Balance

Old May 13th, 2017, 05:32 PM
  #1  
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Balance

Still looking for more feedback on how to spend 5 autumn weeks in Italy in Spain. We're not novices who want to run around and tick boxes off as many sights as possible. We want a good balance of town and city and country. Having said that we will be wholly dependent on train. Our plan is 3 days Rome, 3 Cinque Terre, 3 Lucca, 5 Florence, 2 Orvieto, 3 Barcelona, 3 Granada, 2 Cordoba, 5 Seville. We want to get to know places and not be in a rush, as much as possible. Any tips, suggestions? Thanks! ��
charlieandviv is offline  
Old May 13th, 2017, 06:19 PM
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Hi Charlieandviv!

Just what I think ( not that you must follow me) :

I have been to all those places but not to Lucca. Have you been to any of those places? This can make a difference.

3 days in Rome....seems a little short, even worst if one of those days is the day of your arrival.

3 days in Cinque Terre is plenty, you can also visit Rapallo / Santa Margherita / Portofino.

8 days in Lucca + Firenze. If this was my trip I will base in Firenze, doing easy day trips to Pisa, Lucca, Siena, and may be, just may be spending 7 and not 8 days. All those days are very easy and many persons do Pisa and Lucca in the same day trip.
Three days in Barcelona is correct or a little short, once again I assume one of those days is the day you are going Italy to Barcelona.

To me it seems that you can do perfectly with 4 days in Sevilla.

Almost all perfectly doable via trains, I can only remember the day trip from Firenze to Siena being much easier via bus.

Enjoy your planning and your trip!
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Old May 13th, 2017, 06:32 PM
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ira
 
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Hi C,

You will be changing venues 8 times. That's about 4 days lost.

When you say "Autumn", when will it be between 1 Sept and 31 Oct?

Have you checked on the weather in the Cinque Terre during the time you will be there?

Good advice from Jel.

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Old May 13th, 2017, 06:51 PM
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I wouldn't bother with Cinq Terre. Instead I'd head for Venice. Nice time with many fewer people. Take advantage of this !
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Old May 13th, 2017, 07:28 PM
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Agree with jelopez33. We did 7 days in Rome on our first trip and thought it was not enough, AND we were looking to tick boxes off so we could wander around aimlessly on our next trip. Agree with doing day trips out of 1 base in Tuscany, from Firenze or elsewhere. You say you're not a novice but it would help to know whether or not this is your first trip to these places.
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Old May 13th, 2017, 08:48 PM
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Thanks all. Will be going mid Oct to early Nov, Ira. Still reluctant to scrap Cinque Terre, despite weather risk. I have been to Rome and Barcelona, though my partner has not.

Another question: If we only prebooked, say, half our accomodation stays in order to give us flexiblility, do you think this is safe to do in off season? Or will hotels book fast?

Not sure about day trips from Florence, as I like the idea of overnighting and soaking in a few days of Lucca...
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Old May 13th, 2017, 10:34 PM
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For le Cinque Terre, you really should either book places you can cancel with 24 hours notice, or not book at all. On that part of the Riviera, the weather almost ineveitably turns to heavy rain by the 3rd week of October (sometime sooner). It is really the rare late Oct/early Nov that does not see some very severe storms where authorities warn people to stay off the roads, etc. Lucca typically gets a lot of rain in this window as well -- but it could be dry and sunny the 3 days you are there. However, be aware that if you do get rain in Lucca there is next to nothing to do indoors except shop, so you might want to take the same approach to Lucca that you do le Cinque Terre. Don't lock yourself in.

It's always a bit of a risk to go to Rome without reservations, and for Florence, if you are picky about hotels, you should probably book. If you are ok with b&bs, you might be able to skip it -- but for 5 days, you might want something nice. I'd want an apartment.

I think day trips as the days get darker are problematic in Italy.

Finally, for most of your present itinerary in Italy all you are "balancing" is small vs. large. All of the places on your list are international mega-tourist destinations. The minor exception to this is Orvieto, although even that has a very pronounced tourist profile. If you would like to balance your time in Italy between famous sights and Italy as the Italians mainly live it, you might look to mix in some more off-beat choices.
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Old May 13th, 2017, 10:41 PM
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(some off beat choices might be Arezzo instead of Lucca or Chiavari instead of le Cinque Terre (Chiavari is particularly good if you end up with rain)
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Old May 14th, 2017, 03:57 AM
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We spent 4 nights in Lucca, loved it. Very much a "Romanesque town" with Roman bits. The medieval walls still surround the historic center and you can walk/bike on the walls. Pisa is an easy one-hour train ride away.

BTW, I would not call Lucca an "international mega-tourist destination" -- there weren't many tourists there at all when we visited (June), and probably will be even fewer when you go.

We stayed 2 nights in Arezzo and for us that was about right. We stayed 2 nights in Orvieto and could easily have spent another, fascinating little town. Don't miss the Etruscan graveyard at the foot of the hill.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 04:00 AM
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We spent 5 nights in Lucca and loved it. It is a great base as it's well connected to Pisa and other towns on the train line to Florence. We loved it.

Our pics are here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...57634571813869
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Old May 14th, 2017, 07:15 AM
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It may depend on whether one is there when cruise shops and tour buses roll in (less in autumn) but it's just a fact that there is nothing going in Lucca's historic center other than commercialized tourism. The town has no other economy. In fact, one of the more interesting things about Lucca is that it was perhaps the first town in Italy, more than 100 years ago, to discover that if it didn't modernize, loads of Italians would come to visit, as tourists, to reminisce about the way things were and show the old town to their kids. There is actually a professional school of longstanding in Lucca focused on the study on sustainable tourist development. To

Lucca was also one of the first Tuscan towns to realize (perhaps because of its proximity to Pisa) that an overload of cheap tourism can be a bad economy, and therefore the commercialized tourism of Lucca is of a very sophisticated sort, aimed at high-end travelers. Lucca is notorious for outlawing most kind of restaurants & many kinds of shops in the center to keep tourist spending high. (It's one of the few towns in Tuscany with a right-wing government).

Lucca is definitely beloved by loads of visitors because it definitely delivers, and the beautifully preserved historic architecture is as real as real can be. But if you are thinking of mixing it up with Italian small town largely culture unreformed by commercialized tourism, there are other towns in Tuscany that offer beautifully preserved historic architecture, pedestrianzed streets, excellent food & wine (even better in my book) and good train connections.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 08:29 AM
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In October, I'd book your first night and last night and ...that's it. I've never slept in a ditch yet despite being European and holidaying in Europe. It's October..

CT, depends how you feel about getting wet, I don't mind it (I grew up sailing), but Mrs B hates it

I also think there are lots of pretty places in italy and while CT is one of them, it is only ONE of them.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 08:38 AM
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Well we were in Lucca at the beginning of July and enjoyed it. But then we like nice looking places with great food and wine. Not the type to go for indoor activities like museums. We took photos and sat in the lovely piazzas and enjoyed the food, wine and views. Had a lovely time. But we spent a lot of our days visiting other places as well.

To each their own!
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Old May 14th, 2017, 08:46 AM
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..."there is nothing going in Lucca's historic center other than commercialized tourism"...

Welllll, let's take a look at Florence, Cinque Terre, Orvieto, Pisa, Siena, Cordoba, Seville, Granada....

For us, Lucca had much less in-you-face commercialized tourism than quite a few other places in Italy and Spain. But, as always, YMMV
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Old May 14th, 2017, 09:03 AM
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EYWandBTV,

Yes. That is the point I was addressing. The original poster has put up 2 separate posts looking for advice about "balancing" their trip to get a variety of experiences. They have talked about country vs city -- and almost none of the places they are going in the countryside, not Lucca either. They are traveling by train, which makes it hard to get to the countryside -- so I was suggesting to them that if they are looking for variety they might look to "balance" tourist destination vs non-tourist destination as way of getting a variety of experience in Italy.

The "not-in-your-face" aspect of Lucca tourism is a very deliberate choice by the tourist planning government of Lucca. It is done with intelligence, to appeal to people who don't want the obvious in-your-face tourist attractions. Why not? There's nothing wrong with enjoying how things have been arranged when they are arranged that well. But were I planning a trip I woud want to know about beautiful, fascinating places to go in Italy where the local economy is not 100 percent geared to the tourist trade and all is arranged around that, even if I wanted to also see the tourist destinations. I might want to see how today's Italians live in historic cities and go about their lives where tourists are in the minority, and not everything is arranged to delight them instead of the locals.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 09:13 AM
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I read "balance"; "not novices"; "We want to get to know places and not be in a rush, as much as possible." and then I read your list.

There is a serious disconnect between what you have said (and I have quoted) and your list. Your list is the opposite of what you have said in my opinion.

When you write 'balance', does that refer only to city vs. country? What about the balance of days spent moving between places vs. days spent IN places? When you write '2 days in X', is there a third day spent moving to/from X? Days on which you move or not days on which you are IN a place. Count travel days and days spent in a place separately and then see what kind of 'balance' you are contemplating. Not doing that is a 'novice' mistake.

The more you move, the more you do NOT spend your time getting to know places and not in a rush. Do some reading on 'slow travel'. The basic premise is that you spend at least a week per place if you want to get even a small feel for a place. If you used that 'balance' then 5 weeks would only be enough for 5 places obviously.

Even better, is to spend all 5 weeks in ONE place. That's how you get to know a place. You're saying the right things but still coming from a 'tour' mindset. If you spend 5 weeks 'living' in a place, what you will get out of that is far different than what someone gets from moving around. It is hard to try and tell someone how that will differ. You have to experience it for yourself to understand it.

We are conditioned to believe that 'more' is somehow better. We are also conditioned to define 'more' as being quantity, not quality. Visiting 8 places must be better than visiting 5 places or heaven forbid, only 1 place.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 09:22 AM
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@frencharmoire: Yes, I take your point. This leads into a good discussion, recurring throughout this forum, of how to reach beyond places which have been "prepped" for us tourists and enter places which are beautiful and relatively unchanged, even now.

Since we plan to continue to visit this wonderful country until we can't, what are some of the smaller, rural, un-touristed places in Tuscany and Umbria which you think merit a visit. They shall go on our bucket list!
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Old May 14th, 2017, 09:53 AM
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If you want rural in Tuscany, then I would suggest Marradi, Buonconvento. Chiusi and possibly Pescia. All of these are reachable by train or train + short cab ride. With a car in the wine country, Civitella val di Chiana, Loro Ciuffenna, Lucignano. In the Maremma, Massa Marittima, Suvereto, Populona & Baratti (probably all of the Maremma, actually). Near the southern Umbrian border, Torre Alfina.

Umbria: Narni, Collepino, Scheggino, Torgiano, the lake towns of Lago sul Trasimeno, Montone, possibly Corciano.

Because these towns are well preserved and eons-old, they are visited by tourists, both Italian and foreign. It's a common practice for many budget tour operators to stop at some of the lesser-known towns as examples of hill towns, etc, or where they have an arrangment with a local trattoria to serve a group, so I can't promise you that you won't see a tourist. Also, some of these towns are so tiny and remote that they have lost their original economic reason for existence, and it is probably the case that a big chunk of the city income is derived from weekend tourism and special festivals designed to attract visitors. Still, if you don't like the feel of the pre-packaged, these are charming places, often with surprising unique artistic treasures.
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Old May 14th, 2017, 10:04 AM
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Thank you
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Old May 14th, 2017, 11:55 AM
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Getting off the tourist-vs.-nontourist topic, the walls of Lucca are not medieval. In medieval times, the walls were nowhere near that thick, as they didn't have to stand up to heavy artillery. The construction of the present walls in Lucca began in the 1500s (late Renaissance) and ended in the mid-1600s (early modern times). By the time they were finished, the whole idea of defensive walls was becoming outmoded.
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