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1st timer- Help me plan a romantic getaway to Italy

1st timer- Help me plan a romantic getaway to Italy

May 23rd, 2007, 07:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7
1st timer- Help me plan a romantic getaway to Italy

Hi- First time poster here. My girlfriend has put me in charge of planning our trip. Lucky me for a procrastinator and non planner. She has planned all of our previous trips. She has used Fodors and I am trying to do this right. I have chosen Italy. I am not sure where to start. We will have two and half weeks for our trip beginning the first of October. If anyone can offer advice on where to, what to see, restaurants. I am not wanting anyone to do this for me by any means, but guidance will be greatly appreciated. We love to sightsee, she loves photography and art, we love great food, and entertainment. We are catholic. Traveling around and spending our time in multiple cities is my objective. Like I said thank you in advance for any help. I am overwhelmed and in over my head. I just want this to be a great trip for her. She deserves it.

Best Regards,
nick1jr is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
Glad to help if we can. Here is one idea for your trip - fly into Florence and stay there for a few days; soak up the atmosphere, museums, churches, etc. Pick up a rental car and drive down thru tuscany - stay in or near sienna, montalcino, etc. Relax, tour wineries, Sant Antimo monastery. Great food and it will be harvest season at the vineyards. Drive back to florence, drop the car and take the train to venice - end your trip here as its magical. Again, many churches and museums to see, cruise the grand canal, stroll St Mark's square, have dinner and/or drinks overlooking the grand canal. Another option would be to do the 'big three' - rome, florence and venice; take trains between each. Don't know your hotel budget but if its on the high, low or mid points but there are plenty of recommendations on this board for all price ranges. Book early since October is still high season in Italy - do an open jaw ticket, buy a couple of guide books and have a blast. We did Rome our first trip, Florence/venice our second and will go back for another 2 weeks this september to do venice, verona, bolzano, lake garda and milan. once you set up the framework, I know people will jump in with advice on hotels and rstaurants quickly. enjoy!
cmeyer54 is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 703
I totally agree with the poster above. Spend at least 3-4 full days in Florence. Rent the car...I'd recommend staying in Montepulciano and take side trips to Montalcino, Pienza, Cortona... simply driving through the Tuscany area is breathtaking...definitely visit the church San Biagio and the Sant Antimo monestery...timing your visit to hear the Gregorian chants by the monks. I too agree that ending your trip in Venice for no less than 2 full days would be lovely.
caroltis is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 08:47 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4
Hi Nick...been to Italy twice with my husband. We loved it, had great trips and lots of fun.
1st trip: Arrived in Milan, destined for Lago Magiorre. Our check in was later in the day so we putzed around Milan for the morning. Went to try to see the Last Supper, but didn't make it in...then off to the Duomo. Surely there is tons to see, but we then started our drive to the Lake. We arrived in Luino and stayed in a fabulous small hotel. Were there a couple of days, from there, we drove across to Venice and spent just two nights. Drove back across stopping in a small town called Soave and visited an amazing castle, then to Verona, headed south to Prato, Tuscany. We stayed in a beautiful villa for 3 nights. From there we did side trips to Florence and Pisa. Then headed south all the way to the Amalfi Coast/Naples & stayed in Ravello for 3 nights. From there north to Rome for 3 nights. We rented a car and loved having it for our entire trip.

Second trip: Flew in to Milan, drove to Lake Como and stayed in a small hotel in a tiny fishing village, just behind Bellagio. Then off to The Dolomites (Castelrotto) which we absolutely loved. We found a wonderful hotel and would stay there again in a heartbeat...then South to Bolzano and visited the famous Ice Man at the museum. From there 2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Bologna with a side trip to the east coast. From there to a small town Buonoconvento in Tuscany and we took side trips to San Gimignano and Siena. Then south to Rome again.

I know this is vague, but if you'd like any details feel free to write me at my email address.

By the way, Oct. is a wonderful time to visit. Weather should be great. There is so-so much to see and do. Every minute is a picture waiting to happen. You'll absolutely love it. Be sure you have comfy walking shoes as that's all you'll do, walk, walk, walk... Hope this little bit of info helps at least a tiny bit.
Bubbao is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 02:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2
October is a brilliant time mate! The weather is nice but not overbearing. I would concentrate your time in Tuscany, just because seeing Italy involves a lot of travelling, and that's not exactly Romantic...I guess you'll just want to spend quiet times together. Tuscany has everything you could want, beaches, mountains, cities, museums, shopping, restaurants etc etc. Seeing Pisa should only take a few hours at the most, the main piazza has the tower and the cathedral. You should dedicate a few days to Florence, it's absolutely beautiful, but for me, the Tuscan countryside is just idyliic, book a villa through www.agriturismo.net (thats who I use) and they're always really helpful, plus they have a really good selection to choose from.
Any other questions, let me know!
J_P is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 02:49 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 3
For a romantic couple of days, I don't think you can beat Cinque Terre (see http://www.cinqueterre.it/en/index.asp). Postcard-perfect little villages nestled in the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Hike from one village to another. Not really a lot to do except enjoy the ambience, but that it's got in abundance.

-- Paul (ex-pat living near Zurich)
pgschreier is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 02:49 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 784
Lovely suggestions.I think the " romantic " hotels in Southern Italy on the Amalfi coast might be getting ready to close for the season at that time but if not and your budget allows try the St.Pietro at Positano for a few days. Really lovely and very romantic views across the sea from your bed , lovely food ( breakfast and dinner included in tariff).
JohnFitz is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7
Thank you all! This gives me direction to start the intitial planning.

Regarding hotels we are looking at average priced. We have splurged on previous trips and found that we are only there to sleep and shower. looking back I would have rather spent my time on a fine bottle of wine or more meaningful things.

Again, GRAZIE!

Best Regards,

nick1jr is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 05:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,520
Nick, Stay big picture for now or you will go crazy. It takes 3 trips like yours to see Italy so go ahead and plan 3 trips in advance--this one is just the first. Here are some sample itineraries to give you a start:
After 23 trips to southern Europe, and having developed more than 180 customized TRIP PLANS for others, I am now older and hopefully wiser. Here is an updated version of my favorite itineraries & my “Bella Italia” photo gallery. I hope you enjoy.

1. BELLA ITALIA: Five destinations in 15 days—car & train travel
* Arrive in Milan[MXP] & depart from Venice[VCE]or vice versa.
* Itinerary to include the Italian Lakes, Ligurian coast, rural
Tuscany, Florence, & Venice. Suggested timing is 3-2-4-2-4.
* Option: Drop the coast & rent a villa in Tuscany[ 3-7-2-3].
* Best time to go: May & June or Sept. & Oct.

2. LA DOLCE VITA: Three destinations in 12 to 14 days-car & train
* Arrival & departure from Rome[ FCO] or arrival in Naples
* Itinerary to include Rome, the Amalfi coast, and Tuscany
* Best time to go: Easter to end of October
* Option: Fly into Naples & stay at 2 locations on the coast

3. CLASSIC ITALIA: Three destinations in 12 to 14 days-car & train
* Arrival & departure from Rome—may start trip in Florence
* Destinations to include Florence, Rome & Tuscany/Umbria
* Best time to go: Anytime, but May & Oct. are my favorites
* Option: Consider a weekly rental in Tuscany/Umbria

4. SICILIAN CHARMS: Five destinations in 15 days—car travel
* Connections to Catania & Palermo via Rome or gateway city.
* Itinerary to include Taormina, Siracusa, Palermo & more.
* Best time to go: March to November—May is best for flowers
* See: http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/tripreport.asp?tripid=634

5. THE VILLAGE SAMPLER: My favorite venues for those who enjoy natural beauty and quaint, small villages. Arranged north to south.
* Arrive Milan & depart Rome—car travel-- 3 nites per location
* Itinerary to include Lago Orta, Castelrotto/ Ortisei[Dolomites],
Portovenere[Liguria], Montalcino[Tuscany], & Spello[Umbria].
* Best time to go: May to October for the lakes and Dolomites
* Option: Pick 3 out of 5 and stay longer in Tuscany/Umbria.

bobthenavigator is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 05:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
I love Italy in October and vote for Tuscany.

I did not find the CT to be the least bit romantic and would say that this is place more for hikers and perhaps folks that are looking for a quiter (and Rick Steeves) experience.

For art, food, wine and entertainment options, I would suggest larger cities with daytrips to other spots.

If it is your first trip I would suggest you do the big three. I am taking friends who have not been before (I have been fortunate to have visited Italy more than a dozen times so far) and this is what I planned for our fall trip this year:

Arrive Venice, 2 nights (you should stay 3 or 4, I just do not care for the city but many love it)

Florence 6 nights with 2 day trips out of the city (we are doing wine tours as this is harvest time)

Rome 4 nights (I wish we had 5).

For hotels, I can also make some recommedations if you'd like on where I have stayed that I found to be especially romantic but a price range would help.

Italy is fabulous and October is perfect for a visit!
kfusto is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
If you go into Florence, we stayed at hotel accademia - well priced, nice rooms, large enough and location was excellent. we walked everywhere - within blocks of the accademia, medici chapels, uffizi, duomo, etc. Its on via faenza and has a website if you want to look it up. In montalcino, we chose to stay at an agristourismo - La Crociona. The hosts are wonderful and since its a working vineyard, the tasting room is literally out your back door. Its a few KM outside of the village but with a map and neverlost, you'll be able to visit many wineries with ease. The enoteca in Montalcino is famous and after spending a few hours there and more than a 'few' euros, we can see why! In Venice, we stayed out on the Lido but those places may be closed by late October. I don't have a recommendation for you there but many others will. If you have any hotel points, perhaps you can use them as well. Since we'll be travelling sans children this next trip, we're spluring in Venice on the westin excelsior for three nights.
cmeyer54 is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 02:32 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7
Wow, I appreciate everyone's input!!!! I am trying to refocus now as I did not expect all these great ideas. I was thinking of planning to spend around $175 for a room. I guess that is average??? I am quite clueless on any of this planning.

Again Thank you all!

Best Regards,
nick1jr is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
Nick, 175 US is less than 130 Euro so that would be below average in most places. October is a big convention month in Italy and I made my hotel reservations 6 months ago.

We are paying 250 Euro in Venice (A La Commedia), 140 Euro in Florence (Residenza Michelangelio) and 250 Euro in Rome (Sofitel).

You can most certainly pay less for a nice 3 star or B&B but those go fast so you need to start looking around.

I suggest you consider:

Arco Del Lauro in Rome

Alloro B&B in Florence (or where we are staying, looks lovely and gets raves on Trip Advisor)

Cannot help with Venice but there are lots of posters that can.

You can travel 2nd class trains and book when in Italy. Metro in Rome is good and buses and trains from Florence for daytrips are easy and excellent.
kfusto is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,420
Here are a couple places I have stayed that are not too expensive - I will give you the links so you can check the current prices yourself, since it's been two years since my last trip...

In Rome, this is a poular, small, friendly, contemporary (decor, not building!!) B&B located near the Forum:

The owners speak fluent English among other languages (wife is American) and are super helpful and nice.

In Venice I loved this place:
Small, charming, elegant rooms but not the least stuffy (you walk through the kitchen to have breakfast on the back deck - weather permitting - overlooking neighboring rooftops)and gracious Venetian hosts (it is their family home).

Also liked this place in Venice, which was a little cheaper:
Ca'Turelli B&B. Access it through www.veniceby.com. Look under B&Bs.

Small, clean, friendly, quiet but convenient Dorsoduro location.

In addition to the great suggestions here already (and for a first trip and the time of year you are choosing, I agree that the Venice, Florence & Tuscany hilltowns, and then Rome itinerary makes sense)consider Bologna, since you mention that you love food and it is considered a "foodie" mecca.

(I still have not made it to Bologna but plan to!!)

Also, since you mention being Catholic, don't miss Asissi. Besides the famous Basilica with its gorgeous artwork and the tomb of St Francis, you can hike up the trail (or drive on the road) to the hermitage where there is a Franciscan church with friendly friars, the tiny rooms where St Francis lived and prayed, and the tinier caves where he and other brothers meditated. A very mystical and spiritual place, whether you are religious or not.

I am one of those who also like Milan, although I was only there a couple of days, so if you fly in and out of Milan, the Duomo is amazing and if you make reservations you can see da Vinci's Last Supper, among other things...

annabelle2 is offline  
May 24th, 2007, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,707
>I am overwhelmed and in over my head.<

All the more reason why you should focus in on one of Bobthenavigator's sample itineraries.

Take #3 for instance. Use it as a framework to develop detail. You could easily add Venice to it. Ask for Bob's guidance - you'll be happy you did...
TuckH is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,520
Set your itineary and dates first, then start to shop for hotels. That part is easy.
bobthenavigator is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,349
I did 17 nights in Italy a year and a half ago, and my itinerary worked out very well:
Fly into Venice, 4 nights
Train to Florence, 3 nights
Driver to Siena, 2 nights
Driver to Pienza, 3 nights
Driver to Orvieto, spent a couple of hours there, then train to Rome, 5 nights there.

To move a little less, you could pick one place in Tuscany instead of two, especially if you have a car.
For more details, here's my trip report:

Have a great trip!
SusanP is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 38
Many good suggestions above: I would second Venice (for otherwordly feel), Como (for the fresh, mountain feel,) and Assisi (it rises up out of the plain, and is bathed in this beautiful blue light). However, two of my absolute favorites are Siena, and Greve in Chianti (just below Florence). What makes Greve such a wonderful place is Villa Vignamaggio.


It was the birthplace of the model for the Mona Lisa, of the Gherardini family and it is the most WONDERFUL place to stay. It provided the backdrop for the Kenneth Brannaugh movie "Much Ado About Nothing", and while the movie is not one of my favorites, the setting is remarkable.
cnote is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 07:15 AM
Posts: n/a
Do you have your airfare yet? Sometimes that can determine your itinerary, because it's cheaper and easier to fly into and out of certain cities.

Be sure you fly open jaw, so you arrive in one city by air, and depart from a different city by air. That will save you backtracking to your arrival city.

Once you have your air travel determined, you can figure out your itinerary and find hotels. Do lots of searching on this forum for trip reports and hotel recommendations. You can't go wrong with fodorites' help!

We recently spent 15 nights in Italy. Three nights each: Rome, Florence, Venice, Santa Margherita Ligure, Nice (France). Traveling by train, no cars. It was a blast, although I wish we'd been able to stay more nights in each city.

Here are my trip reports, with hotels and restaurants recommended:
SML/CT/Portofino-- http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34817303

Florence-- http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34813784

Rome-- http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34813272

Venice-- http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34814606

Nice-- http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34810691

Have fun planning. You will love Italy.
May 27th, 2007, 08:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7
THANKS TO ALL! I am printing off all these suggestions and getting a great start. I haven't purchased airfare yet, as I am trying to pinpoint a city to fly into and a different city to fly out of.


Best Regards,
nick1jr is offline  

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