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10 day trip to Italy August-September, 2013

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 10:01 AM
  #1
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10 day trip to Italy August-September, 2013

We are two females who usually travel to a Caribbean island every year. We are celebrating two events this year (my friend has received her bachelors degree in nursing, and I am celebrating my 60th birthday). We want to plan a 10 day trip including Venice, Florence, and Rome. We initially thought about taking the safe route and going with a tour; after further consideration, we want to travel independently. We would like to start in Venice and end in Rome. Any advice on places to stay, train travel between destinations (is it feasible for us since we have never traveled in Europe?), places to eat (we are not into high end restaurants, just local authentic food and wine experiences), tour advice... Is it worth it to hire a travel consultant to assist with planning and reservations? Any advice from seasoned travelers to Italy would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch!
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Does your 10 days include travel time?
If not, I would do 4-2-4 and start in Venice.
If you only have 8 nights in Italy, I would pick 2 not 3.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 11:07 AM
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wow, rcd, at last, a poster who doesn't want to see the whole of Italy in a week. well done!

and well done to your friend for her graduation. it sounds like a great trip.

train travel is not only possible but it is the only sensible way to go between Venice and florence, and Florence and Rome. about 2 hours give or take for venice to Florence and 90 mins from florence to Rome. here's the link to the website:

www.trenitalia.com. you might also benefit from looking at www.seat61.com.

at this stage you should be looking for the main station in each city - Venezia SL [santa lucia], Firenze SM Novella and Roma Termini. once you have fixed your accommodation, it may turn out that there are better choices, but for now that will give you the idea.

to get from the airport in Venice [Marco Polo] there are various methods - the cheapest is with either of the 2 airport buses, which deposit you between 20-30 minutes later at the Piazzale Rome on the edge of Venice; from there you can walk or get a water bus [vaporetto]. Alternatively, you can catch the "alilaguna" which is a public ferry from the airport and runs to various places in Venice and the islands [there are several lines] which is more expensive, or you can get a water taxi, which is more expensive still.

which will work out best for you depends quite a bit on where in Venice you end up staying - what is your budget? once you've decided that you could look at trip advisor or booking.com to see which are the most popular hotels in your price -range. [that applies in Florence and Rome too!]. once you've got some ideas, come back here and I'm sure there will be suggestions aplenty!
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 11:19 AM
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You are awesomely smart women and seasoned travelers. There's a wealth of information available in books and on the internet, and since you don't have any unusual needs or concerns, I think you will be perfectly okay to plan the trip yourselves.

If you like package deals and not dealing with all the details yourselves, there are lots of packages available on the internet. We used go-today.com to book our trip. I have booked with them before and have had no issues.

We're taking a trip similar to the one you're planning (flying into Rome and out of Venice)--we have 4 nights in Rome, 3 in Florence, and 2 in Venice. In Rome, we're staying near Termini train station. But in both Florence and Venice, our hotels are more centrally located.

In our planning, we've used the internet (a lot)--this website, Chowhound, Trip Advisor, countless blogs like Elizabeth Minchilli's (food) and Katie Parla's (food) and RoninRome (everything Rome). I think the Rick Steves Italy guidebook is a good place to start. If you're a more visual person, he also has lots of videos available on youtube.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 11:25 AM
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We would like to start in Venice and end in Rome. Any advice on places to stay, train travel between destinations (is it feasible for us since we have never traveled in Europe?)>

Yes in Italy for sure since you are only going to major cities where cars are increasingly a liability and cannot be used often for driving in the city centers - the trains are fantastic and run very often - never a problem getting on them even just before the train IME.

ten days? I would spend no more than 3 days in Venice, including arrival day - Venice is small and what the average tourist wants to see can easily be done in 2 full days

oh more would be sweet but Florence and Rome especially have much more varied things to offer - spend 3-4 days in Florence or 4-5 days in Rome - you can do some kind of easy day trip from each city by train or bus to let you see something of Italay outside mecca tourist cities - like in Florence take a day trip to Pisa (seeing the Leaning Tower and climbing it has been one of my best travel memories in decades of European travel) or to one of the proverbial Tuscan hill towns - siena, a cheap and quick bus ride from Florence is my favorite

From Rome you can day trip to gems like Orvieto - another classic hill town or to Tivoli Gardens and Hadrian's Villa - all easily done by train and or bus.

anyway for lots of great info on the Italian train system I always spotlight these IMo fantastic sources - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. www.trenitalia.com has some discounted tickets if you want to lock yourself into a perhaps hard to change ticket weeks in advance (discounted tickets are sold in limited numbers and can sell out way in advance of the train - otherwise full fare tickets as you go along are always easy to buy at stations and give you flexibility to chose which trains to ride as you go along, not locking yourself into some nearly impossible to change often train booked weeks in advance.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 02:35 PM
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hi rcdrn.

You wrote:

"places to eat (we are not into high end restaurants, just local authentic food and wine experiences), "

That is a taller order to fill that you might suspect in Venice and Florence, which attract millions and millions of tourist per year and locals tend to retreat to the far corners or leave town altogether in August and September. If you do some searches on the Chownhound website and its Italy message board, you will see some recommendations for places for all 3 cities you are going to that fit your description -- although be aware that eating in Italy's tourist centers is more pricey than some people expect, especially if they add the requirement that the food be good.

Also be aware that all 3 destinations on your list are hot, muggy and Venice and Florence in particular have mosquito problems which make sleeping with windows open impossible -- and in Rome, noise makes it impossible. So air conditioning is really the way to go when it comes to choosing places to stay.

If you have the extra scratch, it can be nice to hire a travel consultant, but only if you are sure you can locate one who really knows the cities you are going to. In recent years, a huge number of internet blabbers have jumped into the "travel consultant" biz, and they are no more than repeat tourists who have never lived in these cities, don't speak Italian, know nothing about Italian wine or food, etc. They will sell you a printed itinerary. You would do better with a standard guidebook and your own research. People here can help you find websites for making museum reservations and how to realistically judge travel times between sights, and Chowhound is good for restaurants.

Booking.com is good for lodgings, with up-to-date user reviews. Man in Seat 61 is a train travel website that will walk you through everything you need to know about taking a train in Italy.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 11:20 AM
  #7
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Thanks for all the advice. We will be there a total of ten days, including travel time. We plan to arrive on Sunday Aug. 25 or Monday Aug. 26 (depending on when we can get the best airfare) and depart on Tues. Sept 3 or Wed. Sept. 4. A friend recommended starting in Rome and ending in Venice (getting the hustle and bustle out of the way first, and relaxing a little more at the end of the trip). Any thoughts? We are grateful for all ideas.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 01:27 PM
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Look at specfic flghts before you decide sequence. Many Vencie flights depart quite early---big hassle.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 03:37 PM
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If there is any way, squeeze in a couple of more days. If you are spending all that time and money to reach Italy, stay as long as possible.

It's usually better to fly into Venice and home from Rome because many Venice flights depart very early and often require a connection in Europe before heading to the states. Rome has more flights to the states so don't have such early departures. You can also check flights to Pisa and Florence (PSA, FLR) as I sometimes find deals for them. If you find a deal to one of them, you could stay there a few days, train to Venice for a few days and then train to Rome to finish your trip and fly home from Rome.

Cheapest flights are usually Tues/Wed/Thurs.

>>>Any advice on places to stay<<<

What is your budget per night? What amenities do you need?

>>>train travel between destinations <<<

It's easy to train between these three cities (and fast), but it's too early to book. Summer schedules won't be loaded until June. Once they are loaded and you know your itinerary, you can book online and get some discounts.

Most people on this board are DIY.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 07:23 PM
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I always allow a day or so in my arrival city to get over jet lag. Venice is perfect for that; wandering around in a daze is appropriate sightseeing there. And you don't need to worry about cars or vespas.

Florence is all about Renaissance art and architecture. If one of you is an aficionado, then more time there.

But in general I like 3-2-4 or 3-2-5. Lots to see in Rome.

The trip you describe is a pretty easy one, with the train between cities. You can pick up tours at your stops. For example, I highly recommend a tour of the Roman forum. Without a guide, it's just a jumble of marble chunks and broken columns.

As long as you're willing to do a little research, there's no need to get outside help. Other than here at Fodor's. And the research you do will enhance your experience.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 04:54 AM
  #11
 
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what ky and mimar have said.

three good reasons for starting in Venice and ending in Rome - Venice is a quiet[er] introduction to Italy, the departure flight times from Rome are usually better, and the shopping in Rome is great!
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Jan 4th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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I love that you provided a lot of information about your hopes for your trip. I agree with the advice to start in Venice and end in Rome for all the reasons stated. Touring Venice can be very relaxing and beautiful which helps with adjuctment and coping with jet lag.

You can definitely do this on your own. It is straightforward itinerary and it will be easy to get from place to place as long as you travel light.

I suggest staying in hotels in the center of each city, not near the train stations. This is esspecially true in Rome where the station is not convenient to the center city. In Venice and Florence, the centers are quite compact and not far from the train stations. If we have an idea of your hotel budget, we can be of more help.

Get a good guidebook and some good maps and plan your days. See how much you want to do in each city to figure out how to allocate your time. Our favorite is Florence so we would spend more time there but if you don't love the Renaissance and its art and architecture, you will allocate your days differently.

Happy planning and happy trip.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 07:30 AM
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If you can fit it in, I suggest a 1 night stop in Siena between Florence and Rome. One of our favorite places in Italy. We had a lovely private, and affordable, tour with a fun & charming guide - she will pick you up in Florence, take you on an adeventure on the Chianti Classico Road and drop you off in Siena. One day in Siena, then you can take an easy bus ride into Rome. Message me if you'd like details on the guide!

A nice and perfectly located B&B in Florence - http://www.ladimoradelcentro.it/. In the piazza della Repubblica, in the center of town. Enjoy!
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Jan 4th, 2013, 08:47 AM
  #14
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I think we would spend $200 to $250 per night for a decent hotel in a good location, i.e. close to transportation and major sites. (Does that seem doable?) It seems most hotels include a complementary breakfast buffet. A hotel with air conditioning (or course, in August and September) within walking distance to a good selection of restaurants/cafes, clean, helpful staff. Has anyone stayed at Hotel Britannia, Capo d'Africa, Palm Gallery, or Hotel Dioclenziano in Rome? That's the only city I've checked for hotels so far. Those hotels have received good reviews on Trip Advisor and seem to meet our needs. Thoughts? Thanks again for helping us. I love the willingness of fellow travelers to assist!
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Jan 4th, 2013, 08:55 AM
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Well, after reading a bit further, perhaps $200-$250 will not get us much. It's a once in a lifetime trip, so perhaps we will have to pay more...especially in Rome. Also, forgot to mention, we need two double beds.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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rcdrn,

would you mind posting links for any hotels you are considering?

that way we know exactly which ones you are talking about.

BTW, IMO Venice may prove more expensive than Rome, both for hotels and restaurants. Florence IME is somewhere in the middle. [literally and financially].
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Jan 4th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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Also, forgot to mention, we need two double beds.>>

you'll be lucky! unless you stick to chains that doesn't tend to exist in Italy, and it will certainly increase your accommodation costs. the vast majority of rooms are doubles or twins, with a few triples. [typically a double and a single].

you might be luckier with apartments, looking for once with 2 double bedrooms. They can be cheaper than hotels [but possibly not in this case, as a 2 bedroomed apartment would typically be for 4 people] and give you the opportunity to save money by eating in.

if this is a deal breaker, i should start looking at the Novotel and Hilton chains in each city.

good luck.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 11:03 AM
  #18
 
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Do it on your own. We found Italy simple to travel around, train from city to city, walking in the cities since so much is close.
Hotel casci in Florence is perfect location, large rooms, great breakfast and very friendly helpful family business. Check their website, they even got us museum tickets ahead too. PERFECT.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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It's unlikely you will find two double beds in most hotel rooms in Europe. It's more likely you would get two single beds.

Usually there are some discounted prices in August for the cities as that's when most people leave town for vacation. These two are in good locations, but you would have to check prices (Aug. should be low, but Sept.is high season):
http://www.albergodelsenato.it/
http://www.raphaelhotel.com/index.html
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Jan 4th, 2013, 12:22 PM
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We stayed at Hotel Accademia in Florence - nice location, quite central and just a couple of blocks from the train station. In Venice, we've stayed on the Lido and also right on the grand canal....just choose a place that is clean, quiet and has good guest ratings! I use venere.com for any hotel that is not part of a major chain. Have had great results.
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