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senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 12:14 PM

19 Days in Italy
We are going back to Italy this summer - 19 days on the ground. Since this is not our first visit and we have seen most of the "don't miss" sites - we will be spending less time in some of the major cities - Rome, Venice and Florence - hitting the things we missed last time. Here is our (very) rough itinerary
Land in Milan - first train to Venice
Venice (Murano, Burano, Doge's palace) 2 nights
Rome (Vatican again, Ostia Antica, Borghese gallery) 2 nights
Florence (Ufizzi) 1 night
Sorrento (day trips to Naples and Pompeii) 2 nights
Luca (day trip to Pisa and undecided hill town) 2/3 nights
Cinque Terra (vacation from our vacation -could spend all 19 days here) 3 nights
Milan (Duomo, Last Supper and last minute gift shoping) 1 night
Fly home from Milan
As you can see, we still have 5 or 6 days to play around with - we considered heading up to the Swiss Alps for a few days - or finding a new Italian location - any ideas or suggestions?

DavefromCA Apr 20th, 2010 12:22 PM

I would probably extend my stay in Lucca and Sorrento and add Como, or one of the lake towns, to your itinerary.

The hill towns around Lucca are gorgeous and the wine, of course, is fantastic.

yestravel Apr 20th, 2010 12:45 PM

There's so much to see in NItaly -- Verona, Padua, Vicenza, Bologna & Ravenna (a bit south) to name just a few towns worth visits. You're really zigzagging all over the country. How r u travelling? I don't think u r spending enough time anywhere so u could easily add the days to some of your planned stays.

zeppole Apr 20th, 2010 12:45 PM

If you could spend all your 19 days in le Cinque Terre, why not give yourself a good deal more of what you really want instead of what otherwise sounds like a very dutiful and boring tourist itinerary, especially in the heat of summer?

Unless you have a major lifelong interest in Venetian craft and history, plus classic Italian painting, I cannot see the point of trekking to muggy, hot and tourist-jammed Venice and Florence to see the sights on your checklist.

I personally adore Naples, Pompeii and Ostia Antica, so I never tire of them, so for me they would stay on the list.

Are you planning on renting a car? If so, instead of staying in le Cinque Terre, get a week long rental in the coastal area, with a parking space (I would look around the town of Lerici), and visit Lucca and Pisa from there as daytrips, plus your other Tuscan hilltown. Maybe you would most enjoy some place unusual and fascinating like Barga, or Volterra gets fewer tourists (just a bit fewer than San Gimignano). Buy wine in muggy Lucca and bring it back to the cool seaside to drink at night.

This place looks nice:

This place looks nice too

From there, I would head to Milan to drop of that car and whatever you want to do, and then head on up into Switzerland by train. In summer, it will be lovely and cool.

So I suggest that:

If you haven't already bought your tickets, fly into Rome. If you really want to see the Uffizi in Florence, do it as a day trip from Rome. Extend your time in the Rome/Sorrento area, then take a train to Pisa, pick up the car there and head to the Ligurian coast. Spend a week there. You can even day trip to Parma if you can stand the heat, but see Lucca and some of the hills above Lucca. Finally, head to Milan, drop off car, see what you want, take train to Swiss Alps.

Have fun whatever you do!

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 12:50 PM

In Lucca(fixed my typo)would you use Pisa or Lucca as your base? Any particular hill towns that make good day trips? Rent a car or bus for day trips? I hear trains don't really hit some of the small towns in this area.

zeppole Apr 20th, 2010 01:03 PM

If you use Lucca as a base, with or without a car, you need to find accommodations that are not a long walk to either the train station or where you park your car.

Pisa is much less atmospheric than Lucca, but it is also far less tourist-driven, if that matters to you.

If you are willing to rent a car, you would do much better to stay in the countryside with a pool, at a place with a restaurant on site, in summer. There are no end of such places in that part of Tuscany.

As I posted above, rather than stay in the Tuscan interior, I would rather stay by the beach with a car. You can easily visit places like Lucca with a car, but not get stuck in a hot, muggy walled town all the time. If you do go for a hotel in a Tuscan city, you might want to have air conditioning.

I also wanted to add that if you wanted to rent an apartment in le Cinque Terre for a week, there are lots of choices. This is a pretty one, and quiet (provided you can climb stairs).

For le Cinque Terre, it's not advisable to have a car. Best to visit it by train and boat. But otherwise, if you want to see the countryside around Lucca and Pisa, it's better to have a car.

You can use this website to search specifically for accommodations with a restaurant and pool in the area of Lucca or Pisa:

cathies Apr 20th, 2010 01:17 PM

I think there is too much moving around and not enough time anywhere. Your own suggestion is the right one - just add those 5-6 days to what you have already planned. I agree with Zeppole, as much as I love Venice, I wouldn't go there just to dash around to see the 3 sites you have mentioned.

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 01:34 PM

We're not really zig zagging - we start in Milan and do a big clockwise circle ending back in Milan. The sites mentioned are not the only things we will do in the cities listed - obviously we wouldn't go to Florence for just one museum. We will spend one day in Venice exploring the other islands and another trying to get lost in the back alleyways and hidden piazzas. And obviously we wouldn't spend 19 days in the Cinque Terre - it's just our favorite place - it's called hyperbole.
Thanks Dave for your suggestions - Sorrento sounds wonderful and we missed it last time - any suggestions regarding that area? We were thinking about a day to explore Naples (archeological museum and pizza of course), a day in Pompeii, and then . . .? Would love to hear suggestions for the area.

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 01:39 PM

Thanks for your Pisa/Lucca suggestions, Zeppole. A car sounds like a great idea - I hear some of the hill towns are easier to reach that way. I think Lucca will be our base for that portion of the trip - I hear the rest of Pisa is very nice - but last time we only saw the touristy area around the tower. We are returning because the tower was closed to climbers last time we were there and the climbing can easily be done as a quick drive from our base. Any particular hill towns that should not be missed?

kybourbon Apr 20th, 2010 01:41 PM

Too many one and two nighters which can be tiring.

I would dump the night in Florence and add it to Lucca (although I'm not a fan of Lucca). Visit Florence from Lucca. It will let you avoid at least one hotel change.

Two nights on the Amalfi Coast is simply not enough. It will take 5+ hours just to reach it from Florence whether by train or car.

I think I would:
Arrive Milan, train to Venice - 2 nights
Train to Naples/Sorrento - 3-4 nights (Venice/Naples is 5 1/2 hours, but will let you avoid a bit of backtracking)
Train to Rome - 3 nights
Train to Lucca - 3-4 nights (day trips Florence/Pisa)
Train to CT - 3 nights
Train to Milan - 1 night

Exactly how many nights do you have?

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 01:55 PM

We have 19 days - and I like your suggestions Kybourban - You win the Gold Star today - didn't think about Florence as a day trip. We don't mind one nighters - we travel very lightly - but you had some great suggestions - See the same amount but less time traveling - what are you doing the first three weeks in June? :o) We still have two days to play with and I would really like some suggestions for hilltowns in the Pisa/Lucca area. Thanks everyone for the help!

alihutch Apr 20th, 2010 02:03 PM

Spend some time on Lake Como.....some info here....

zeppole Apr 20th, 2010 02:18 PM

Like kybourbon, I'm not a fan of Lucca, so I'd do Florence as a daytrip from Rome, not Lucca, so I'd add the extra time to Rome for that. I also wouldn't bother to climb the leaning tower of Pisa. I actually thought you meant it when you said you wanted a vacation from all that sightseeing to enjoy on the Riviera! I never think 19 days is too much for that.

Any standard guidebook can tell you about the popular hilltowns near Lucca and Pisa and which ones are reachable by bus if you don't want to rent a car.

johanna Apr 20th, 2010 02:19 PM

Hi Senorarroz: We had a car and flew into Pisa. I like it because it is an easy airport to get in and out. We drove to La Spezia and stayed there for several days. Parked the car and just took the train back and forth each day between the Cinque Terre. Drove and stayed in Chioggia on the water,and again, parked the car in the garage; took the bus to Venice and back for a day trip (a 1 hr trip each way) another day we took the bus to Padua for the day. Also visted Lucca and Volterra as day trips as well as Florence.We visited many beautiful towns along the water that were so charming. I also liked Santa Margherita. I loved Asissi too. We went in
October and only had reservations our first nights and our last night before returning to US.
Hope this is helpful.

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 02:33 PM

I have read what guidebooks say about the hill towns - Rick Steves does a good job explaining about them - just wanted to hear a non professional's opinion - San Gimignano, Volterra, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Cortona, Urbino, Orvieto, Civita? - too many to see - even if we spent the whole 19 days in the area. Would love to know if any "regular folks" have an opinion that differs from the guidebooks.
We don't necessarily want to avoid touristy things - we we're very disappointed the tower was closed and definitely want to climb it. Our return to the Cinque is a reward after the busy three weeks -but we still want to fit as much as possible into that three weeks.

zeppole Apr 20th, 2010 02:38 PM


You said in your response that "obviously" you aren't only going to do the things you mentioned in the cities you named -- like, you aren't "only" going to the Doge's palace, Burano and Murano during your 2 nights in Venice, and you aren't "only" going to the Uffizi for your one night in Florence, but I don't see how you are going to have time to do much else given how little time you are spending there and the time it takes to travel to those places, and the size of them. I rather fear you will be heading back again to Venice or Florence on future trips to play "catch-up" with b-list tourist chores.

Also, you seem to keep missing that people are in fact giving you suggestions for hilltowns and day trips in their responses. If you enjoy making sure you've seen all the famous destinations, they are in every guidebook.

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 02:39 PM

Thanks johanna - sounds like we have similar travel philosphies - we will have Milan reservations in place and wing it the rest of the time - if we want to stay longer we can - if we get bored (how can that happen in Italy?) we move on. Don't mean to plug Rick again on a Fodors site - but his hotel reccomendations have never let us down or left us without a hotel. Any opinions on particular hill towns? Thanks again for your advice. Also, I'd love to hear more about Chioggia and Santa Margherita.

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 02:53 PM

zeppole - chill out - last time I checked, travel was about enjoyment - you mentioned Barga and Volterra and johanna mentioned two hilltowns as well - after I had asked for recommendations - just wanting to know which towns people enjoyed the most so I could compare it with what I have read in guidebooks. I have recieved many great suggestions and have thanked people for their input - even you. I am aware of the distance and times between these cities and appreciate all the suggestions but I don't appreciate the chip on your shoulder. Can't we all just get along?
So . . . thanks to all of you for your help - johanna, kybourbon, DavefromCA, and alihutch - I appreciate all your suggestions - I even appreciate your suggestions and links zeppole - but you really need to relax - this should be a friendly forum.

fmpden Apr 20th, 2010 03:23 PM

Why not fly into Milan and home from Rome and save the back tracking?

senorarroz Apr 20th, 2010 03:31 PM

I'm all for open jaw flights - last time we flew into London and out of Milan 28 days later - couldn't really find a good price for Milan/Rome route at the time - we also had thought about heading into the alps before flying home and then changed our minds - good idea though - thanks!

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