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After Rome where? with 18yr, old son - first trip to Italy for both of us

After Rome where? with 18yr, old son - first trip to Italy for both of us

Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 09:31 PM
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After Rome where? with 18yr, old son - first trip to Italy for both of us

Zeppole and other please help. Traveling mother & son in Italy starting June 8th 2011. Will end trip with a few days in London and have a total of 16 days. Feeling overwhelmed by options. Want more than museums and churches since we will do the same in London. Am thinking a seaside visit but want to avoid the tourist crush. Definitely want a little Florence and perhaps a little hill town but how do I get around reasonably? Should I bite the bullet and rent a car? Is it more convenient to have a car instead of carting luggage around train stations or what? Should I trek all the way to Venice for a short stay? Help? PS I know all about London, so just need help on Italy - thanks
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 11:01 PM
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If you move from Rome to Florence and stay there for a few days you can have good day trips to Siena and to San Gimignano and I'm sure to other areas that surround Florence. The general recommendation here on Fodor's is to NOT rent a car in Florence. So many posters end up being booked for accidentally driving into restricted zones in Florence.

Lets say you spend 5 days in Rome, then 4 in Florence (with a day trip or two) then you have already spent 9 of your days and don't forget that you will lose most of the first day finding your way from the airport to the hotel and settling in. Most of the well known seaside areas will be crowded at that time of the year, but it doesn't really matter, they are still beautiful places, so perhaps from Florence you could head to Cinque Terre and enjoy that for a few days before heading to London.

I hope you have a lovely trip and that more contributors help you out!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 11:02 PM
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Oops, I forgot to say that I don't think you have time to visit Venice this time. Save it for next time.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:49 AM
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yes forget the car...too much of a hassle with rental ..unfamiliar roads..tolls..parking issues ..rrestricted driving zones....car return...yuck...
you can have a nice time as has been mentioned taking the train to Florence ...from there you can day trip via bus to Siena and surroundings...take the short train to Pisa and Lucca....lots of possiblities without the hassle of car rental.
Sit back and let someone else drive(i.e. the train or bus) or hire if a special trip is desired. The train,bus and hired driver allows you to sit back relax and enjoy your scenery without worrying about driving yourself..less stress..more enjoyment out of your vacation/trip/leisure..after all, isn't that what you are taking the trip for anyway?>>to enjoy yourself. ciao ciao!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2011, 05:31 AM
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You can see so much of Italy without a car. If you start in Rome, y0u can train to Florence and spend enough time there (5 days?) that you can take a couple of day trips by bus to Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano. If you want to see a small hill town close to Florence, bus to Fiesole (20 minutes) which has a beautiful overlook of Florence and is a perfect place to have lunch and stroll around.

Then, if you have 3 days or so before you go to London, choose either Cinque Terre or Venice. Both are easy trips by train from Florence. If you like the outdoors and hiking, CT is the best bet. A flight to London is a little easier from Venice. From CT, you will have to train to Milan or Pisa to fly out. However, if you plan to spend more than 3-4 days in London, I would limit my Italy stops to Rome and Florence and spend 5 days each in Rome, Florence and London. It sounds like a lovely trip - enjoy!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2011, 11:29 AM
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Where does your son want to go. I wold him the job of figuring out the itinerary for italy - after you give him a couple of things you must do. That way he can;t complain about anything - and you can share some of the prep work.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:24 PM
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I think a 18 yr old would like the Cinque Terre, with the hiking etc. We saw alot of young people there.
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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wonder if it makes sense to train to florence - do florence - then train to Pisa airport - rent car there circle the coast and inland hill towns, see the local countryside - then return car and fly out to London. Pisa airport serves easyjet, ryan air, etc.. to London.

How bad is it to drive? Compared to lugging baggage around and trying to get from train stations to hotel and destinations?
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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There is a lot of disparity on the rental car vs. public transportation matter. I prefer renting a car when it makes sense to do so - for us, that means most any time when we're not traveling between large cities. For example, on our last trip to Italy, we flew into Venice, took the train to Florence, took the train to Bologna, then picked up a rental car for a week of driving from Bologna, through San Marino and the smaller towns and cities in Le Marche, then dropped our rental car as we entered Rome. We've driven in many areas of Italy, including Tuscany, Umbria and even to the Cinque Terre (parking our car at our hotel in Monterosso).

Unlike some other people, I do not finding driving a car in Europe too stressful. I drive; DH navigates. I have always driven a manual transmission, though, so I don't have to even think about that part. I like driving on those narrow Italian roads - it's fun. And the highways, IMHO, are no worse than in the US, and in some ways better, in that most slower drivers do actually drive on the right side of the road. I do find traveling by bus or train to be stressful - I'm always worried that I'll miss the train, or get on the wrong one. Most people don't seem to find that stressful, though.

I think your plan makes sense, and will end up including some trains and some driving. You could even rent a car when leaving Florence, if you want, then park in Pisa for your time there. Otherwise, if you plan on seeing the sights in Pisa, you'll have to figure out what to do with your luggage in between getting off the train and picking up the rental car (there may be luggage lockers at the train station, however). If you do that, pick up your rental car on the outskirts of Florence (we've done that, as well as picking up outside of downtown Florence), to avoid the infamous restricted driving zones in Florence.

Getting from train stations to hotel is easy; walk, take public transportation or a cab. We are generally frugal, but do generally take a cab from a train station to our hotel - it saves a lot of hassle.
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 09:18 AM
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wonder if it makes sense to train to florence - do florence - then train to Pisa airport - rent car there circle the coast and inland hill towns, see the local countryside - then return car and fly out to London.

That makes perfect sense - especially if you return the car at the Pisa airport.

Renting a car is best for visiting small villages (and where a local train may stop twice a day, if at all).

A car is not such a good idea for cities and larger towns well served by trains and where restrictions and difficult driving conditions exist..
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 06:22 PM
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We are in our 60's and did two trips to Italy. We did everything by train which was easy and stress free. The first trip we visited Rome, Amalfi, Florence and Santa Margherita Ligure (Cinque Terre). The last trip was Venice, Milan, Varenna on Lake Como, Stresa on Lake Maggiore and Geneva. We chose hotels which were close to the train station (except Amalfi) through TripAdvisor and we were not disappointed. I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time!
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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Thanks for all the input. The purpose of training to Pisa airport and renting a car there is so we would not have the added expense of dropping off a rental car at a different location than where we picked up the car and for the ease of bringing the car back to Pisa airport where we would fly out of. I would plan to go straight out of Pisa airport rental and onto our country/coast excursions. Pisa itself is not of interest compared to other things.

One of the big advantages of the car for me is being able to move at will and explore the countryside more freely. Yes, I realize that comes with driving stresses! I also like the idea of the car carrying luggage rather than us toting luggage all around from town to town.

Question!! - Is it safe to keep luggage locked in a car (hopefully in a closed trunk and out of sight), while we park and visit local towns?

If locked cars are routinely broken into then I would seriously reconsider. Trust that we would be wise and NOT leave valuables like cameras or purses in the car - just a suitcase with clothes. Not valuable but important to keep safe.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 09:56 AM
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I've read various comments on leaving luggage locked in the car. In our experiences, sometimes we just have to do it, as we're traveling from one hotel to another. Most cars have a truck or a hatchback with a cover. We make sure all luggage is out of sight; try not to leave anything in view, but all stuff left within view of the car is non-identifiable as tourist junk, and of course take with us anything that we couldn't bear to lose.

As I mentioned before, I think your driving plan is good, but if you check with rental companies, you probably find that picking up and dropping at different locations within the same country should not effect the rental costs.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 11:19 AM
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bbkay, just a few more comments for you:

First, think carefully about 'luggage.' How much do you really need to take with you? If you can pare it down to carry-on size, your dilemmas shrink too. Rather than the experience of 'toting luggage all around from town to town,' your little bag trails happily along behind you. I and many others have traveled throughout Italy and far beyond for weeks on end with no more than what we can easily lift into the overhead bins on the flight over. Makes life easier.

Secondly, I love nytraveler's suggestion to involve your son in determining your itinerary. Brilliant! Give him a few books to leaf through or set him loose on the computer and see what catches his fancy.

And thirdly, have you thought of going south from Rome, rather than north? Everything you can find in Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence (well, except for David and that silly tower), you will find in spades around the Bay of Naples, with lots of 'seaside' thrown in for good measure, and the food is to die for. This is Italy on steroids!

Walking on the hills of the Sorrentine Peninsula is glorious. Small villages and hamlets are linked by an intricate network of ancient footpaths and mule tracks which lead you through lemon and olive groves, to reach timeless villages, limestone cliffs dropping steeply to the sea, Saracen watchtowers, ruins of Roman villas. There are unimaginably scenic viewpoints and vast panoramas where the sea and the Lattari mountains merge.

And it's great fun traversing the Bay and visiting the islands. Even during busy seasons, it's easy to get away from the crowds on Capri or Ischia. Or spend a day (or two or five as I often do) on Procida. Lovely Procida is small enough to cross on foot in half a morning. Large old pomegranate trees shade dusty lanes leading from one quiet village to the next. Corricella, just over the hill from Marina Grande, the island's main town, is a warren of pastel houses and narrow lanes linked by scalatinelli, or staircase streets, and is simply one of the most drop-dead-gorgeous places you're ever likely to see. This is authentic southern Italy, with not a gift shop, boutique or Rick Steves book in sight. Here are a few images, if you're interested:
http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/p51943320.html
http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/p24513137.html
http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/p53023051.html
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 02:29 PM
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I wouldn't dismiss Pisa (that silly tower); we thought it would be cheesy but ended up loving it!
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