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nomadder Jan 25th, 2014 07:35 AM

11 day itinerary for Rome-Florence-Siena-Venice
Thanks to all for advice on my last posted topic. I found direct flights into Rome and out of Venice. Great time saver. I chose to end in Venice for a more relaxed end to my vacation and because the flight offered out of Venice is at 11:45 and not one of those dreadful early morning flights.

Now I'm working on my hotel planning. The change in flight plans has added an extra day to my trip, and I'd like a few pointers on how to allocate my days, particularly between Rome and Florence. I'm curious about the charms of Siena so I'm think of doing a day trip. Regarding Siena, I am most interested in strolling around and enjoying nice scenery -- I can hit any must see places as necessary. Staying a night is a consideration, but only if it would be easier.

Option 1: Bus in a.m. on Day 5 from Rome to Siena (3.5 hours? and a little long for my liking), where I can then spend a night and the next day, and then take a bus to Florence in the late afternoon. The length of the bus trip does not appeal to me. Alternatively, if I take train to Florence from Rome as in option 2, then I can cut maybe 1.5 hours from the Rome-Siena bus trip, which will all average out later with bus trips between Florence-Siena.

Option 2: Train from Rome to Florence and do a day trip at some point during my Florence stay to Siena. This has potential since I don't want to overdose on museums and if I can take a late evening bus from Siena back to Florence.

Option 3: Train from Rome to Florence. While in Florence, take bus to Siena and spend a night and back to Florence for another day before taking train to Venice. Seems a little inconvenient due to hotel changes.

So far, option 2 is in the lead since it cuts out one hotel change.

Day 1 (Monday): Arrive in Rome by 8:00 a.m.
Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Rome
Day 4: Rome
**Day 5 (Friday): Rome to Siena or Rome to Florence?
Day 6 (Sat.):Florence
Day 7 (Sun.): Florence
Day 8 (Mon.): Florence
Day 9: Venice (Train from Florence in a.m.)
Day 10: Venice
Day 11: Venice
Day 12: leave for home

My main question is how to allocate days between Rome and Florence and what to do with Siena. In Rome, I'll likely do one day for Vatican, likely another day for Coloseum/Forum/Pantheon or I'll wonder if I'm missing out on this stuff, then need to see Borghese gallery and explore some interested neighborhoods and catacombs on another day(s). I'm still researching other things to do in Rome and the different catacombs and whether I would have any interest in short trip to either Tivoli (probably not) or Ostia Antica. My trip starts in the last week of March.

I'm not sure if I have too much time allocated to Florence or not. I plan on hitting main art galleries in Florence, particularly for paintings and great sculptures, and then having a little time to relax. I'm aware that Uffizi and some other sites are not open on Monday in Florence as well. Not yet sure about limitations that certain days may have in Siena, other then possibly less frequent buses on the weekends.

Any pointers?

bobthenavigator Jan 25th, 2014 09:00 AM

I like it---nice trip.
Yes, train to Florence and see Siena as a day trip, by bus.
I am glad you gave Venice 3 days--it deserves it.
Have fun !

Jean Jan 25th, 2014 09:11 AM

The "problem" with both Rome and Florence is that there is so much to see. Only you can prioritize what's more important to you, so "how to allocate days" is your call. Get comfortable with the idea that you don't have enough time on this trip in either place to see everything.

But Florence in particular is tricky. Museum closures are not confined to Mondays. Some are closed every Monday, some on alternate Mondays, alternate Sundays or every Sunday. I suggest you make a list of your priorities and search the open/closed days and hours. Then draw a chart to help you figure out what you'll be able to see and when.

Whether you'll have time for a day trip to Siena is (again) your call. Siena can be an interesting break from Florence (it's more medieval than Renaissance), but IMO it's not a charming, small Tuscan town anymore if that's what you are envisioning. If you think you'll return to Italy in the future to tour Tuscany and/or Umbria, you might leave Siena for that trip.

adrienne Jan 25th, 2014 09:12 AM

I agree to visit Siena as a day trip from Florence. Otherwise, your itinerary looks good.

kybourbon Jan 25th, 2014 09:34 AM

While you can easily day trip by bus from Florence to Siena, it would also be easy to spend a night in Siena on your way to Florence. I usually don't suggest one night stays, but taking the bus from Rome to Siena (bus is better than the train which requires changes), it would give you some views of the Tuscan countryside and a town not so large as your other choices.

Sena operates about 10 buses per day between Rome/Siena (about 20€ one way). It drops you at the edge of the historic center.

You would use the Sita buses between Siena/Florence.

Another option, if you wanted a hill town overnight smaller than Siena, would be take the train from Rome to Orvieto (7-8€), spend the night, explore the town and take the train onto Florence the next day.

kybourbon Jan 25th, 2014 09:48 AM

Sorry, I didn't read the options, only your itinerary. The bus is between Rome/Siena is a tour type bus and comfortable. Your luggage goes underneath. Travel time is 2:40, not 3 1/2 (you want the Piazza Gramsci stop).

Option 1 - Travel time 2:40 (Rome/Siena) + 1:15 (Siena/Florence) 3:55 total.

Option 2 - 1:5 (Rome/Florence), 2:3 (Florence/Siena/Florence )
3.8 total.

Option 3 - Doesn't make sense and wastes time (checking in/out of Florence hotels twice).

nomadder Jan 25th, 2014 10:16 AM

Good advice. Okay, if I do Siena then I will stick to day trip from Florence -- that is, if I do Siena at all. I was up in the air about it and yes, Jean, I am looking for a taste of a charming, small and colorful Tuscan town and fear being underwhelmed by Siena. For now I'll go with:

Day 1: Arrive in Rome by 8:00 a.m.
Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Rome
Day 4: Rome
Day 5: train from Rome to Florence
Day 6 (Sat.):Florence
Day 7 (Sun.): Florence
Day 8 (Mon.): Florence
Day 9: Venice (Train from Florence in a.m.)
Day 10: Venice
Day 11: Venice
Day 12: leave for home

So as I research I'll consider 4 nights Rome, 4 nights Florence, 3 nights Venice. Seems like quite a bit of time in Florence, but I'll see if I leave it like that with an open option for day trip or add a 5th day to Rome.

bvlenci Jan 25th, 2014 10:45 AM

I feel as though I could give you better advice about how to split your time between Rome and Florence if I knew some more about your interests.

I may be wrong, but I got the impression that you're not a very great art lover and have thrown in some museums because you've read that they're "must-sees". I think the Uffizi, in particular, is probably a big disappointment to a lot of people who are not already great enthusiasts of Italian Renaissance painting, with a heavy religious focus. It's huge and not very varied in its collection. For people who are passionate about the painters of this period, it's paradise, but I've read descriptions on travel forums that said it was just an endless parade of Madonnas with Child, and I can see how it might seem that way.

If you really are passionate about this type of art, one visit wouldn't be enough. My daughter and I spent 7 hours there last year, spread over two days, and still had to skip some things we had hoped to see.

There are plenty of other places in Florence to get a wonderful introduction to Renaissance art, without spending hours in the Uffizi Gallery.

In Rome, there are more than a dozen world-class art museums, but it seems the Borghese Gallery has become the favorite of the must-see lists. It's certainly not my favorite, although I go there once every few years to see special exhibits and always take the time to see the permanent collection. I can't really suggest a good alternative without knowing what kind of art you prefer, but the Borghese Gallery is very strong in sculpture, especially of the Baroque period, and specifically by Bernini, who is not a big favorite of mine, which may explain my ambivalence about the gallery.

On the other hand, you could easily fill a week in Rome without ever entering an art museum, so if you're not an art lover, I would suggest that you consider some of the other activities and sights there. Florence is much more an art city, and much smaller than Rome, so if you don't swoon over art, you could probably "see" the city in a day or two.

nomadder Jan 25th, 2014 12:43 PM

Thanks bvlenci. I am very interested in art but am not fluent in art history. I just enjoy the pretty pictures. I enjoy art from High renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism, Impressionism and post-impressionism. Just to give you an idea of my tastes - Rembrandt, Vermeer and the other Dutch greats, the Flemish greats, Goya, Caravaggio, some Titian, Casper David Friedrich, some El Greco, Degas, Sargent. I like a little Early Renaissance but not as much as other periods. 19th century, including Romanticism, and Baroque are probably my favorite periods.

I am also still looking into what else I want to do in Rome. Just booked a hotel for now near Piazza Navona but can change location.

Jean Jan 25th, 2014 01:03 PM

It's possible to go to the Uffizi and only pause in the galleries/rooms that interest you. If you buy entry tickets in advance and have a plan for your visit, it can be a relatively quick tour.

At the link below, click on "Virtual Tour," then click on
"Visit the Museum and "Select a Room" for a drop-down menu. (Note there are two floors (Primo and Secundo Piano.) Click on a particular room and view photos of the works displayed there. You can pick and choose the rooms that appeal and skip the others. Of course, no guarantees that you won't be distracted by treasures not on your list.

For sculpture in Florence, add the Bargello to your list.

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