Cinque de Terre, Tuscany, and Venice

Old Jun 14th, 2024, 04:47 AM
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Cinque de Terre, Tuscany, and Venice

Hi. I'm hoping several may offer some thoughts on my wife's and my hope to travel to Italy this late September / early October.

We are in are mid to late 60's but consider ourselves active. Love to walk and easy/moderate day hikes.

We will be flying from Boston.

I was 16 the last time I was in Italy and did a country-wide tour with my family. Although it was fantastic, this is not something my wife and I want to do. We would like to do things on the most part at our on pace and although Italy is famous for its art and architecture we do not want to spend most of our time in musuems. We would visit a famous work of art here and there but that is not our priority.

Our priority is to enjoy the beautiful landscape, scenery, great food, and relax for the most part. We hope to make several visits to Italy over the next several years exploring different regions one at a time.

For this trip I was thinking of walking amongst and through the five main cities of Cinque de Terre, relaxing in Tuscany with a day visit to both Florence and the wineries and ending the trip in Venice.

On another trip I want to plan the Naples, Amalfi coast area, then maybe Sicily, and then so on. Rome is not on the top of our list at this time.

With that said, although we are not looking for a rigid schedule of a tour we are also in need of someone to hold our hand with the planning including the travel to/from each destination and the accommodations.

The two most popular tours that we are aware of are Perillo and Tauck neither of which have our desired thoughts as a standard package, They are more inclusive of several areas but again alot of movement around without alot of time at any specific destination.

My thoughts were:

Fly from Boston to Milan.
Transportation to Cinque de Terre. Stay 3 nights which would give us time to settle in and explore the next couple of days.
Transportation to Tuscany. I heard Ciena would be a nice home base. Stay 4 nights. Take a tour to Florence one day. Take a tour to the wineries one day. And relax the next 2 days.
Transportation to Venice. Stay 2 nights.
Fly out of Venice to Boston.

Tauck doesn't offer custom planning. Perillo does. Perillo has provided a quote.

Any thoughts, comments, or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Please let me know if I have posted this in the incorrect section. If so I will try and correct that.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 05:43 AM
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Sounds like a nice plan, but I think you may be counting your time incorrectly. How many days/nights will you have for this trip?

Two nights in a place provides just one full day there, with travel days before and after each location. I have traveled in Italy many times, and even I end up using at least half a day to travel between locations when one considers checking in and out of hotels, traveling to train stations, the actual train ride, and so forth. Many find it helpful to think in nights rather than days.

Your current plan:
Night 1: Fly from Boston to Milan.
Night 2: Arrive Milan. Travel to Cinque de Terre. Stay 3 nights. Time to settle in and explore the next couple of days
Night 3: Cinque de Terre
Night 4: Cinque de Terre

Night 5: Travel to Tuscany/Ciena. (Do you mean Siena?) Stay 4 nights.
Night 6: Siena; day trip to Florence.
Night 7: Siena; day trip to wineries.

Night 8: Siena. "And relax the next 2 days." With "4 nights" you only have 1 day remaining.
Night 9: Travel to Venice. Stay 2 nights.
Night 10: Venice

Night 11: Fly out of Venice to Boston.

Hopes this helps you plan.

Last edited by ellenem; Jun 14th, 2024 at 05:54 AM.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 06:28 AM
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I agree with the approach of counting nights and coming to terms with how few sightseeing days that actually gives you. Are you able to lengthen the trip? One full day in Venice, for example, is sad, especially if this is your once in a lifetime visit.

it’s Cinque Terre, by the way, no “de”.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 06:35 AM
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Siena, Italian is, unlike English, a very precise language in terms of pronuciation and spelling so using Ciena would throw complete confusion into the mix.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 07:19 AM
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Have you looked at flights yet? I ask as flights leaving out of VCE tend to be VERY early, and getting to the airport in the early hours can be a bit of a pain, especially if you stay closer to San Marco.

Because of this, I'd actually suggest flying into Venice rather than home from it. And another note, you may also find that flying into Florence or Pisa may be better for your CT and Tuscany points than Milan. You may not be able to fly direct, though. But may be worth looking into.

I agree with the othes, Venice deaerves more than 2 nights. If you could push it to at least three, you will be able to breathe a bit more, especially since so many use Venice as a day trip. Pre-book for any sightseeing at the San Marco landmarks.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 09:37 AM
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It sounds like you're thinking of a trip of less than 2 weeks. If so, I'd drop Venice and keep to a smaller geographic area overall. Save Venice for a future trip that includes the Dolomites, Lake Garda, the Veneto and/or Emilia Romagna. Even the remaining itinerary that includes the Cinque Terre and Tuscany involves some long transfers with less time for sightseeing.

In the current trip, although you don't want to spend time in Rome, don't disregard the option of flying into (and/or out of) FCO. I don't think you'll find many (any?) direct flights between Boston and other airports in northern Italy, but you could fly nonstop into FCO and bus to Siena in less time overall. Just me, but I don't like inbound flights that include a connection... one more chance for delay and lost time in an already short-ish trip. On the return journeys I don't care if I'm late getting home.

Wherever you fly home from, you'll need to spend the night before the flight near/at the airport.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 09:38 AM
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Hi and thanks!

Agree with the 3 nights at Venice so new plan is 3 in CT, 4 in Tuscany, and 3 in Venice if all goes well.

Spoke to an independent Travel contractor who my cousin used for his trip to Sicily. He was very pleased.

The contractor recommended the 3rd night in Venice as well.

W
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 03:15 PM
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Definitely fly INTO Venice. Much easier than flying out of Venice.

Getting to Venice from Marco Polo Airport. [Make sure you have seats on the right/starboard side of the aircraft, for a view of Venice as you fly into Marco Polo.]



Do take a look at your hotel website – there may be info there. Otherwise,



1. Water taxi will get you close, maybe to, the door of your hotel. Can carry about ten people, will cost about €140 for the boat. No need to book, taxis are waiting at the Marco Polo dock.

2. Shared water taxi. Minimum of two people. Book in advance, wait at the desk in the terminal for the others sharing the taxi. Costs about €30 per person. Google “shared water taxi Venice”, use the venicelink dot com web site. Will get you to a vaporetto stop near your hotel.

3. Alilaguna ferry, as per below.

4. Bus to Piazale Roma, then walk to your hotel, or take vaporetto to the nearest stop. Buses leave from the outside the terminal, tickets at the machine.



Water transport in Venice.

1. Gondolas. Only for pleasure, not for transport. 90 euro for half an hour for the boat, more for evenings.

2. Traghetto – big gondolas, two oarsmen, about ten passengers, for crossing the Grand Canal. Found at Rialto, San Toma and a couple of other places. Cost 2 euro per trip, can save a heap of walking.

3. Water taxis, which are like a floating limo, costs to match.

4. Vaporettos - ACTV. Are like a floating bus, operate on a bunch of routes. Get the app Chebateo for routes and schedules. Vaps do not service the airport. Vaps are not water taxis.

5. Alilaguna ferries, service the airport, run from Marco Polo via a bunch of stops to the main part of Venice, Murano and Lido. They stop at some, but by no means all, vaporetto stops.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 03:22 PM
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Won't reinvent he wheel here since I agree with almost everything posted so far . . . I just want to emphasize reversing the order and definitely fly IN to Venice and home from Milan.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 06:36 PM
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I agree with pretty much everything posted so far, especially three nights in Venice and starting your trip IN Venice.

What does an "independent travel contractor" do? Make sure that, if you pay to use one, they will do what you want, and not, instead, send you to stay at hotels where they get a commission but may not totally fit your wants or needs. Fodors is a forum full of people who plan all of their own travel. If you or your wife are comfortable with planning your own trip, you will have many independent travelers who love to share their experiences and suggestions. If you want to have someone else plan your trip, do check yourself on the location of each hotel, to make sure it's conveniently located for walking around the town, going to restaurants, and visiting cafes.

In terms of the Cinque Terre, especially because that will now be at the end of your trip, check on the weather there at that time of year. The Cinque Terre is beautiful, but not so much to do if it's rainy. BTW, my favorite town to stay in is Monterosso al Mare, because they have the largest number of restaurants. Also, look at how you will get there; I don't think it's a straight shot from anywhere; but others can provide advice about that, we've always had a rental car when going to the Cinque Terre.

I love Siena; we've visited in the past, stayed there five nights last year, and are returning for another five nights this fall. We love to sit at a (over-priced) cafe in the Campo and people-watch. If you want to visit Florence from Siena, a tour is probably the easiest, as the train station in Siena is not right in town, though you could also take the bus to Florence from Siena. And a wine-tasting tour is a good idea too. For your other days, you could check on public transportation to Monteriggioni, it's a nearby very scenic walled town.

Re Venice, one thing that we have splurged on is a private water taxi from the airport to our hotel; to be speeding (or feeling like speeding) across the lagoon and seeing Venice rise up in the distance! I would suggest to not stay at a hotel that's too close to Piazza San Marco, because that part of the town is very full of people. In the past, we've stayed at hotels in the Cannaregio, but now we like hotels on or near Campo Santa Maria Formosa. It's close enough to Piazza San Marco to get there easily, but not as many people right in the Campo. Look a Venice map to get an area of where things are. The best thing to do in Venice, IMO, is to wander along the streets and canals.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jun 16th, 2024, 07:18 AM
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Thanks for all the great feedback. This is exactly why I reach out to the forum. The forums have helped us plan so many of our trips.

I wish we could afford in both time and money something more than 10 nights this time around,

Although our ambitions are to travel at other times to other areas like the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, etc, there are also many places outside of Italy that are on our list. Not enough time to do it all unfortunately. With that said, I really do think we need to fit in Venice on this trip.

Any further recommendations of hotels and restaurants in each area that you have experienced and would recommend to visit?

Has anyone hiked within CT?

I rally do appreciate all the great advice. I think the visit to Florence and a visit to the wineries is something we really want to do. Is Siena (sorry for the misspelling) the right home base?

Thanks again, W
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 03:53 PM
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In terms of hotels and restaurants, I have several that I could suggest - what is your price range, and do you have any specific needs, such as an elevator or breakfast on-site, for a hotel?

Yes, my spouse and I hiked/walked the Cinque Terre many years ago. It was lovely, lush and beautiful. At the time of year that you will be going, it could be rainy (or not), and might be crowded with people (or not). Note that you can hike from village to village, or on other trails that do not connect the villages.

Re your question about whether Siena is the right home base for you, it depends on what you're looking for. I like it because the views over the countryside are gorgeous (though many Tuscan towns offer this), it's a small city (not a village), so a large selection of restaurants (something that is important to us), and great people-watching, and it's a small pedestrian city that is easy to walk around in. BUT we have and use a rental car, for getting to Siena and taking day trips from there. I think that getting around in Tuscany is more difficult without a car, though others can tell you how to get around by public transportation or private driver. If visiting wineries is important to you, do you have particular wines or wineries that you want to see? Chianti, or Brunello di Montalcino, for example? If so, then pick a tour that focuses on your preferred type of wine. I assume you plan to travel by train from Venice to Siena; that should be relatively easy; the train station by Siena is not right in the city, so you will have to take a cab from there to your hotel, an easy thing to do. And then the same to go from Siena to Milan. Any other home base that I can think of (for example, San Gimignano, which is delightful in the evening after the day visitors have left, or any town in Chianti) is more difficult to get to without a rental car.
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 03:10 AM
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We have hiked the Cinque Terre trails, including the Sentiero Azzurro and the high trails. The Sentiero Azzurro (the Blue Path) links the 5 villages but parts have been closed over the years due to landslides. I believe the section Via dell'Amore that links Manarola and Riomaggiore remains closed but there are alternate paths. You can find information on current trail conditions here:

https://www.parconazionale5terre.it/...ri-outdoor.php

If you are really interested in the hikes, you might get one of the books on hiking the various trails published by Cicerone or Sunflower presses.

One of my favorite walks is from Levanto to Monterosso. Take the train to Levanto (a nice town not considered among the 5 but worth a look) and hike to Monterosso. After the hike, we relaxed on the beach and then had a great meal at a beachside cafe. Heaven.

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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 07:43 AM
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Having hiked, trained and boated, the best views are by boat, which should still be running
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Old Jun 30th, 2024, 07:14 AM
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Thanks again!

Based on my research, early October would be a nice time to go. However, I'm concerned based on some comments regarding the rain.

Appreciate all of the great advice.

Although I did say that we want some free time to do whatever we wish, e.g., sit and observe, walk around, etc, we also recognize that while we are in the specific areas that we are planning what are the must do's in your opinion at each location if you had to choose just one or two at each location? For example, m thoughts are this:

CT: Basically nothing. Don't think we want a tour. We want to simply walk amongst the villages.
However, would consider a sunset cruise.

Florence: Having second thoughts of whether we should make this our home base,
Would consider a brief walking tour to become familiar with the city.
Definitely want to visit a winery. Most likely in Chianti.
If we stay in Florence should we visit Siena? Or should we consider 2 nights in Florence and 2 nights in Siena?

Venice: Do we need a walking tour to become acclimated?
Do you recommend the gondola ride. I'm thinking we should since as people have mentioned, it may be our only time there.

Again, would appreciate based on what you know from your experience now, if it were your first trip there (again I was there almost 50 years ago) what must do's would you do in each of the areas knowing that you don't want to be jumping on a tour bus every day?

Thanks! W

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Old Jun 30th, 2024, 07:53 AM
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I prefer Siena as a base and as a city to visit
If I like art then Florence is a more natural place

But actually I find smaller places better to visit and stay, like Montepulciano or an agriturismo out in the country but close to one of the smaller towns.

Venice, getting aclimatised seems unlikley, the place is a warren. What I would recomend is walk around the place after 10pm and just after 6am. Sit in the fish market and watch the place wake up. Vap to Chioggia makes for a special day. Bus to Padova and train back to Venice.

Bus route

Chioggia - Via Naccari → Facciolati Pontecorvo


Last edited by bilboburgler; Jun 30th, 2024 at 08:13 AM.
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Old Jun 30th, 2024, 08:12 AM
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I agree w/ bilboburgler and personally wouldn't take a walking tour but explore different neighborhoods on my own.

I would consider a walking tour that included just the St Mark's area -- Doges Palace/Cathedral etc -- the area is a zoo in the middle of the day and being in a smaller walking tour group that guides you through various parts of the Doges Palace and skips the line into into the Basilica is very worthwhile IMO/IME
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Old Jun 30th, 2024, 08:20 AM
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As we are also thinking of visiting Venice in the fall, someone mentioned to me that getting to the airport in Venice to leave on an early morning flight can be a challenge. I find early morning challenging enough, but without a ride to the airport could be quite disconcerting. Any experience?

We have a little more time, so we might just train to Bologna to get our flight back to LHR. I could handle spending a day or two in Bologna
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Old Jun 30th, 2024, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by natylou
As we are also thinking of visiting Venice in the fall, someone mentioned to me that getting to the airport in Venice to leave on an early morning flight can be a challenge. I find early morning challenging enough, but without a ride to the airport could be quite disconcerting. Any experience?

We have a little more time, so we might just train to Bologna to get our flight back to LHR. I could handle spending a day or two in Bologna

The best thing to do if at all possible is to arrange the trip so you arrive in to Venice and depart from some other airport in Italy. Early AM flights out of Venice are a beee-atch no matter the mode of transport.
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