Florence or Venice? Both?

Jan 13th, 2013, 08:39 AM
  #1  
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Florence or Venice? Both?

So, as I've mentioned before on this forum, my best friend and I will be traveling around France, Italy and Austria in June/July this year. My friend will be staying in Europe for about 4 weeks(mid June to mid July) and I will be staying on longer with Family in Austria, until about the end of July.

Basically, Our Plan (nothing set in stone yet) so far is to land in Paris, spend 5 days there, night train down to the south of France, spend a few days there, train to Cinque Terre, spend a few days there.

From there is where we're having trouble deciding what to do. Originally we planned to take a train up to Venice from Cinque Terre and spend a few days there, then take the train to Austria. However, my friend has recently had a chat with her dad who went to Florence as a young man and loved it. He strongly recommended that we stop there if we can. I've been to Florence and I loved it so I have no problem with that at all, as long as its doable.

So our new (tentative) plan, if we decide to include Florence, is take a train to Florence from Cinque Terre, spend some time there, then travel to Venice from there, and then up to Austria.

So Basically Paris-->S.France-->Cinque Terre-->Florence-->Venice-->Austria

My questions:

1. Is adding an extra city (Florence) too much for my friend's 4 weeks? We are neither of us rush-rush travelers and this will be her first time in Europe. She obviously wants to see a lot but we don't want to have to tear around the place either. I want her to have a great time and love it as much as I do.

2. If you had to choose between spending a longer time in Venice or a longer time in Florence, which would you choose? I've been to each once and I felt like Florence was somehow more time-consuming to see, but maybe that was just my first impression. I enjoyed them both equally, in different ways.

3. Do you think we should include Florence at all? I was thinking if we did, we would shorten our stay in Venice down to 2 days and 2 nights, whereas before I was thinking more like 3 or 4 days, and also my friend's time in Austria would be shortened by a day or two. How does that sound?

If you were in our shoes, what would you do?

Some additional info that may or may not matter:

Nothing has been booked yet so everything is very flexible. I'm just looking for general advice. We will be staying in hostels and backpacking, and we do need to be careful about money.

In Austria we will be staying with my family so we can arrive whenever we please. We will be staying in the town of Altmunster, near Gmunden (about two hours East of Salzburg).

We're looking for a mix of cities and cultural experiences, oceans and a little outdoor activity.

We want to be able to relax at least once in a while

Thanks in advance for whatever advice you have to offer!
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Two very different cities...
If I had to chose, Venice would
be my choice....there is no place like itIMO
danon is online now  
Jan 13th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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hi, ahiddenbird,

before we can answer your question, I think we need to know exactly how much time you've got for Italy, before you head off to Austria.

so far, you seem to have something like this:

Day 1-6 - Paris.

day 6 - Nice [or area]

day 11 - train to CT.

Day 16 - train to Florence

DAy 21 - train to Venice.

Day 30 - you alone travel to Austria and your friend goes home.

so even if you added an extra day to each of these places, you'd still have enough time to fit them all in, IMO.

OTOH, you might even manage to fit in a few days in the countryside or by a lake, which would make a nice change.

I don't think that this itinerary could be described as too rushed, even by me!
annhig is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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I would shorten my time in the Cinque Terre and spend longer in Florence AND Venice.
tarquin is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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Annhig, that sounds about right but Em wants to come to Austria too if possible, for a week or so, then fly out of Salzburg.

So I've been playing around with it over the last couple of hours and this is what I came up with:

1-6 Paris

night train to Nice/area

days 7-10 Nice/area

Day 11 train to Cinque Terre

Afternoon/Evening day 11 and until day 16 CT

Day 17 train to Florence

Afternoon/evening day 17 and until day 20 Florence

Day 20 or 21 train to Venice

Day 21-Day 23 Venice

Day 24 train to Austria

Day 24 evening and until day 30 Austria

Em goes home day 30, I stay on, etc.

Does this sound realistic? I'm trying to take travel time into consideration too, so does that sound about right? I was thinking about adding in an extra day or two in the South of France at the expense of Austria, but I'll leave that up to her discretion.

I haven't really taken a look at how long trains take between each place, but I'm giving it a few hours minimum plus time to find hostels, settle in, etc.
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:02 AM
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Tarquin, while I see where you're coming from, Em and I have both decided that we want to spend a good chunk of time hiking and swimming in the ocean, and just enjoying the (comparative) peace and quiet of Cinque Terre. Thats why we've decided to spend a good chunk of time there.
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:11 AM
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Cinque Terre is extremely popular so I'm not sure how much peace and quiet you will get. I was there in late April and it seemed to be overrun with tourists.
raincitygirl is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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raincitygirl: last time I was there, it was July! definitely a lot of tourists, so I know what you mean, However I still found it quite peaceful and relaxing compared to some of the big cities I went to!
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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Cinque Terre can be very crowded. To me, it was all hiking from village to village. Glad I saw it but don't have any desire to return. I'd hate to skip Florence or Venice.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:20 AM
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Maybe it helped that I stayed in Manarola rather than one of the more beachy towns!
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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ahiddenbird, I wasn't sure if you'd been before. It sounds like a great trip, enjoy!!
raincitygirl is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:32 AM
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Venice is lovely but expensive, Florence is lovely but expensive. If time and money are short I might stay only a couple of nights in Venice proper, I might see Florence as a day trip or two day trips from Pisa or Lucca (cheap local train between)and I might also look at Siena (but stay at the bottom of the hill not in the old town)
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 13th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Thanks Bilbo, I will look into those!
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Jan 13th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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Have to say, I wouldn't miss Florence. It's so beautiful, and a different feel to Venice - if you can split your time between them, do.

If you've been before and don't fancy plodding round the same sights, a day trip to Siena (a shortish) bus trip is well worth it.
mebanana is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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well if you got fed up with Florence, you could also get the bus to San Gim and /or fiesole [and Volterra too I think] or the train to Bologna, Pisa, Lucca....but I have always found plenty to interest me in the city itself.
annhig is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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I'm definitely going to talk to her about a day trip if we do decide to go to Florence! I went to Bologna last time, so maybe one of the others!

haha, I'm getting all thrilled and worked up just talking about it!
ahiddenbird is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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haha, I'm getting all thrilled and worked up just talking about it! >>

isn't that one of the best bits?

Siena is a lovely place to go if you haven't been before, and you should certainly try to find half a day for Fiesole which only takes 30 mins or so on the bus from piazza san Marco. you could go to the monastery di san Marco first - as it only opens in the mornings it's a good idea to go there first, before getting the bus. The Accademia is in the opposite corner of the piazza, and on the corner with the via Cavour, there is a very high-class cafe. [we stayed for a week in an apartment just round the corner so got to know this area of Florence quite well, just in case you are wondering. i can also tell you where to buy a frozen octopus if you want one!]
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Jan 13th, 2013, 01:30 PM
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Annhig: How big would this frozen octopus be? Would it fit in my backpack?

Thank you for the tips; my last trip is such a blur (4 years later) that it really helps to get some personal recommendations Siena looks beautiful! A question though, in terms of the Tuscan countryside: on my last trip we took a wine tour in the region. It was just for the day and I'd love to see more of the countryside. Any suggestions in terms of day trips to small towns and so on?
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Jan 13th, 2013, 02:19 PM
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check out www.groupon.it and groupon.fr for deals

you may want to fly from Venice to Austria

less days in the south of France, CT more days in Florence and Venice
sam94123 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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have you been to Fiesole?

easy to get to on the bus and lots to see in quite a small area - the cathedral, the monastery of San Marco with its lovely presepe and curious museum in the basement full of artefacts brought back by the monks from their travels, and the roman amphitheatre and museum. and a nice restaurant in the centre where we had lunch with the local builders. [well, they were at one table, we were at another].

I've not been, except by passing through it on the train between Pisa and Florence, but Empoli looks as if it would be nice, and it's easily accessible on the train.

San gim and Volterra are accessible on the bus, as well as Siena.

I'm sure there are more!

you talk about seeing more of the countryside - have you heard of these people:

http://www.hillsandroads.com/

I've not used them but they get a good press here for trips out into Tuscany and to vineyards etc.

as for that octopus, it was certainly the largest frozen octopus I've ever seen!
annhig is offline  

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