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Help for first timers

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Jun 20th, 2013, 03:37 AM
  #1
Hsa
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Join Date: Jun 2013
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Help for first timers

my wife and i plan to visit Italy in mid august. We land at rome, spend four nights, head south to capri on day 5 for a night or two. We love nature, food and history. We are thinking of taking the train from naples on day 7 to sienna on route to florence and venice. All this information has been gleaned from the internet. Should we spend the night in Sienna (or are there more scenic places around?), depart on day 8 to florence, spend some time in the city centre and take the evening train to venice, is that doable? day 9 i am thinking of taking the night train to nice for two nights. day 12 fly to barcelone from nice. day 15 return home.
(was very keen on visiting seville but that i think would be to tall an order)

We do not live in Europe as such are squeezing in the above destinations that we have always longed to visit. Next trip for now does not seem to be happening in the near future especially after the advent of kids.

And please, what is the minimum budget for two people per day for food, sight seeing etc (minus boarding and lodging).

Thank you
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Jun 20th, 2013, 03:57 AM
  #2
 
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You need to plot out your itinerary like this:

Day 1 – arrive Rome
Day 2 – Day 4 – Rome
Day 5 – travel to Capri
Day 6 – Capri
Day 7 – travel to Siena
Day 8 – travel to Florence then Venice
Day 9 – travel to Nice
Day 10 – 11 – Nice
Day 12 – travel to Barcelona
Day 15 – return home

Once you do that you will see how hectic the schedule is, especially given the heat in August. You'll be exhausted with all the traveling and spending time on trains and buses.

Why squeeze in places rather than take some time and enjoy the places you visit and really see them in some depth. I've never understood that theory, even when I was much younger.

Siena is only an hour from Florence so settle in Florence and take the bus to Siena. Try to go early or late to avoid most of the crowds. And check to see what day the Palio runs so you can avoid the extreme crowds.

I would spend more time in Venice and probably skip Nice. That will also give you more time in Florence. I would also skip Barcelona for this trip and focus on Italy; you can't do justice to Barcelona in 2 days. If you stay in Italy you could add some day trips from Florence such as Lucca or Pisa.

Minimum budget - depends on your appetite, how much wine you plan to drink, how much gelato you plan to eat. If you drink Coke (or other soft drinks) you'd better budget up or forget about it and stick to water, wine, or beer. I'd say at least E150 for 2 people and that would be skimping and not giving you any splurge meals. Breakfast is normally included in Italian hotels and you can get an inexpensive lunch at bars which will allow you some cafe time with a glass of wine or coffee. You're visiting expensive places and at the height of the tourist season.

For less expensive meals avoid popular squares where the prices are inflated and read some guide books for suggestions.
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Jun 20th, 2013, 05:26 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
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I agree with Adrienne that you should stick to Italy and miss out France and Spain. Nice isn't worth the short time you'd have and you don't have enough time for Barcelona. How about this:

Day 1 – arrive Rome
Day 2 – Day 4 – Rome
Day 5 – travel to Capri
Day 6 – Capri
Day 7 – Positano (or other Amalfi Coast)
Day 8 – Positano
Day 9 – 11 – Siena/Florence
Day 12 – travel to Venice
Day 15 – return home
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Jun 20th, 2013, 05:36 AM
  #4
 
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I agree about traveling to Siena from Florence and going in the a.m. You lose precious site-seeing time when you travel from place to place and get re-settled in new hotels.

If I had to skip anything, it would be Nice. You could still get your couple of days in Barcelona. It isn't enough, but hopefully, you'll return to do your favorites justice, eh?
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Jun 20th, 2013, 05:44 AM
  #5
 
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Do you already have your plane tickets? If you are locked into certain arrival/departure cities then people will be giving you different advice than if it's all still open. For example, on a two week trip most people will suggest you just stay in Italy. Even doing that, you can't see ALL the highlights of Italy in two weeks and you are talking about four different areas. You can do it, but it will still be 'just a taste'. Maybe four days Rome, three Capri (or Sorrento and do day trips to both Capri and Amalfi), four Florence (day trips to Siena and possibly other towns such as Pisa, Lucca, etc. ) and three days Venice. That's a pretty standard first trip to Italy - not too rushed but gives you a good overview of the 'best'.

But if you are already locked into flying home from Barcelona, or really want to experience another country - that's possible too, but then you need to cut some Italy destinations. For example, four days Rome, three days Florence, maybe sub in two days in the Cinque Terre for Capri (more logical geographically), then either train to Nice and spend the time on the French coast (if you don't already have tickets out of Barcelona) or fly from Italy to Barcelona and spend five or so days there (maybe with a day trip). But not both.

Budget - people on this board are all over the place. Personally I spend about 100€ a night on hotel (more in places like Rome) which usually includes breakfast (it does in Italy and Spain, less often in France). I can easily do lunch (picnic or pizza, etc) for 10€, dinner for 20€ (most people spend way more than that). Gelato is around 3€, wine is pretty cheap, soft drinks are considerably more, bottle water any where from under a euro to 4€ in hot, touristy locations. In Italy water from fountains is 'potable' so people just fill up water bottles all day long as you go (it it's not potable it will say so). Minor 'sites' are around 5€ per person (small churches, etc.) and major sites are three times that. But you can find out all that stuff ahead of time as admission fees are on every attraction's website - and even small places have websites.

Trenitalia website will tell you how much train tickets are. You can get deep discounts if you book way ahead (I bought a ticket from Milano to Lausaunne for 22€, the 'standard' listed price is 68€) - but you'd need to set your itinerary now and start looking cause those type tickets go on sale 90 days out and sell out quickly (rarely do the trains themselves sell out - although popular ones do, a few years ago I just showed up in Naples without a ticket to Rome and the next three trains were all full, had to wait about 4 hours to get a train). If you don't care about price, usually buying tickets a few days ahead is safe.
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Jun 20th, 2013, 05:55 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
The temptation for a first trip is to see everything. The problem is, traveling at this pace you risk seeing not much of anything but trains and buses.

With the amount of time you have, stay in Italy. Seeing all of the destinations you list will still be hectic but you will remember it.

Rome, Capri, Siena, Florence and Venice will be plenty for 15 days. I would spend 5 nights in Rome, 3 in Capre, 1 in Siena, and 3 each in Florence and Venice. You can do day trips from Florence such as San Gimignano and Pisa. It is hot and crowded in southern Europe at the time you are traveling. A slower pace will allow you to enjoy your trip and take it a bit easier.
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Jun 20th, 2013, 06:57 AM
  #7
 
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>>>day 9 i am thinking of taking the night train to nice for two nights<<<

No night train on this route.

If you are concerned about budget, you need to drop some places. The more you move around, the more it costs (in money and time). I don't think you've realistically looked at how much travel this is in such a short time.

Two hotel nights in a location only gives you one sightseeing day.

>>>Day 5 – travel to Capri
Day 6 – Capri
Day 7 – travel to Siena
Day 8 – travel to Florence then Venice
Day 9 – travel to Nice <<<<

This would be torture. Traveling every day and not actually visiting the cities. Why go to these places if you only intend to pass through the train stations?

The logistics of Capri to Siena:

Check out of hotel, get transport to port (either bus, funicular or taxi depending on where you stay on Capri), get ferry to Naples (you may have to wait around an hour or two as they can book up in high season), get transport from port to train station (tram,bus,taxi), train Naples/Siena (5 hours with changes), get from Siena train station to center (bus or taxi), locate hotel. As you can see, this entire day would be transport.
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Jun 20th, 2013, 07:30 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,291
what everyone else says.

trust me, we do understand. those fodorites that I have bored rigid with my planning for NZ have been trying to impress that on me as firmly as people here are trying to help you realise that you can't see everything in Italy in 2 weeks either, let alone splitting it with France and Spain.

rather you need to work out how you can see the most in the time you've got. Clearly in order to help you, we need to know what your "musts" are, and whether you are already committed to your flights. if you are, then that will largely dictate what you can sensibly see in each country.
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Jun 20th, 2013, 07:56 AM
  #9
 
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I would comment only on the practicality part of your trip. How much time one spends at a destination depends greatly from person to person. The value of time varies between those who live or travels frequently vs those who rarely travels to Europe.

Capri to Siena is a chore as previously noted. Capri to Florence is easier as there are high speed trains without change from Napoli to Florence. However, if your Rome arrival is early in the morning, one way to deal with this is to go straight to Capri on arrival in Rome. Then do Capri to Rome, then Rome-Siena-Florence or Rome-Florence-Siena.

Venice to Nice would be best done by plane. It takes too long by ground. If you had a choice, I think Venice-Barcelona-Nice would have more direct flight choices than Venice-Nice-Barcelona.
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Jun 21st, 2013, 01:25 AM
  #10
Hsa
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 6
Thank you very much for the sea of information and advice. Everything is open and flexible on our part. Wanted to settle the itinerary before making the bookings.

The destinations too are open, we are more into scenery and outdoors. But as first time visitors i thought it would only be appropriate to visit florence and venice other than rome. we are open to quaint dainty towns.

You say it will be hot/crowded in the south. is visiting capri mid/end August a good time ?

Nice i can skip, but it has been a long time wish to see cordoba and granada (more than barcelona). i guess that too will have to pass for now especially as i have cut the trip to 10 to 12 days
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Jun 21st, 2013, 04:27 AM
  #11
 
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Capri in August is mobbed. It's the height of the summer season and it will be hot, crowded and expensive.

Now that you only have ten days you are righto cut France and Spain. What about:

Day 1 – arrive Rome
Day 2 – Day 4 – Rome
Day 5 – travel to Florence
Day 6 – Florence
Day 7 – 10 Venice and fly home

In ten days, I don't think you should attempt more.
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Jun 21st, 2013, 02:52 PM
  #12
 
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Nice i can skip, but it has been a long time wish to see cordoba and granada (more than barcelona). i guess that too will have to pass for now especially as i have cut the trip to 10 to 12 days>>

Hsa - shame to miss andalucia but it would likely be VERY hot there in August, so it's probably a good thing to leave it to another time when you have more time and it's less warm.

with 10 days, Rubicund's plan would be good, or, depending on flight times, the other way round.
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Jun 21st, 2013, 03:15 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Or even... a more northern route where you're not going to have to deal with as much heat or quite as many crowds.

1. Fly into Milan

2. visit and stay at beautiful Lake Como

3. train to Florence

4. couple of nights in Florence, maybe staying outside the city at a place like Il Silviatino (with free shuttle into town)

5. rent a car, explore Siena, the hill towns of Tuscany, some wineries

6. maybe stay in Verona for a night

7. end the trip in Venice!
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Jun 21st, 2013, 10:24 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 650
We travel with the idea that is better to see a few places well than many poorly. For example, one can easily become rapt with the Piazza del Campo and enjoy a drink and look at the different patterns and shapes of the square and imagine the running of the horses of the Palio. We have lost a couple of afternoons there. By the way the second Palio is August 16 and you will not be able to get near Siena.
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