanish tapas) and sarde in saor (marinated sardines).

Top Venice Tour: Rialto Market Food and Wine Lunchtime Tour of Venice

Venice

Bologna

When it comes to Italian cuisine, Bologna is the perfect city to be. Known as the gastronomic capital of Italy, it is home to delightful food experiences, like sampling local delicacies such as tortellini, mortadella, and ragu alla bolognese. You can find many of these in the bustling Quadrilatero market, a premier foodie destination.

Of course, it’s not just the food that makes the city known worldwide. Its cultural and artistic heritage are also worth checking out. You can hang out at the heart of the city, Piazza Maggiore, where you can admire the magnificent Basilica of San Petronio. One of the city’s famous landmarks, the Fountain of Neptune, can also be seen in the area. At the nearby Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, you can climb the historic Two Towers for panoramic views of the city’s red rooftops (which is where Bologna got its other name, Red City.)

Top Bologna Tour: Bologna: City Center Guided Wine Walking Tour

Bologna

Dolomites

The Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boast awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling outdoor adventures. With 18+ peaks reaching 3,000 meters, it offers rewarding opportunities for challenging activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Additionally, easier hikes to Piz Boè, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and Seceda Ridge are accessible for all.

Explore the enchanting towns of Cortina d’Ampezzo and Livinallongo del Col di Lana, renowned for their ski resorts and breathtaking alpine landscapes. 

Don’t miss the delightful valleys of Val Gardena and Alta Badia, celebrated for their wood carving traditions and delectable South Tyrolean cuisine, featuring turtres (fried spinach pastries) and gröstl (a meat and potato dish). Experience the distinctive flavors and authentic roots of the Dolomites, where polenta harmoniously combines with local ingredients like venison and cheese.

Top Dolomites Tour: From Bolzano: The Heart of the Dolomites Private Tour by Car

Dolomites

Modena

A charming city in the Emilia-Romagna region, Modena is known for its rich culinary heritage and architectural gems. It boasts a UNESCO World Heritage site, which includes the magnificent Modena Cathedral, Torre Ghirlandia (the bell tower), and Piazza Grande.

To the west of the plaza is Palazzo dei Musei, a palace divided into different galleries, museums, and libraries. At Piazza Roma, the stunning Palazzo Ducale is also worth exploring. And being the ‘Supercar Capital’ of the world, you’ll also find car museums dedicated to some of the big names in the industry, like the Enzo Ferrari Museum and Museo Lamborghini.

For some shopping therapy, take a look at the historic Mercato Albinelli. Don’t miss some of Modena’s gastronomic delights, including traditional balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and delectable local pasta dishes like tortellini and tagliatelle al ragù.

Top Modena Tour: Modena: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. Lunch

Modena

Parma

Parma is a picturesque city celebrated for its historical treasures and culinary delights. The stunning Parma Cathedral, adorned with exquisite frescoes, is a great place to start your journey. Visit the Palazzo della Pilotta, housing the National Gallery and the Farnese Theatre. Don’t miss the chance to taste Parma’s famous prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, regarded as some of the finest in the world. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich musical heritage and catch a performance at the annual Verdi Festival.

Top Parma Tour: Parma: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Tour

Parma

Cinque Terre

When it comes to a 10-day Italy itinerary, the breathtaking beauty of Cinque Terre will surely deliver. This place is an enchanting collection of five vibrant coastal villages on the Italian Riviera. Start in Monterosso, the largest village, with its captivating beaches and historic center. Traverse scenic trails that connect the villages, revealing stunning cliffside views and the sparkling Ligurian Sea.

Climb the Lardarina to reach the tranquil hillside village of Corniglia, offering panoramic coastal vistas. Admire the gravity-defying, brightly-colored houses in Riomaggiore, and experience romance on the La via dell’Amore pathway linking Riomaggiore and Manarola. Don’t miss Vernazza’s picturesque harbor and castle ruins or Manarola’s charming atmosphere that seems to transport you back in time. Indulge in local seafood delights and savor the renowned Sciacchetrà wine.

Top Cinque Terre Tour: From Levanto: E-bike Through the Cinque Terre to Vernazza

Cinque Terre

Genoa

Genoa, a captivating coastal city, showcases its rich architectural and maritime history through iconic landmarks like Palazzo Ducale, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, and Palazzo San Giorgio. The heart of the city is adorned by Le Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising 16th and 17th-century streets and palaces.

Discover Porto Antico, boasting the renowned Aquarium of Genoa and the Genoa Maritime Museum. Ascend Montegalletto Hill to explore Castello d’Albertis, a historic residence hosting the Museum of World Cultures, housing Captain D’Albertis’ diverse collection from his global expeditions.

For Genoa/Ligurian gastronomic delights, the Mercato Orientale Genova (or MOG) is a great place for local flavors like pesto alla genovese (classic basil pesto) and farinata (Genoa chickpea tart.)

Top Genoa Tour: Genova: Segway Tour

Genoa

Florence

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a hub of art, culture, and architecture. There are many things to do in Florence, but the must-visit spots include Piazza del Duomo, Florence Cathedral (or Duomo, which you can also climb!), Giotto’s Campanile, and the Florence Baptistry with its famous ‘Gates of Paradise’ by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Nearby, Mercato Centrale offers two floors of Tuscan culinary delights like bistecca alla fiorentina, ribollita, and gelato.

Florence

Don’t miss the Accademia Gallery for Michelangelo’s David or the Uffizi Gallery for works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, explore the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, and be captivated by the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella’s facade and frescoes.

Top Florence Tour: Florence: Pizza and Gelato Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse

Florence

Pisa

Pisa is famous worldwide for its iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, but there is much more to discover in this historic city. Begin at the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square/Field of Miracles), where the Leaning Tower, Cathedral, and Baptistry stand in harmony.

Pisa

Visit the Camposanto Monumentale, a stunning cemetery with exquisite frescoes. Explore the picturesque streets of the historic center, discovering charming squares and medieval architecture. Don’t miss trying local dishes like cecina (chickpea flatbread) and Pisan-style fish dishes while enjoying the city’s relaxed atmosphere.

Top Pisa Tour: Pisa: 2-Hour Walking Tour

Pisa

Portofino

Portofino is a small but luxurious and picturesque fishing village nestled on the Italian Riviera. Start your adventure by exploring the famous colorful harbor, lined with charming pastel-colored buildings facing the sea. If you want to see something unique, head to the Portofino Marine Reserve and dive in to see the underwater statue, Christ of the Abyss.

Visit the 16th-century Castello Brown for panoramic vistas of the town and the Mediterranean Sea. Check out the nearby Portofino Natural Park, with its lush vegetation and hiking trails. Indulge in fresh seafood dishes at one of the waterfront restaurants, and savor the local specialty, focaccia alla Genovese.

Top Portofino Tour: Easy Kayak Tour to Portofino with Optional Snorkeling

Portofino

Siena

Siena is a medieval gem known for its historic architecture and the world-famous Palio horse race. The heart of the city is the Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped piazza housing the Palazzo Pubblico with Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s famous frescoes and the 400-step Torre del Mangia, offering panoramic views. It is also in the piazza where the Palio horse race is being held.

At Piazza Salimbeni, you’ll find the Palazzo Salimbeni, which houses the oldest bank in the world, the 15th-century Monte dei Paschi di Siena. For art and history buffs, the hospital-turned-museum Santa Maria della Scala at Piazza del Duomo will amaze you with its collection of artworks and artifacts dating from the Etruscan and Roman ages. Plus, don’t forget to visit the magnificent Siena Cathedral (or Duomo), known for its stunning façade and intricate interior.

Enjoy traditional Tuscan cuisine, including ribollita and pici pasta, in one of the many restaurants and family-owned osterias in the city. For something unique, you can check out Antica Osteria Da Divo, a charming underground restaurant located a few steps from the Duomo.

Top Siena Tour: From Siena: Pienza and Montepulciano Small-Group Tour

Siena

San Gimignano

This one is another great place to include for your 10-day Italy itinerary. San Gimignano is a small walled hilltop town famous for its medieval towers and picturesque beauty, earning it the name ‘the Town of Fine Towers.’ Like many on our list, the town’s historic center is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Dominating San Gimignano’s skyline are fourteen towers (two of which you can climb), all of which date back to around the 11th and 13th centuries. The tallest of the bunch, Torre Grossa (54 meters/177.17 feet,) offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Another great vantage point is Torri dei Salvucci (42 meters/137.8 feet), the only tower turned into a vertical apartment.

Let your feet take you through the town’s main squares: Piazza della Cisterna, known for its many medieval structures, and Piazza Duomo, home to the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano and Palazzo Comunale, both adorned with beautiful frescoes. Taste the town’s renowned white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and sample local delicacies like saffron-flavored dishes and almond cookies.

Top San Gimignano Tour: San Gimignano and Volterra: Day Tour from Siena

San Gimignano

Northern Italy reveals a captivating world of art, history, cuisine, and natural beauty. From the romantic canals of Venice to the timeless charm of Florence and the majestic Italian Lakes, these itineraries for Northern Italy unveils a vibrant tapestry of experiences.

Immerse yourself in the warmth of its people, indulge in its flavors, and let its magic leave an indelible mark on your soul. Just like the well-known Italian saying, ‘La vita è un viaggio. Chi viaggia vive due volte,’ it reminds us that life is a voyage, and those who explore the world get to live twice.

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5 thoughts on “Five of The Best 10-Day Itineraries for Northern Italy”

  1. Hello Annette Renee, thank you for stopping by my blog recently.  I glanced over at your fun bucket list and it inspired me to update mine.
    Your Italia itinerary is fabuous!  I got married there and have had a chance to go back a few years ago but if I could be there each year, I would.  I absolutely love it there and think the Italians are the loveliest people.
    I have never been to Sugo.  It sounds yummmmy!  I am putting it on my list and hope to make it up there this spring.

    Reply
  2. Looks like a wonderful trip…it makes me even that much more anxious to go back. But that's a few years away. I'm looking forward to seeing your blog when you return!

    Reply
  3. Hi Annette,
    Thanks for sharing your itinerary.  It looks like you are planning to hike from north to south.  If so, you will have the sun in your face during your hiking.  To avoid this, you may want to hike from southern to northern villages in the cinque terre.
    Have fun any way you do it-Yvonne

    Reply
    • Thanks for the advice, we are going to hike from the South to North. Only the first 3 towns though, I’m a wimp! I just hope that there is sun & not rain.

      Reply

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Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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