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Help with Florence and Cinque Terre Itinerary

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Hi Fellow Fodorites,

I need help with a very tight itinerary for Florence and Cinque Terre. I have 4 days to see Florence (highlights only) and Cinque Terre (couple of towns) at the end of May (May 26th to May 30th). Have to return back to Rome on May 30th by 8pm

Which option makes more sense and can you help me with some of my questions below.

Option 1:
5/26: take train from Rome to Cinque Terre, spend the night in CT,
5/27: spend most of the day in CT, late afternoon, take train or bus to Florence, spend night in Florence
5/28 to 5/30 mid-day: Florence
5/30 Afternoon: travel to Rome. Need to be in Rome by 8pm.

Option 2:
5/26: take train from Rome to Florence, spend the night in Florence
5/27-5/29: Florence
5/29 Early Morning: travel to Cinque Terre by train or bus?
5/29: Arrive in CT around mid day, spend night in Monterosso or Vernaza
5/30: Do a morning hike through a couple of towns
5/30 Afternoon: take train to Rome. Need to be in Rome by 8pm

Additional questions:
Which option is better or is trying to do CT and Florence in 4 days too crazy?
Should we consider renting a car to travel between any of these cities?
Which trips are better by bus than by train?
Would it make sense to make the home base Florence and take a 1 day tour of CT? Does a 1-day tour of CT from Florence even exist or make sense since it's a 3 hr trip by car/bus?

If you think it's too crazy, you can be honest and tell me. I have a tendency of always trying to see/do too much when I travel to Europe. Just trying to get a taste of both.

Your help will be greatly appreciated!
Jeannette

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