6 weeks in Spain and Italy

Old Dec 20th, 2011, 02:04 PM
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6 weeks in Spain and Italy

Hey everyone,
I'm new to this site so please forgive any beginner errors I make. My close friend and I will be traveling to Spain and Italy in June and are planning a six week vacation (though time is quite flexible). Together, we fashioned a preliminary itinerary for our trip focusing primarily on the cities/towns we want to visit. In terms of interest, both of us are open to anything really... I enjoy history and art and would also like to experience some traditional culture. I do realize that our outline seems to cover the "touristy" cities however we shall be taking various day trips out of cities like Florence and Naples to try and separate ourselves (if even for a day) from the bussle of a large city. Here is our VERY preliminary itinerary:
1. Marrakesh- 3 days
2. Seville- 4 days
3. Granada- 2 days
4. Barcelona- 7 days
5. Venice- 4 days
6. Florence- 7 days
• Siena
• San Gimignano
Any other towns in the Tuscany area worth visiting??
7. Cinque Terre- 3 days
8. Rome- 7 days
9. Naples- 4 days
Possible trip to Sicily (Palermo and Corleone)
Do you have any suggestions regarding the amount of days I spend in each place. I don't want to be rushing too much and the seven days in Barcelona and Rome are a must (sorry!). Also, are there any locations that in either of these countries that you feel I simply cant miss. I apologize to all the Madrid/central Spain lovers but I am focusing away from that area on this trip

Thanks,
Alex

p.s. Is Granada a must if I am already going to Seville? I've heard the Alhambra is amazing, but could my time be better spent elsewhere?
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 02:12 PM
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Why starting in Marrakesh (I wouldn't)? What mode of transportation do you plan to use? Have you taken into account the travel time between the various destinations? Have you looked at some guidebooks; Fodor's might be a good start? Cordoba and Granada should be included if going to Seville. You might want to read my trip report that starts in Naples; click on my name to find it.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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@Michael, Thank you so much for replying. I thought Marrakesh would be an interesting cultural experience (with the markets and such) and from there it would be an easy transfer to Seville. I plan to take planes when necessary and trains in domestic travel. I have not researched Cordoba but your suggestion has intrigued me
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 03:02 PM
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hi alex,

you might like to think again about Marrakesh, not because it's out of the way, but because in June it could be very hot [as could Andalucia for that matter].

apart from that, I think that your trip is well-paced and the order of places makes sense. [phew, that wan't so difficult to write, was it?]. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by doing trips out to separate yourselves from the bussle of large cities, though - will you use trains to do your day trips? or buses? it's possible to explore the countryside that way, especially by bus, but it might need some advance [and advanced!] research. a car [which i understand you might not want] would make that sort of exploration a lot easier.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 03:09 PM
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Cordoba is a spectacular sight.

Most other towns in Tuscany are worth visiting, but the thing you need to know is that Tuscany in a zone of high-interest, everywhere you turn, so you don't need to overplan your trip there.

Florence is ideal for people passionate about art and museums, who are willing for the sake of art to put up with the mega-mobs of clueless tourists who only go there because they "heard" it was a "must-see", and who spend all their time shopping for Chinese knock-offs. People who find mega-tourist mobs and shoppers a turn-off and who are not students of Italian art usually prefer to Lucca or other places in Tuscany as a place to "base", so they can "wander" and "soak up the atmosphere."

Traveling in July, you will face intense heat. Personally, I would limit my time in Tuscany in favor of spending more time in and around Rome and Naples, breaking up the urban intensity with a trip to a Mediterranean island in July (Ponza, Sardegna, Elba, Ischia, Procida or maybe Capri). Le Cinque Terre is pretty but mobbed and willtingly hot when it comes to hiking. Consider staying outside it or skipping it entirely in favor of an island or some other idyllic place on the Riviera (Bonassola, Zoagli, Tellaro etc) but which allows you a hop over to le Cinque Terre for a glimpse if you must, but doesn't trap you in a tourist experience because you are sleeping elsewhere.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 03:17 PM
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PS:

I meant to add that the Alhambra in Granada is one of the MOST INCREDIBLE SIGHTS IN ALL OF EUROPE. I think it is especially worthwhile to visit it at night, when the atmosphere is extraordinary, and you have the place almost to yourself (and the cats).

It is also nice to visit the gardens first thing in the morning, while it is cool. So plan to do both.

You don't say why you have chosen Spain and Italy, but I urge you not to leave Spain without taking in the amazing "Moorish" sights. This is an extremely important part of the history of Europe -- when parts of it were Islamic -- and there is really nothing else like it. It is not "dry" or intellectual or dutiful. You will be amazed at how simply gorgeous the Alhambra is with its delicate decorations, curlicued tiles and its beautiful gardens, filled with playful fountains. It's another world, with its own perfume. I hope you will dip into it.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 04:02 PM
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Given the replies regarding Marrakesh, I'm considering it leaving out of my trip and am seriously thinking about adding Capri to the itinerary. I have some contacts there and zeppole's suggestion on breaking up the urban intensity has made me reconsider. Granada is no longer in question and Cordoba seems to slipped its way in . Thank you so much for these responses and they are vital as I begin to shape my plan into something slightly more substantial.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 04:15 PM
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Both Cordoba and Granada deserve your time, but I too question Marrakesh on this trip.
I envy you your dicoveries---you will have fun.
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Old Dec 20th, 2011, 10:55 PM
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Alex, I think you constructed a wonderful 1st-draft plan! Quite in contrast to the vast majority of new travelers, you are actually allowing time to VISIT the places you plan to see - kudos!

I think that making some very minor adjustments to your plans as noted above will enhance your experience.

My only substantive question is about your entry:
> Possible trip to Sicily (Palermo and Corleone)

I wouldn't recommend adding Sicily to this itinerary. IMO, Sicily deserves a minimum of 2 weeks (more if possible). So although you could tack on a day or 2 (or whatever) in Sicily, it might be worth waiting until you can see more of it on the same trip.

Keep us posted as you hone your plans - and enjoy!
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 05:32 AM
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I take it you plan to see Vesuvious and perhaps Herculaneum from Naples. I would, instead stay in Sorrento for that, and if you wish to include Capri, then also be sure to see Positano.

When you redo your itinerary, do it based on nights in each city, and figure out how much time it will take from place to place. That way, you will have a better grasp of how much time you will actually have in each place.

So far, you are doing great.

Alhambra is, as others said, amazing.

I am saying this only because you said you love art, but giving up Marrakesh, you might consider starting in Madrid so you can visit the Prado and perhaps Toledo. It also makes logistic sense with Seville.
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 05:55 AM
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@Sassafrass
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 06:05 AM
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In terms of distance, yes, Sorrento has a more strategic location. However, its reputation as a "british colony" based on the amount of english and american tourists there in the summer has turned me off. Is is this an unfair assumption? I have heard similar things regarding Capri... and would I be better scraping the Amalfi Coast and continuing further north (Reggio maybe?) or possibly spending more time in Spain somewhere?
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 07:44 AM
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We found Sorrento to be an ideal base to see the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. You will hear all sorts of things abour all of your destinations but we loved Capri and didn't find it to be a "British Colony" at all. I suggest staying there to avoid the day-tripper crowds during mid day. We stayed three nights and actually enjoyed Capri more than the AC.

Please do not listen to those who refer to Florence as "full of mega-mobs of clueless tourists". Florence is a marvelous city and most of the tourists are there because they want to enjoy the many wonders of this great city. We have been 7 times and it remains one of our favorite destinations and we hope to return soon.

Your itinerary sounds lovely. You are travelling the way I like to travel - alloting plenty of time to some wonderful destinations. Have a great time!
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for all of the wonderful replies!
Having removed Marrakesh from the itinerary, I have around 3/4 extra days on my trip. Would it be worth adding another destination (if so, which one)? Or should i simply add some days onto cities and towns that i am already visiting? Sicily is out btw...
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 01:06 PM
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hi again, ET.

honestly, i would not add somewhere else, but distribute the extra days along your existing itinerary. six weeks sounds long time but it'll be over in a trice. but one of the things it gives you is the luxury of being able to take your time. you could add a day or two to Seville, so that you have time for day-trips, or an overnight in Cordoba, or, and I'm contradicting myself here, a few days in Madrid.

but I wouldn't add a whole new place like Sicily.
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Old Dec 21st, 2011, 06:56 PM
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You might consider adding a bit of time to Naples, or even a few nights nearby , perhaps in Amalfi. The contrast between the vibrant energy of Naples and the quiet elegance of some of the other places along the Amalfi Coast is quite remarkable.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:22 AM
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I have just recently been advised by a friend to start my trip in Lisbon, and then head over to Seville and continue from there. Is Lisbon worth the visit? Would you scrap Cinque Terre in favor of starting in Lisbon? My heritage is Portuguese so I would enjoy the history but would love to know anyones thoughts on the city..
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Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:44 AM
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I would fly to Spain and save Lisbon for an exclusively Iberian trip--you'll be back.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:48 AM
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My advice is to try to spend more time seeing things and less time traveling between places, so no, do not include Lisbon. That is why I suggested starting in Madrid. Travel time is minimal and you would see one of the great museums in the world plus Toledo or Segovia.

I also like the idea of extra time in the AC. It is beautiful and there is a lot to see in the area. Do not be put off by comments about Sorrento. The location for sightseeing is perfect. If you stay extra days, you could stay in Positano or Amalfi instead of Sorrento.

About Florence; of course, some tourists are clueless, but IMHO, that is an unfair statement. Many people go to Florence because they do want to learn or they have an interest Art. It is a fabulous city. There are others in Tuscany you might enjoy, but one lovely town is Luca.

If you want to be more North, of course the Lakes area (which I am not really familiar with), and Towns/cities near Venice. Vicenza is lovely and you might enjoy all the Palladian architecture there. Travel time is minimal and the things to see are wonderful.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2011, 12:26 PM
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I've only been to Spain myself - and I think you could probably cut your Barcelona time down to 5 days. Stay at the U232 hotel - a block away from the metro, and a neighborhood/university feel. An awesome bakery around the corner.

I would suggest visiting San Sebastian just for the food (pinxto hop the bars on Saturday - you'll love it!) - a great beach as well.

Let me know how the Italian portion goes.
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