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2 weeks of honeymoon in Italy on December. Which city to go first?

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Hi all,

I wonder if anyone could help our itinerary for our honeymoon to Italy this December. I think I already know the cities that we want to visit, but I don't know which one better be the first destination. This is our first time going to Italy. In fact, this is our first time exploring Europe too. We decided we want to go to Italy since many people recommend it to us. So, here we are planning our trip to Italy :-))

so these are the cities that we'd like to visit: Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples
We're thinking to visit only 3-4 cities, since we really want to enjoy the quality time in every city. We are still open for suggestions of course! We prefer warm weather, yet we wouldn't mind to have a few days exploring winter. So, if you guys could suggest us other cities that we might like, we'd like to hear it! And one more thing, we know it's winter season, but we really want to explore beaches (if can), because actually we love it so much.

My concern is, since we'll depart few days before christmas (dec 21), I wonder which city that offer the most beautiful and felt so chrismasy? we're thinking Milan/Venice, with the winter season and everything. but we prefer to hear it from you who been there on Christmas. Maybe, if we decide the first city, we could easily decide the rest.

So, please help us.
Many thanks in advance

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    First 5 cities is a lot to cover in only 2 weeks. Once you subtract the time for travel between cities you won;t have much time in any of the places.

    Second, not sure what you mean by warm. You are going in winter and there isn't anyplace in Italy - or Europe - that has beach weather in winter. You can of course walk on the beaches in chilly weather - but you can;t expect it to be warm enough even to just sit on the beach.

    It's not likely that you'll run into a lot of snow - although there was snow far south of Rome last winter - but it's quite likely that you will see quite a bit of chilly rain - especially Rome and north.

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    We visited Venice, Florence and Rome over a span of 9 days last year. Italy is wonderful and we look forward to going back someday.

    In hindsight, 1 night in Venice is plenty, 2 in Florence and that will give you time to do a day trip to Pisa if you like, and dedicate at least 4 nights in Rome. Rome is amazing! Lots to do and see.

    Happy honeymoon!

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    In hindsight, 1 night in Venice is plenty, 2 in Florence and that will give you time to do a day trip to Pisa if you like, and dedicate at least 4 nights in Rome.>>

    I'd agree about the 4 days in Rome but I think that many people here [not all] would agree with me that 1 night in venice and 2 in florence is seriously short-changing those cities.

    and no beaches that time of year unless you go to Sicily. [or come to Cornwall - we quite often go to the beach on Boxing Day].

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    I (and I'm sure many others would too) completely disagree with the comment that Venice is a "beautiful little city but not a lot to do." I have been to Venice 3 times, spending multiple nights each time, and still have not been able to see all that I want. There are so many wonderful churches, museums, etc. There are the campaniles of San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore, the Doge's Palace and all of the charming back "streets" and campos. There are also excursions to Murano, Burano and Torcello.

    If you go to Venice, eat at Ristorante da Ivo. It is very expensive but worth it if you're honeymooning. My boyfriend and I ate there last year. It is tiny and very cozy and the food is fantastic. It is not far from San Marco and is accessible on foot or by boat. We also enjoyed Ristorante da Raffaele (near Santa Maria del Giglio). We sat on the terrace by the canal, but they have inside rooms with a fireplace.

    For a report on Venice at Christmas check out http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/venice-trip-report-warning-im-most-verbose.cfm or do a search on "Venice" and "Christmas" on this Forum.

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    We went three times to Italy in December. The Christmas atmosphere is so lovely and unique during Christmastime. In so many towns and villages all over Italy, they organize a Presepe Vivente, where often in the case of Umbria or Tuscany, a hilltop town transforms itself into a living crib. The locals open up their ground floor front rooms in the narrow streets, and transform them to the times of the nativity of Jesus, with even live animals. The nativity is narrated and organized by the locals, really expertly organized. So really lovely.

    I am going to give you some suggestions on different localities, and then see what you are interested in.

    It would be so nice to visit Umbria during Christmastime. The world'd biggest Christmas tree, is lit up the mountain near Gubbio, we passed near it last December, really majestic and beautiful.

    Amalfi coast is sooooo beautiful during Crhistmas time. The lights are really lovely in Amalfi Town, Positano etc. The whole coast literally lights up, especially in Positano, the whole town lights up like an enormous Christmas Tree. Very few tourists during this time, which I especially liked. And you often find little cribs set up in the rocks along the bends of the Amalfi Coast roads. One highlight, an incredible experience, is the fireworks on Christmas Eve on the Gulf of Naples. The whole huge harbour lights up for a whole fire, like it was on a siege. Best views to watch it are across, at Sorrento Harbour. The experience is incredible.

    In Citta di Castello, in Umbria, there is a canoeists' club, and on Christmas Day (at times Christmas eve - do check when they will be doing it this year) at sunset the canoeists dress up as Father Christmases, they light up the canoes, and descend down the Tiber River, the banks are also lit up, and on reaching Citta' di Castello they decend and hand out gifts to children. Also, in Citta' di Castello you find one of the largest crib exhibitions of Italy, from all regions, particularly from Naples, really really nice.

    Then there are the beautiful Christmas Markets in so many localities in Italy. Last December we visited that of Trento, it was really nice.

    At the Vatican in the square, and also in Assisi, they set up a huge Christmas crib.

    Also in Umbria during Christmastime they organize soul concerts by gospel choirs, usually around Lake Trasimeno.

    We also fitted in Rimini during our last holiday in December. It was quite cold there, but we did a couple of walks along the long seafrond during the day. It is nice as this long coast is literally empty, unlike the Summer months. In Torre Pedrera, there was an exhibition of a huge crib of the nativity made out of sand.

    On Christmas Eve, uite close to Citta di Castello, we stayed in a small relais country hotel called La Locanda del Borgo in Pietralunga. And what a feast the dinner was!! Plate after plate of seafood delicious food, anything you can imagine, I would believe there were at least 8 courses. This was also accompanied by a prosecco and three whole bottles of wine - ubelievable, and the owners are an incredibly nice family. In fact a few Italian families go there year after year on Christmas eve, we were the only foreigners. Close by is Perugia, you can visit ceramics in Deruta, visit around the Lake Trasimeno etc. Christmas Day lunch we went to L'Antico Forziere restaurant in Deruta (we do like to move a lot all the time - but we hire and drive a car).

    We did on one of our holidays visit Florence during Christmastime, they do not really do any special Christmas activities, but it would be worth a visit of course, less tourists than in Summer, though there still were a lot of tourists, Florence is always busy. We stayed on that trip in an Agriturismo about 800m outside the city walls of San Gimignano. It is called Agriturismo Nicolai Palagetto di Sotto. It was really nice to visit San Gimignano every night the three days we were there to have dinner, the town was literally empty, which we liked as we always hear how packed with tourists this town is in Summer. This is one of the reasons why I love travelling in December in Italy, apart from the many traditions and celebrations.

    Another tradition during Christmas time that we visited - really unique - in 2010 was in Abbadia San Salvatore on the Monte Amiata. On Christmas Eve in many corners and squares of this medieval town, the locals set up huge stacks of wood which take them a whole month prior to Christmas to cut the wood from the mountain, and stack up, and on Christmas eve they light them up, and around many of the bonfires they prepare stalls with delicous food and warm wine with oranges. There would also be carolsinging in the streets, and a midnight mass in the beautiful Abbey. This celebration goes on practically all night. It is up on the Monte Amiata mountain, I would not suggest that you drive to Abbadia San Salvatore, as the road up the mountain is very narrow and winding, and can be misty. But the town is quite large, and the surrounding scenary is breathtaking. And I am sure there is some local transport to get there.

    I would definitely skip Milan, and maybe go to Trento instead, and maybe do a daytrip to the surrounding dolomites. We drove to Madonna di Campiglio which took a day's outing. or else omit Trento and visit Venice.

    Rimini area with its long beaches is nice, but cold. Maybe you might want to visit a coastal town in Le Marche or Umbria, or Abruzzo further south but still on the Adriatic.

    A MUST if you are visiting southern Italy is to stay in Sorrento on New Year's Eve, try and book a hotel directly on the harbour - best view ever of the Bay of Naples and the Vesuvius. From Sorrento you may do a day trip to Capri (the ferry leaves directly from the harbour) and also visit the lovely coastal towns and villages of Amalfi coast, maybe a visit up the Montepertuso mountain near Positano (Positano looks so beautiful all lit up from this mountain during Christmastime), Ravello also a town up a mountain near the Amalfi coast,, and the the lovely seaside villages of Maiori, Minori, etc. The weather was much warmer than in north Italy on Amalfi Coast and we experienced lovely sunny weather throughout - guess we were lucky. From Sorrento you might also wish to visit Pompeii, Naples, nearby Vico Equense (where the famous Pizza al Metro is situated) or a trip up the Vesuvius. But as I said, the highlight would be on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve when the fireworks display on the open harbour will leave you stunned for sure. On Amalfi coast various towns and villages also organize the live cribs, check on-line the dates and localities. Oh, and I forgot to mention, on the Amalfi Coast in Furore, there is the Smeralda Grotto, and during Christmas time a crib is immersed in the water in the Grotto - there is a lift to reach down the grotto so that you reach sea level, and a short boat trip around this small grotto (of course at a fee). You will enjoy the sea for sure on the Amalfi coast.

    So if you want to do four stops, I would suggest: 3 nights in Venice, 4 nights either in Tuscany or northern Umbria (from northern Umbria you can reach some towns and cities of Tuscany, 3 nights in Rome (there is always a large Christmas market during Christmastime at Piazza Navona) and last but not least 4 nights (considering you also want to be near the sea) on the Amalfi Coast, making sure you stay in a seafront hotel overlooking the harbour in Sorrento for New Year's Eve. If you have another night at your disposal I would add it to Umbria or Tuscany.

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    Traveling in December, you will want to stick to cities, where there is lots to do and see no matter the weather. Use the train to travel between cities. You definitely don't want a car in any Italian city. Driving in the center is often limited to locals only and parking is expensive.

    I too think Venice is worth more than one night. That won't even be one whole day. Venice is the most romantic of cities perfect for a honeymoon. Also, if you're arriving after a long, overnight flight, you'll be jetlagged and sleepy for a day or two. The perfect sightseeing for Venice is wandering around in a daze getting lost.

    Exactly how many nights do you have? Remember the process of changing towns -- checking out of your hotel, getting to the train station, traveling to another town, then getting to your next hotel and checking in -- will take the minimum of half a day. And doing this in winter weather will be harder. So 2 nights is 1.5 days at best. Given the time of year, I think more time in fewer locations makes more sense. The days will be short and it's harder to find your way around in the dark.

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    I'd say Venice, Rome and Florence are all worth about 3-4 nights, and Naples is probably worth just 1-2. I agree with previous posters about cutting Milan out of trip; 2 weeks between those four is already pnty plenty and with day trips you won't get bored of thigns to do.

    A general rule of thumb for first-timers in Italy is that's it's a good idea to start in the North and head South, since Italy gets more Italian (i.e. foreign and exotic) the further South you go.

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    I think you should spend more than 2 nights in the region of Campania, where you find Naples, Sorrento Coast and the Amalfi Coast (not worth doing the trip for just a couple of days). I would not stay in Naples, as the city is all hustle and bustle with the locals during their shopping and buying food during Christmastime, they really make a big fuss in that city and small surrounding towns in that area during Christmastime and New Year's Eve ( they cook 7 fish dishes for good luck, so you will have the best meal ever in southern or even central Italy if you are a fish lover). Believe me, it is a nightmare in Naples during this time, we drove through, not in its centre but along the coastal road near the harbour, a few times in Christmastime 2010, to reach Amalfi coast, and to visit Pompeii and a funpark on outskirts of Naples.

    But then, on the other hand, on the Sorrento and Amalfi coast, it is much much quieter than in Summertime, no major traffic on the coast road, and you do have good chances of finding very beautiful weather even in December - we certainly did in December 2010. If fact we were always very lucky and found good weather in the 3 times we went to Italy during Christmastime - we experienced more rainy days when we travelled on holiday to Italy in September. Also, there was absolutely no queues to enter Pompeii, at the ferries to depart to Capri (and it was a beautiful day) at the Grotta della Smeralda, and driving was really easy along the Amalfi coast. In fact I have got really used to it now, and would not go anywhere else but Italy for my Christmas holidays with the family - for the weather, traditions, food etc - unless of course the rest of my family put their foot down.

    I must stress that I would stay in Sorrento on New Year's Eve, it is a unique experience, the fireworks look like the whole Gulf of Naples is under siege with the fireworks. You would have the best view from Sorrento Peninsula, as you would be facing the Gulf, from Naples you would be facing Sorrento Coast (although all the towns and hills around both Sorrento Coast and Naples do their own fireworks display, especially on harbour (which as I said you see well from opposite side in Sorrento. But I would never dream of walking around in Naples at midnight on New Year's eve, the locals go crazy there, as I heard whilst we were in the area, and a tradition which they do for good luck, they throw their old clothes and stuff out from their windows onto the streets. If you prefer to stay in Vico Equense, which is very close to Sorrento, (which is what we had done), you can still get the lovely view of Gulf of Naples from its coast (but harbour of Sorrento is even better for the very best views in my opinion. Well onto the night after the midnight fireworks (which last about a whole hour), these last few years in Vico Equense they organized a concert in the main square, and popular Italian singers make their appearance. It also felt very safe being in the square, unlike most probably Naples. I can't stress enough that you should not miss New Year's Eve in this area, if you are going to be in southern Italy for New Year's.

    If you need any suggestions on hotels or accomodations, I would be more than willing to help out.

    Agree that it is the best idea to start north and head south. So maybe you can start off with Venice, then Florence or in Umbria, then Rome and lastly Sorrento coast, where you can do daytrips to Naples, Pompeii and Amalfi coast or Capri (that is why I would definitely suggest you stay 4 nights here). The weather is also warmer than the north, we trvelled a couple of times literally from north to south in December and we noticed the difference. But it is nothing that you can't endure and walk around and visit places of interest (that would only be in the mountains like of the Dolomites which we visited as well on one occasion in December).

    Do not stay for just one night in any place, it is not worth the hassle, in fact I would stay at least 3 nights in any place, since you would not be driving, as more time would be wasted to reach destination.

    So assuming that you have 14 nights I would stay:

    3 nts in Venice

    4 nights in Siena (I would prefer to base in Siena and going to Florence for a day trip, as besides it being quieter in December regarding tourists, it is further south in Tuscany than Florence, so it might be closer and easier to reach o some towns of northern Umbria.

    3 nights Rome

    4 nights on Sorrento coast

    If you have an extra day (do try and squeeze in another one), I would add it in your stop in Tuscany or Umbria (wherever you are basing yourself) as most cities, towns, and villages of these two regions are so dedicated to their Christmas celebrations and traditions during this time of year.

    I can't wait to hopefully go again to Italy in December, lol!!!! This time I might combine Umbria with a couple of days in Abetone, a ski resort in Tuscany, or maybe Cinque Terre. (if other members of the family agree with it) I know though that the latter might be really quiet at this time of year, and my older kids might find it boring. Alternatively, Sicily might be also a nice experience during Christmastime.

    One thing I might mention. Ryan Air and Easyjet do internal flights all over Italy, very good fares if you book early. Although in your case I do not really see the need for it, since you are breaking your trip with your stops, and always travelling southwards. It might be feasible if you are landing in Milan, and take a flight to Venice, since you would be at the airport.

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