12 days in Italy

Apr 2nd, 2006, 03:00 AM
  #1  
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12 days in Italy

I have a few tentative itineries for 12 days of honeymooning in Italy. In the opinion of well travelled lovers of Italy, which seems best for first timers?

2 days Venice - 3 days Florence - 3 days driving in Tuscany/Umbria - 4 days Rome... or,

2 days Venice - 3 days Cinque Terre/Pisa/Lucca - 3 days Florence - 4 days Rome... or,

4 days Venice - 4 days Florence - 4 days Rome

As you can see I am starting in Venice and ending in Rome and the trip will be 24th August to 4 September.

I know these dates are not ideal for travelling Italy but I am hoping you guys can help me form the best plan.

What do we want to experience? Scenery first. Art/Mueseums second. (though we love both)

Please advise!
quinny is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 06:18 AM
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If you want scenery first and art museums second, 3 days in Florence -- when it is going to be hotter than frying pan -- is not likely to delight you. Umbria is also extremely hot and there is little reason to be there unless you want to tour the art towns.

I would suggest that you add a day to Venice, even though it will be hot, simply because you will need to get over your jet lag. Then head straight to the Cinque Terre via train (through Milano and Genova).

Spend a few days there. Take a train to Pisa a rent a car. Find a nice place to stay in Tuscany with a pool that is not too far from Firenze or Pisa. If you feel like it, go to Firenze. If you don't, visit small towns with nice churches. The morning you need to be in Rome, drive to Orvieto, drop off your car. See the beautiful cathedral. Take the train to Rome.
nessundorma is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 06:31 AM
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With only 12 days I would pick only 3 destinations. Yes, it will be hot.
My picks would be Venice, Tuscany & Rome.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 03:42 AM
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I don't want to repeat a discussion that nessundorma and I seem to have every 10 days, but I'd certainly skip the Cinque Terre - WAY to crowded in August and, for me at least, hell anytime during high season, not at all relaxing - and would include Umbria by all means.
I share nessundorma's advice to visit Florence only if you are avid art lovers, but I think we'll never agree on Umbria. Hot? No, it's not. Don't go to Lago Trasimeno, that's Umbria's only hot region, and a dull landscape, too, but go for the hills south of Assisi/Foligno, or go to the east, the gorgeous and (in Europe) unique mountain scenery around Piano Grande. The hills boast plenty of art, but are a delight also if you just prefer to drive around a little, relax, sip some great wine, take a coffee on any small main square of any small medieval town/village, watching a vivid yet peaceful town life hardly to be found anywhere else in Italy... Umbria is quite certainly the paradise of this not always paradisiac world, so don't miss it if you have the opportunity.
However, bobthenavigator has it right when he tells you to limit yourself to three locations, that's certainly the max. Two days for Venice is not enough, make it four, and then decide between Florence or Umbria, or between Umbria and Rome, cause as fascinating as Rome is, THIS is going to be the really hot place of your journey, just if you really happen not to like hot summers. Not like a frying pan, though, but rather like a Turkish hammam - Rome's summers can be, other than extremely hot, very humid.
franco is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 05:59 AM
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Ok, so this is where I am torn! I definately want Venice for 3 days and Rome for 4 days, so that leaves us with 5 days to spare.

Do I go with Nessundorma and take the train from Venice to Cinque Terre/Pisa area, or

Go with Franco and travel from Venice through to Umbria perhaps by car?

...and where does Florence fit in to all this? Do I need to visit the city for my first trip to Italy? Should I leave it for next time?

By the way, we are relatively heat resistant coming from Australia where it is almost always hot. However, on the down side Australia is not a crowded country so we are not that familiar with many people in a small land area.
quinny is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 06:12 AM
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Hi Quinny,

Here's my opinion. Areas like the Cinque Terre (and Amalfi Coast) have a LOT of people crammed into a small area during peak season = stressful and crowded.

Tuscany & Umbria have so many small towns and are so rural that even during peak season, they don't seem crowded. If it were me, I'd go to a very, very small town, do some day trips from there and enjoy "my" little town in the mornings and evenings without the day trippers..

I would save Florence for your next trip.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 06:36 AM
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...and if I were to choose, this little town would be Bevagna, no doubt.
franco is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 06:41 AM
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I agree with Dayle--find a small town and day trip. Bevagna is hard to beat for Umbria as is Spello. However, I do prefer south Tuscany--consider the Pienza/Montalcino area.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Wow! Should I really leave Florence out of my first Italian trip? Who else agrees given my situation? That is such a big call considering so many first timers to Italy would visit there. However, I am open to all suggestions.

Help fodorites!
quinny is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:04 AM
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ttt
quinny is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Quinny,

You can see lots of art and museums in Rome and Venice. I'm a great believer in mixing up a trip with a balance of cities and countryside for many reasons.

I stayed in Montalcino 3 nights and Spello 2 nights in Sept. Loved both!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Your posts are making sense to me Dayle. Thanks for your great advice!
quinny is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:37 AM
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Some folk on other sites seem to think I am robbing Florence and that it deserves a visit, even if it is just for one day on the way through to Tuscany/Umbria. True???
quinny is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:54 AM
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quinny,

Most of the advice you get will be from people who will want you to repeat the trip they took. It is a natural instinct and noble thing to share your pleasures with others, but it is real trap in giving travel advice. Most people going to Italy plan their trips with guidebooks that steer them to the same "must-sees" and "highlights" from a MONUMENTAL point of view. It stems from the idea that traveling to Europe should above all be about sightseeing and collecting "pictures", not about doing what interests you.

You said YOU like scenery more than you like art/museums. I suggest you listen to your inner traveler. Personally, I see no point in going to Firenze for a day in August.

franco,

the only reason I include Cinque Terre in OTHER people's itinineraries is that they say THEY want to go there.

Personally, I have no intention of ever setting food in Cinque Terre again in my life for all the reasons you mention. There are much nicer, less crowded, less touristy destinations along the mediterranean. CT has beautiful mountains, but it has been fairly ruined by overtourism.

That said -- (since you picked a fight ;-) ), Umbria is extremely hot in August -- not just Lake Trasimeno! -- and while you may adiore it, I think the food and views are far superior in other regions of Italy, even in neighboring Tuscany. Why avoid Firenze only to land yourself in Assisi, crammed with tourists, tour buses and trinket shops -- and it's all uphill in the August heat to boot! Of course the Piano Grande is unique --- but quinny is not going to be where he/she can easily find the way to it, since we are talking to first time travelers in Italy.

Since eventually quinny needs to be in Rome, and expressed a desire to see Cinque Terre, I would suggest a steady drift westward.

(quinny, if you don't mean to hike in the Cinque Terre, consider bedding down in someplace like Portovenere, Lerici, Santa Margherita Ligure or Levanto and taking a boat to see the towns, since being on the water might be cooling.)



nessundorma is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:59 AM
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ps, quinny,

if what you are hearing about the CT is discouraging you, I'm not advocating you go there at all. But were I to go to Umbria in August (and I wouldn't), I wouldn't pick Bevagna, which is on the flat plain. I'd pick an atmospheric hill town, like Spello, or an agriturismo with a pool.

Franco is going to kill me!
nessundorma is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:04 AM
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I've been to Florence and seeing the Uffizi and the Accademia was very high on my list. Everyone should see Michaelangelo's David. Just that it can wait for another trip - maybe an off season trip when heat and crowds are less....the quinny can see more scenery on this trip.
Dayle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:14 AM
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I think everybody who makes a statement like the above about how others should spend their precious travel hours and dollars should only do so if they are willing to pay for other people's vacations.

I've been to Italy almost a dozen times and logged hundreds of thousands of miles there. Maybe someday I'll go into the Accademia in Firenze to see Michaelangelo's David despite my total lack of interest in most of Michaelangelo's art work. But it certainly won't be in August. And I may never get around to it all. Six trips to Rome, and I've yet to see the Pieta.

Other people's "must sees" are rarely worth forcing yourself to see.



nessundorma is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:58 AM
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nessundorma, it's true that quinny said he wanted to see the CT - but... it's only half of the truth!! Just look at his first itinerary version: "3 days driving in Tuscany/Umbria", so I have as much reason to tell him about Umbria as you have about the CT, I guess.
And no, I'm not going to kill you. I'm simply telling you a story. I know that there is more beautiful scenery in Umbria than in Bevagna's immediate surroundings (after all, quinny wouldn't spend the whole day there). But the town itself is a splendid example of a walled medieval town (then, rather a city, today, rather a village). And above all, the life going on there makes it a heaven on earth - it's the people, nessundorma, not the landscape. And here is my story: Several years ago, I was in Bevagna not for a holiday, but for reasons of work (rather unpleasant, indeed, related to the earthquake that damaged Assisi's basilica). I popped into one of the local groceries to buy some of my favourite olive oil (Frantoio Nunzi, Cantalupo di Bevagna). The owner told me that he had his own olive grove, and was producing his own oil, too, bottling it only upon request; if I came back the other day, he'd prepare some for me. Well, due to my very tight working schedule, I had to leave early the next day and couldn't make use of the offer. The conversation I had about that oil took less than 10 minutes. They hadn't known me before at that grocery.
It took me some years to come back to Bevagna. The grocery was no more there, the owners off to their pension. But the olive grove, I supposed, should still be there. I asked what had become of the former grocery owner. People sent me to his home, a few steps away. I rang the bell. He opened the door, looked at me, and before I could explain what I wanted, he burst out: "I remember you. You're the one who is interested in olive oil."
Experiences like that are what I'm first of all traveling for, much as I love art and food (and wine, since we're talking about Umbria).
Btw, I agree about Assisi. Pilgrim crowds are even worth than tourist crowds, but there worst thing is a mixture of pilgrim AND tourist crowds. And yet, don't beat me: what Dayle said about Michelangelo's David in Florence is true for me about the S. Francesco basilica of Assisi. If anyone is interested in Europe's first highlights of medieval painting, that's the place to go. I don't speak of a "must" for everybody, but of a "must" for those who share this interest in medieval painting. And the rest of Assisi's sights is just great, as well. Of course, it's by far better seen in October, when the weather is still nice, and the crowds are mostly gone. In October, Assisi can be really pleasant, believe it or not. And quinny, remember that I didn't recommend you to go to Assisi in August - I was talking about the hills south of Assisi/Foligno...
franco is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Well, OK Franco -- and even if quinny didn't discuss Umbria, you were certainly free to bring it up.

But it's good you tell that story about the basis for your affection for Bevagna, because obviously such experiences are serendipity and can't be planned. I once had a co-worker insist to me I simply had to go to eat at a certain restaurant in Italy (it wasn't easy to get to). She told me it was fanstastic, the town was fantastic, the road to it was fantastic, etc. So I made a point of going there (it took a day out of my trip of hard driving on truck routes) and I discovered it was an awful tourist trap in a pilgrim town with very mediocre food, served up to such large numbers of people it arrived at my table almost cold.

I later asked her what she saw in the place and she told me that the day she was there, the entire restaurant was filled with touring soccer teams from Africa and China who were visiting Italy, and everybody ended up drinking and singing and hugging in tears from the sheer international brotherhood of it all. I remember her telling me "That's what travel is all about!" -- but what were my chances of duplicating that experience?

By the way, I hope you will visit Emmanuela Brizi at Frantoio Brizi in Montefalco the next time you are in that area. Have her show you the olive oil press in her basement (her family is still bottling oil there) and to relate the story of how why her grandfather built the house and where he stole the wood for it.

As for where to begin to understand the art of Italy, I say go first to the museum in Perugia.


nessundorma is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 11:22 AM
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Well, let's make the show go on:
This is NOT the basis for my affection to Bevagna, heaven, no. I had loved Bevagna long before! It's just ONE of numerous examples why it is so very pleasant there. Of course, you won't be able to repeat this or that certain experience (and I think we know each other well enough in the meantime that you don't suppose me to suppose you could). But there are places where experiences like that are more, or less likely to happen. Chances are minimal that you'd experience it in Munich. Or in Milano. Or in Vienna. Or in Paris. You can experience it in Venice, for example, but just if you are quite knowledgeable about the city. In Umbria, in the Marche inland, in Abruzzo inland, in northern Lazio, chances are simply much higher (strangely, much higher for example, than in southern Lazio, though that is a non-touristy region as well). And in Bevagna, chances are particularly high that you'll come home with "your" Bevagna story (and I've told you just one of mine - by no means the only one). Bevagna is just the perfect example of an unspoiled, happy, self-assured (but not arrogant) town where that specific Umbrian mix of urbanity and rurality seems to work even better than it does in most other Umbrian towns.
But of course, everyone is welcome not to believe me; paradises don't improve at all if too many people try to discover them, too.
franco is offline  

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