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meghana1 Oct 29th, 2017 07:33 AM

8 Days in Italy- itinerary suggestions?
We are spending 8 days in Italy, not including flights. We are most likely coming to Rome and leaving from Rome, though we haven't booked that yet. We really enjoy history and scenery and do not care for food or shopping, etc. We want to visit Rome but aren't sure where else.We'll be in Rome from Dec 16th-24th and we do not like cold weather (from SoCal). Should we visit Florence, Venice, naples, just rome or a combination? Any other suggestions, like daytrips?

thursdaysd Oct 29th, 2017 07:40 AM

You could easily spend all that time in Rome. Ostia Antica is a possible day trip. So is the Villa d'Este, but perhaps not in December.

annhig Oct 29th, 2017 07:55 AM

that's my reaction too - stick to Rome. The days will be short so sightseeing time may be a bit limited but there will be more than enough history for you to see in Rome to keep you happy for those 8 days.

As for scenery, not your priority in December.

meghana1 Oct 29th, 2017 08:08 AM

would you recommend maybe staying in Florence for a few days too?

isabel Oct 29th, 2017 08:57 AM

There are two ways to approach an 8 day trip, either of which can be very enjoyable depending on your style.

If you like slow and flexible you could fly round trip in and out of Rome and book the whole 8 nights in Rome. Then you decide as you go what you want to do the next day - museums, walking tours, daytrips. Both Florence and Naples (and even Pompeii) are doable as a day trip from Rome; Naples about 2 hours each way, Florence even less. Then if you find you have so much to do in Rome you can just not take the day trips.

Or - you could fly into Venice - 2 nights, train to Florence - 2 nights, train to Rome - 4 nights and fly out. I did a similar trip last March with a friend who had never been to Italy and wanted to see the highlights and even through I don't usually advise such a fast trip I have to admit it was great. Here's the blog I wrote about that trip -

Dayle Oct 29th, 2017 10:02 AM

Since you dont like cold weather, i should point out it can be very cold in Italy especially if they get a colder than normal cold snap. It can even snow. Go prepared with a very warm coat. You can buy hat & gloves once there if needed since you may not even own any.

If you dont know what you want to see and do in other destinations, go with the all Rome plus optional day trips plan. If you have time to research and feel stongly that you want to spend part of your time in another city, that works too. Just get a move on so you can make a decision you will be happy with.

bvlenci Oct 29th, 2017 10:36 AM

I agree that you should stick to Rome, taking some day trips for scenery, if you get a nice clear day. In the winter, staying in one place and taking day trips gives you some flexibility; you can visit museums if it rains, and take a short trip into the countryside if you have fair weather. Remember that the days are short; it will be dark at 5 PM, so you need to get an early start. However, medieval towns are very atmospheric at night, so I wouldn't rush back to Rome before dark. It's just that you won't see much scenery on the way back.

Ostia Antica is a great suggestion. It's actually in Rome, so I don't know if it's technically a day trip. It's fine for a overcast day, and even possible if there's a chance of light drizzle, but it wouldn't be fun in a downpour. It's a big archaeological site, even bigger than Pompeii, the remains of the ancient port.

For scenery, you want a nice clear day, otherwise the scenery is likely to be hidden by mist and clouds. I would suggest a day trip to Assisi. You'll see some very nice scenery from the train and the town itself is in a scenic spot. They go all out for the Christmas season; St. Francis is supposed to have created the first presepio (nativity scene). There is usually a living presepio in front of the upper Basilica. There are astonishingly beautiful frescoes in the Upper Basilica of St. Francis, and the Lower Basilica is also beautiful.

There are a few direct trains to Assisi from Rome; otherwise you need to change trains somewhere, usually Foligno. There is a direct train from Termini station at 7:58, which gets you to Assisi at 10:07. When you get to Assisi, you have to take a bus up the hill to the town centre. There are direct trains back to Rome at 4:24 and 6:27 PM. There is no advantage to buying these tickets in advance; just buy them in the train station. There are multilingual ticket machines in the station.

Other possible day trips are to Orvieto (beautiful hill town, with a very nice Italian Gothic cathedral) or to Bracciano (on the lake of the same name, with a beautiful castle). Orvieto is reached by train, with a funicular railway to take you up to the town. Bracciano is connected by train, but also by bus, and the bus might be a better choice. The train station is utterly devoid of signs, and the station itself was closed at midday. I've never seen such an inscrutable station anywhere. I've taken the bus as far as the nearby town of Anguillara. The town of Bracciano itself has little to recommend it, but the castle, on a hill overlooking the lake, is worth a visit. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married there.

meghana1 Oct 29th, 2017 10:46 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions! We were thinking 2 days Florence, 6 days Rome as a medium-pace option, and because Venice seems too cold for us. How is the weather in Rome and Florence around this time?

bvlenci Oct 29th, 2017 11:07 AM

I should have said that you can see train schedules here:

Use the Italian names for cities, e.g., Roma.

bvlenci Oct 29th, 2017 11:26 AM

The weather is unpredictable. In Rome, temperatures don't often go below freezing, and snow is rare. Rain and drizzle are fairly common. We were in Rome in late December last year, and had very pleasant weather.

Florence has similar weather. Venice tends to be somewhat colder, but there's not a big difference.

As I said before, given your interests, I would recommend staying in Rome. There's enough history there to occupy a month, and even more. Florence is an easy day trip from Rome, if you just want to see the city with one of the smaller museums, and a church or two.

If you decide to spend two nights in Florence, you should go directly there, by train, on arrival in Rome, to avoid having to change hotels twice. You could also fly, buying a multi-city ticket with arrival in Florence and departure from Rome. If you already have your plane tickets, just take the train. The time is about the same, and you avoid the risk of missing the second flight.

The trains leave about every half hour from central Rome. There's one direct train from the airport in the morning, at 11:08. Otherwise, you can take a train to Roma Tiburtina, where you can connect to Florence. You can also connect at Roma Termini, but that costs more and usually takes a little longer. There is a travel agent at the airport train station who can get you the best connection.

PalenQ Oct 29th, 2017 11:28 AM

How cold is too cold for Venice - not as warm perhaps as Rome but not cold:

But yes it would rarely be sunny and warm and Rome could be or not.

massimop Oct 29th, 2017 11:46 AM

Florence (and Venice) can be quite cold in December. Napoli would up the chances for warmer weather and it's fun during the Christmas holidays and easy to get to from Rome.

casacruz1111 Oct 29th, 2017 12:03 PM

In general, it will be cold (tis' the season).
My first trip to Italy was Rome, Florence, Venice- very typical and we did that over 10 days which was perfect. If you don't want to go to Venice, I would recommend the combination of Rome, but perhaps reducing the days there and extending your stay in Florence so you can stay some time in the neighboring Tuscany region. It is absolutely beautiful. Then again, the highlight is wine, but you say you're not a foodie. In addition to its history, culture and the is yet another main reason to enjoy Italy.
Safe travels!

massimop Oct 29th, 2017 12:38 PM

Typically it is quite a bit warmer in Rome and Naples in Decmber (and onwards) than it is in Florence and Venice.

If you don't want to make weather a major factor in your choices, that is fine with me. But when I travel in Italy in winter, I try to go to places Rome & south of Rome if I am interested in doing a lot of outdoor sightseeing. I do enjoy going to Florence when it is cold but I can spend hours on end in museums, and that is what a plan to do -- although I have experienced mild weather on Christmas days in Florence. Perhaps climate change has made such days more common, but the risk of freezing cold weather for Florence and Venice is much higher than it is in Rome or Napoli (almost non-existent for Napoli, freezing weather beyond a few moments in the dead of night is reallu quite rare).

thursdaysd Oct 29th, 2017 12:40 PM

"the neighboring Tuscany region. It is absolutely beautiful"

In late December???

massimop Oct 29th, 2017 12:41 PM

Also, just to be clear:

Florence is the capital of Tuscany. (Meaning: Tuscany is not a "neighboring" region of Florence. ) Also be aware that if you do get snow and ice, visiting the wine country of Tuscany might require special planning (snow chains/tires for a car rental) or not really feasible.

PalenQ Oct 29th, 2017 12:44 PM

Was in Florence once in January when there was ice on sidewalks - for a brief spell in mornings but yes can get cold.

annhig Oct 29th, 2017 01:12 PM

As I said before, given your interests, I would recommend staying in Rome. There's enough history there to occupy a month, and even more.>>

bvl - a Church of England vicar of my acquaintance liked Rome so much he had racked up over 50 visits by the time I got to know him. Having at that point never been to Rome myself I found that odd but after I had been there for the first time I understood completely.

bvlenci Oct 29th, 2017 01:24 PM

In much of Italy, you're required by law to have chains in your car (or snow tires) from sometime in November to sometime in April. Each region has a map of where this law is in force, and the dates. Since it's a mountainous country, if you'll be driving any distance, in any region, you're likely to pass through a zone where you'd need to be prepared for snow.

Where we live, in the first foothills of the Apennines, we're required to have chains on board from November 1st to April 15th, even though we get snow only about once every three years, and then usually only a dusting, gone by noon. My husband mounts snow tires; I carry chains.

I would think rental cars would come equipped with chains, since they're obligatory.

bvlenci Oct 29th, 2017 01:33 PM

Annhig, for years I kept a list of things I wanted to see in Rome, and the list kept getting longer rather than shorter, even after many visits to the city. Finally, I'm starting to get it whittled down. I have no idea how many times I've been to Rome. Many visits are very short, just to see an exhibit or something, but I almost always manage to see a few other things. And, of course, I make time just for wandering around.

It's one of my favourite cities in the world. London and New York would join Rome in the top three.

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