5th Anniversary...1st time to Italy

May 20th, 2007, 08:38 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
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5th Anniversary...1st time to Italy

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy for our 5th anniversary in July. We will only have about 8-9 days and are so overwhelmed trying to decide what to do with such a short period of time...especially since it is our first visit. We have the mindset that we will make many trips over the span of our life so we want to make the most of 1-2 spots and truly enjoy. We are TOTALLY open-minded and just trying to decide what to do for the first time. We seem to have narrowed it down to either:

1. Florence/Tuscany area
2. Venice and....

I keep hearing people say to decide based upon what you enjoy. The problem is, we enjoy it all! History, art, architecture, wine... Because it is a anniversary, I want it to be romantic and I recognize that we are going in prime travel season and I don't want to have to constantly fight the crowds. With this in mind, does anyone have suggestions?
abloom is offline  
May 20th, 2007, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Not sure exactly what you're asking since you seem to have narrowed already, but will suggest a couple of things to keep in mind, from my perspective...

- Spend at least 3 nights in Venice. There's a lot to do there, but Venice also involves a fair amount of effort to get to your hotel "in" Venice - from airport/train, getting on a vaporetto, and then wending your way through the streets to your hotel. While the San Marco and central tourist areas can be crowded during the day, there is a lot to see both there and off the beaten path - and the city quiets down at night. So leave yourselves time to enjoy the city and not feel rushed.

- Consider where you are flying into - While flying into Milan (or Rome) is likely less expensive, you will then have travel time to get to either destination. And whatever city you fly out of you would likely stay overnight there, cutting one night from your Florence/Venice itinerary. You may want to check options of flying in/out of Florence (Pisa)/Venice. Maximizing your time might be worth a little extra on the airfare side.

- Personally, I like Florence a lot and you could certainly spend a week there without ever venturing into the Tuscan countryside. But you could also use it as a base for day trips. Conversely, you could base in the country, rent a car and drive around to various cities and visit Florence on day trips. Or divide your time with a few days in the country and a couple of days in Florence. My experience in doing this was to spend 5 days in Florence and then rent a car and drive from Florence. I based just outside of Siena and did day trips driving around Tuscany and then spent evenings in Siena.

There's many ways to do it. I'm sure others will have ideas and towns that they liked best and can recommend.

Hope this is helpful.
venturegirl is offline  
May 20th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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I heard temperatures are brutal in Florence in July. When I looked at prices, a lot of lodgings priced their high season in May and June.

Venice is suppose to be more moderate but should still be plenty hot.

Airline prices from the US are of course the highest in July.
scrb is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 02:13 AM
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If your question is Venice and what else, I would say stick to just Venice for the rest of the time after Florence/Tuscany. 8 to 9 days is not long at all for both areas. You could also consider picking just one. Venice is the more romantic of the two--one of the most romantic cities in the world.

i agree with venturegirl you should plan on at least 3 nights in Venice. Other than the main sights in the city, I think the trip to Torcello (lagoon island outside Venice with a cathedral with beautiful Byzantine mosaics) would be a nice break, away from the big crowds, in hot summer weather. It will also give you an idea of what Ravenna is like (for another trip!)
Padova and Vicenza are both interesting trips you can do easily by train from Venice, but I don't think you will have enough time for these unless you decide not to do Tuscany.

In Tuscany I think history, art and architecture lovers like you and your husband would want to focus on florence despite the crowds.
If you are worried about the heat you could consider trying to stay in Fiesole which is basically a suburb of Florence and cooler because it is in the hills.

Best wishes for your anniversary
Vttraveler is online now  
May 21st, 2007, 03:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I would suggest an open-jaw ticket into Venice and out of Rome. Spend a few days in Venice, then train to Florence ( a few hours). You could either stay in Florence ( we were there in July, and it's hot, but you just pace yourself to get out early in the AM, late in the PM) or base in one of the lovely agriturismos just outside Florence in the Chianti countryside. Two that come to mind that are a quick hop to Florence are: VignaMaggio( spelling?) and Relais Fattoria Vignale.

From Florence, you can take the Eurostar to Rome ( 1.5 hours). It's definitely worth at least a day or two on your way home, and can be incredibly romantic despite the crowds.

My last suggestion- try to decide ASAP! Many hotels are booked way in advance for the summer months, so many of your choices may be gone.
Weadles is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 04:42 AM
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Thank you all so much for your quick replies! I appreciate the insight very much.

I was assuming that with only 8 days to travel we would not be able to do both areas without feeling incredibly rushed and able to really "soak" it all in. I should have made that more clear in my post. My thinking was we need to pick either Florence/Tuscany OR Venice and if we do break it down like that I am curious as to which one area you think would be better for first timers and also where specifically would you travel? For example, if we choose Florence for a few days, what towns would you MOST recommended seeing in the Tuscany region OR if we choose Venice....where else nearby should we go?

Thank you all so much for your advice...it is soooo very appereciated!
abloom is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 04:50 AM
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hi, abloom,

great idea for an excuse to travel.

My choice would be venice and area - you could do 4 nights [allowing for jet-lag] in venice, and 4-5 nights in the dolomites which will be less conjested and cooler.

car hire for a few days won't break the bank, and lodgings in the mountains will be cheaper than Venice. and you can get a return air ticket.

this was the route we were going to be taking this year [before we decided to go to south Africa instead!] so although I've been to Venice, I can't help you with the Dolomites, except to say that they look gorgeous. There have been several recent threads about them though.

good luck and congrats,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:11 AM
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The poster above has some great recommendations, especially if you don't do well in the heat, but since it's your very first time to Italy, I think you should visit Florence/Tuscany.

The reasons are many. Florence has so much art/history to see, and it's a very walkable city. Also it's within easy train or car distance of some of the most beautiful parts of Italy:

The hill towns: Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena,

also Assisi and Cortona

and, if you want to see it up close, Pisa

Another important reason is the food and the wine ( Chianti, Barolo, to name two) in Florence and environs, which are ( sorry, Venice!) far superior to anything we had in Venice.
Weadles is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:23 AM
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Congratulations on your upcoming 5th anniversary! (My husband & I are celebrating our 30th this week - time flies!) You'll love Italy! Having been to both Venice & Florence/Tuscany, given your interests, given your time frame, given the time of year, I'd opt for Florence/Tuscany. You have the right attitude knowing you'll return. This is what I'd do...

Where are you flying from? Perhaps I scanned your post too quickly and missed that.

I'd start in Florence, spend 3 full days there to enjoy the Academia (David & his friends), the Uffizi (we enjoyed the audioguide), Pitti Palace, strolling through the market, the Duomo, check into staying at Relais Uffizi. It is a small, well-appointed hotel with a perfect location. We were, I believe, in a junior suite. Very romantic with extremely reasonable prices.

I'd then rent a car and drive to southern Tuscany for the remainder of the vacation. Stay at La Saracina, an extremely romantic, small relais run by Simonetta. The views from this property are priceless. The location is perfect for exploring Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, San Quirico - the best Tuscany has to offer.

Hope this helps provide more ideas.
dorkforcemom is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:52 AM
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Thank you all so very much for your suggestions. You have made me so excited I can hardly concentrate at work!

Dorkforcemom, you did not miss where I was flying from...I forgot to mention it. I am coming from Dallas, Texas.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions. I am really starting to lean towards Florence/Tuscany...but whenever I say it outloud and imagine myself "Under the Tuscan Sun" I start to dream of Venice. Ahhhh!!!!
abloom is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:57 AM
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Can you tell I'm bored at work?? Anyway, to put it bluntly, Venice in July is wall to wall crowds and not at its best. Both cities will be incredibly hot, but at least in Florence we didn't feel that we were constantly fighting the crowds, and it was possible to escape by visiting the beautiful countryside.
Weadles is offline  

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