We just got back from spending a lovely nine days in Italy. I shared pieces of our trip on Instagram and was asked for some recommendations.
So, some of the tours that we'd recommend, where we stayed and shopping tips are below!
Rome and Venice Tour and Airbnb Recommendations
4 Days in Rome
I'm not going to give you a play-by-play of all the sites to see. You could spend weeks in Rome and still not see them all. I'll let you pick and research those on your own but I did want to share a few stores, tours, etc., that we really enjoyed.
Recommended Small Group Rome Tours and Experiences
- Gelato Making Class - This was around $55 per person for just over hour. It was a hands-on class that made three different flavors of gelato. The class was well run, in a good location (save their phone number because getting in to the courtyard is a bit confusing) and we had the best time. Would recommend for all ages!
- Customized Private Walking Tour with Nancy Aiello Tours - This was pricey at $300 for two hours but it was private and customizable. Our tour was setup to talk about Roman Mythology and other historical sites as we walked through parts of Rome. We learned SO MUCH and would highly recommend this if you can swing the price. You can customize this tour to different sites and interests.
- Biking the Appian Way with Aqueducts and Catacombs - In high tourist season, this tour might feel hectic if you aren't comfortable on an ebike or with city riding in general. If that's the case or if traveling with kids, I'd book this as a private tour! We didn't do that and, although our group was only about 10 people, I wished I would have done a private tour. Overall, this was definitely one of our favorite things we did in Rome. The ride takes about five hours but you stop often for historic sites, to walk through catacombs (which I couldn't understand until I saw them), have lunch and see the aqueducts. I know looking back on Rome that this will definitely be one of the most remembered days/experiences.
- Personal Chef to Cook at Your Rental - I love using the Airbnb Experiences tab to find unique options when we travel. Carlos had a listing with amazing reviews saying that he comes to your airbnb/vacation rental and cooks a multi-course dinner for you. He doesn't speak much English so uses Google translate to help communicate. We weren't sure what to expect but this was a lovely experience. He made bruschetta (best we've ever had), pasta carbonara, veal and salad, and tiramisu (amazing!). We really enjoyed this experience and would recommend!
- Colosseum Underground and Ancient Rome Tour - This was a semi-private tour (up to six people) and the size was great. It was really interesting to go underground at the Colosseum (definitely would recommend doing this). We definitely learned a ton! The tour felt a tiny bit long once we got to the Roman Forum. It could have just been us, as this was at the tail end of our trip in Rome. Overall, I'd recommend this. We saw lots of big tours with people wearing headsets and I really feel like we had a great experience just being able to communicate with our guide and ask questions when we wanted because of our tour size.
Rome Food Recommendations
- Suppli Roma - Pizza and Italian fried meat snacks. Very casual and no seating.
- Roscioli Caffe - We had pastries and coffee here most mornings. We never had their "shovel pizza" but apparently, it's really good!
Overall, we ate a lot of gelato. We struck out on most restaurants. I wouldn't say the restaurants that we ate at were horrible or anything but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend them!
Antique Stores or Flea Markets In Rome
- Deal Done Aventino - This flea market (or thrift store?) had so much art! Like literally hundreds of art pieces from $5-$100! It also had small homewares (glass, pottery, brass, etc.), some furniture pieces and baskets and clothing. Would highly recommend!
- Mercato dell'usato - Il mercatino delle Grazie - This was more of an antique store and larger than I expected. It also had lots of art pieces (more curated and higher priced than the store above but still good prices). Loved it.
2 Bedroom Airbnb in Rome
We stayed in this book and art-filled apartment in Trastevere. We liked the location a lot and the apartment had everything we needed. It could have been slightly more modern in living furnishings but the beds and pillows were comfy! If you had a ton of luggage, this apartment would be challenging because there are two staircases to get to it and the last one is steep and tight! If you like antiques, art and books then this is a good choice. Overall, for the price (around $190 per night), we were happy.
To get to Venice from Rome, we took the train out of the main train station in Rome. I pre-booked our tickets and it was easy.
4 Days in Venice
Recommendations for Venice
- Go off the beaten path and just walk and explore. Get lost!
- Row Venice - We took a two hour traditional Venetian rowing class and it was a highlight of the trip. Learning to row and then actually rowing through the canals were both super fun. Definitely book this if you like to try new things or are traveling with kids!
- Murano Glass Class - Learn how to mold glass in this two hour class. I'm recommending this with some caveats. The instructor is very nice, but also hands-off. If you are expecting to make something beautiful out of the glass (like a small animal or anything like that), you'll be disappointed. If you go in to the class with just wanting to learn about molding glass then that's what you'll get. We enjoyed this BUT felt like it could have been better with more instruction.
Venice Food Recommendations
- Suso Gelatoteca - This was the best gelato! We went here a few times. Would highly recommend kumat (cookie) flavor.
- L' Bacaro de' Bischeri - Definitely go here for fresh sandwiches. They are made to order and so freaking good.
- Torrefazione Cannaregio - This was a lovely stop for coffee. They have cute tables and good pastries, too!
- Taverna Barababao - We had dinner here and Luke really liked the white fish and potato entree. I loved the side of grilled vegetables and the bruschetta! Would recommend reservations as we were lucky to just snag a table by chance.
Shopping in Venice
- Codex Venezia - This is the neatest art gallery (it's tiny) with prints and originals. If you are looking for a modern art piece of Venice to take home with you, definitely check this place out. I bought an original art piece from the owner and can't wait to get it framed.
2 Bedroom Airbnb in Venice
We stayed in this Terazier Apartment with Balcony and Canal Views. It was absolutely stunning. For just the three of us, it was a slight splurge but definitely worth it. The rooms were all bright and clean and we felt right at home. It's a two bedroom but with extra beds in each bedroom so you could book this even with a bigger family. Highly recommend!
Overall, we had a lovely time. If I could change one thing about our trip, I would have stayed one more day in Rome and one less in Venice. There's just so much to do in Rome and I think our time would have been better served with one more day there. No big regrets either way, but three full days in Venice was plenty. I will say that this is the second time that Luke and I have been to Venice and Rome so that might be part of it!
Anyways, I hope my Rome and Venice Tour Recommendations help if you are looking to book a trip to Italy.
See more of our trips on our travel page!