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collbryan22 Oct 12th, 2015 06:17 AM

Help! First Time to Italy
My fiance and I are planning our first trip to Europe from Michigan. We will have about 10 days for travel. We are interested in outdoor adventure, great views, hiking, and yummy food! We don't have a large interest to do a lot of the 'must see' churches and museums more just looking for a unique, romantic Italian adventure! We are looking for a romantic trip since this is going to be a pre-wedding trip in place of a honeymoon. Right now I am thinking Fly into Venice-2 nights, travel to Ferarra-1 night (where my sister will be living), then I would like to spend the rest of the time in Tuscany visiting hill towns, vineyards, hot springs, and potentially Cinque Terre for a day trip-however I keep reading this might not be a possibility with our limited time. Thinking about flying out of Florence?

Please help with Itinerary- I welcome all tips and advice!!
What would be the best place to base ourselves out of to explore the Tuscan region of Italy?
What would be the recommended mode of transportation?

greg Oct 12th, 2015 06:27 AM

When is this trip?

bilboburgler Oct 12th, 2015 06:34 AM

To Ferrare you could just take the train from the town but you might look at taking the boat to Chioga and then catch the train, just lets you see more.

Depends how important the spa is, basically Tuscany is easier with a car.

traveller1959 Oct 12th, 2015 06:56 AM

Given your preferences, Cinque Terre will appeal to you - it is basically a cliffside hiking trail with gorgeous views that connects picturesque towns. Make sure to wear proper hiking boots. So, you should put in on your itinerary and think about an overnight stay in one of those villages.

You did not specify the time of year when you will be travelling. Keep in mind that Tuscany gets awfully hot (at least too hot for hiking) from July to beginning of October. For hiking and water-related activities, Lake Garda and the Dolomites are a good option, even in summer.

If a spa is important for you you should stay in Lucca, Tuscany, which has thermal springs. Although you are not so much in churches and museums you should stroll through

- Pisa - the snow-white marble ensemble of the "leaning tower", baptisterium and cathedral is a breathtaking sight,

- Florence - the birthplace of renaissance,

- Siena - a most charming medieval city,

- San Gimignano - a hilltop village with a skyline made of high-rise stone towers.

There are hiking possibilites in the forests in the higher elevations, e.g. behind Fiesole above Florence, although for hiking I would generally prefer the Dolomites over Tuscany.

You find wineries practically everywhere in Italy but be aware that the vast majority of wineries does not offer commercialized tours like the wineries in California. Often, you find just a factory-like building with a simple tasting room. Usually, it is a good idea to let the owner or concierge of your hotel arrange a visit to a winery - it will be his cousin or something and you get a better service than arriving as a tourist.

tonfromleiden Oct 12th, 2015 06:59 AM

Effectively you've got one week for Tuscany. You could base yourself in a hill-town. I've got good memories of Montepulciano. A good base to explore the region.
A car would be almost essential to make good use of your limited time. That could easily be hired in Bologna, just around the corner from Ferrara. Bologna has an international airport and, when not suitable for you, has an excellent rail connection (1 hr) to Florence to use that airport.

irishface Oct 12th, 2015 07:15 AM

I could recommend the Cinque Terre for an overnight. My sister her husband, and I spent a week there and took lots of hikes, did a day trip to Pisa by train and one to Lucca. We did not run out of things to do. We wore walking sneakers on the trails and made out fine.

On that same trip we spent a night in Ferrara and loved the museum there as well as the city itself. Then went north to the Dolomites and enjoyed walking, exploring the countryside and a visit to the Natural History Museum in Bolzanno to see Oetzi, the ice man found preserved in ice in that area. The museum also contained a lot of interesting artifacts, and, to me, most interesting were the dioramas which showed the development of civilization in the area.

Have a wonderful trip!

bilboburgler Oct 12th, 2015 08:32 AM

This might help

BAGNI VIGNONI has three levels, the medievel tank in the town square where no one bathes, the small hotels down the hill and then the wild pool over the cliff (which is tepid)

Due to the solids in solution the hotel pools are a fine mud with water on top. You can get a day pass for very little at the hotels.

Now we may need to discuss swimming hats and budgie smugglers, I'll leave it to you. Hats you can buy on site for E1 or 2.

nytraveler Oct 12th, 2015 08:39 AM

Really we need to know when you will be there. Midsummer is VERY hot and quite a few lodgings - esp in the countryside - are not equipped with AC. I would not consider hiking here in the summer at all - but would head for the northern lakes and/or the mountains - for cooler weather.

2010 Oct 12th, 2015 08:58 AM

Venice is the perfect place to being your first trip to Italy, I think! If the route to your hotel takes you along the Grand Canal, the approach from the water (by water taxi, Alilaguna) is so beautiful! Lovely to adjust to jet lag here where there are no cars. Just avoid the masses of people in St Mark's Square during the day but do visit in the early morning or in the evening. It is magical!

zoecat Oct 12th, 2015 09:18 AM

I always base just outside of Pienza in southern Tuscany and do a lot of hiking in the area. Most hikes are from town to town and back on tractor trails or dirt roads. The countryside is in this area is IMO the most beautiful in Tuscany. There are plenty of sights and towns/villages to visit within 5-60 minutes to keep you busy for a week.

I have stayed here at least 8 times and will continue to return. Fantastic location and hosts. The property is in a perfect position for views and as a central base for exploring.

You will need a car. I always go through for the best deals and customer service. Returning the car at the Florence airport is easy (there are even gas stations on the service road right before the airport to fill the tank). You can then take the airport bus or taxi into town.

I recommend at least 3 nights in Venice.

Have fun!

collbryan22 Oct 12th, 2015 09:48 AM

Thank you so much for all of your replies! We would be going the second week in May.. so hopefully not too hot yet!
Sounds like it would be a good idea to make time for an extra night in Venice and having a car would be essential for our time in Tuscany..

Do you think a day trip to CT is worth doing or better to make it and over night trip?
What would be the top 3 destinations/ hill towns to visit in our time in the tuscan region including or not including CT.
-We want to see a lot but definitely don't want to over plan our limited days.

zoecat Oct 12th, 2015 10:33 AM

If you stay in northwestern Tuscany then a day trip to CT is possible. If staying anywhere else in Tuscany, I suggest an overnight in CT or saving it for another trip.

Mid-May is the perfect time to visit the countryside. The fields are still green and things are blooming. The days are long also. Usually the weather is not too hot. It is my favorite time to visit!

Some of my favorite towns in southern Tuscany to visit-


A couple of my favorite hikes-

Pienza to Monticchiello and back- About 1.5 hours each way. Start in the morning and have lunch in Monticchiello before your return to Pienza.

Montepulciano to Montefollonico and back- About 2 hours each way. Have lunch in Montefollonico at the casual and delicious Osteria La Botte Piena.

There are many small villages and sights worth exploring also. To find what might appeal to you, I suggest reading through the Rough Guide and Insight Guides for Tuscany to point you in the right directions.

greg Oct 12th, 2015 10:41 AM

If it is second week of May, then high altitude locations such as Dolomite hiking is out. It is between the seasons.

How many NIGHTS are you talking about when you mention "rest of the time in Tuscany"? "10 days" including travel days means 9 nights of which 3 are spoken for and therefore you have 6 nights in Tuscany = 5 full days? If this is the case, you don't have much time there.

I think it is necessary to set the context for CT or what it means to be "better." While CT used to be idyllic coastal towns, they are bustling touristy towns now. I was just there two weeks ago and the number of tour groups hitting even previously less visited towns were suffocating! I stayed overnights since I expected this and enjoyed tranquility after 5pm and before 9am before another group of bus tours roll into towns and filled out trains and boats connecting towns. I no longer think CT is romantic as a day trip. I was crushed between tour groups many toting selfie sticks, squeezed onto next full boats, or tried to squeeze into trains connecting towns like during the rush hours at major city center subway stations. The accommodations at these towns are not big enough for big tour groups, so they have to stay somewhere else at night. The flip side is that it has gotten considerably harder to book charming accommodations I liked in the past. Also this is a weather dependent location and adds risk if you make it an overnight destination.

As for Tuscany, car is essential for certain type of itinerary while bête noire for other type of itinerary. It would give you headache if you rent a car for other type of itinerary or mix the two types without thinking about them. Most towns have ZTL restricted zones you do not want to wonder into. Larger ones use video cameras to capture every instance of violation. The fines are not trivial amount. Towns like Pienze, San Quirico, Monticchiello, etc. have parking spaces in safe areas close to the town center. Montepulciano and Siena, you need to park quite bit further and trek/bus into town adding time than you might have expected. Also you would probably consult the futbol (soccer) schedule if venturing into Siena with a car. Florence has extensive and high fine ZTL zones.

collbryan22 Oct 12th, 2015 04:22 PM

Thank you this gives me a lot to work with! I appreciate all of the feedback!

collbryan22 Nov 2nd, 2015 09:35 AM

While looking at flight prices I have noticed it will save us $400 a ticket ($800) total if we fly home out of Rome instead of Florence. Do you think its possible to make it to Rome and tour the city at all in our time schedule? I do not want to compromise our time in Tuscany as that is what appeals to me the most. However it seems only logical to make it to Rome to see another city and save money.. Thoughts? Maybe cut out the day trip to CT, but I was looking forward to seeing that too! Maybe less is more and we should stick with out original plan to fly out of Florence... ?

collbryan22 Jan 16th, 2016 05:17 AM

Does anyone have suggestions of their favorite places to stay in Tuscany? We would like to stay at a BNB or farm house that is relaxing but close to other attractions for day trips. If anyone has specific recommendations of BNBs they have enjoyed that would be great!


jamikins Jan 16th, 2016 06:39 AM

We loved this place

Five min drive from Montepulciano, easy drives to Pienza, San quirco, montalcino and all of the Val d'orcia

You can see our pics from 2 weeks over 2 New Years here:[email protected]

Mimar Jan 16th, 2016 07:28 AM

You could drive or take the train from Tuscany to Rome instead of returning to Florence. It's not far. But I make it a rule to be in the city of my departure the night before. Things happen in Italy: strikes, traffic jams, breakdowns, etc. If you missed your flight home, it could get very expensive.

nytraveler Jan 16th, 2016 09:28 AM

Sorry but you don't really have time to see Rome. And if you want to fly out of there you need to travel there the night before (trying to travel day of is VERY risky due to weather delay, strikes - or just some sort of slow down).

You have very limited time and for a "honeymoon" I would not try to stuff so much into it that it just becomes a very rushed blur.

TDudette Jan 17th, 2016 08:24 AM

Congrats, collbryan22. $800 is a lot to save!

How about:

2 nights in Venice

5 nights in Florence as base for travel

3 nights in Rome

If you base in Florence (or the outskirts as mentioned above) you can easily get to various places by car, tour, bus or train. Just my opinion, but if you get a nice hotel in Florence it would be a lovely place to come "home" to after you busy touring days. The views from Fiesole (say 'fee AYE so lay') are nice when it is clear.

I actually feel that way about Venice but you want Tuscany so I'd say Florence.

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