First Time in Italy 12-14 Days

Old Mar 28th, 2015, 06:29 PM
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First Time in Italy 12-14 Days

Hey!
My wife and I are starting to plan a trip to Europe September 2016. We first wanted to visit as many cities as possible and see it all, but have learned that that's simply not possible. We are especially interested in Italy to spend our first trip together in Europe. We love local food, red wine, coffee shops, history and art (my wife very into art, me willing to expand my horizons) and think Italy will fit the bill.

We are interested in Rome, Venice, Florence as the main hubs (although that could change based on your recommendations), but are just as interested in smaller day trips and towns to visit as well. I love cities along the sea so would like to spend a day or two doing that. We have been reading through a lot of "Top Cities" Lists which is nice, but feel the advice from experienced people not writing top ten lists would do us better good. Any suggestions on time spent in each cities, smaller cities to travel to, hidden gems, best spots for food, itinerary suggestions, day trips, and anything else for first time Italy travelers, would be much appreciated. If you have a link to a past forum or site with an itinerary that might help us, that works also!

Also, to cure our desire to see it all, would anyone suggest maybe flying into a neighboring country and spending a day or two in maybe Barcelona or Dubrovnik or Brussels or am I getting ahead of myself. OR, if anyone would suggest maybe doing 6 days in two cities in Italy and 6 days in another country or two, we'd love to hear it. (I know I'm not taking into account the travel so it might be too much, but it's so hard to narrow it down!! We want to see it all!!! so hardddd)

Thanks for any piece of advice you can share. Much appreciated.

-Josh and Mal
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Old Mar 28th, 2015, 07:21 PM
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Even with weeks, months or years, you will never see it all anyway, plus new places of interest will keep popping up, so might as well give up that idea and concentrate on your favorites of the moment.

You actually see more by picking geographical areas that have many unique places you can see with less time traveling. Exploring one area more in-depth won't leave you feeling that you missed a lot, and IME, is more satisfying and memorable in the long run. I enjoy touring and seeing major ruins, museums, etc., but taking time to sit at a cafe with DH and soak up the ambience or atmosphere of a place is what I remember.

Italy is a great country to begin with because there is such enormous, enormous variety from city to city (Venice on water to Ancient Rome to walled Tuscan villages), landscape (Tuscan hills to Amalfi cliffs to the Alps), art (painting and sculpture) and architecture (from the Pantheon in Rome to the Duomo in Florence to Paladio in Vicenza). Two weeks in Italy will still be only a taste of the riches there, so I would spend the whole time there.

You could start with the big three: Venice, Florence and Rome.

Arriving in Venice is a lovely way to get over jet lag. Your wife should research to see what art she wants to see there. I have yet to get to any of the museums because there is so much art hanging in the spaces it was made for, in the churches. If she has an interest in Palladian architecture, you could day trip to Vicenza, especially for Teatro Olympico, or if it is of interest, Padova is close with Scrovigni Chapel. The islands are beautiful too, especially colorful Burano.

Florence is, of course, all about art, so she will want to visit the Uffizi and the Academia. Don't miss Santa Croce. You could have lots of great day trips from Florence or spend a few days in the Tuscan countryside with a wine tour, or rent a car and explore for a few days.

Rome - archeological sites, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's, etc. and too many galleries to mention. I love the Borghese, but your wife might prefer something different. Rome can keep you busy for days. There are some fantastic day trips: Ostia Antica or Tivoli.

Besides those three cities and areas, there are the Italian lakes from Como to Orta in the North. Google some images.

Further south, you have Pompeii and the stunning Amalfi Coast: Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Paestum, etc.

That is enough to consider.

Except for possibly renting a car in Tuscany, you can do the whole trip by train. Trains are cheaper in Italy than in some other countries and very convenient, taking you right from city center to city center.
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Old Mar 28th, 2015, 07:23 PM
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I'd go for 14 days if you have that available. We're making our first visit to Italy in May; we only have 11 days in the country and at least a couple more would be really nice.

We are flying in and out of Milan (got a really good deal on flights) but you will probably do best if you fly into one city and out of another so you don't have to backtrack.

Our itinerary is:

2 nights in Milan
3 nights in Rome
2 nights in Siena
1 night at an agriturismo near San Gimignano
3 nights in Florence

Lee Ann
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Old Mar 28th, 2015, 07:50 PM
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Thank you all for the awesome responses! So Helpful!!!
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Old Mar 28th, 2015, 11:51 PM
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I'm not an expert on European travel, but if I was going for only 14 days I would just concentrate on one country. I visited Italy as part of my first trip to Europe 4 years ago. I spent 14 days just on Italy North of Rome. I loved everywhere I visited. However I visited the Cinque Terre on a weekday in September and it was packed ! Bigger towns can cope with that many tourists, but tiny villages are overwhelmed. I'm not saying don't go there, but if it isn't on your must do list I would probably give it a miss.

In any event Venice, Florence, Verona, Siena etc are all well worth seeing.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 04:40 AM
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with day trips, you could easily spend all your 12-14 days in just the three cities, Venice, Florence and Rome.

4 nights in Venice, 5 in Florence and the rest in Rome would work well.

You would not run out of things to see and do in any of them.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 05:07 AM
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We went to Europe (Italy) for the first time last year. Went to Venice, Bologna(great for food) Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome.I would stay in one country. There is so much to see. You can take day trips from the major cities. For example, a day trip to Pisa from Florence. You could spend four nights in each city. Depending on how much you and your spouse can do in one day, will depend on how much time you need for each place. My husband and I are in our late 50's, decent health, and we were on the go all day. We walked everywhere. Hotel location is key. Ours was a little higher because of location.
But, we were able to walk to everything which allowed us to see everything. Get lost in the cities, wander down streets you will be amazed at what you see. Italy is amazing. Have fun and enjoy.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 05:55 AM
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With your limited time, stay with the BIG 3 for your first trip. But, strat pl
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 05:58 AM
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Sorry---big thumb!

but, start planning now for your return trips---and there will be some. We have seen Italy 17 times now---you too will return.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 07:06 AM
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If spending most of your time in the Big 3 - and I agree with bob on that with such a short time frame by all means take the train as cars are a liability and useless in large Italian cities - wide swathes of town centres are off-limits to private vehicles and parking can cost a ton - many hotels do not offer it, etc.

Italian trains are now as good as any in Europe and better than most - www.trenitalia.com or www.trenoitalia.com (not sure of the latter's exact name) are the two booking sights that can save you a lot over just buying full-fare tickets once there but disconted tickets are train-specific and cannot be changed nor fully refunded if any I believe so be sure of your date and time and don't miss the train or you'll then have to buy a full-fare ticket to boot!

Check these superb sites for great info on Italian trains: www.seat61.com - the guru now of discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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Great Advice! I think we are definitely set on staying in Italy. Thanks so much. We will most likely be on the go a good amount for our first trip (with an occasional food/wine coma). Are there any day trips from the big 3 that include hiking that would be worth the trip? I know there are some mountains further north of Venice that looked beautiful. Not sure how far that would be. The more research I do the less I want to wait until sept 2016!!!
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 08:00 AM
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Consider Siena as a day trip from Florence.
The Dolomites for hiking would mean an overnight IMHO.
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Old Mar 29th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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One nice thing about day trips is you can plan how to do them, but unless you are hiring a tour guide, you can wait and decide once there if you still want to do any of them. They are, for the most part, cheap short train or boat trips that can be purchased last minute.
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