1ST TRIP TO ITALY

Aug 31st, 2007, 01:13 PM
  #1  
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1ST TRIP TO ITALY

Originally my wife & I were going to go on a tour through Italy, however, you folks convinced us to do it on out own. We are flying into Venice arriving on Oct. 3 @ 11:30 AM and departing from Rome on the 18th @ 1:30 PM Our planned schedule looks like this:

Oct. 3-7 Venice
Taking a train from Venice to Florence on the 7th.
Oct. 7-10 - Florence (arriving @ 4:30 PM)
Oct. 11-13 - Renting a car in Florence & driving & Staying someplace in Tuscany & returning the car to Florence.
Oct. 13-18 Taking a train from Florence to Rome

Comments on the schedule would be appreciated.

Questions:

1. Do I need to make reservations from the States for the trains: Venice-Florence & Florence - Rome. If yes, which site is the best to make them and is the seat reservation included in 1st class tickets?

2. Would you rent the car in Florence in the city or go to the airport to rent?

3. We want a GPS in the car - any recommended site to rent the car from with a GPS?

4. Where in Tuscany would you recommend spending our time?

5. While in Rome, would you recommend a day trip to Pompei or just stay in Rome?

Thanks for your advise - we will probably have more questions as we secure our plans.
RHINOWIN is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:22 PM
  #2  
 
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I think your itinerary looks fantastic! You will see a lot without rushing around.

I can't answer all of your questions but I will try.

1) I don't think its necessary to make train reservations in advance. You can easily do it at one of the train stations a few days in advance if you are worried about it.

4) I loved the area around Montepulciano, Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia and favor that region.

5) We did a daytrip to Pompeii and it was wonderful. Many don't recommend it; we loved it. We left early in the morning, spent quite a few hours in Pompeii, and were back in Rome in time for dinner. However, if you want a similar experience but much closer definitely check out Ostia Antica. You can get there in under an hour by public transportation from Rome. Its a very large site and not as popular so you probably won't be fighting too many crowds.

Best wishes,
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:43 PM
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This sounds like a great trip! Just a tip on the trains: if you're taking the fast trains, like the Eurostar, 2nd class is quite nice (surprisingly so) and traveling that way can save a bit of money to spend on gelato or jewelry!

Also, if your schedule is pretty set, you can buy your return ticket when you arrive in a city. So when you get to Florence, you can (at least you could when I was last there) use the kiosk to buy a ticket for the next leg of your journey to Rome.

Have a great time!
melissa
mmb23 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:48 PM
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Hi Rhino,

Sounds like a great first trip!

You wouldn't really need to backtrack to Florence to return the car. I see Oct 13 is a Saturday, but if you return the car in the AM (small town offices usually close on Sat PM and all Sunday), you could do it at either Chisui or Orvieto. Both are very convenient!

Orvieto is a wonderful town to visit too, and just 1 hour by train to Rome.

Buon viaggio!

Dayle is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 01:52 PM
  #5  
 
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RHINOWIN,
I agree with tcreath, mostly.

1. You can buy all your train tickets in Venice if you are sure of the times. Seat reservations are included on Eurostar first and second class.

2. I think you can rent in the city on your way out.

4. I also like the Val d'Orcia. Anywhere from Montalcino to Montepulciano.

5. I think Pompeii is too far. You will spend more time traveling than touring. I loved Ostia Antica.

If you stay in the Val d'Orcia drop off the car in Chiusi. There is no reason to take it back to Florence.

Henry
Henry is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Sounds like a great trip!

I don't know anything about renting a car, but I know you can buy a GPS in the US (& probably other countries if you are not US) & purchase the Italian data for your GPS & then use the GPS in your Italian rental car. Don't know if you are interested in purchasing a GPS to ensure you get one in your car.

We've been to Pompeii & Ostia Antica. We liked OA much better, because
1. there were only about 20 people there that day (non-weekend) & Pompeii was packed/packed/packed,
2. Pompeii ruins are mostly off-limits with ropes & blockades - mostly look at only. OA is wide open for us explorers! We climbed in & out & up & down. We even pulled back some vines & found a large underground burial site where the excavation had been halted. Bring a flashlight & find new spots!
3. Traveling to Pompeii takes so long & a pain (IMO) unless you take a bus tour, which we don't like. OA is an easy 20-25 minute train ride each way. If you go to OA, there is a very nice cafeteria with very good tasting food & cheap prices.

I read a trip report yesterday by KimiG. The farm she & her family stayed in while in Tuscany sounded absolutely wonderful. You might want to search for that report, titled "Amazing Two Week Family Trip to Italy!", 93 responses, most recent on 8/30/2007, 03:53pm. We've done Tuscany & not really interested in going back, but her report of that farm makes me want to go just for that! Actually, after reading her itinerary, you may want to include some of her places - great report.

Have fun with more pre-planning, Julie
Julie_Hurst is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 04:01 PM
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We loved staying in Montalcino, but I think you'd enjoy any of the hill towns. I agree with the previous posters, drop off your car on the way to Rome, don't back track. We actually drove all the way to Rome and it wasn't bad at all, but if you are intimidated by that, I would do as recommended and drop in Orvieto ro Chiusi.
Ninkette is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 05:25 PM
  #8  
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Thanks for your input
RHINOWIN is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:40 PM
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I would book your nights in Tuscany as soon as possible. It was packed when we were there in October on the last two trips to Italy.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 09:43 PM
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RHinowin our family traveled to Italy for the first time last year. We purchased all our train tickets when we arrived and had no trouble getting 1st class (and second class) seats. Watch out for people trying to help you find your seats (then wanting to charge you a fee! - tip for the service). We loved FLorence and spent five days there and in surrounding areas. San Gimigiani and Sienna were beautiful and fun. We went to Pompeii and it was very hot. The site was incredible althogh some areas were closed for renovation. I still felt it was worth the trip. We made reservations on line for the Uffizi and Academia and avoided the long lines. Make sure you get to the farmers market and enjoy! The best advice was on this site. Have fun!
Zydecoqueen is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 11:33 PM
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Hi

You have something to look forward to in my opinion...you are visiting some very nice areas of Italy My wife and I have been to three trips to Italy...the first to Venice/Milan, second to Rome and the last trip was to Florence and Tuscany in July. Check out my trip reports with pictures and links from Rome (see http://gardkarlsen.com/rome_italy.htm )and Venice (see http://gardkarlsen.com/italy_venice.htm ). The Florence and Tuscany trip report is not finished yet...only the eating out guide: http://gardkarlsen.com/eating_drinki...ence_Italy.htm . But send me a mail on [email protected] and I'll let you know when the report is ready Have a great trip.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 06:22 AM
  #12  
ira
 
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Hi R,

>Renting a car in Florence & driving & Staying someplace in Tuscany & returning the car to Florence.

I suggest returning the car to Orvieto, if you can.

It is a lovely town to visit, and only 1 hr by train to Rome.

1. You needn't make reservations, but if you know your schedule, you can get Amica discount fares through www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html. All ES* and IC+ trains are reserved seat only.

2. Depends on where your car pickup is in town.

5. A visit to Pompei is a loooooong day. You only have 4 days in Rome.

Enjoy your visit.



ira is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 06:47 AM
  #13  
 
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I think your itinerary looks great. My bit of advice is to reserve tickets before you leave for the Accademia, the Uffizzi in Florence and the Vatican Museums and the Borghese Gallery in Rome if you plan on going to these sites.

You can also reserve time for the San Marco Basilica in Venice if you want. We were there in August and couldn't get in the lines were soooooooo long. Wish I'd reserved before leaving home.

One more suggestion: Decide where you will be staying in Tuscany and reserve soon. Hilltowns can be chilly in October so bring a warm jacket or sweater.
Luisah is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 12:56 PM
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If you rent a car in Florence, avoid the airport and you save about $300. Avoid downtown and you avoid a nervous breakdown. Look for someplace on the outskirts to get your car, and do return it in Orvieto and go by train to Rome. You don't want to drive in Rome, either.

Charnee
charnees is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 05:23 PM
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Hi Rhinowin!

I second/third, or however many posts referred you to Ostia Antica - much easier than going to Pompeii from Rome, it will maximize your time on site, and you'll have FAR less crowds.

You can catch a bus from downtown (ask at the Tourism office) and you want to get off at stop after the "pyramid" - (I'm not sure if this is actually called the Pyramid stop or not). The train station you need to get to Ostia Antica is right across from that.

If you glance across the street, you'll see an unassuming little Tavola Calda across the street - allow time for this stop because you'll need energy to do all the walking at Ostia Antica, AND, because it's some of the best pizza I've ever had in my life! (my husband had a Quattro Formaggio w/Funghi and I had a Margarita + a shared Diet Coke = $6.20E and that was breakfast!)

Once you get to Ostia Antica, there's only one way to go, and clearly marked.
When I was there, they were talking about starting up a boat service from Rome, so you should investigate that as well (but then you'd miss the pizza .

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  

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