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First solo trip to Italy 21days need suggestion pls...

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Apr 6th, 2013, 12:48 AM
  #1
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First solo trip to Italy 21days need suggestion pls...

Starting my retirement trips early... REST/RELAXING, SLOWDOWN SMELL THE COFFEE , TAKE IN THE BEAUTY AND SPECIALLy MINGLING WITH THE LOCALS/CULTURE KIND OF VACATION...53yr female traveling solo...I have a pretty good idea which providences I want to visit, just having a hard time setting an itinerary that would make sense. I WONT be driving...need some suggestions on that considering I want to spend time in the Tuscan countryside and in Umbria...I am interested in museums, art, history, festivals, markets, churches GOOD FOOD , COOKING CLASS A MUST, vineyard, nature, ETC. Def want to see the cities but Im mostly looking to spend more time in smaller, quaint, farm like areas...my general idea is....
Venice 2days

Parma/Bologna 2days

Florence/Pisa 2-3days

Tuscan coountryside 3-4 days...not sure where to settle for these days..I would need to be able to get around to see the area through 1day trips bus/train etc..? (Siena,Lucca,Arezzo,Chianti,San Gimigiano,Monstepulciano

Umbria..5-6days This is the area that has interested me the most.....Perguria, Spoleto, Assisi,Todi,Terni etc. Suggestionssss Please!! Not sure where to settle and still be able to get the most out of the area with day trips..if possible...Actually thinking of possibly retiring here in the future..

Naples/Sorrento ferry trips to Capri?? 2 days

Rome 2 days
I will be traveling in late May 2014
I know I have time but would love to start planning soon...
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Apr 6th, 2013, 05:01 AM
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I also travel solo, about half the time, and when I am alone I also don't rent a car. Trains in Italy are wonderful, and buses too, but less so.

First thought - I think you are trying to do too many places if your intent is to 'slow down'. You have a lot of 2 day stops, almost half the trip. It certainly is possible to see those places in two days, but it definitely won't be 'slow'. I think I get your idea that having two longer stays in the middle will make the whole trip feel slower, but I'm not sure that will work as well as you think. Once you start researching each destination you'll find so many things you want to do, and 2 days won't be enough and that leads to disappointment and frustration. So either eliminate a couple areas or else spread things out more.

Naples, Sorrento and Capri are not doable in 2days and if you are in that area you'd hate yourself for not seeing the 'actual' Amalfi coast. So even though that is my favorite place in Italy (maybe in the world) I would skip it - or else add several more days.

You could combine the Florence/Pisa/Tuscan part. Pick one base and do the rest as day trips. Small towns may feel 'slower' but they have less good transportation options so you will spend a lot more time on a slow bus than you may want. I would do Florence as a base cause between trains and buses you can get to most other places pretty efficiently, but if you think that's too big a city then perhaps Siena.

In Umbria I'd base in Perugia for the same reason. It's the largest of the towns you mention and it will have the best transportation and it's not like it's a huge city. You could be pretty 'slow' in Perugia. Again, check the transportation options before you pick a base. I had a car when I was in Umbria so I'm not sure how good public transportation is there.

But my main suggestion would be to try to have fewer hotels - fewer times you have to move. I travel with just a 21" rolling bag but even with that there is a definite hassle factor involved with moving from one location to another. Feels so much nicer to just walk out the door and take the train for a day trip, and then return to the hotel you are familiar with at night. Of course you can over do this, you don't want to be taking 3hour each way day trips, but really look at the maps and train schedules to come up with a compromise.
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Apr 6th, 2013, 05:59 AM
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Good advise from Isabel.
Be sure to fly open jaw.
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Apr 6th, 2013, 06:09 AM
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I agree with absolutely everything that Isabel says. You have a lovely trip planned but you are making too many stops to "slowdown and smell the coffee". Have you been to Italy before? There is no place like it and it is better to savor it than to rush about with so many 2 day stops.

Your trip as currently envisioned will not be relaxing. Nor will you have enough time to really enjoy your destinations. Two nights in a destination leaves you with only one full day to appreciate all it has to offer. In 7 trips to Italy, we have covered a lot of territory but we tend to spend a much longer time to get to know an area. A week in Tuscany, 10 days in Sicily, 5 nights in Rome, a week in Florence with day trips, a week in Naples, the AC and Capri, etc..

I know the desire is to cover as much territory as possible so I would consider whether you want a quick and somewhat hectic overview of Italy or a relaxing visit. If the former, you can accomplish your itinerary. It the latter, think about making longer stops in fewer places.

Have fun planning and have a wonderful trip.
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Apr 6th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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This is not "slow down, smell the coffee". It's more "if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium". To me, this is a very fast paced trip with little time anywhere.

It appears you only have 20 days. Two hotel nights in a place only gives you 1 day there. Your trip really looks more like this:

Venice - 1 day
Parma or Bologna -1 day(not both, you would have to choose one)
Florence - 1 day (2 if you stay 3 nights)
Etc.

With only 20 days, you need to select 4 places max if you want to smell any coffee. the logistics of checking in and out of hotels, getting to and from train/bus stations, traveling to the next town, figuring out new local transport to hotel, etc. takes more time than you think.

I agree with Isabel on most things except Perugia as a base since you want small towns/countryside.

You need to pick the places you absolutely must visit (Venice? Florence? Rome?) and figure out the number of days you really need to spend there. Then you can plot the rest of your trip by how many days are left. Your two days in Rome gives you one sightseeing day. You can't see Rome in a day. Three to four days would let you hit a few highlights, but at a hectic pace.
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Apr 6th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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I think it is helpful to think in terms of nights in a place--it helps you see the actual days and understand how much time you really have in each place. as others have mentioned, "2 days" really means just one full day with a travel day before and after. And keep in mind that travelling between cities takes 2-3 hours longer than you expect when you add in the time to check in and out of hotels, travel between hotels and stations, and wait at stations. As you plan, allow at least a half day to "travel" each time you relocate.

Here's your proposed itinerary plotted day by day (night by night).

Day 1: arrive in Venice
Day 2: Venice
Day 3: travel to Parma/Bologna
Day 4: Parma/Bologna
Day 5: travel to Florence/Pisa
Day 6: Florence/Pisa
Day 7: Florence/Pisa
Day 8: travel to Tuscany
Day 9: Tuscany
Day 10: Tuscany
Day 11: Tuscany
Day 12: travel to Umbria
Day 13: Umbria
Day 14: Umbria
Day 15: Umbria
Day 16: Umbria
Day 17: travel to Naples/Sorrento/Capri
Day 18: Naples/Sorrento/Capri
Day 19: travel to Rome
Day 20: Rome
Day 21: depart Rome

I used the higher number of days you proposed, except only 5 days in Umbria to fit your 21-day idea.

Does the 21 days include your departure day from home? I ask because if you are from the U.S., you would really arrive in Venice on Day 2. Depending on where you live, you first day in Venice may be jet-lagged and your final day in Rome will be all about getting to the airport to fly home.

As you can see, during the first and third week of the trip, you will be relocating every other day. Only you can decide if this pace matches your hoped-for experience.
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Apr 6th, 2013, 10:50 PM
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isabel,ellenem,kybourbon,mamcalice,bobthenavigator ,
Thank you all very much for your very helpful advices.
I do see what you all mean by not enough time to Slow down..like I want..
Yes I am from Florida USA Im not counting travel days on my 21day stay...at least thats the plan..
Yes this is my first time to Italy actually my first time to Europe.
Isabel, its great to hear that Im not the only one traveling solo and not renting a car, thats a comfort and def gives me some peace of mine.
So does the following sound better...
..Venice..2 days????? Unless I can skip it all togheter..
..Parma or bologna...3 days and although I really want to visit both...for its excellent food/cooking classes...which one would you suggest or is it possible to do both if I pick a base as one, or maybe from venice visit one of them and then stay in either one of them the rest of the time.
..Florence/Siena 5 days with trips to Florence/Pisa etc.
..Umbria/Perugia 5 days
..Naples/Capri/Sorrento 3 days
..Rome 3 day
I actually would not mind skipping Venice this time around..but wouldnt that make it somewhat logistically difficult to spend time in Parma/Bologna (which are really a must)? ...any suggestions how to add them without flying into Venice... btw Im so glad Im starting to plan a year ahead you guys are awesome
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Apr 7th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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There is no reason to attach Bologna to Venice. Bologna is closer to Florence than Venice, just an hour by train, so easily reachable if you fly into Florence. Though, from Florida there are no direct flights to Florence--you would have to connect somewhere--so you could opt to fly into Bologna which would also require a connection.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 02:28 PM
  #9
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ellemen thank you,,,I think I might work on the following path instead...
Bologna 4days
Siena 5days
Perugia 5days
Rome 3days
Naples 4days
I really want to make this a cooking classes/food/wine/countryside/farms/mingling with the locals type vacation
although I def want to see the arts/museum/historic sites..which I think I can take advantage of on day trips to florence/pisa etc. and of course Rome
What do you think????? any suggestions???? thank you
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Apr 9th, 2013, 03:17 PM
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Italy without Venice? I agree that three nights in important places is the minimum. Can't see enough of Florence. We love Rome. Sounds like fun though.
Rob
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Apr 9th, 2013, 04:38 PM
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Robim do you think maybe I should change Naples for Venice then..This is my first time to Italy and doing this solo..all other post suggested that choicing too many bases would make this a bit rushed and tiring...Im very interested in seeing more of the local life vs the bigger cities and def get some relaxing time...or should I just add Venice and minimize my days maybe in Perugia and Bologna...im a foodie though lololll.
I know that one trip wont cover it all...and im hoping to return..but im not sure what would be the best 1 trip???????
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Apr 9th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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Lots of good advice here so I'll just address the Umbria piece. I lived in Umbria for some five years with my late husband, a painter. I'm a writer. We lived in Assisi for two years and then moved around a bit, Paradiso, Monteleone, and other places. We were quite happy there. A good friend of mine manages tours in Assisi and vicinity, but I don't think it's permitted to indicate websites on here. She also gives cooking classes in Umbria and in the United States during the months of February and March. If anyone knows if that's permitted, I'd post her website so you could get a better idea of the area. She writes about all of her adventures in Umbria since she was a newly-married American (from Wisconsin) to an Italian from sicily going back some 30+ years and has some great Umbrian and Sicilian recipes on her website. Someone who knows please indicate if posting a website is permitted. Thanks.

I love Umbria but my favorite city is Venice and I'm off to Venice shortly for the month of June, but with a visit to Assisi and also to Perugia and Orvieto. IMO five days in Perugia may be excessive. Give the extra time to Venice. I write a police procedural series set in Umbria, with my detective stationed in Perugia, and even he doesn't think Perugia needs five days. Urbino is not in Umbria but that's a great city if you've never been there.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 06:21 PM
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Whatever you do, don't skip Venice. But do slow down!
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Apr 9th, 2013, 06:26 PM
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annieinmanhatten...thank you...Nice to hear such great things of Umbria..I have been doing alot of research on the area and it sounds like a wonderful place not only to visit but possibly a great place to retire, (def in Italy somewhere...) Im not sure about posting websites here but if you can it would be great... any suggestions on lodging in Umbria? I am going to consider after reading alot of information and suggestions, to fly into Venice follow the rest of the itinerary and leave Naples for my next trip to Italy ..???
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Apr 9th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Fly into Bologna and home from Naples. Or fly into Naples and home from Bologna.

It won't be easy to visit Pisa from Siena. Much easier from Florence unless you fly into Pisa.

>>>I really want to make this a cooking classes/food/wine/countryside/farms/mingling with the locals type vacation<<<

You've listed no countryside except a day trip or two. You are staying in cities so you aren't really going to have a "countryside/farm" vacation . To do that, you would have to stay in the country at an agriturismo which you really can't do by public transport although there might be a place or two that has a random bus pass by.

You also keep talking about mingling with locals. Not sure what you mean by that. Are you fluent in Italian? Locals are going about their daily lives - work, family, etc. They aren't waiting around to "mingle" with a random tourist.

I think you have quite a few misconceptions about European/Italian travel. You don't have to go to Bologna or Parma to find good food or cooking classes, but if they are must sees for some reason, keep them in your itinerary. You can find good food and cooking classes all over Italy.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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I guess what I mean by mingling with locals is actually going off the beaten path,,smaller villages...not spending too much time in bigger touristic cities...
I was under the impression that Siena and the surroundings is the tuscan countryside??? vs making Florence my base although like you say not having a car in this area might be difficult ???hire a driver or local buses??? sorry I know I have a lot of misconceptions.... but the advices here are wonderful and with a year to plan i hope to make this happen..as far as bologna/parma..I have a childhood friend that was from Bologna and will never forget growing up hearing all the stories of her hometown and It has always been my dream to visit there..
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Apr 9th, 2013, 11:07 PM
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Anne's website is: annesitaly.com

It's a bit crowded for my taste but it has so much on Umbria you really should read as much of it as you can. You will find her recipes in the "Cooking" section. They are either authentic Umbrian or Sicilian foods. Her mother-in-law taught her to cook Sicilian style. Anne met her husband while on a student exchange. After they married they purchased a small farm outside Assisi and she did all the same things that her rural neighbors did. If you are thinking of retiring to Italy then I suggest you rent an apartment and live in a town, as we did, for at least six months to a year. You can decide after that if you want to stay longer. I disagree with the person who wrote that locals won't have time for you. Life is slower there and you will find people to talk to in the shops so long as it's not their busiest time of the day, and that's how, with some school in between, you'll learn to speak Italian. We loved our time in Italy and if my husband had not gotten sick (and died), we would have gone back and been there still. I'll be off this site soon as my trip is coming up, so the best of luck in whatever you decide.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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What is nice about adding in Venice is that once you are there, you don't even have to think about transportation, since you will be walking everywhere. And Venice is pretty magical, especially early in the morning and in the evening. Perhaps you could save Naples for another trip and do the Amalfi coast, Pompeii, and explore further south.

I am also another fan of Umbria; have just been to that area twice so you have some definite expert advice here from others. We did have a car(although took the train into Perugia both times), so I don't know much about the public transportation. I have spent a little time traveling on my own, and the next time I do so I want to have a couple more 'group' things planned, like you mention - a cooking class, a wine walk or a winery visit (Umbria has some lovely wines), an art class, a half day tour. Breaks up the alone time, and it is fun to share travel tales with others.

I've stayed twice in agriturismos (agriturismi? not sure about the Italian plurals sometimes). I loved these countryside stays, but I was with friends or family members and IMO you really need a car. The places we stayed were self catering, so unless you stay at a place with dinners, do you want to shop, cook, and eat on your own each night? I would save the farm experience for a future trip with friends (who drive!)and enjoy staying in cities or towns on your solo trip.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 09:25 PM
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annieinmanhatten..Im so sorry about your husband Your advice and the website you suggested is awesome..thank you so much I will def be using it. I agree about renting for a while before deciding on a permanent move. Im getting so excited for this trip specially now with all the suggestions Im receiving on here. Which city/village you suggest I stay in while in Umbria considering I will not be driving and depending on public transportation to see as much of the area as possible?? I wish you a great trip to Venice. Enjoy!!!
annabelle2...I will def be adding Venice and leaving Naples and surroundings for a future trip. It is amazing how so many travel solo..thats inspirational..although I def agree on doing some group tours/classes...and maybe not staying in the countryside specially because of the transportation issues...thank you so much for all the info...any other suggestions on lodging etc. let me know.
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Apr 12th, 2013, 10:35 AM
  #20
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So after taken all suggestions into consideration I have come up with the following itinerary for bases...SUGGESTIONS ANYONE!!!

Venice 4days

Bologna/Parma 3days

Florence/Siena 5days...would love to explore as much of the Tuscan area as possible

Perugia/Assisi 5days...Sounds like a great place to relax..possible area to retire or second home/apt

Rome 4days

Thank you guys...
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