Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, and for good reason. This boot-shaped nation boasts ancient ruins and historical landmarks, world class art, towering mountains, beaches, and wineries. You can see the famous works of Michelangelo one day, hike a cliff that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea the next, and tour the world-renowned Colosseum or Roman Forum shortly after. And all these wonders are only hours away at any given time.
Plus, the sights and landscapes in Italy are only part of the allure. The food is also a huge draw. Tourists flock to Italy for the world’s best pizza and pasta, amazingly fresh produce, and of course, award-winning wines.
There are about a million reasons to visit Italy and only one to avoid it — the cost. As with many European countries, Italy can be expensive to visit.
Fortunately, Italy is a country with modern transportation, inexpensive lodging options, and plenty of airports. You can fly into nearly any corner of the country, visit all the must-see destinations via high-speed train, and opt for an affordable bed-and-breakfast if you want.
Food doesn’t have to be expensive, either. You can dine at Michelin-star eateries overlooking famous piazzas, but you can also pick up a piece of pizza or a sandwich for a few euros. At the end of the day, you can spend as little or as much as you want on your Italian vacation; it all depends on your choices and where you choose to splurge.
But what if you could cover the entire trip with travel rewards? For the average family of four, we think it’s possible to get this trip for $1,000 or less. Here’s how:
Cover your flights with airline miles
One of the most expensive components of any trip abroad is airfare, and there’s not a lot you can do to bypass this expense other than rack up airline frequent flyer miles. The good news is, there are several ways to earn enough miles to get to Italy on miles alone — even if you’re traveling with four people.
One of the best programs for flights to Italy from the United States is Air France/Flying Blue, the loyalty program for Air France, KLM, and five smaller regional carriers. This is partially because Air France tends to have plenty of award availability for economy flights to Europe, but it’s also because it’s easy to rack up miles for this program. While Air France/Flying Blue doesn’t have its own co-branded credit card, you can transfer points to this program from multiple other credit card rewards programs. (See also: Best Airline Rewards Programs for Trips to Europe)
One-way economy flights to Europe are typically just 25,000 miles plus government-mandated taxes and fees of approximately $125 per person. For a family of four, that means you would need a minimum of 200,000 miles plus up to $500.
While 200,000 miles sounds like a lot, this sum can be earned fairly quickly with some time and the right combination of rewards cards. If both spouses can sign up for several cards that offer 50,000 bonus points, for example, they could earn 200,000 flexible travel points or more in a matter of months.
Plenty of other airlines fly to Italy, however. You could focus on racking…