Feedback on plans for Italy trip, please

Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 02:59 PM
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Feedback on plans for Italy trip, please

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in October -- the first for both of us. We have only 9 nights there, so I am trying not to try to do too much, but I also think the chances of our being back any time soon are pretty slim, so I do want to feel that we saw as much as we reasonably could. We are flying in and out of Venice (open jaw was not an option for us since we are using miles), have a daughter who will be studying in Florence whom we want to see, and we want to visit the place where another daughter studied several years ago (Perugia). We will be 51 and 58 when we go, are active but not rock climbers, enjoy culture but don't feel a need to see every piece of art in person, are hoping to see the countryside, and my husband is a history buff and I am a cooking/food type.

With all that as background, I'd love feedback on the options for itineraries I am considering.

Day 1: arrive in Venice; overnight there Day 1 and Day 2

Day 3: train to Cinque Terre; overnight there Day 3 and Day 4

Day 5: train to Florence; overnight there Day 5, 6, 7, and 8 with day trips to Spello, Chianti, Perugia (perhaps not all -- thoughts on which?)

Day 9: train to Venice; overnight there for next day flight home

Option:

I was considering modifying for one night in Venice at outset, then train and two nights in Cinque Terre, train and two nights in Spello, train and three nights in Florence, back to Venice for last night, then flight back.

My husband will want to scrap all this and drive, but I get stressed out with that and want to see what we can see from the train instead. Thoughts on that?

Any help is much appreciated!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 03:01 PM
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I'm gonna be blunt...if you really feel that the Cinque Terre is an absolute MUST SEE then go. IMO it cannot even BEGIN to offer what Florence and Venice offer.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 03:10 PM
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Thank you -- I really have no idea and am trying to figure out if that is a worthy use of those days. But do you say that just because of museums? My husband can take very little of that sort of thing, so I am trying to not make our trip just a big art history tour.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 03:11 PM
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I would drop cinque Terre from this trip as it will take the best part of a day to get there from Venice. Consider having another day in Venice and then go straight to Florence or possibly have a night or two in Bologna or somewhere like that. Chianti is a region, not a town, but Siena is an easy day trip from Florence. Rome is only 90 mins by high speed train from Florence.

Or, catch the train straight to Florence from Venice airport (if that's possible) and leave Venice until the end of the trip. My feedback from friends who short change Venice is that they didn't like it and wouldn't return. Those who have several full days there, myself included, invariably love it.

Do use the trains, they are quick, fast and stress free.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 03:28 PM
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cathies, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Since you are a Venice fan, I'd be grateful for any tips for must-do's you might have.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 03:51 PM
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The weather in October along the Italian Riviera can by rather iffy -- most especially if you are talking about the last part of October. It is already into Autumn, and if it rains, it will rain very heavily. In addition to just the sheer tedium of crossing the widest part of Italy by train (it is not scenic), le Cinque Terre is not such a spectacular sight that I think you should cram it into an already short trip.

You really can't daytrip to Perugia from Florence, so if you really want to go, you should plan on spending at least a night there. In fact, I would give the time you are now devoting to le Cinque Terre to visit Perugia, and I suggest you rent a car out of Venice, drive to Umbria, and use the car to see Perugia and Spello (and Bevagna?), then drive to Florence and get rid of the car there, and stay in Florence until you need to go back to Venice.

I'm sure cathies is accurately reporting on the reactions of her friends, but I have spent many days in Venice -- more than a week -- and don't love it. There is a popular misconception that the only people who don't love Venice are people who don't devote a lot of time to it, and thus somehow "shortchanged" it. Au contraire, some people just aren't Venice fans, and it is pretty obvious the moment you arrive what Venice is, so more days there won't "invaraibly" foster more enthusiasm if it's just not your type of place.

However, you describe your husband as a history buff. He might want to take a look at a guidebook for Venice and see how much of historical side of Venice he would like to explore, and figure out how much time you would like to spend there. What might really thrill both of you is to rent a car leaving Venice and stop in Ravenna on your way to Umbria, just for lunch and to see the mosaics there.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Don't break up the time in Venice - it would double hotel check in times from airport to hotel, hotel to train (then train to hotel and hotel to airport (probably a half day altogether lost, plus not condusive to really getting a feel for Venice.

Put all the time in Venice at the end - minimum of two nights and one & half days. I would do three nights, 2&1/2 days. If you don't care for Venice, you could do a day trip to Padua, Vicenza, even Verona.

With husband's interest in history, stongly suggest you include Rome and skip CT.

You can't drive in Venice, don't want to drive in Florence; trains are cheap and easy, direct city center to city center, so save considerable time.

I would land in Venice and go straight to Florence (or Rome) or whatever other place you decide on.

Block it out this way and you can start to make a real plan. Substitute any place you like for Rome, day trips, whatever, but be sure to plan travel time.

Day 1 - Land in Venice, train to Florence
Days 2,3 - Florence (3 nts)(one day trip)
Day 4 - Train to Rome *
Days 5,6,7 Rome (4 nts)
Day 8 - Early train to Venice
Day 9 - Venice (2 nts, 1 & 1/2 days)
Day 10 depart
*Leave late if your want that day for Florence

or
Day 1 - straight to Rome
Days 2,3 - Rome (3 nts)
Day 4 - Very early fast Train to Florence
Days 4,5,6 - Florence (4 nts) - one day trip
Day 7 - Train to Venice
Days 8,9 - Venice
Day 10 - depart

With only nine days, I would absolutely not include Perugia this trip, but if I did, I might rent a car for the day and might include Assisi - big "if" and a big "might"
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:07 PM
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Hi! My first reaction, even before reading the other responses, was to drop the Cinque Terre because of the distance. Second reaction is to add one more night in Venice at the beginning of the trip. There is so much to enjoy beyond museums -- vaporetto rides on the canals, a side trip to Murano, secret itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace, San Marco, and all the nooks and crannies -- I would have one decent chunk of time there rather than splitting it up. At the end of your vacation, instead of venturing into Venice again, assuming you will have a VERY early morning flight, you could just stay overnight at an airport hotel. Third thought is to get a car for at least the middle of the trip, as GoldenAutumn suggests. It will afford so much more flexibility! (Oh, and I do love Ravenna.)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:08 PM
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If you must see Perugia and don't mind missing Rome, Goldenautumn's advice on how to do it is very good.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:16 PM
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I like the advice to go directly to Florence and save all the time for Venice in the end.

However, "history" in Italy is not just Rome. In fact, Perugia is one of most fascinating destinations in Italy any history buff could possibly want, because it is stacked and stacked with history -- literally. The bottom layers of the town have Etruscan tunnels and tombs, on top of that is Roman gates and arches and other remnants, there are medieval towers and prisons, some of THE most important Italian Renaissance paintings in Europe, it was the banking center of Umbria -- and of course not far from Perugia Hannibal defeated the Roman empire.

One of the great joys of Perugia is to take its many escalators up through the hilltown, and get off at various "floors" and see the excavations of each layer of the city's history. There is really nothing quite like it in Italy.

If one wants to see Roman ruins, there are beautiful ones 15 minutes outside of Florence, in Fiesole.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:42 PM
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On second thought, Goldenautumn might have something. Perugia (with an overnight) might be great, especially for a first time to Italy. You should read about it and decide for yourself.

We all have different likes/dislikes. I love Rome, but it took several visits, while Venice had my heart from the first minute, and I've been back seven times. The ruins outside of Fiesole are pretty, but not terribly impressive to me. Perhaps the day was just too chilly and gray and affected my perceptions - need to try it again on a sunny summer day.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 04:55 PM
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Combining many of the ideas mentioned, I recommend:

Day 1 - Land in Venice, train to Florence
Day 2 - Florence
Day 3 - Florence
Day 4 - Florence
Day 5 - Train to Perugia
Days 6 - Perugia
Day 7 -Train to Venice
Day 8 - Venice
Day 9 - Venice
Day 10 - depart

From Venice airport, you can take a bus or taxi to Venezia Mestre train station and catch a train to Florence (Firenze SMN). This plan allots more days in Florence to allow for a daytrip and time to visit your daughter. Perugia is near Spello so you might visit then if you felt the need to leave town.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 06:13 PM
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Thank you, all of you--so helpful! I will take all of this under consideration, with much appreciation!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 06:57 PM
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Ellenem's plan looks excellent logistically - if it suits your desires.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 02:21 AM
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Ttt
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