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Rome & Florence, 10-12 days or so

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Hi, we're in the process of booking a 7-night cruise return Civitavecchia from Sept. 30th - Oct. 7th.

We think we'll extend our trip and spend a few days up to a week in Rome, and a few days or so in Florence. We will probably book air return Rome, although doing open jaw involving Florence is a possibility. The amount of time we spend will partly depend on what flights we can obtain for the best price (looking at Premium Economy on a number of carriers, but might spring for Business if we can get a good deal.)

Given the timing, would Florence and area be significantly better weather pre-cruise, i.e., last week of September? Rather than second week of October?

Should we try to do a city in between Florence and Rome or nearby, or perhaps just do a day trip or two? It would be nice just unpack as infrequently as possible. Places like Lucca, Arezzo, Siena and Perugia come to mind. I think we will probably take the train--I drove back in the old days, in Umbria, but traffic was a lot lighter then, and parking easier. A private driver could be an option for a day trip.

We are seniors, active but like to take things at a moderate pace--we do not rush around and try to see everything. We like walk a moderate amount, but are happy taking public transportation and/or cabs when we get tired. So in Rome we will probably stay in the Monti area (good choice?), and I will make a list of sights that we want to try for--usually we fall short of our goal, but it's nice to have one. I was in Rome in 1971, i.e., 45 years ago, but my husband has never been. We like great neighbourhoods, but love art, history and architecture as well.

In Florence we will stay somewhere central, and hope to see the main art sights. I've read people online say to skip the Uffizi because of the crowds, but I can't imagine doing that--this gallery was very memorable to me. We will see the other main historic sights and try to soak up some of the ambiance of this fine little city. I realize we have to book the Uffizi in advance--any advice about time of day?

Can we do the train straight from Civittavecchia to or from Florence, or do we have to go through Rome? I see it on trenitalia.com, but can't see if it's a good or normal route. In Portugal, intercity trains could be booked the day before or even at the station; it seems that in Italy you get a better price if you book advance.

Any ideas about things to see, itinerary suggestions, favourite hotels all welcome. We don't need luxury, but we do like charm, comfort and a certain amount of quirkiness.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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