Italy is a country that tops many European traveller’s “must go” lists. It’s very easy to see the appeal: the food is fantastic, the people are friendly, the weather is glorious, and there is incredible history around every corner. However, most people planning a trip to Italy tend to stick to the well-trodden path that sees them in the cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with visiting these amazing cities, that route leaves very little room to explore more of what this vast and beautiful country has to offer. If you’re curious about which places to visit beyond the typical tourist path, follow this off the beaten path 10 day Italy itinerary and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
10 Day Italy Itinerary: Bologna (Days 1 – 3)
A good place to begin your 10 day trip to Italy is in the thriving university city of Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Located roughly equidistant between Venice and Florence, many visitors to Italy tend to overlook this beautiful city, or else only stop over for a day and leave much of the place unexplored.
Besides being within easy reach of most major Italian cities, there is also an international airport in Bologna. A number of major European airlines fly to this airport, including the budget-traveller favourite: Ryanair.
Although it is only commonly looked at as a day-trip option, Bologna is a large and lively city with a number of things to do. It is worth spending at least three nights here to fully appreciate everything that this city has to offer.
Spend your first day in Bologna getting to know the city. Depending on the day of the week you are visiting, it can be very worth going on a free walking tour so you can see the city through a local’s eyes. Take the time to check out the main sites, eat in some of Bologna’s fantastic restaurants (you are in the gastronomic heart of Italy, after all!), and enjoy the bustling energy that Europe’s oldest university city has to offer.
After spending one day exploring Bologna, you can either opt to take a day trip to nearby cities such as Ferrara or Ravenna or spend more time in Bologna itself. We, personally, opted for the latter option because we loved the energy of Bologna and didn’t feel like one day was enough. After three nights in this wonderful city, however, it was time to move on and explore more of Emilia-Romagna.
- Dopa Hostel is a small hipster hostel located in the heart of Bologna. They offer dorms and private rooms, free breakfast and their bunk beds even have curtains for that extra bit of privacy!
- B&B Chez Moi Lame 57 is a boutique bed and breakfast, perfect for a romantic getaway in Bologna. Located about ten minutes walk from Piazza Maggiore, this hotel is a great base for exploring the lively city!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Then click here to browse other hotels in Bologna!
10 Day Italy Itinerary: Modena (Days 4 – 6)
On the fourth day of your 10 day trip to Italy, it’s time to leave Bologna and head to the nearby city of Modena. Like Bologna, Modena is often only looked at as a day-trip option and therefore there aren’t many visitors actually staying the night. This, combined with the fact that the city itself is just absolutely lovely, is part of what gives Modena its charm
Trains to Modena leave regularly from Bologna’s main station and they take about thirty minutes. Aim to leave Bologna in the late morning, giving yourself some time for a leisurely cappuccino and pastry or one last stroll through the many porticos.
When you arrive in Modena, spend the remainder of your day just wandering around this beautiful Italian city and getting the lay of the land. One of the most endearing things about Modena is that there is very little (read: no) infrastructure geared solely toward tourists, so it’s the perfect city to really immerse yourself in Northern Italian culture.
If you’re not arriving on a Sunday, it can be very worth spending some time to browse the wonderful Mercato Albinelli, Modena’s massive food market, and picking up some local cured meats and cheeses for a picnic lunch in the beautiful Piazza Grande. Head to a cafe for aperitivo and eat dinner in one of Modena’s many world-class restaurants.
On your second day, take the time to go for a tour of one of Modena’s many acetaia’s where they produce the city’s most famous export: balsamic vinegar. This is different, however, from the balsamic vinegar that you’re used to finding on your supermarket shelves and it is very much worth finding out more and tasting this delicious liquid.
Another alternative would be to take a day trip to the nearby city of Parma, home to such international exports such as Proscuitto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It is possible to tour the factories and farms where these are produced if you contact them in advance.
After spending three nights in Modena, it’s time to leave Emilia-Romagna and head to another underrated region for your 10 day Italy itinerary: Umbria.
- Ostello San Flippo Neri is the hostel of choice in Modena! Located only a few minutes walk from the piazza, this hostel is clean, affordable and a great place to stay on a budget
- There are a number of Airbnbs in Modena, offering private rooms in the heart of the city. This can be a very affordable option, particularly if travelling with your partner or friend.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Modena!
10 Day Italy Itinerary: Perugia (Days 7 – 10)
Umbria is situated just south of Emilia-Romagna and just east of Tuscany and is home to postcard-perfect hilltowns, sprawling vineyards, and miles of olive groves making it the perfect addition to any 10 day Italy itinerary. Located almost exactly in the centre of the country is the Umbrian capital of Perugia, which is the perfect place to base yourself for the last bit of your 10 day trip to Italy.
Getting to Perugia from Modena isn’t entirely straightforward. You will first have to take the train back to Bologna and, from there, catch a high-speed train to the Tuscan city of Arezzo. These train tickets can be quite expensive if you purchase them on the day, but you can save a fair bit of money if you book it in advance. From Arezzo, you can hop on a regional train to Perugia. All in, expect to spend the best part of your day travelling.
On your first day in Umbria, the eighth day of this 10 day Italy travel itinerary, spend the day exploring the vibrant city of Perugia. Like Bologna, Perugia is also a student city and is home to two universities. This gives the city a lively edge with many places to grab an affordable drink, get a good bite to eat, and generally have a good time.
On your second day in Perugia, take a day trip to nearby Assisi. The birthplace of the Catholic saint, Francis of Assisi, this is probably the most touristy town I’ve recommended on this itinerary. It is, however, very beautiful albeit quite busy. Spend a bit of time exploring the hill town and its beautiful cathedral and then head down into the countryside and go on a winery tour at Tili Vini. It is accessible by public bus (though they can be infrequent) or by a €15 taxi ride from the city centre.
On the last full day of your 10 days in Italy, you can either opt to take another day trip or spend more time exploring Pergugia depending on how actively you’ve been travelling. Visiting the hill town of Orvieto, located in the south of Umbria, is a great option for a day-trip. Though it’s not as easy to get to as Assisi (you will have to make a train connection), it’s a beautiful place to spend the day exploring.
Perugia also has a small international airport which serves some budget European airlines (Ryanair), but it doesn’t serve many destinations.
- Little Italy Hostel is a converted church, now a hostel, located only a few minutes walk from the centre of town. Offering both dorms and private rooms, this hostel is a great place if you’re on a budget!
- Residenza il Punto is a boutique hotel that has spacious rooms with lovely views and a great option if you’re willing to spend a bit extra!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Perugia!
Have more time?
If you have more than 10 days to spend in Italy, this trip can very easily be combined with a more typical Italy route for two or three week Italy itinerary. For instance, if you plan to spend 3 weeks in Italy or more you can easily begin in Rome, head to Umbria, then go to Florence and from there travel through Emilia-Romagna and onto Venice or vice versa.
Because of Italy’s vast size and diverse range of cultures, one could easily spend months in the country and not get bored.
The places mentioned in this Italy itinerary are all easily accessible by public transport, however, if you want even more flexibility or want to explore further off the beaten path, it can be very worth renting a car. Italy is a perfect country for road trips and you will undoubtedly be able to see a number of things that you wouldn’t if you just stuck to using the train.
It can be easy to get caught up in the traditional Venice-Florence-Rome route when visiting Italy, but choosing to route you 10 day Italy itinerary a little bit off the beaten tourist path can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Have you visited these regions of Italy? Would you like to? How would you like to spend 10 days in Italy? Let us know in the comments!