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catch_me_if2009 May 29th, 2009 11:24 PM

first visit to italy
 
Hi,

This is my first trip to italy and this is my rough itinerary.
Day 1 arrive rome (jetlagged so cant do much), leave rome day 5.
- visit the usual suspects (coloseum, pantheon, vatican, etc..)
- Is there time to venture out? like to sorrento or amalfi coast?
Day 5 or 6 arrive Florence; leave florence day 9.
- travel around in florence
- some places in tuscany?
- pisa
Arrive venice day 9 & leave day 14.

Appreciate any tips on other places to visit, hotel suggestions (budget not more than e120 for 2 adults). Also should I rent a car to venture out to some nice towns?

thanks in advance

traveller1959 May 30th, 2009 02:42 AM

Looks like a very reasonale itinerary. You will have three full days in Rome which sounds sufficient to see the main attractions, but certainly leaves no time to visit Amalfi Coast. Save that for another trip to Italy (I would not recommend it to a first-timer anyway).

For Tuscany, you need at least four days: see Florence, Siena, Pisa, Volterra, San Gimignano, Lucca. I would recommend a rental car to explore Tuscany. Select a base somewhere (either in a large city like Florence or on the countryside) within the Florence-Siena-Volterra-Pisa square and do daytrips from there.

Venice will be a highlight of your trip. You have planned plenty of time for Venice, so include a daytrip along Brenta Canal to Padova in order to see the Cappella degli Scrovegni (reservation required - your hotel concierge can do that or you use the internet).

For hotel search, I usually use www.hrs.com - but there are other search machines too.

Steve_James May 30th, 2009 03:55 AM

Hi - Most people plan a few days on the Amalfi Coast.

From Rome it makes for an extremely long day trip (- 15 hrs+), but it IS feasible - with careful planning around train/ferry timetables - if you can manage a 6 a.m start.

The Amalfi Coast is a more scenic choice than Sorrento. Capri is also possible as a day-trip with an early start - as is Pompeii.

There are many other options from Rome, of course - if you have time.

Steve

Mimar May 30th, 2009 05:50 AM

I don't think you need a car for this trip. (You may for future trips!)

Yes, skip the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. In a pinch, you can do a day trip to Pompeii, but that's a long day. Given jet lag you really have very few days in Rome.

From Florence you can day-trip by train to Lucca and Pisa on a single daytrip, Siena by bus for another daytrip.

The best place to look for hotels is www.tripadvisor.com. www.venere.com is helpful also. But I book directly with the hotels. In Venice, you might have to pay a bit more to stay in Venice proper (not on the Lido or in Mestre), but it's worth it.

Buon viaggio!

catch_me_if2009 Jun 8th, 2009 09:22 PM

Thanks to all who replied. I have been doing some more research, let me know if this is too much travel.
Rome: Days 5, 4 nights.
Tuscany:
day 5: Take train from rome to chiusi & rent car in chiusi
day 5: stay the night at montalcino
day 6: checkout nearby towns, head to siena, stay night at siena.
day 7: checkout sanG, volterra, pisa and drop off car at la spienza. Take train to CT. Stay night at CT.
day 8: stay at CT. hike thro few towns.
day 9: head to florence, spend 1 day
day 11: head to venice.

We are not big art buffs. So wondering if its ok to skip florence and spend more time in the other small towns.. Thoughts?

cathies Jun 8th, 2009 10:37 PM

Of course it's ok to skip Florence if you want to. It's your holiday, after all. If you think you will prefer the smaller towns, then go for it!! You are probably better to stay another night in CT and enjoy that area than pack up and dash to Florence for a day.

If you stay in Siena, then usually it's not possible to drive into the city (it's a walled city). You will have to park outside the town limits and make your way in with your luggage. It might be easier to stay in another small town, or spend another night in Montalcino perhaps. We drove to Siena from Castellina and parking was a nightmare even outside the town limits.

I agree with the other posters that you should save Sorrento etc for another trip - it's further than it looks on the map!

Have a great holiday!

russwuf Jun 8th, 2009 10:40 PM

day 5-7 above could be spent in one central location such as Florence or Siena with trips very easy to Siena(or Firenze conversely) Motalcino and surrounding tuscany towns and villages....I mean you will have a car so there is no real need to constantly check in and out of a lodging for just one night eh?

Mimar Jun 9th, 2009 05:29 AM

Florence doesn't make a good base for daytrips by car. Driving is very strictly limited in the historic center. You could spend 2 nights on the outskirts of Siena. Do you have a particular reason for staying in Montalcino? Because Pienza and San Quirico are easier to get in and out of by car.

Your day 7 is very full. I'm not familiar with driving into Pisa, but in general it's a bad idea to drive into any Italian city or town. Better to park on the outskirts and walk or take public transportation in. Maybe somebody else can give you advice on Pisa.

But ignoring those quibbles, I think you have a good plan. Given your interests, skipping Florence or only giving it a day is a good idea. Too bad you lost some time in Venice.

julieann Jun 9th, 2009 05:40 AM

We stayed in a wonderful apartment in Venice with a little private garden. The owner lived upstairs - Sonia. She was wonderful to us and so helpful - even took us on mini-tours. It was called B & B Gli Angeli - www.gliangeli.net or www.realvenice.it/gliangeli. We stayed in many wonderful places on our trip but this was by far the most personal and best! If you contact her tell her Ciao from the quattro sorella - 4 sisters.

akila Jun 9th, 2009 06:20 AM

I would also stay in Pienza, San Quirico, or Montepulciano rather than Montalcino. We found Montalcino to be difficult to drive in and out of and it wasn't the cutest of the four towns. I think spending one day in Florence is perfectly fine. We actually didn't like it very much --- too crowded and very claustrophobic (you can read about our Florence trip on the trip report I am currently writing): www.theroadforks.com . I would also do one day less in Venice and add that day to Tuscany. But, it depends on what you like: if you like big cities, then Florence, Rome, and Venice may be better options. If you like rural areas, then spend more time in Tuscany and Cinque Terre. Tuscany was the highlight of our trip but everyone has different tastes.

bobthenavigator Jun 9th, 2009 06:59 AM

You really have 4 destinations here and should only have 4 hotels. Train to Siena and stay there--get the car the 2nd day and see south Tuscany and San Gim/Volterra in 2 days from Siena. Then to CT for 2 nites, then to Venice.

catch_me_if2009 Jun 9th, 2009 09:09 PM

Most hotels in siena seem to be booked as I would be visiting during the palio. Any recomendations? Anyother place which is close to siena and central to south tuscany and west.

aden Jun 10th, 2009 03:45 AM

A couple of years back, I went to Italy for the first time with my family. We spent a couple of days in Genoa which didn't have much and the rest of the time were based in Pisa. We did hire a car and would do it again. On our way to Pisa from Genoa, we stopped at a town(as a matter of 5 fact 5 towns clumped together) called Cinque Terre. I highly recommend it. It was recommended by a colleague whose while is Italian and whose speaks Italian and travels to Italy several times a year. They are really small and quaint, and you can walk along the cliff through all of them.
We drove to Florence (parking was a chore but not terribly painful). We took a train from Pisa to Rome and did Rome in a day. Train journey was long and of course a day is not enough to do Rome but it was worth the journey.

Avoid Hotel Moderno in Pisa.

Rome, leaning tower and Cinque Terre were the highlights of the trip.

TerryLFred Jun 10th, 2009 04:11 PM

If you want a really good time in Rome I suggest a great tour guide that my husband and I used. Her name is Giulia Bernardini. Her knowledge really made Rome come alive for us. She lives here in the States but will be in Rome through the end of July.

She has a Master's degree in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is really knowledgeable. You can reach her at ([email protected]).

ber Jun 11th, 2009 07:13 AM

Can anyone please suggest an apartment in the "square" traveller1959 talked about-Florence/Siena/Volterra/Pisa ??
For a family of 5, with a car, in April next year so would not need a pool. Near trains too in case we use rail to go to Florence etc.
Some of the apartments i look at, look too nice! I'd prefer rustic charm, rather than Vogue.

Mimar Jun 16th, 2009 06:58 AM

For self-catering accommodation, look at www.slowtrav.com. Loads of information there including traveler reviews of apartments and villas as well as rental agencies. Another option is www.vrbo.com, where you deal directly with the owners. I prefer agencies; you pay a little more but can charge it to a credit card (disputeable) and the agencies must provide good rentals to stay in business.


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