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First time to Italy - Need help with everything!

First time to Italy - Need help with everything!

Apr 10th, 2007, 10:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 262
First time to Italy - Need help with everything!


my gf and i (young canadian couple) have decided to travel to Italy in september.

i've never been to italy and she has only spent a weekend in venice, years ago.

our preliminary plan is as follows:

fly to rome from Canada.

travel from rome north, spending time in tuscany (both the countryside and florence)

continue north to the cinque terre

Then further to venice.

fly home from venice.

our interests are as follows:

city experiences in rome / florence & venice - museums, galleries, restaurants etc...

relaxing and exploring the countryside (cinque terre & tuscany)

wine tasting and tours (tuscany and the prosecco route near venice if we have time)

I am looking for advice from fodorites on timing, routes and durations.

we have approx. 2 weeks (hopefully enough time?) and will be travelling in early september.

as far as i can tell, the trip from florence to venice would be much easier, than from the cinque terre to venice?

in what order should we make our stops? (ie: rome to Tuscany or, rome to cinque terre? - etc.)

we would like to have a car in tuscany, but it seems like a lot of driving to get to venice (trains / flights?)

also, any suggestions on mid-range hotels / inns / b&b's in any of the locations would be amazing.

…oh and any can’t miss restaurants – fancy, casual or otherwise

lastly – if anyone has seen the talented mr. ripley, there is a seen on the coast at an open air bar where they sit, drink wine and listen to live jazz – if anyone can think of a similar spot that would also be amazing.

Thanks so much in advance, look forward to reading the advice.

JMWF is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,707
You have the basics of a good plan - I think you just need to fill in the details.

You'll rent the car as you leave Rome and return it when you arrive in Venice - perfect!

If you count 3 or 4 days in each of Rome and Venice, you might be able to book the car for exactly one week (to the hour or a bit less) for the best rate.

There's no problem in diverting to the CT from Florence - on your way to Venice, try to include Verona if you can...
TuckH is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 246
It looks like you are getting a good start on your planinng and are allowing time for a great adventure. Late September the weather will be nice and things will be less crowded.

I'll go back and see if I can find the scene you note. The palazzo where we had accommodations in Rome was used for the interior shots of Mr. Ripley's home. That interesting point aside, the location and apartment itself was perfect.

Ann took the words from my mouth with her alternative suggestion. You can base in Florence and easily and quickly reach other towns by train as well as some real treasures in Umbria.

And it's my humble opinon that the whole wine-tasting-through-Tuscany (or Chianti)thing is terribly overrated. There are more interesting ways to spend time as good wine and great landscapes exist throughout Italy--Tuscany certainly hasn't got a monopoly on it, nor are hers the best, and you should not expect the wineries to be set up conveniently like Nappa or Sonoma. I'm sure many others will weigh in on this.
cupid1 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi, J -

Your preliminary plan looks great - not too much, which is the usual trap people fall into.

Here's my suggestions:

4 nights in Rome, [at least, to allow for jetlag]

rent car, drive to Tuscany. 4 nights.

drive to CT - 3 nights.

drive to Venice - give back car. 3 nights.

fly home happy.

alternatively, if you think you'll be abck, forget the CT this time, and do 5 nights in each place.

If you are just gonig to stay in Rome, Florence and Venice, you can train between them and not have car. If you want to explore the countryside, a car is essential.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,126
Figure 4 nights Rome and 3 in Venice.
This leaves you with 6 or 7 nights.
I'd skip CT,it's really out of your way and you can relax and see much country in Tuscany.
You might take a night from either Rome or Venice ,but I think they both deserve at least that much time.
If you break your stay into two nights Val D'Orcia and 2 Chianti, this leaves 2 for Florence.
You are really "pushing it",but at least you continue moving north.
Personally, two weeks and all these destinations generally leads to much rushing,even subtracting CT.
jabez is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,394
Re: The Talented Mr Ripley.
I don't remember the exact scene you are talking about, but some of the village-by-the-sea scenes were filmed in the Bay of Naples, on Ischia and, I think, Procida. One of the reasons I went to Ischia on my last trip (2005)was because of those scenes.

Loved Ischia, by the way!

However, with your itinerary, you don't need to add on Ischia; any of the charming Cinque Terre villages should fit your requirements for outdoor cafe/seaside (except Corniglia, which, while totatlly in the 'charming' category, is above, not on, the sea).

I found a good B&B in Venice through the www.veniceby.com site (Ca' Turelli is the B&B name).

On a previous trip, fell in love with this place, & the helpful young owners, in Venice:

In Rome, would definitely stay here again; also super-helpful owners:

In Chianti, this agriturismo B&B can't be beat: Podere Torre. (jabez, I see your post above; do you have a link for Podere Torre?)

Otherwise, you can access it through this site: www.greve-in-chianti.com; look under something like 'vacation rentals' and then scroll down to agriturismi and/or B&Bs. A bit of heaven, this place!
annabelle2 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Good advice so far. As for CT:
There is a wide range of accommodation there, but we liked the 5Terre Hotel in Monterosso. It's in a quiet area of the New Town section.
Good clean (but not big) rooms, excellent free breakfast and friendly, helpful staff. I think they also have parking but you'd have to check with them.
When we stayed there, I think we were the only Americans in the place -- not a drawback.
Funny little story: My last name is Italian, and I speak the language a bit. Well, one older man who worked at the hotel happened to see my name and so he assumed I was from Italy and greeted me every a.m. in Italian. I of course responded in Italian.
Our last day there, someone on the staff must have told him I was an American because as we were preparing to leave, he apologized profusely for not greeting me in English.
j_999_9 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 262
Thanks so much for all the great suggestions.

We are particularly interested in the cinque terre so i don't think we'll drop it as a destination (which village to stay in - we presume one of the middle towns?)

last question (for now):

given these two options which would you pick?

a) leave rome by train to la spezia, spend 3 days there. train to florence, pick up a car, tour tuscany and either drop the car in florence and train to venice, or drive to venice from tuscany.


b) leave rome by car drive to tuscany, drive to florence (park car), drive to la spezia (park the car while in CT) and drive to venice from la spezia.

I know A) seems like backtracking, but in option B) it seems like there are a couple spots where it is unnecessary to have the car. ie: parked in florence and parked in la spezia. not to mention that last drive to venice seems like a long one - might be easier to take a train from tuscany.


thanks again so much,

JMWF is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,126
That's her only website. I do have her email address ,if anyone is interested.Podere Torre is easily the best value in Tuscany. The only problem is that we both promote it so well that it's often booked when we plan to travel to Chianti.
Last time we stopped and visited Cicilia although we were not able to stay there.
Back to JMWF's "Need help..." post.
You have too much planned.If CT is a must, examine what you are willing to cut back on. It isn't that you "can't do it", but you will not have the experience you should.
It seems to me that either Florence,Venice or Rome should be dropped.

jabez is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,320
Hi J,

I choose A.
ira is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,155
The only place you'll need a car is in the Tuscan countryside. For the rest of your stops, a car is an annoyance.

You do have a lot planned. One possibility is to stay in or near Siena and do Florence by day trip only.

Or if time in Florence is important to you, forget about the car and do one or more day trips into the countryside from Florence.

Ordinarily, I prefer flying into Venice and out of Rome -- because Venice is a good place to get over jet lag and, when you leave from there, the flights depart very early, cutting into your time there. But, Venice is very busy in September and might be fractionally less so at the end of your trip. But do get your Venice hotel reservations as soon as possible.

Mimar is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,689
hi, again,

I like A best - but i agree that into Venice and out of Rome would be better.

Decisions, decisions!

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
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