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First time italy, 12 nights. What to do

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Dec 15th, 2017, 05:34 AM
  #1
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First time italy, 12 nights. What to do

Hi !

We (my wife and i) have plan to go to Italy next summer (something like july 9 to july 22). From Montreal we can do direct flight to Venise and Rome. So that would allows us 11-12 nights.

We thopught of making the big 3 (Rome , Florence and Venice) but we have hard time figuring how much time to allows each place. here's our interest :

- Good meals and wine
- History
- Taking long walks
- art is not something we would enjoy for many days, we love to see some must see museums, but we dont want to go to Fliorence and be 3 days in museum for renaissance arts.

We are very open minded about what we could do but we have hard time leaving out Venice and Rome.

Thanks !
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Dec 15th, 2017, 07:11 AM
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The big 3 are great for first-timers:

Venice -3 nights
Florence - 3 nights and do a day trip to Pisa or a Tuscan hill town like Siena
Rome 5 nights with day trip possibilities too.

Trains are best way to go between cities is by train as cars are useless in cities and even banned from many city centers- book your own trains online and get discounted tickets - check www.trenitalia.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 07:18 AM
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And always choose hotels in the city center, even if the cost may be a bit higher. Don't travel to become a commuter.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 07:35 AM
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Get open jaw plane tickets, into Venice, out of Rome. Click on the multi-city option, to avoid the expense of 2 one-way tickets. Open jaw should cost about the same as round trip and save you the time and expense of backtracking.

You could reverse this, into Rome out of Venice, but flights out of Venice leave early, cutting into your vacation time. And Venice is a good place to get over jet lag and be introduced to Italian culture -- without dealing with Italian traffic.

The best sightseeing in Venice is wandering around getting lost. Venice is very crowded in high summer so do your wandering on the edges of the city and take day trips to places like the islands in the lagoon (by vaporetto) or Padua (by train). Enjoy Venice in the early morning and evening when it's less crowded.

If you want to go from Florence to Siena, the bus is more convenient than the train. The bus arrives in the center of town whereas the train station is outside the walls.

To help you lay out your itinerary, read some guidebooks. You can get them at your local library as well as DVDs of Italian travel.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 08:05 AM
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Thanks a lot !

juste some information befor adding more questions or comments:

1) Flights from Venice to Montreal leave at 13:00-13:45 depending on the day so transportation to the aiport should not be a problem. We will take a direct flight for sure, we can change dates to get one. Arrival in Venice and departure from Rome is more expensive (something like 120$ per ticket)

2) I understand the idea of fighting jet lag in a more relax (as relax venice can be !) place. In the last 2 years we have fight jetlag in Barcelona and Berlin and we were with our 5 and 9 years old kids, not this time so Rome could be ok too.

We thought about arriving in Rome first since we will be jetlag and thet we will have more night there. We also see Venice like a bit of an icing on the cake. Maybe we are wrong about that !

3) Skipping Florence or stay only one or 2 nights ins not out of question. generally we like to spend at leats wo night somewhere (hotel arrival and departure takes time). So we would have 5 nights in Rome, 3 in Venice...that leave us with 4 nights. Maybe 2 in Florence and 2 in Bologna ? 4 nights in Florence + daytrip could be good too.

I know bologna is famous for food and Florence it's renaissance sights...So food or sights...tough choice !



We also like the idea of a day tour from Florence to see some parts of Tuscany, if someone can recommand a good tour company that would be great. we can also do it by ourselves (without guide our tour guide).
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Dec 15th, 2017, 08:47 AM
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Easy to hop frequent cheap buses from Florence to Siena, classic hill town though larger than most and see some of rural Tuscany en route. Or Chianti-en-Greve for chianti tours. Guided tours probably would include 2-3 towns but then rather hurried looks -easy to do your own.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 11:26 AM
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3) Skipping Florence or stay only one or 2 nights ins not out of question.>

2 days for the city IME is enough for many, especially if you do not want to check out every church fresco or museum except Uffizi - nice walking around in town center.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 01:21 PM
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We thought about arriving in Rome first since we will be jetlag and thet we will have more night there. We also see Venice like a bit of an icing on the cake>

I'm not sure why but in past some experts have said flying out of Venice was harder than flying in! Venice would also be a good place to de-jet-lag as wonderful at night - especially St Mark's Square. Rome not so relaxing in many ways.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 01:41 PM
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If you are not too excited about Florence, what about just skipping it completely? It would free you to explore another destination like the small villages of Val d'Orcia (Tuscany), Lake Como, Cinque Terre or the Amalfi coast.
The advantage is that if you enjoy outdoor pursuits you will see a different side of Italy and not just focus on cities.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 01:58 PM
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I'm not sure why but in past some experts have said flying out of Venice was harder than flying in!

Because transatlantic flights from Venice usually have a connection in some European city, and for that reason tend to leave Venice very early. That seems not to be the case fir flights to Montreal. However check the flight schedule carefully to make sure that 11 AM flight doesn't include a night in Frankfurt!

The Uffizi, in my opinion, is a museum for hardcore Renaissance art enthusiasts, which Tostasky says he and his wife are not. I would suggest a smaller museum, such as the Bargello, or the museum of the Duomo, or the Palazzo Pitti. Or a visit to several of the churches that have splendid Renaissance art, for example, S. Maria del Carmine, San Marco (originally a convent, but now a museum), or Santa Maria Novella. A visit to all three of these would introduce you to some of the best art of the Renaissance, and also give you the chance for a nice long walk.

On a short visit, I suggest not going inside the Duomo. The queues in the summer are awful, and the inside is nowhere near as beautiful as the outside. Instead, I recommend going into the Baptistery, in front of the Duomo, to admire the beautiful golden medieval mosaics.

Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world. It's very crowded with tourists in the summer, but there are many wonderful museums,churches, and archaeological sites that are not on the "must-see" tourist agenda. It's a great city for walking and wandering.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 02:11 PM
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The Uffizi, in my opinion, is a museum for hardcore Renaissance art enthusiasts, which Tostasky says he and his wife are not>

I agree but like the Louvre which bores some folks after seeing the Mona Lisa and a few famous statues from antiquity the Uffizi is a must just because it is one of the most famous museums in the world. That said I'd skip it too - been to Florence many times and only endured it once - me neither likes stuffy crowded classical art museums.

Yes walking is neat in Florence too - like trekking up to the Piazza Michelangelo for wondrous views of Florence from up high - its orangish tiled roofs all so harmonious and the Duomo standing out above all.

The interior of Duomo yes may not be as stunning as the strcutre but it is a symbol of the Renaissance, being the first large domed structure built I read because of advances in making trusses that all came together to prop up such a monstrous dome - ending the era of squat flat-roofed Romanesque churches.

Indeed climbing to near the top of the dome (Duomo related to that word?) takes 400+ steps but you see the famous frescoes from so so close.

Fiesole a few miles northeast (?) of town is also a famous vista point over Florence, which to me from afar is such an amazing sight - and there are stellar Roman ruins there too -just a short few-mile bus ride or hike.

Oltarno on the west side of Arno -over the famous Ponte Vecchio is also neat - the medieval part of Florence with tiny lanes.

Walking around Florence can be great though in summer there will be huge crowds day and night.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 06:30 PM
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Thanks once again for all those answer !

And some thoughts:

1) I know that 12 days is not a lot. We are teacher and we have 8 weeks vacation in summer, but his time we leave the kids (6 and 10 years old) with grandparents so that's why we have to limit our time.

2) Hot and crowdy is not ideal, but we don't really have the choice. It,s the only time of the year we can take vacations.

3) We love art, but it's not top in the list. Good food and history would be.

4) thanks for the itinerary chester9cat. Flying out of Venice is not a problem . Direct flight (with Transat or Air Canada) to Montreal leave between 13:00 ans 13:45. It's not super early in my book !

5) We don't know what future will be, we don't have plan to make that trip the only one in Italy but it must defitnly the only one we two as a couple before at leat 10 more years. If we come back it will be with the kids. So we are looking to do things that would be less appealing to them.
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Dec 15th, 2017, 10:44 PM
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I agree with starting in Venice and departing from Rome.

In Florence, normally I would say not to miss the Uffizi (and definitely purchase tickets in advance) but that time of year is going to be an absolute crush mob in that museum. It would not be a pleasant experience.... better to visit the Bargello and the museum of the Duomo, and walk around. Oh, and the Santa Novella church (right by the train station) has some fantastic art and is not very crowded.

Venice will also be a mob scene, but you can go off the beaten path and still it will be magical. Rome is the best walking city by far. There is SO MUCH to see and much of it is outside. I might even suggest: 3 nights Venice, 2 nights Florence, 6 nights Rome. Lots of Rome advice on this forum. Even some Forum advice on this forum, no doubt...
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Dec 16th, 2017, 01:17 AM
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On those dates I would prefer to go to the tier 2 cities, as the main ones will be crowded out.
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Dec 16th, 2017, 03:49 AM
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I would drop Firenze, especially if you're not mad about Renaissance art. Rome and Venice will be crowded for sure, but you can hide from the hordes pretty easily.
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Dec 16th, 2017, 05:48 AM
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Thanks once again !

Arrival in Rome and departure from Venice is 950-1000$

Arrival in Venice and departure from Rome is 1075-1100$

Also, I've look on a cruise schedule to Venice. Theres no boat arrival july 18, july 20 and only one july 19.
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Dec 16th, 2017, 06:28 AM
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What sort of cruise?
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Dec 16th, 2017, 07:23 AM
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I assume they mean cruise ships docking in Venice and attempting to avoid those days
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Dec 16th, 2017, 12:28 PM
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...like the Louvre which bores some folks after seeing the Mona Lisa and a few famous statues from antiquity the Uffizi is a must just because it is one of the most famous museums in the world.

The Louvre at least has a lot more variety than the Uffizi. The Uffizi is about 90% Renaissance painting, mostly on religious themes. (A lot of the art used to be in churches.) For people who really are into Renaissance art, it's definitely a must, but I think people who are not big art fans find it a crashing bore. (Someone on TripAdvisor once said, "One damn Madonna after another.") I've been there several times, but I really do appreciate Renaissance art and am familiar with many of the artists. Once my daughter and I spent seven hours there, spread over two days, and still didn't see everything we wanted to see. But I can very well understand those who think it was a waste of their time.

Anyway, you could spend all your time visiting places that are very famous, or very important, and never get a chance to see and do things you really enjoy. It's your vacation, not a cram for a history exam.

It's true that if you don't care much for art, Florence isn't a must. However, you should know that you can also make a quick stop there en route between Rome and Venice. Just leave your bags at the left luggage facility. It's a short walk from the Duomo. In a few hours, you could see the Duomo (from the outside), maybe go into the Baptistery, stroll through Piazza della Signoria, where there is a replica of Michelangelo's David, walk along the Arno, and admiring the Ponte Vecchio without necessarily elbowing your way across it (mega crowds).

Then head back to the station. When you get near, pop into the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, which as I said before (and as Danlev seconded) has some stupendous Renaissance art. It also has a very nice cloister.

Also in the vicinity of the station, you could pay a visit to the Antica Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica of Santa Maria Novella, a historic pharmacy that now sells expensive lotions and creams, along with some very old traditional potions. They have a very nice tea room, where you could have a little pick-me-up before getting back on the train.
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Dec 16th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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I can heartily recommend two museums, one in Venice and one in Rome, that most people, even those who aren't big fans of art, really enjoy.

In Rome, the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj was the home during the Renaissance of the powerful Doria Pamhilj family. (Their descendants still live in part of it.) It's a magnificent palace, with rooms furnished in the style of the various periods of its habitation. There's an excellent audio guide, narrated by a member of the family. There are some famous paintings in the family's art collection, but the art isn't the main draw here.

http://www.doriapamphilj.it/roma/

In Venice, the Ca'Rezzonico is another sumptuous palace from a later era, the 18th century. Again, there is some excellent art displayed inside, but even if you don't know Tiepolo from Tupac, you'll probably love the palace.

http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it/

Rome is a treasure storehouse for people who love history. If you're interested in the ancient Roman era, you really should make time to visit Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port city, now part of the city of Rome. You can get there easily and quickly by public transportation, and walk around an ancient city, with an amphitheatre, public baths, apartment houses, a tavern, and even an ancient public toilet.

http://ostia-antica.org/

Also in Rome, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, very near Termini station, has a wonderful collection of ancient sculpture, mosaics, wall frescoes (very rare), household items, coins, and even a mummy: a small child found in a Roman family tomb, mummified Egyptian style.
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