first time to Italy - Help

Old Feb 5th, 2003, 03:02 AM
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first time to Italy - Help

Hi I am taking my Mom to Italy this summer and need some help - there are so many tours does anyone have input? We want to see Rome Florence Venice Siena a must and also wouldlike to work in Sorrento/Capri- is that too much to do in 10-12 days? My Mom is seventy and active yet she
is having some problems with one leg and walking for long periods- any help would be appreciated-
drd is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2003, 03:31 AM
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I'd say that was FAR TOO MUCH! You might just get away with Florence, Venice and Siena in one trip but to include Roma and Sorrento would be culture overload. These places need to be savoured & you need to be fit as there's a lot of walking involved- all Italian cities have pedestrianised city centers- very civilised.
bellini is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2003, 05:24 AM
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You could manage Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome comfortably. But not further south.

I would suggest Venice 3 or 4 days, Florence 2 days, Siena 1 day, and Rome 4 days. That's 10-11 days allowing the extra day or so for travel time. If you are a Renaissance fantatic, then you could boost Florence to 3 days.

If you preferred heading south, then you might consider Florence 2 days, Siena 1, Rome 4, and south 4. But the southern swing would require a lot of often hilly walking for full enjoyment. Venice, Rome, and Florence do have more public transport and more sights that don't require as much heavy walking (art museums, interesting buildings, etc.).
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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a couple of thoughts.
One is that although most people on this message board recommend independent travel, you and your mom MIGHT consider an organized tour.
Major advantage is that they will handle the transport from place to place, and the luggage as well.
Major disadvantage imo is that you don't get to call the shots about how long you stay in one place, and you do end up spending quite a bit of time on a bus.

On the other hand if your mom is up to it, you could easily work out a doable itinerary, though I would suggest not more than 3 or at most 4 locations within 12 days--I would suggest that to anyone. Anyone loses a lot of time traveling from one place to another, checking in and out, packing and unpacking, etc.

As mentioned, Florence is pretty easy. Not much in the way of public transport within the city center, but you really don't need it because it is small. Taxis are available for the occasional longer haul. Even the airport to city center is less than 20 minutes except for rush hour traffic.

From Florence you could daytrip, or even overnight to Siena. There are public buses, and also organized bus tours that may rush you a bit, but at least you'll get to see it.

Rome is large and demanding. You could devote the whole 12 days to it and not see it all. The metro stops are relatively few and far between, and when you get off you likely will still have to walk a ways to your destination.
The buses are plentiful, but slow, and do be conscious of pickpocketing on crowded buses.

Venice is my dream place, I love it.
Vaporettoi (water buses) run frequently and are fun, but again, you likely will have to walk for 10-15 minutes once you get off a boat. Many many bridges, and each requires that you go up at least a few steps and then down a few steps. However, Venice itself is pretty small.

Let me also add that the cities mentioned above can be very very crowded in the summer, and of course the weather can be quite hot. The heat may affect your energy levels as well as your stamina, and the crowds could definitely detract from your enjoyment, most especially in Venice. Any chance you could go in the fall?

I have files on those cities; if you'd like to see them, email me at
[email protected]

elaine is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2003, 11:20 PM
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I think the best bet is to start in Venice and take the train to Florence and use it as a base for a few days doing day tours by train, it is very inexpensive. You can easily do Siena and San Gimignano as two separate trips, there are plenty of trains out of Florence. To get to San Gimignano which is a must you train to Poggibonsi, cross the road and the bus arrives to take you the 15 minute ride up the hill. There would be no extra walking for your mom and it's very easy to do. It is not necessary to take an expensive day tour. Then on another day head to Arezzo and have a few hours there and then carry on to Rome. The only problem with that might be leaving your bag somewhere as I don't recall a left luggage at their train station, you could ask your travel agent to check these things out before you leave. Or even in Florence they should be able to tell you. The train station there is super user friendly. I agree Sorrento is pushing it a bit and really I prefer Tuscany to the south of Italy. Best to have quality than quantity.
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Old Feb 6th, 2003, 11:22 PM
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Should have mentioned if you decide on a coach tour all the way, I would recommend a Trafalgar italian tour, they are the most experienced and that's how I first saw Italy.
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Old Feb 7th, 2003, 04:10 AM
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I agree with Rufus- do Rome,Venice,Siena,Florence for the periods of time he suggested and nix Southern Italy for this trip.

My husband and I did this last September and we felt it was enough time in 12 days to see what we wanted(4 in Rome, 4 in Florence,3 in Venice).
Plan on using public transportation in Rome. People will tell you that there is a lot of walking involved. Let me tell you, my husband and I (both 25,daily walkers at home) walked instead of using transportation in Rome for the first days of our trip and we were absolutely worn out.

Also agree with the tour suggestion, although some of those tend to be very fast paced, and if Mom is having problems with a leg, sitting on a bus for hours at a time may not help.
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Old Feb 7th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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Good points by Elaine concerning heat and crowds in the summer. One way to deal with these is to go to the most popular outdoor places as early in the morning as you can manage. Then in the afternoons, go to indoor sights, check out less touristed neighborhoods, find a cool, dark cafe or bar, or take a nap--or some combination of same. This was especially effective in Venice and Florence where people tend to cluster around 3 or 4 extremely popular sights ignoring other wonderful places to visit in these cities.
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Old Feb 7th, 2003, 04:24 PM
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Yes, that is true concerning crowds in the summer, sometimes it takes hours to queue for a museum etc. Don't want to sway you but if you are real keen to see the Vatican, the Uffizi gallery etc and it is your first time to Italy, then I would strongly recommend Trafalgar, the reason being that the entrance tickets are included to many attractions and your guide takes you straight to the front of the queue and you have no waiting time. I was in Italy in august 1995 on a tour and it would have been so tiring if doing it independently. This time I have done it independently, just arrived home but being the off season I had no waiting time anywhere. I may add that this is the time of year that the italians visit their own museums and galleries, it was quite a pleasure as I felt like a local.
KathyNZ is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2003, 04:47 PM
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As another alternative to do-it-yourself travel, may I suggest a Perillo Tour -- they have at least one option that includes Venice, Florence, Siena & Rome. Have an excellent rep. here in northeast & co-worker took one of their Italian tours several years ago & loved it. felt it had a good balance of free & non-free time with no hassle to buy "extra" tours or meals. Another thing to condiser, a group gives both you & your Mom the opportunity to separately roam or linger as you choose but with others in the group, as opposed to being totally alone. They do have a web site & most travel agents would have their booklet. no affiliation, just would be my first consideration if I were ...
MHS is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2003, 08:40 PM
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Dear DRD

There is a tour company called Globus that has some nice tours of Italy. I have used them before and I am using them again this Spring. Just stop by a local travel agent and pick up a booklet or visit their website it has their full range of tours listed. They were giving discounts on Tours of Italy for 2003 and AARP discounts on top of that. Hope this helps. Happy traveling.

Peace, Raven
Raven is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2003, 09:02 PM
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DRD, my mom and I are also planning trip and she has same probs you describe. In planning this trip, her first comment was, "There won't be as much walking as there was in Ireland, will there be?" "No, Mom, not much at all." ;} Personally, I had thought we had limited the walking in Ireland and was surprised to hear this comment. So... I won't comment on the number or which cities to see in Italy, since we are first time travelers to Italy, but will suggest....
1) We are limiting our sight seeing to one major thing per day (e.g., in Rome, Vatican, St Peters) with time for rest or sitting in afternoon before dinner. 2) We are taking a number of "bus tours" while there, which I personally would not have taken, to limit walking.
3) On days with more walking, we have no evening events scheduled after an early dinner (no concerts, night walks, etc.)
4) I have worked in some "quiet" activities, like church services, that do not require moving about
5) One of the things that was disconcerting to my mom in Ireland was the frequent B&B changes in our fly-drive itinerary. Consequently, we are planning on only three places for 9 days. We will be in Rome for 9 days, with one additional on each end for the trans flight (gone 9 + 2 partial days in all). We are in Rome, out of Rome for 3 days, back in Rome. One day trip from Rome to Ostica Antica by train. We are not going to be able to see as many places, but I think it will be better for both of us if we keep the pace a little slower.
Hope this helps--but, you know your mom best and what she can handle without becoming too fatigued or stressed out. Sandy
Old Feb 7th, 2003, 09:05 PM
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DRD, I meant to mention also that some Fodorites have mentioned to me that the streets in Rome, and possibly other Italian cities, are cobbled. Thus, they are a bit more difficult to walk on. So, be sure your mom has some good walking shoes! S
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