Italy Travel Planning: First Time Visit to Italy in April on a Budget
Readers frequently write to me with questions about their Italy itineraries. I decided to start putting these informal tips online so that I can better help others.
If you would like some help with your Italy travel planning, feel free to contact me using the form at the end of this post.
Italy Travel Planning Question
My cousin and I are planning a trip for April and we plan on seeing Rome, Capri, Sorrento, Florence, and Venice. Was wondering if you had any food/sights/lodging recommendations!
- Traveler profile: 20-something female
- Budget profile: Low budget. Backpacking, staying in hostels and low-budget hotels, taking public transportation
- Trip length: 10 days
April Holidays of Note
- Early to mid-April: Easter
- April 21: Rome’s Birthday
- April 25: Liberation Day (a public holiday in Italy), Feast of San Marco (Venice)
Rome in April is great. You’ll likely get some beautiful warm days, but also some rainy and windy ones. Make sure you pack layers, including a scarf/pashmina, and comfortable shoes (e.g., leather sneakers) that you can wear when it’s wet. Check out What to Pack for a Trip to Italy for packing tips.
Easter is usually in April. Rome is almost always more crowded and more expensive in the week leading up to Easter (Holy Week/Settimana Santa).
One place you should check out is The Beehive, a hotel/hostel run by Americans Steve and Linda. I’ve known them online for years, so feel free to mention me/Italofile if you get in touch with them. Also, during the pandemic, they started their own bagel-baking service and they look really good! Linda and Steve have lived in Rome/Orvieto for 20+ years so they should be able to give you even better on-the-fly advice if you end up staying there and meeting them.
Another thing about Rome in April: April 21 is Rome’s birthday! So, there’s usually a weird gladiator/Roman soldier parade near the Colosseum on that day. I think city museums are also free that day, too. So you would save money on The Capitoline Museums, my favorite museum which also happens to be the world’s oldest museum open to the public. It has lots of ancient Roman statues, art, and ruins there. Plus there’s an underground walkway that takes you to an overlook behind the Forum.
Another cool museum that may have free admission on Rome’s birthday is the Ara Pacis. It’s an ancient peace altar built in 9 B.C. A modern glass museum was built around it in the 2000s to protect it and to provide additional exhibition space, usually for photography and fashion exhibits. The last time I was there, they were doing evening tours with VR headsets. Super cool!
Capri and Sorrento
Capri and Sorrento can be done during the same visit. But you need to figure out where you would like to stay.
Staying in Capri is its own vibe. It’s really cool to be there when all the day-trippers clear out and you can just walk from one panoramic overlook to the other. But I don’t know how many hotels will be open on the island in April (a lot of places open only for the summer season, from about May to October). For hotel deals in Capri, look in Anacapri, as Capri town is where all the luxury places are.
Florence is a super easy city to get to and to get around. It’s only an hour from Rome on a Freccia or Italo (superfast) train. So, you could easily do a day trip there from Rome if you decided to stay based there most of the time.
But, Florence deserves a few days (I’d say minimum 3) because of all that is there: the Duomo and Giotto’s bell tower; the Uffizi (reserve tickets ahead of time); Michelangelo’s David (in the Accademia); the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens; etc.
But beyond the main attractions, it’s just a cool city to hang out in and there are always a lot of young people there. You could do a fun walking tour, for example. You may even want to stay in Florence for 3-5 days and take a couple of day trips to various towns in Tuscany. It’s all easily done by train.
Venice should not be missed. But also, it’s the more difficult place to fit into this particular itinerary. Venice is about 3-4 hours by train from Rome. It’s about 2 hours by train from Florence. So, it’d be best to try to do Venice before or after Florence so you can reduce your travel time because you have to pass through Florence either way.
Venice has also introduced a lot of regulations to try to keep the place from becoming overtouristed like before. This includes a day-tripping tax and possibly even turnstiles to get into the main piazzas. You can avoid these things (at least, the day-tripping tax) if you are staying overnight in Venice. I suppose it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other when it comes to day-tripping taxes and hotel rates and fees for the budget traveler. Venice is a must-see destination. But its size and fragility can make it an expensive place to visit.
Nevertheless, Venice is beautiful in April and absolutely worth it if you can fit it into your itinerary. If you’re there at the end of the month, you’ll be there for their patron saint holiday, the Feast of San Marco on April 25. This is also the date of Liberation Day, a national holiday in Italy.
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