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Auto or Train for Two Nov. Weeks in Italy, Venice-Florence-Tuscany

Auto or Train for Two Nov. Weeks in Italy, Venice-Florence-Tuscany

Old Oct 5th, 1999, 05:24 PM
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Auto or Train for Two Nov. Weeks in Italy, Venice-Florence-Tuscany

We will have two weeks to see Venice, Florence, Tuscany and countryside in Nov.. In and out of Milan. Should we go by first class train as our NYTimes travel reporter recommends and rent cars for day trips or take train. Or should we rent car for entire trip....What not to miss---and what to avoid....in dividing up our time....many thanks....
Old Oct 5th, 1999, 07:05 PM
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Just returned last week from a trip with similar itinerary.....I've read/heard all the warnings about driving in Italy....recommendations for the trains, etc.
I drove nearly 1000 miles and had not a hint of a problem, including driving to the Duomo in Florence twice in two days (though this is not recommended for the faint of heart...but not worse than driving around the Arc d'T in Paris or in NYC).
IF you like to drive, like the freedom and ability to write your own daily schedule, and you're comfortable driving in traffic, I strongly recommend driving. BUT it's certainly not the best tack for everyone.
BTW having a car in Tuscany is a must.
And if you've not yet purchased your plane tickets, consider an open jaw itinerary...fly into Milan and out of Rome. It's frequently no more expensive and cuts down on your total drive time.
AutoEurope has best rates (at least they did last week).
I'd skip Milan for the most part. I'd visit Lake Como and then head east to the Dolomites region, then Venice, down to Firenze, over to Siena, or to the coast then Siena, pick some of the dozens of great spots in Tuscany, then head down to Rome. Of course change the order if you're locked into flying out of Milan. Any specific questions?
Old Oct 6th, 1999, 08:41 AM
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Hello Clare, Cary has some very good
advise here. Do not get yourself stuck
in only the cities--there is so much to
see in Italy. I would defintely include
time at the lakes and Tuscany. Start with the train to Venice--then to Florence--get the car as you leave Florence to spend time in Tuscany and then drive up to Lago Maggiore/Orta for
3 days at the end--Malpensa airport is
only :45 from there. I have other ideas
if you want to email me.
Old Oct 6th, 1999, 09:32 AM
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Definitely do the car; cost-wise, it's pretty much a break-even with two people car vs rail. IF you were just going to the cities, I'd say do the rail (save having to drive in cities). In order to see the countryside, you'll need a car to be able to see Italian Italy, not just guidebook Italy.
Milan is Pittsburgh; it's got the Last Supper and a couple of other highspots; don't spend more than a half-day there.
If you can, do visit Lake Como; the little towns look like they were made up just for tourists, but they are REAL. Tres cool...Bellagio has an 11th century church that is in stark comparison to the Duomo or St Mark's. Makes you wonder why they bothered to add the gewgaws on those cathedrals...
Old Oct 6th, 1999, 12:15 PM
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I'm with Bob on this one, you should go for a combo. We really found the trains a relaxing way to go for travel between the cities. On our two trips we found the first class cars to be largely populated with child-free American couples. We struck up several fun conversations with fellow tourists. But you definitely will do better with a car when you are seeing Tuscany, and to get a feel for the countryside. If you are not on a strict budget try to go up a car class or two, so you get something with a little size and, more importantly, a little power. I think those roads would be much more frightening in a tiny Fiat that can barely get up a hill.

Don't miss Siena!! Orvieto is great too. Don't miss driving the Chianti road between Florence and Siena. Don't miss a wonderful dinner at Da Fiore in Venice.

Avoid St Marks in Venice at about 10AM, that seems to be when the worst of the tour groups arrive. Much better to plan for the Basilica at around 3 or 4 PM.

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