First trip to Italy

Sep 28th, 2009, 06:26 AM
  #1  
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First trip to Italy

I am starting to plan our first trip to Italy. We usually get an apartment for 2 weeks and head out from there. I need advice on what city we should base from and what we should really see. Of course, we do plan to spend a couple of days in Rome, so don't even consider that. in your suggestions. I've had so much good advice from this forum, I am looking forward to your suggestions.
nancylgartner is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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Wow this is a wide open question. Where do you want to be in Italy - Tuscany, seacoast, north, south? Just off the top of my head, for a two week stay I might choose a town like Orvieto, which is close to both Tuscany and Umbria, is big enough to spend many days exploring, but small enough to get in and out of easily. Have you visited slowtrav.com which is geared to exactly what you are planning to do?
zootsi is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 07:00 AM
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When do you plan on going?
MFNYC is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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If this is your first trip to Italy, a couple of days is rather paltry for Rome.

Your question is far too general. Have you done any research on the various areas of Italy, which really is like a bunch of separate, distinct little countries, to determine what appeals to you? We have no idea what you should "really see" without having any inkling of what interests you.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 28th, 2009, 08:01 AM
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We are flying into Milan and going on to Venice, Florence and Rome. Should we buy a railpass in the US or just wing it? Can you make reservations if you buy the rail pass?
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Sep 28th, 2009, 11:37 AM
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jak15 - You have responses on your thread you started. Click your screen name to find them.
kybourbon is online now  
Sep 28th, 2009, 12:42 PM
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jak~ If you are traveling only what you mention, you don't need a pass, just point to point tickets you can purchase in Italy.

nancylgartner~ Many 1st timers do a combination of Venice, Florence, and Rome. Fly into Venice and out of Rome (or the other way around) and travel bewteen the cities by train.
suze is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Thanks everyone, I guess I was vague because I don't know where to start. I think Florence? Tuscany? They appeal to me. How much time should I allow for Rome? We want to see the major sites and perhaps, if it's safe, wander neighborhoods like we do in Paris, Madrid, London and Barcelona. Is that possible?
nancylgartner is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 03:12 PM
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Hi; We spent a week in Umbria and a week in Tuscany and had plenty of towns to visit. A lot depends on your interests. Perhaps you need some guide books to determine your interests. See www.amazon.com/ for purchase on line of Green guides. You mentioned two weeks, but how many days do you actually have available? We spent a week in Rome and have since returned. Based on your last reply, you could do four days in Rome, train to Florence for three days and then rent a car for a week in Tuscany. Lots of options. Many day trips from Rome. Richard
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Sep 28th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Rome is perfectly safe, don't give it a second thought.

I've only been to Italy twice- first time was a week in Florence, second trip was a week in Rome. Stayed in apartments in both cities. I didn't get anywhere near finishing my list of things to see in either place, especially Rome. If you have 2 weeks and you like cities and museums, I wouldn't spend less than 5 nights in Rome.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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Thanks to all of you. Now I have someplace to start to plan.
nancylgartner is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 04:06 PM
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Rome is safe and if you have an interest in history and art I would never do fewer than 6 days for a first trip. 3 days is an absolute minimum for a start (1 for vatican, 1 for ancient Rome - but this is VERY skimpy coverage, and one for Renaissance/the rest). If you want to see more than the very few top sights - and explore some of Rome - give yourself several more days.

IMHO things not to be missed:

Late afternoon cafe sitting in the piazza in front of the Pantheon. There are a couple of cafes that give free munchies with a drink, the people watching is wonderful and a couple of times we heard a choir rehearsing in a nearby church. Incredible.

One night have dinner near Piazza Navona and afterwards walk through looking at the floodlit fountains and churches, all of the locals and tourists in sidewalk cafes (perhaps have a coffee or dessert in one) and many evenings they have either informal entertainers or a small crafts fair or similar.

Do not miss San Clemente - descendng through the centrues from the current church all the way back to the Roman Temple of Mithras is a fascianting experience.

Rome is a very safe city (bar pickpockets in the major train station and tourist bus loop - avoid both) and you should not hesitate to explore anyplace near the center. (Be aware that due to the Italian tax laws - you are taxed not on income but on total assets - many buildings look somewhat decrepit on the outside, but are totally luxurious inside - peek inside some courtyards.)
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 04:21 PM
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I have a very different take:

Italy is a victim -- as is a lot of touristing -- of the mentality that "first time" requires you to do a "minimum" of days somewhere enacting a "must-see" ritual.

Don't let yourself be bullied into it. If Florence and Tuscany appeal to you, it's your money, your time and your trip: Plan accordingly.

I think having dinner near the Piazza Navona is an awful idea. Your chances of finding a good meal in that area are poor. The "entertainers" and "small crafts fairs" are touristy beyond belief. (Accordians? Volare?)

Obviously people enjoy their must-see touristy trips or else wouldn't recommend them. But you sound like a seasoned traveler. If you have in the past enjoyed following a guide book of 'must do, introductory tourist sights', pack a guidebook and go to Rome.

If you are traveler who has been happier wandering, exploring and getting beyond the standard track, don't listen to advice that says because you are coming to Italy for the first time, you must do your duty and spend the approved lot of time in Rome experiencing the tourist experiences.

Get on with your life. Rome will be there if you want to return.
zeppole is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 07:47 AM
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Very well said zeppole!
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