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1 month trip to Italy needs your suggestions

1 month trip to Italy needs your suggestions

Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 04:55 PM
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1 month trip to Italy needs your suggestions

I am planning a birthday trip to Italy for my girlfriend. October through mid November 2008

I have been to Italy previously and have seen a bit but she has never been. I need your help to make this trip her birthday wish come true. She, so deserves it.

Your postings are fantastic, a well travelled group of Fodorites. I cant wait to read your replys.

Here is what we have so far:
We have a villa (a castle actually) on hold in Tuscany from October 18 through the 25 (rentvillas.com). It is exquisite and I think will fit our needs nicely. It is about 15 km from florence.

During that week I was planning to show her the hill towns of Tuscany. Any other suggestions for our Tuscan adventure?

As for getting there my research seemed to indicate it might be cheapest to fly to and from Rome. I found non stop on AirItalia from LAX for about 1,200 each with tax and fees. Can I do better on air? Also is AirItalia going broke? Susan P said something about hoping they weren't defunct before she left.

When we get into Rome we could rent a car (Is hertz the best priced?) from the airport and drive to Tuscany. Having a car would let us explore the Tuscan countryside.

We then have from the 25th until the 30th free for your suggestions.
I was thinking about driving from Tuscany down through Amalfi coast area.

We could also rail or ferry or a combo there of and I am trying to piece it all together in a cost effective manner while maximizing the experience and scenery.

Suggestions for the transportation issue needed as well as for itinerary/accomadations suggestions for the southern coast trip should we stay in Ravello? Positano? Amalfi? Sorrento? etc. Where should we stay? In each place how long?

On October 30th we need to be back in Rome to get on a cruise for 14 days departing from Civitavecchia (Rome), then stopping in Portofino, Livorno, Messina (Sicily); Split, Croatia; Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Naples, Capri, and finally back to Civitavecchia (Rome).

Any excursion advice? I was thinking cinqa terra from portifino port, and seeing florence from the livorno port if we hadnt yet from the Tuscan week. Are Pisa or Lucca worth the trip they are also excursions offered.

We are back from the cruise in Rome on November 12. We can stay longer. We should depart not much more than about a week after we return to Rome. So we can stay around to see Rome for 2 or 3 days and whatever else you suggest.

Please provide suggestions on places to stay in Rome that are cost effective and chic at the same time if possible, a tall order I know.

I am so excited to read your suggestions. Thank you in advance.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:32 PM
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Hello spumoni, I have to go out for a quick trip to the store but just wanted to mention I believe the airline you booked with is Alitalia..not AirItalia, am I right?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:44 PM
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So if I interpret your post correctly, you have 2 weeks in italy and 2 weeks on a cruise?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:51 PM
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Thank you for your messages. The answers to the questions posed thus far,

LoveItaly:
Alitalia yes, not AirItalia, my bad. Of note, it is not yet booked just being considered. Do you have a better suggestion?

cmeyer54:
Yes, At least two weeks on land and the two week cruise. So far nothing is booked just held. So all is changable.

I am considering extending the trip if it is within the budget. It will depend on how extravagant the southern coast portion of the trip becomes.


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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:55 PM
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>>When we get into Rome we could rent a car (Is hertz the best priced?) from the airport and drive to Tuscany. Having a car would let us explore the Tuscan countryside. <<

Take the train to Orvieto pick you your car. Use Autoeurope.

>>We then have from the 25th until the 30th free for your suggestions.
I was thinking about driving from Tuscany down through Amalfi coast area. <<

Since your cruise is taking you to Napoli and Capri later, I wouldn't go the Amalfi. Use the entire time of your car rental to tour Lazio during the wine harvest and olive oil season. Try staying in this place

http://www.discoversoriano.com/

and use this website to figure out what you would like to see in Lazio

http://www.elegantetruria.com/recentalk.htm


>>Ravello? Positano? Amalfi? Sorrento?<<

If you end up choosing to go to the Amalfi anyway, stay in Positano. Don't pick Ravello unless you plan only to relax and not sightsee. It's too hard to get in and out of.

If you go to the Amalfi, consider going to Pompeii while you are in the area.

>>I was thinking cinqa terra from portifino port, and seeing florence from the livorno port if we hadnt yet from the Tuscan week. Are Pisa or Lucca worth the trip they are also excursions offered.<<

I am unfamilar with how cruise excursions work. But if you strike out on your own, you will need to take a bus from Portofino and get the train in Santa Margherita Ligure to reach le Cinque Terre. The bus shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes (once it comes). I would only plan to do this if the weather is dry and clear. If you have a rainy day in Portofino, stay in Portofino, which I think is quite nice in the rain. Go up into the hills to get away from the crowds and expensive boutiques (among which are actually some very good fine art galleries).

Firenze, Pisa and Lucca and Firenze are all marvelous places to see, and all reachable by train from Livorno -- although what is involved in getting from the docks to the train station, I don't know.

You can use the Trenitalia to check train schedules. Please not the Italian spellings of towns. For le Cinque Terre, names of the train stations are Monterosso, Manarola and Riomaggiore

>>Messina, Sicily<<

While you are in the port, traveling to Taormina to see the Greek theater there would be very worthwhile.

>>Please provide suggestions on places to stay in Rome that are cost effective and chic<<

Teatro Pace 33

>>During that week I was planning to show her the hill towns of Tuscany. Any other suggestions for our Tuscan adventure? <<

Bring her into the process now.


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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:57 PM
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Sorry -- I meant to post:

"Use the remaining time of your car rental (after Tuscany) to tour Lazio."

Lazio is the region of Italy just south of Tuscany, which contains Civitavecchia.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 06:43 PM
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Civitavecchia is an hour northeast of Rome, so I would spend a few days on the Amalfi coast first and then go to Tuscany (closer to Civitavecchia). You really don't have much time to sightsee when the ports aren't near to things (Livorno is at least an hour from Florence). Many times you only have 4-8 hours in a port. Do you know your times for each port?

Train between Rome/Florence or Rome/Naples is about 30€ each one way.

Try pricing flights to Pisa (PSA) to see if they are cheaper than Rome. Price cars on www.autoeurope.com
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 09:44 PM
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You might want to check out Air One (or is it One Air?). They partner with United, and the flights I was looking at from LAX to FCO showed the same flights for both airlines, but cheaper with Air One, and it noted that the airline would be United.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 09:53 PM
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Another typo alert:

In my post I should have typed: Please note the Italian spellings of towns (when using the Italian train schedule)
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 02:59 AM
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Hi S,

May I suggest flying into Naples and out of Venice, if you can.

The one day that you will have in Venice on your cruise is definitely not enough time.

The AC is pretty much shut down by the end of Oct.

So,

Arrive Naples, transfer to the AC for 4 nights.

Pick up car. Drive to/through Tuscany.

Drop car in Civitavecchia.

Take cruise.

Visit Rome.

Visit Venice.

Fly home.

Enjoy your trip.


>We have a villa (a castle actually) on hold ...I think will fit our needs nicely.<

It's good to know that your needs are simple.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:41 AM
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>>The AC is pretty much shut down by the end of Oct.<<

Yes, come Halloween, they've rolled up the views, put the lemon trees in storage, drained the sea and taken the sun down from its hook and all that's left is a pizza stand and a bus stop.

Some tourists go to the Amalfi and Capri to shop and socialize with other tourists, and many stores will be shut, and a few go to eat at handful of much-buzzed about restaurants (every single one of which will be open in October). But people who go to Amalfi for the staggeringly beautiful landscape find the area a delight "off season" when the towns are not mobbed with shoppers and eaters.

Many people dislike Venezia, especially if they've tasted the untouristed parts of Italy, which I hope you have a chance to do before you take the cruise.

By the time you step off your cruise ship in mid-November, it will be extremely easy to find accomodations anywhere you choose. You will have a very good idea whether you would like to revisit the castle or Firenze or Venezia, or perhaps go see mosaics in Ravenna or frescoes in Assisi or spend the entire time in Roma. Or visit Paris!

If you'd rather nail everything down, do. But if you'd enjoy being adventurous, leave the last part of your trip open until you and your girlfriend have experienced more of Italy, and know what you like to do.



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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:51 AM
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To pre-empt howling, I better correct myself and say many people dislike the mindless mass tourism in Venezia, and don't want to linger there.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 04:57 AM
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I'm not sure what mindless mass tourism involves, but if that means tour groups, you don't have to be in a tour group to enjoy Venice.

In fact, it's easy to avoid involvement with anything smacking of mass tourism in Venice by staying away from the areas closest to the Grand Canal during the middle of the day when the daytripping hoardes (both tour groups and individual travellers) rampage through "Daytrippers' Alley."

It's amazing how walking a few blocks away from P. San Marco or the Rialto or the train station will get you into almost deserted campos with cafes and restaurants and shops that have halfway decent prices and food other than the overpriced tourist stuff in the most touristed parts of the city.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Sorry, I just disagree.

No, I don't mean tour buses. I mean the overwhelming majority of the 20 million people who pour into Venezia during the year by boat, train, car and bus.

Venezia is not like Pisa, with an isolated area of historic monuments and tourist tat. The entire feel of Venice, from the parking lot and the train station, along the vaporetto stops as, is a town occupied by foreign tourists, converging from all sides: parking lot, train station, docks, toward the Rialto and San Marco.

I find it hard to recommend that people go to Venezia and avoid San Marco -- which has perhaps the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy and one of the most stunning pieces of Byzantine architecture in Europe.

To me, it's just depressing to see what mass tourism has done to an incomparable historic site. No amount of wandering among the apartment houses in the back streets takes away the feeling of a place given over to tourists, who've turned it into a toy. Mind you, it isn't the tourists fault.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 09:44 AM
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Not true. Just walk a ways from the main sights along the Grand Canal, and the tourist traffic thins out to an astonishing degree.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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But so what? The town is still just a large tourist site. The contrast between an Italian place not colonized by tourism and Venezia is really noticeable. The theme park feel, devoid of authentic culture, is not just about not seeing another tourist. It's about the absence of a local culture that isn't geared toward hospitality and satisfying the tourist trade.

There's no solution to this. Venezia is not going to be turned around and made into something else. Without commercialized tourism, it's hard to see how the city could be maintained, and it's already staggering from the number of people who enter the city and spend very little.

Look, lots of foreigners enjoy Venezia in its present state. I encourage people not to mistake for living, breathing Italy, any more than they do Pompeii.

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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 02:27 PM
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To answer a question no one else has addressed: you spoke of extending your stay if you could afford it.

I suggest you extend your time in Rome. There is so much to see!! Most people who go for 3 or 4 days are very frustrated when they leave because of all the things they did not get to see. That includes me!
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