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First timer's trip to Italy for two weeks

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Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:21 AM
  #1
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First timer's trip to Italy for two weeks

My husband and I are planning a 2 week trip to Italy for mid-late September 2015 to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We are in our late 20's and this is our first European experience except for study abroad opportunities in college. I have been a stalker of the Italy forum for months now and you all have really taught me so much. So I would love your honest opinions for the rough itinerary that we've put together.

Fly into Venice for- nights or 2.5 days

Train to Florence or some other close-by town- 3 nights

Train to Rome- 3 nights

Amalfi Coast- 6 nights (possibly staying in Praiano?)

Naples before flight home- 1 night

I know at first glance, it may look a little heavy on the coast however that's been my dream vacation since I was a young girl. We really want to balance history and culture in the larger cities and some laid-back, relaxed days of exploring in Tuscany and more so in the AC when we have more time.

We have a lot more research to do about specific locations but just wanted to get a rough itinerary planned out based off things I've learned from this forum. Some of the nontraditional things we'd be interested in are a walking history tours in Florence and/or Rome, possibly food or cooking classes, biking through Tuscan countryside, driver to drive up the coast, and a day trip out to Capri. Any specific recommendations either for attractions, favorite accommodations, tour companies, etc. would be amazing.

Thanks in advance!!
micheleruthscott is offline  
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Feb 22nd, 2015, 02:40 AM
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Biking in the tuscan countryside, option 1 pay a local company to arrange half or whole day trips, 2 go to a hotel that includes bikes in the deal or has a small charge, 3 hire a bike from town and either head out or catch a train a few stops out and cycle back.

Italian drivers are basically not too bad with cycles. I like the idea of Option 2 the best, because, if you chose the right hotel you can be on quieter roads from the outset.
bilboburgler is offline  
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Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:05 AM
  #3
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Also side note, does anyone have any experience with use of Airbnb in Italy. Found a charming apartment in Positano for our 6 nights there but have never booked through something like this before.
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1609381
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Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:07 AM
  #4
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I love that idea! Do you have hotels that are your favorites in the Tuscan area that has bikes?
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Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:14 AM
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Sorry, you need to dig into tripadvisor or booking.com, I normally take a bike with me. I have seen and chatted to various American bike tours in Tuscany and my general view was they charge a fortune and give mediocre support. My old knees make Tuscany less atractive nowadays but it can be a wonderful place to tour (just chose your mountains ;-) )

If I have to chose a space to ride I'd probably look at places between San Querico and Siena, there are both valley and ridges roads with limited traffic, take care
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Feb 22nd, 2015, 04:59 AM
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I would drop some nights on the AC and add it to Tuscany as you won't have enough time there to see Florence and Tuscany. I would also put Rome at the end and add a night to Rome (a lot to see in Rome and you are only giving it 2 sightseeing days).

For the Amalfi coast, without a car, it's difficult to stay somewhere like Praiano as it doesn't have much transport. Positano/Amalfi have more transport options (Amalfi more than Positano).

Review your itinerary again. Two nights for Venice gives you one day there. I'm not sure how you are coming up with 2 1/2 days. If you are flying into Venice from the US, you may have to change flights somewhere in Europe (although there are a few non-stops from the states) and not arrive until noon or so. You will be jetlagged on that day and not up to much sightseeing.

For biking in Tuscany, are you wanting just a one day tour? There are day trips that operate out of Siena. There are also places in Tuscany where you can just rent a bike and take off on your own.

Fly to Venice - 2 or 3 nights

Train to Florence - 4-5 nights

Train to Amalfi area (depends on where you decide to stay where you would catch a train to) - 4-5 nights

Train to Rome - 4 nights

Fly home from Rome

It's unclear how many hotel nights you have as your itinerary states days some places and nights others. Count in hotel nights. Two nights gives one sightseeing day. Three nights gives two sightseeing days. Don't count arrival and departures days as days you could do things.

For places to stay, you would need to state a budget.
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Feb 24th, 2015, 12:13 AM
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Thank you for the itinerary help! Definitely looking into switching a few days around. Would it be feasible to stay in Siena for 3-4 nights and take a day trip to Florence or do you think that's not giving Florence enough time. I think biking in Tuscany would be a one day tour. Also interested in maybe a food tour or something at a traditional Tuscan farm?

As for budget, we've been trying to stay at about 150-250 a night. Any favorite recommendations?
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Feb 25th, 2015, 02:27 AM
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Sure it is possible to stay in Siena and do a day trip for Florence. (By the way, Florence is Tuscany. It is the administrative capital of Tuscany.)

Whether or not you are giving Florence "enough time" by doing a day trip depends entirely on what you want to experience of Florence. There is enough artwork and historic architecture there to keep a moderately interested person busy for 3 or 4 days non-stop, without ever setting foot inside a museum. Many people most want to visit Florence for its shopping... so you get the point. But a lot of people who are not museum goers or particularly keen on religious art do day trips to Florence and feel it is enough. If you are the kind of person who enjoys guided tours, you might try booking one to give you an intelligent and efficient introduction.

Almost every farm in Tuscany is totally traditional. A huge amount of the land around SIena is given over to the cultivation of grapes for wine, so if other aspects of food interest you more (cheese, olive oil, saffron, etc), you will have to go searching for that, and having a car would be a real asset. I would guess that it wouldn't be hard to find a bike tour includes a lunch on a farm -- but maybe I am wrong, never having done it.
sandralist is offline  
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Feb 25th, 2015, 06:27 PM
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If you reverse your itinerary, starting on the AC and ending in Venice then you can skip that overnight in Naples and add it to Rome, Tuscany or Venice. Adding to Tuscany might be nice because that would give you one day trip to Florence & two days in the countryside or hill town(s). That's probably what I would do.

Nothing wrong with being heavy on the coast. I like Praiano, many people do not. If you have plans to keep busy day tripping to other villages everyday then it might be easier from Positano or Amalfi. If you plan to keep pretty still, with only 1 or 2 day trips then Praiano is fine IMO.

Congrats on your anniversary. I'm perpetually planning a 5 year trip to Italy in my head.
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Feb 25th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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Oh and Airbnb - I have had excellent experiences with both Airbnb & Summer in Italy. Summer in Italy has some really great properties on the coast & exceptional customer service, you should give a look there for your stay on the AC if it works with your schedule. They rent by the week (Saturday to Saturday), they can sometimes be negotiable on the minimum number of nights though.
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Feb 25th, 2015, 08:19 PM
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Naples won't have non-stop flights to the states so a departure from there usually means an early flight to somewhere in Europe to connect to a flight to the states. Venice has a few, but often you end up with a very early departure there to connect somewhere also. Rome and Milan have the most non-stops so sometimes you can get a 9:30 or 10 departure (instead of 6am). Pisa has some seasonal non-stops Pisa/JFK.
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