2 weeks in Italy and France

Dec 20th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 27
2 weeks in Italy and France

We will have 2 weeks in February --We had wanted to do Paris, Nice , Florence and Venice but now think that may be overdoing it a bit. We will be based out of Landstuhl Germany. Should we drive (my boyfriend already has a car in Landstuhl) to Paris and spend 3-4 days, drive back to Landstuhl, and then take the train to Venice or Florence? We would also like a few days to explore some small towns like Chianti and Siena. (We may just skip Venice). Do the trains run to these small towns or are we better off just driving there? We heard renting a car is very expensive. Do we need to make hotel reservations or can we just figure out our itinerary as we go and get hotels were we land? Please this may be a once in a lifetime trip and we want to make the most of it. I have a third week to spend in Germany.
AliRN is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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I would advise against driving. You have a fairly good chance of encountering bad weather -- even snow -- in Tuscany during that time (especially in Siena). Actually, your best bet for moderate weather is Venice, and it never snows in Roma. You don't need a car in Firenze, and if it is cold or snowy there, it really doesn't matter because there are so many sights to see indoors.

Last year it snowed in Nice in February, but that is quite abnormal. Most often it has mild winters. Still, you are right to say that your original itinerary is overdoing it.

I think you will be happiest with your hotel choices if you book them in advance.

nessundorma is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 01:57 PM
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Thanks for the info--do trains run to small towns outside Florence--do you recommend not going to Florence in Feb? ARe we better off to get train tickets in the US or Europe
AliRN is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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Get your train tickets in Italy.

Florence in February can be better than Florence in May or June or later just because Florence gets jammed with tourists in the warm months, and so it is nicer (for me) in the off-season. But it can be cold and wet there, so plan to dress as you would for Paris.

The trains do run to some other Tuscan towns of great interest. You can certainly get to Siena and Lucca. The very smallest towns would mean taking a bus. If when you get to Firenze it turns out the weather is nice, you should have no trouble renting a car at that point to visit the small hilltows, once you are sure it's not going to start snowing on you.

You also might consider going to Bologna and some of the smaller cities near there, especially Ravenna. Likewise, Verona near Venice. Italy is dense with interesting places to see, and trains run to many of them. It's just the tiny ancient hilltows that are accessible only by car or bus.
nessundorma is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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thanks for the reply, Any idea as to how much it costs to rent a car in Italy for a few days--does that also need to be booked ahead?
AliRN is offline  
Dec 20th, 2006, 04:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Can you drive a stick shift? An automatic is much more expensive.

You should shop around just prior to your trip because the companies are very competitive and sales are frequent. Booking in advance means pre-paying, which means you have to pay for the car whether you can use it or not (due to bad weather).

My first instinct would be to check out prices on websites based on the idea I'd be renting the car in the middle of the week (lower demand than the weekends), and I would call the rental agencies and ask them about whether it's too risky to wait until you actually arrive and can see what the weather is before renting on the spot in Italy. In the area of Firenze, there are a lot of rental offices and cars in Firenze itself, the Firenze airport, the Pisa airport and in Siena. In February, I would guess it is not hard to walk in the door (with all the necessary licenses) and rent a car on the spot. But that's just my guess. Call a rental company.

(If you are not an Italian citizen, you need an international driver's license as well as your native country license for the rental, and a major credit card.)
nessundorma is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 03:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,153
Hi Ali,

February is very off season for Nice, however:

You can train from Saarbrucken to Paris in about 4 hr for as little as 34E.
See www.voyages-sncf.com

A train to Nice is as low as 40E. Takes about 5:30 hr.

You can fly Nice to Rome or Venice.
See www.whichbudget.com

I couldn't find cheap flights from Italy back to Saarbrucken or Mannheim, but you can fly into Stuttgart from Venice, Pisa or Rome and train from there. 40E 3 hr.

Or fly into Karlsruhe from Rome or Pisa and train from there.

See www.bahn.de

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  

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