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Jan 24th, 2006, 01:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10

I would like to start of by saying: HELP ME PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!

I am planning a trip for myself (30), my sister (27) and my dad (59) and perhaps 1-2 more people to Italy in June. I think I'm a little behind, but I have confidence I can do it once I get pointed in the right direction! Unfortunately, I am the only planner of the group and I have no idea where to start. I got the one Italy destination book by Steve (forgot his last name) and briefly skimmed. I'm so confused!!! In case you haven't noticed, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the burden of being responsible for planning the entire trip (and ultimately everyone's enjoyment of it), especially having never travelled in Europe, so I don't know what to expect or how to go about navigating the whole operation.

This is what I know so far. I'm thinking about around a 12 day itinerary and want to hit best cities (I know this can be debated forever) and an overall itinerary that offers a good sampling in all that is Italy. I don't want to be too rushed but I do want to get to see the most out of the trip, especially for my Dad as he is not a big traveller but is excited about the prospect of Italy....trust me, he would never plan this trip on his own.

Money is not really an issue...we want to travel at a little above comfortable medium, but it doesn't have to be the Four Seasons by any means. I am also not really interested in tour groups, except for like a day tour or something as I don't want to be schlepped from city to city nor do I want to be restricted to someone else's schedule.

So it all comes down to this. How do I do it? Besides the itinerary suggestions (which I DEFINITELY need) can anyone also shed some light on the "order" of things? Meaning do I pick the itinerary I want first then go city by city planning how we will get there and where to stay? Ending with what we will actually DO when we get there? What are the best sites to search for airfare especially for open jaw flights?

I know a lot of people ask for trip advice, so if you've already exhausted yourself writing an answer on another thread, just point me there.

I appreciate and thank everyone in advance for ANY and EVERY piece of advice. Hopefully you won't mind continued questioning as I move forward in my planning.
Mooralez is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,630
Don't be overwhelmed. You have come to an “Advice Shangri-La”.

To ease the frustration - up above is a search box...type in Italy Itinerary

or, a few posters whose trip "style" I appreciate are named Ira, BobTheNavigator are MaiTaiTom, just to name a few. Type in their names and well...borrow their ideas...

I'd also go the the Fodor's homepage, desinations, Italy. Would help to narrow down what ALL of you want and expect out of this trip. I suggest you all get together for a nice dinner...wine and pastas. Want museums? Want churchs? Wine? Villa's?
Water views? Mountains?...
SuzieC is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 4,717
It's for a longer trip, but the following thread has some tips that you may find useful:

Eloise is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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Calm down. You'll be fine.

First, choose your dates. Then check flight costs. I use orbitz. Once I see who has the lowest flights to my arrival or departure city, I call that airlines and see what I can arrange over the phone in terms of going in and out of different cities. Then I buy my tickets.

I think you're right not to use a tour. It's much more fun to negotiate the place on your own. And not so difficult, assuming you have a decent head on your shoulders.

Of course the 3 must-see cities in Italy are Venice, Florence, and Rome. I would add to that two very beautiful areas that are often discussed here--the Lakes region and the Amalfi coast. 12 days is a bit short to cover all of these places. Although it can be done, I wouldn't try it. Do you prefer cities or natural beauty? I'm big on beauty myself. If I were bringing people to Italy for twelve days, I'd probably leave out Florence (terrific, but my least favorite of all the places I mentioned) and do the following:

Fly into Milan and go directly to the Lakes. Book a hotel in Bellagio or Varenna on Lake Como for 3 days. Go to Venice for 3 days. Go to Rome for 3 days. Go to the Amalfi coast (stay in Amalfi or Positano or Ravello) for 3 days. There's a great trip. You'll do Florence next time around.

Hotels, train tix, and planning your activities/sightseeing are the next step.
Guy18 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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P.S. Then fly out of Rome with memories of a wonderful experience!
Guy18 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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First of all, my congratulations and my condolences. Congratulations on your decision to have a wonderful trip to Italy (and a great length for a trip and a great time), and condolences on your feeling responsible for EVERYONE having a wonderful time.

I did the same for myself, wife, and three other couples. About half-way through the process, I was encouraged by almost all of them to not be so anxious about trying to please everyone. And in the end, after keeping everyone informed regarding the itinerary, hotels, tours, etc., I realized that if the others didn't have a good time, it was their problem, not mine.

We "did" a week at a villa in Umbria (others might suggest Tuscany), with rental cars, and daytrips to Florence (on the train), Perugia, Orvieto and Assisi, and then train to Positano for 2 nights, 2 nights on Capri, and three nights in Rome. So we flew into Rome and out of Rome. Venice is a must for some people (we were there 15 years ago and going back this June), so you may want to consider an open-jaw into Venice and home from Rome, or if you prefer the itinerary including southern Italy to open-jaw with Rome and Naples. I don't think you ought to try to do all of Italy in 12 days.

For details on our trip you can go to my trip report (click on my name to find it), and there are many other trip reports you might check out (search Italy trip report).

As far as sequence of planning activities, I'd suggest the following:

1. Decide dates
2. Decide Rome plus north (Venice and Florence and Tuscany or Umbria) or Rome plus south (Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Capri)
3. Decide how many days in each location, trying to minimize the number of times you pack and unpack (e.g., use daytrips if needed)
4. Buy airline tickets (based on decisions made in steps 2 and 3 above)
5. Decide how you're going to get from one location to another - basically train vs. car rental, although I'd discourage anyone from haveing a rental car in Rome or on Amalfi Coast)
6. Identify hotels (use Fodor's, Trip Advisor, SlowTravel for advice) in each location and book them
7. Identify what you want to see in each location, noting that for some locations and specific sites you definitely need advance reservations - Accademia and Ufizzi Palace in Florence, Scavi tour (excavations under St. Peters in the Vatican) - and make those reservations as soon as you can.

8. Know that as you proceed through these basic steps you can return to Fodors and get great advice from others who done this once before (people like me) or MANY times before (Ira, Bobthenavigator, Elaine, LoveItaly, etc).

knoxvillecouple is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 68
Although I haven't yet been to Como [next September will change that], I like Guy 18's suggested itinerary for a blend of must see cities and the natural [almost supernatural] beauty you get on Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast. I also agree that I would leave out Florence, since you have to leave out something with only 12 days.
Some resources I find invaluable are:
* tripadvisor.com for hotel rankings, and consumer reviews
* venere.com for additional reviews, pictures and no-charge booking
* autoeurope.com for information on rental car prices and train schedules, also you can make reservations for both
* michelin's road mapping service on line [look it up on google] to give you routes, and estimated driving times and tolls
* virtualtourist.com...feedback on the top things to see and do in every city and/or location
I was like you when I started doing this planning, but now find that the planning process is half the fun.
PS< Don't forget to use this forum.
rexmor is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 83
You have some great ideas, so far. My two cents to add in: Are you renting a car or using public transportation? If using a car, make sure you are comfortable with a very small car for all of you because in many places, parking is at a premium and you want the smallest car possible to give yourself more options in parking. I personally recommend public transportation. If you can go that route, get Rail Passes with other goodies attached (such as bus, boat and subway access and museum discounts). For a June trip, you need to get them immediately and they usually must be purchased here(check RailEurope.com.) I think there is one for just Italy which is infinitely cheaper than getting a whole Eurail Pass. This was by far my smartest investment when I visited Switzerland. Then when you decide where all to go, print out some timetables. I want to recommend another travel book - The Rough Guide (get the one for Italy). Before my trip I read many books, but that is the one I carried with me and used the most. Here's another website for air deals - AirFareMall.com. They update frequently throughout the day with any sudden air wars or last minute deals to fill up a certain flight. Because I was in that site at the right time, I nailed a flight from LA to Geneva for $474 for early September - an absolute steal. By the way, Rome is very hot and sticky with huge mosquitoes in June. (That was my only Italian experience )Also, I highly recommend learning a little of the local language when I travel. It makes a big difference for the obvious reason and these days, for reasons less obvious and on many levels.
scheraulei is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 254
With 12 full days to devote to Italy, I would fly into Venice and stay 2 days, Florence 2 days, drive through Tuscany 1 day, Amalfi coast 2 days, Rome 3 days, fly out of Rome. The other 2 days are travel days, either by car or by train.

Florence's art museums can be done in one day if pressed.

Substitute the Lakes for the Amalfi coast if you prefer.

Rick Steves will encourage the Cinque Terre but that is for a second visit.

This is a whirlwind trip. You might consider visiting fewer cities for a more relaxing trip. I always enjoy seeing as much as possible on a first trip. Your decision.

Start with your itinerary -- which cities and for how long. You'll need a good guide book to help you decide what to do in each place (I like Frommers for planning -- some of his guide books have "what to do if you have 1 day, 2 days, etc.") Get a good map of Italy at a large book store. Make sure your itinerary is compatible with driving/train distances. Decide if you will be driving or using train. (I recommend driving and booking a car through autoeurope.com) Book air tickets to fit your schedule. The last thing you need to do is book hotels. Venere.com is good, along with Orbitz and Travelocity.

Italy is fantastic. You will want to return.
crckwc is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Get the Michelin Green Guide to Italy, which has suggested itineraries.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 03:56 PM
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We did about two weeks and did four days in rome - cold do it in three, then 2 days in venice (went up by train) and then 2 days north of venice (in the mountains) in a town called Follina and then 1 week in a villa in Tuscany near Siena and then back to Rome.
It was a wonderful vacation - the people in Italy are fantastic.
in Rome we stayed at a small inn about a five minute walk from the Vatican (not too touristy) - Hotel Bramante (they have a website - it was a four star hotel - not up to the normal North America standards but had charm and a great location) - we also stayed the last night at the Farnese Hotel which is closer to the train station. Nice accomodations but as good a location. In Rome we hired a private tour guide (out of Chicago - 847-853-1661 - we live in Toronto) - highly recommend it - more enjoyable to do a tour this way in a small group and not that more expensive. In venice we stayed at Hotel Pensione Accademia - right on a canal and it has a beautiful courtyard that you can relax in after a day of touring. We spent about 3 hours in Murano one afternoon(where they do the glass blowing) - we had a water taxi take us there (only takes about 15 minutes)and he set up a private tour of the glass blowing factory - one of the best days we had in Italy.
in Follina we stayed at the Relais & Chateux hotel (Villa Abbazia) - the web site doesn't do it justice (unbelieveable dining there).
In Tuscany we stayed in a villa near Siena and it was a great location because we could get in and out of Florence a few times which was about an hour away. Because of the winding roads in Tuscany - what looks like a short drive in the country never is so keep that in mind. The towns of Siena, Grieve in Chiati were espically great - I could have spent months there.
Stay away from the touristy restaurants - we ate in local places and had wonderful and inexpensive meals.
Good luck.
SusanD is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,708
It might be good to ask your dad and sister what their "must sees" in Italy are. That could help a lot with the planning.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Mar 27th, 2006, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 176
I just booked a round trip into venice and out of rome - best price I got after looking at all the discount air sites was on the phone with swiss air. Their web doesnt let you do dual destination/departures. For venice i would look at world in a bag for apartments. That is all, because the other posters gave you good advice.
rosexmke is offline  
Mar 27th, 2006, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818

Aside from all the excellent suggestions above, I strongly recommend you keep this trip for you, Dad and Sis...the other two or three hopefully will decide to stay home. For your first-time trip, having those additional folks on board will build the complexity by a magnitude of 10...you can do it, and have fun, feeling responsible if you wish..but just pleasing Dad and Sis will be far more simple than adding a few more. Trip for Three, please!
Stu T.
tower is offline  
Mar 27th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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I see the OP started this 2 months ago and hasn't been back with more questions or comments. I wonder if she gave up or decided to go somewhere else?
enzian is offline  
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