Cinque Terre and/or Venice decision?

Feb 26th, 2006, 10:08 AM
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Cinque Terre and/or Venice decision?

We are heading to Italy in September (likely 12 nights). We are having trouble deciding between Cinque Terre and/or Venice (we don't like to move too much). The itinerary we are thinking about is as follows:

Fly into Milan or Pisa
Cinque Terre - 2 nights
Venice - 2 nights
Florence - 5 nights
Rome - 3 nights
Fly home from Rome

Florence and Rome are definites as we love Florence and haven't spent time in Rome. We're debating on the above agenda or just doing Cinque Terre or Venice rather than moving that much. Appreciate any thoughts as well as favorite place to stay in Cinque Terre or nearby (we like expensive, nice hotels).
TJinSOMA is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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Cinque Terre is an extrememly pretty coastal area--not unlike dozens of other extremely pretty costal areas in Italy and the rest of Europe and thousands world-wide.

Venice is a unique world treasure--there's not another place like it in the world.

It's a no-brainer to me--Venice at least 4 nights.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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And if you haven't spent time in Rome yet, you need at least 4 nights there as well. Cut one from Florence as it sounds like you've been there before.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 10:29 AM
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Thanks Rufus. We're doing the five nights in Florence because of a hotel special (fifth night free) and we'll likely head into the wine country for a day or two.

We viewed the Cinque Terre as maybe a relaxing first couple of days. Uncertain if the villages are too small to stay and if we do CT would we be happier at Santa Margharita or Levante.
TJinSOMA is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Can't argue with a free night while traveling.

Keep in mind that Venice is also very relaxing if you plan your sightseeing around the daytripper surge each day. See the major sights near the Grand Canal before they arrive and after they leave.

While the daytrippers are stampeding thru town, you can be off looking at the lesser known, but still first-class sights, or just exploring this most unique of world cities.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Skip Pisa. Fly into Venice then train it back to Rome. Pisa (except for the tower) is not worth the time. Just do Venice Florence and Rome.
jay is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 02:34 PM
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I think the cathedral in Pisa is one of the great cathedrals of Europe. Do it as a day trip out of Firenze, however.

Personally, were it not for my dogged determination to see some of the art treasures of Venice, I would have avoided Venice all my life in favor of smaller Italian towns, and the towns along the Ligurian coast are incredibly charming, with only a few exceptions.

If you are not driven to see Venice (which scarcely has an authentic Italian personality anymore amid the marvelous antiques, it is so touristed), don't feel guilty about skipping it. Spend a night or two in Milan to see its fabulous duomo and the Last Supper, and eating fantastic food. Then head to the Ligurian coast.

The Cinque Terre villages have very little in the way of excitement but can be mobbed during the day. If you like expensive, nice hotels, check out the Cennobio al Doge in Camogli, and there are others in SML and Rapallo. The food in Liguria is fantastic, too.
nessundorma is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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Hi TJ,

I agree with Rufus, skip Cinque Terre and spend 4 days in Venice and you definitely need at least one more day in Rome!

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is online now  
Feb 26th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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Well now, I guess the CT would be relaxing, since the rest of your trip is more culture intensive. I would prefer SML, but then, I always do. More upscale hotels, with the best and most upscale being in Portofino. Portofino would be relaxing and as beautiful, but a lot more upscale than the CT.

There is only one hotel in the CT that can be considered upscale, and it is in Montorossa. It is nice, but nothing like the hotels in SML or Portofino. A lot of people think it isn't as nice as it ought to be:

I stayed there about 10 years ago and liked it, but was recently put off by there insistence on a minimum stay in high season.

In Portofino, there is of course the fabulous Hotel Splendido and Splendido al Mare:

I'd give a toe to stay at the Splendido.

In SML, the Continental is very nice indeed. I would say it one of the nicest hotels I know of and the grounds are fabulous. Gardens dripping down to the sea, with lounge chairs tucked around little coves with rock pools and privacy. Ah...

The Continental's sister hotel is the Metropole, which is a little less posh, but still very nice.

The Imperiale Palace in SML is considered tops but I like the location less than the Continental.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Venice has never had an authentic Italian personality--it has always been different from the rest of the country (even before it was a country).

Venice was never in pasta/tomato sauce,la dolce vita, Chef Boyardee mode.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 07:02 PM
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If you're going to choose between the two: Venice, hands down.
panecott is online now  
Feb 26th, 2006, 07:18 PM
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Oh please -- as if Chef Boyardee was authentic!

The Venice cult is sometimes just that. I very much liked seeing the fabulous artworks of Venice, but there is far more to Italy and Europe than Venice, which far too many people are told they "MUST SEE" only to find themselves stuck in other tourist's idea of what an Italian trip should be.

Too much of what made Venice a draw for the rest of Europe 100 years ago or more has been so commercialized in Venice today it's just a caricature of Venice. It's something pre-packaged for tourists to give them they experience they expect, no surprises.

It is possible to avoid that -- but it is hard if you only have a night or two to spend in Venice.

I think what's important on a message board is to let people hear the negative as well as the positive. After all, somebody who is about to spend thousands and thousands of dollars and the only vacation time they may get for the whole year is asking for CANDID opinions. Otherwise, they could just read the gushy guidebooks of MUST-SEES.

nessundorma is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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Sorry if my post above was abrasive, but obviously the notion that the rest of Italy eats pasta with red sauce is simply not true.

Turin, Genoa, Milan, Palermo, Naples and Rome all have distinct cuisines, and many of them have nothing to do with tomato sauce on pasta. And some people -- including Italians -- don't prefer the food of the Veneto.

One of the many joys of Italy is that there is no unified culture. A city like Torino simply could not be more different from Naples, and Ravenna is utterly different from Palermo, even though they both have mosaics that rival and even surpass those found in Venice.

Like I said, I feel privileged to have been able to go to Venice. But, personally, I wouldn't pick it as a vacation destination if I was looking for relaxation and rest.
nessundorma is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 08:01 PM
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I agree that if one were to hang around only St Marks and trod the beaten path during the height of tourist season then maybe one could miss the Venetian experience. However you're going in September and it's not that difficult to roam away from all of the hordes (intuition, a good guide book and a map will help) and thus experience a totally unique and magical city. I have traveled and seen quite a bit and, at the end of the day, can't get Venice out of my system. If you wander around other sestieres, you will NOT find a "charicature of Venice." Give Venice its due and skip CInque Terre (a tourist trap in its own right thanks to Rick Steves...and by the way, trying to see The Last Supper in Milan, after all the Da Vinci Code madness is no small feat because it's on everyone's MUST SEE list...not sure about nessundorma's advice). You won't regret it.
henryandcasper is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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I'd forgotten about the Da Vinci Code. However, only small numbers of people are allowed inside the chapel to see The Last Supper at any given time, so it's not like having to fight a throng.

I agree that Cinque Terre has become a tourist mob scene (and it has no fancy hotels), which is why I suggested Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure or Rapallo as alternatives.

But I still think "the Big Three" is not a formula that works for everybody. And while you can indeed wander away from the densest concentrations of tourists in Venice, one still finds that there are very few Italians left in Venice who aren't working for the Venetian tourist industry or who even live in Venice. And one hears English spoken more than Italian.

Maybe TJinSOMA will come back and identify more precisely what it is about Firenze that they love -- whether it is high art and architecture and all the museums, or that Firenze is a very stylish and wealthy Italian city with a strong commercial core and a wonderful cafe & restaurant life.

I would find it hard to go to Venice and not intensively sightsee, so if I needed to relax as part of my vacation, I'd pick a more nature oriented spot.
nessundorma is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 03:11 AM
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Hi TJ,

Italy, and the world, is full of beautiful scenery. There is only one Venice.

I would skip the CT and spend 4 nights in Venice.

I also suggest flying into Venice and out of Rome.

ira is online now  
Feb 27th, 2006, 03:35 AM
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ness--of course Chef Boyardee isn't authentic. Have you ever heard of "tongue-in-cheek"?

One of the complaints that many Americans have about Venice is that they can't get "good Italian food." And, for some of them, that's Chef Boyardee. Not realizing that the native cuisine of Venice (as well as most everything else) differs from the rest of Italy.

It's like going to Maine and expecting great Tex-Mex food.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 03:39 AM
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i agree with rufus. you did show later that you have a deeper understanding of italy but the initial comment about venice not providing an authentic italian personality sounded like someone complaining that new orleans didn't provide an authentic american personality.
walkinaround is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 03:44 AM
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i'm another who would spend the time in Venice. Yes, even in September, venice will be full of tourists but no more than cinque terre frankly. And as previous posters have noted, it is fairly easy to head off the main drag and find yourself in very quiet areas of venice.

I'm heading to venice this thursday for a long weekend - and must say, venice is a totally different city in the off-season. I have made it to venice every year for the past three years on cheap easyjet flights and always go in winter. Yes it can be bloody cold, but to aimlessly wander around, especially at night, on near empty streets is still magical..... I wouldn't go anywhere near Venice in summer - just awful.
londonlad is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 03:53 AM
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Sorry, nessundorma (not just because I know that you're a true expert for Italy, but especially because I love your nickname that much!) - but I'm really shocked reading what you're telling about Venice! These are fairy tales - quite widespread among experienced travelers, but nevertheless fairy tales.
All my visits summed up, I've spent at least six months in Venice, so I can say there is no other foreign city that I'm knowing as well as Venice, and I assure you that the true wonder of that town is that everyday life is working so perfectly there - in spite of the tourist crowds!! This IS a typical small Italian town, fairly unimpressed by tourism, and I can't admire the Venetians enough how they manage to maintain their town life... E.g., there is a blacksmith in almost each and every neighbourhood - not just in each sestiere, but literally in every neighbourhood, i.e. within less than five minutes walking distance. Whom do you think blacksmiths are working for? Tourists??
And above all: Venice is NOT touristed for those who know how to "use" that town. Only a few main tracks are extremely touristed - just turn around the corner, and there is the laundry hanging high above the lanes, there is the blacksmith, the hardware dealer, the carpenter, the grocery store... Barkeepers and grocers are knowing their clients, and have a good personal relationship with them, as everyone knows each other, the gossip is enormous... But of course, one restriction is true: you need a quite good knowledge of Italian to discover this hidden, true Venice - after all, the locals are not that eager to let tourists participate!
What is true of nessundorma's remarks, is that there is no collective "Italian" identity - each region, each city has its own! But this is also true, and to an amazing extent, for Venice!
franco is offline  

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