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France/Italy itinerary HELP!!

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Hi everyone... I will make this short and to the point.

Husband and I (late 30s and 20s) took a med cruise last year and fell in love with Italy. So we want to go back this September (yes in 2 months!) and spend 2-3 weeks exploring in more detail. I also want to stop in Paris for a few nights before Italy.

I need help with itinerary - I have no idea where to even begin. Should we rent a car? Take the train? Fly? Where should we stop along the way?

I want to start in Paris, end up in Venice where we might take a 7 day Greek island cruise. Then back to Venice and from there make it to Positano/Amalfi before flying back to the states. Possibly stop in Florence/Siena along our way south.

Is this a ridiculous amount to fit in? How would you do it? Please, any advice would be great so I can start booking.

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    most here will say it is rather ridiculous with the 7-day Greek isles cruise and to do justice to Paris, Venice, Florence and the Amalfi but it depends on how much you want to move around - traveling between those destinations takes a lot of time -

    one thing about car rentals - picking up in one country then dropping off in another may result is a ridiculous drop-off fee for not dropping it off in the same country as you rented it in -plus it's a long long drive from Paris to Venice, though you could go thru the heart of Switzerland and stop off in some Alpine wonderland like the Interlaken area, etc.

    Cars and cities are not a great mix - especially Italian cities where there are no fly zones in the city centres for private vehicles most cities.

    If you want to explore rural areas like the Loire Valley or Provence or Tuscany, etc then a car is great., But even for the Amalfi cars are questionable - the roads there being often clogged with boats a good way to get between the towns - trains will take you everywhere - even to Sorrento or Salerno, railheads for the Amalfi - take the word-famous Amlfi Coast buses or boats from those places to Positano or wherever you base.

    There is an overnight train between Paris and Venice (www.thello.com) to save on time and the cost of a hotel. you'd obviously fly from Venice to Piraeus for the Greek Island boat tour.

    Anyway for lots of great info on European trains I always spotlight these IMO superb sources - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

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    thanks for the info, especially the links for the trains. For the most part I think I have ruled out renting a car, I just don't think we will need it.

    Just to clarify, the greek island cruise I found leaves from Venice and returns to Venice. But I'm starting to think it might be too much to pack in... I just don't know what to cut out! :( So many nice places to see in the world!

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    Ok, not as complex as it seems. We've done similar a few times.

    I enjoy cruises and did enjoy the Greek Islands cruise, but did not feel we in any way got the best sense of the islands that way. We did it because there were "bucket list" sights like Ephesus and Athens that I wanted to see, and it was an easy and cheap way to do it. If you do the cruise and can upgrade to a balcony, I think it would be more enjoyable. We have not, but will if we do it again.

    With the cruise, unless you have three weeks, you will not have time for Italy and Paris. Just Rome, Florence area and Venice takes a minimum of ten days. You could squeeze Paris in with three weeks.

    Also, on a cruise, you have a minimal time in each place, and no time to relish evenings in local areas, so on the rest of the trip, stay longer in each place so you get to know it better and do day trips with leisurely evenings. Italian cities, more than any others except Spain (to me), are wonderful in the evening when everyone is out walking, eating, meeting and greeting. If you can rent an apartment in at least one of your stops for four or fine nights, that would be great. One exception - Venice can be so quiet at night it is almost spooky, but that is interesting also.

    If you can do a slightly longer cruise that begins in Venice (or another port) and ends in Rome (or Athens, or another port), you could plan sight seeing in two different places as bookends to the cruise without having to spend time and money getting between them. Example: we did a Venice to Greek Islands to Rome, but got off a day early in Naples to visit the AC. We flew into Venice and out of Naples. Another time, we went from Spain to Italy, spending time in Italy at the end.

    You may have other choices, just cut one of these and add a different place.

    Simple : if you have three weeks
    Arrive in Paris
    Fly to Venice
    Cruise
    Venice
    Florence
    Rome
    Fly home from Rome
    Use train from Venice to Florence to Rome

    Depending on your dates:
    Fly into Rome
    Rome
    Tuscany (Florence, Lucca, Siena, etc)
    Venice
    Cruise
    Fly to Paris from Venice (or home, depending on your time)
    Home from Paris

    Another suggestion - fly into Naples if possible (Rome if you can not fly into Naples reasonably)
    Amalfi Coast (Pompeii, Positano, etc)
    Rome,
    Florence
    Venice
    Cruise
    Home, skipping Paris this trip

    On the other hand, you will be seeing a lot of islands and coast on a cruise, so you might want to skip the AC.

    Another option: cruise that ends in Athens. See Italy first, cruise, fly home from Athens or on to Paris.

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    spend 2-3 weeks exploring in more detail. I also want to stop in Paris for a few nights before Italy.

    If the cruise is only a week that leaves 1-2 weeks for Italy - in two weeks - two weeks you could easily see and do all on your wish list (yes fly or take the overnight train Paris to Venice) - but like Sassafrass says above maybe the Amslfi will be much like places you've cruised to.

    Fly into Paris and out of Rome (or Naples).

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