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Trying to help friend plan Italy at last minute....

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I ran into an old friend recently who is very excited about seeing Italy for the first time but will only have 5 nights. This couple is going on a cruise in end of Oct. but will have 5 days to try and get to see some of Italy. This person is not very skilled at securing travel information and overloaded with responsibilities right now so I was trying to offer some help in planning. This is the reason for my posting...to enlist all the great Fodors travelers to help me.

Their plan was to fly into FCO ( early AM arrival from Dulles) and use Hilton Points to stay for 2 nights at the airport, get a car and do some touring before the cruise out of Civitavecchia. They are now not really sure they "need" to see Rome" but might rather drive around the countryside.

Here are my suggestions so far but I really could use help as I have never visited Italy for so short a time and had to factor in working around a cruise. I said as they will be jet lagged, they should forget staying at the airport...get into Rome which IMO should not be missed (maybe stay at other Hilton to use some points if one is in the city), get a bus tour just so they can see the main sights, then crash for a nap, go out for a nice dinner and stroll around the city. I think I am prejudiced but as a non city lover I cannot get enough of Rome.

Next day maybe with the help of the cruise line for transportation ideas...get out to Civitavecchia (sp?) to rent a car so they avoid airport and drop off in other location charges. Their cruise will depart at 5 PM the day they return to drop the car.
I do not know if the cruise lines have places where you can leave luggage for 4 days but I think that would be great if they could avoid driving a little car with small space carting 16 days worth of cruise attire.

Does anyone have any suggestion for after they get the car? I was thinking that a location so they could easily drive to Siena, San G. maybe area around Chianti. I do not know if with the 4 nights left after Rome they can also get into Florence easily as I read one should avoid driving into the city. Does anyone have a great little place to stay, not too expensive? I loved Locanda Rosati (thanks to Bob the Navigator's suggestion years ago) outside Orvieto but not sure this would give them the best location to see the most with the least amount driving.

What would you do with 5 nights before a cruise on a first time visit to Italy? I do believe they have NO IDEA how close to this trip they have left all this unplanned.... or maybe I am too overly organized.
All and any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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