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Florence/Venice/Tuscany driving vacation

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Feb 15th, 2015, 12:24 PM
  #1
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Florence/Venice/Tuscany driving vacation

We are in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to Italy in September 2015. We were thinking of renting a small home or apartment outside of Florence for one week, and using that as a base for visiting the city and surrounding area. We are also considering seeing Venice and the coast, and were wondering about the driving times and conditions between our destinations. We'd probably want to do a loop from Venice, perhaps down the Adriatic Coast to Ravenna, then to Florence home. After our week there, we'd drive back to Venice stopping someplace along the way, or even a bit out of the way (Emilio-Romano?), depending on the drive times.

Has anyone done a similar trip? If so, please share your experiences and recommendations!

Thanks.
Quilteri is offline  
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Feb 15th, 2015, 01:22 PM
  #2
 
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I'll let others comment on the specifics, but as a general rule, you do not want a car in either Florence or Venice. There aren't even roads in Venice. Both cities are very walkable and parking is difficult and expensive. There are also ZTLs where you cannot drive in most bigger Italian cities. And the rail system is efficient and easy to use.

Perhaps fly into Venice, spend some time there, take the train to Florence, spend a few days, then pick up a rental car for touring smaller towns. Or if you want to stay outside of Florence, plan to take the train for any day trips into Florence. Happy planning and buon viaggio!
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Feb 15th, 2015, 02:16 PM
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You might consider renting an apartment in the small town of Fiesole, in the hills right above Florence. On days when you want to visit Florence, you can take a bus or taxi into the city. But you can have a car up there and use it to take scenic drives into the Chianti. But you don't want to try to make a day trip by car to either Venice or Ravenna, or both. It is possible to visit Venice as a day trip from Florence, but it is not a great idea since you will spend 2 hours each way on the train (and even more travel time if you are basing outside of Florence).

After leaving the Florence area, you could take a mini-road trip through the Emilia-Romagna to Ravenna, and then drive up to Venice. On the mini-road trip, I would avoid visiting the larger busy cities like Bologna or Modena, and instead visit small towns like Castelvetro in Modena, Vignola, Dozza, Brisighella and maybe Comacchio on the way to Venice.

If you would like to see the larger cities, it would be better if you got rid of the car in Florence and took the train to Bologna for a few nights, and then went to Ravenna for an overnight (or you could see it as a day trip from Bologna), and then took the train to Venice.

The suggestion above to fly into Venice first, and then go to Florence (or Ravenna) by train is also workable. If you pick up a car in Ravenna or Florence you can drop it off in either city. Likewise, you could fly into Bologna, go to Ravenna, then Venice, all by train, then pick up a car and ultimately fly out of Pisa or Rome.

Lots of ways to skin this cat.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 10:02 AM
  #4
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Thanks. We are thinking along the same lines -- we would probably fly into and out of Venice. We would spend a few days there, but not rent a car until we were ready to leave the city. We plan to rent a small home or apartment just outside of Florence, and take day trips by car to small towns and by train into Florence. Could Cinque Terre be added to this itinerary? The dates would be mid- to late September.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Must you fly out of Venice? Consider a multi-city routing flying into Venice and out of Pisa. That would save you the time and cost of backtracking. Pisa airport is not far from Florence and easy to drive to. It's also not too far from the CT.

Not quite sure of how many days you have total.

The Cinque Terre is another place you don't want to drive. The villages are so well preserved because there's no road between them. Instead they are connected by train and, in season, boat. The main road is inland. There are parking lots uphill above the towns. You pay to park and walk down and up again.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:26 PM
  #6
 
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what about flying into Venice, visiting such cities/towns as you wish to see by train on your way to Florence, then hire one when you get to your base outside Florence [i too was thinking of Fissile which is only about 30 mins by bus to Florence] and then having the car for driving back to Venice, seeing the countryside.

that avoids the problem of what you do with your car when you want to go into a city.

How much you can actually fit in though does rather depend on how long you've got.
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:34 PM
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that should be "hire a car" when you get to your base outside Florence which should be "Fiesole" which my computer decided should be Fissile. Fissile???
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Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:15 PM
  #8
 
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Plenty of people drive a car to le Cinque Terre. If you are planning to stay there overnight, it is best to book a hotel with guaranteed parking. If you are going for a day trip -- which would be a long one from anywhere near Florence, then you should very much try to avoid the weekends.

I don't know if you are thinking of substituting le Cinque Terre for the Adriatic coast, but if so, then I would look to fly out of Pisa or Genoa airport.

But it is not clear anymore what order of trip you are contemplating beyond landing in Venice and then heading to the Tuscan countryside near Florence.
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Feb 28th, 2015, 11:14 AM
  #9
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Thanks, all. As I read through your responses, it becomes clear that our options are many, and all good. Trains in Italy are wonderful, but we do enjoy driving. And we prefer direct flights both ways between NYC and Italy. Still working on it!
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Feb 28th, 2015, 01:54 PM
  #10
 
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CT day trips from Genoa are doable, but barely.
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