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-   -   HELP in Planning a 14 day trip to Italy (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/help-in-planning-a-14-day-trip-to-italy-942671/)

retplanner Jul 13th, 2012 11:32 AM

HELP in Planning a 14 day trip to Italy
 
I am totally overwhelmed in planning a 14 day trip to Italy. I have read guidebooks and the internet. Could someone please give me some advice, based on the following.
1) there 2 of us, we are in our mid-fifties,
2) we can travel start to finish 14 days
3) we would like to for sure go to Rome, Florence/Tuscany area, Venice. After that we are open
4) I have read about flying into one City and out another so this seems viable
5) from what I have read April is best, but we can go in Fall, we are open
6) we are not tour group people but I do like to plan things in advance
7) we are open to where we stay
8) we are totally open to the type of travel we use between cities
9) Do I need a travel agent for this trip?

nytraveler Jul 13th, 2012 11:47 AM

If you are willing to do the research you absolutely do not need a travel agent. In fact - unless you want a very luxurious vacation - using a travel agent will cost you more than organizing it yourself.

In terms of time - April, May and late Sept Oct are the best times to go. I prefer the spring - since locals haven't been mobbed by tourists for the previous 3 months.

For your itinerary the best way to travel is train - with possibly a day tour or two from Florence into the Tuscan countryside. This can also be done by car - but renting for only a day or two is usually too expensive.

Your first step is to do some research on the sights you want to see to get an idea of how long to spend in each place. As for hotels, if you give us a budget and your expectations, people can make specific recommendations. And in the spring you may get some negotiable discount rates.

charnees Jul 13th, 2012 11:52 AM

To answer #9, no you do not need a travel agent.

To get open-jaw tickets (into one city and out of another) go to a travel website like Travelocity.com or Orbitz and in the search box check multi-city to get a form that will allow you to get that kind of tickets. Most people recommend flying into Venice and out of Rome on your itinerary, as early morning flights out of Venice are hard to get to because of difficulty with early morning transportation to the airport.

You have twelve days on the ground, so plan for a full day's recovery from jet lag at the beginning. You do not need a car. You can take the train between the three cities, and a train or bus from Florence to Pisa or Lucca or Siena for side trips. A car is obviously unusable in Venice and parking would cost €25 a day. You cannot drive into central Florence, Siena, or Lucca because of traffic restrictions on non-resident autos. Traffic and parking in Rome are insane, so a car is not useful there, either.

If you stay in one place 3 days or more you can usually rent an apartment (a studio would work for you) which will give you more room and a mini-kitchen for less than a hotel room. The drawback is that you have no access to help from a concierge or hotel staff for travel assistance. Look at sleepinitaly.com or VRBO.com for apartments. Or you can look for B&B's.

The best time to go is spring or fall, your choice. How long in each place depends on your interests. But be aware that Rome is huge, and packed with things to see. (We are going for the fourth time this fall, and I have only touched the surface of it so far.) So three nights in Venice, four in Florence, and the rest in Rome would suffice, I think. You don't have time for any more places.

You should stay in the historic center of each place, not out of the way somewhere. You won't want to spend precious time each day just getting to the sights, and it's nice to be able to return to your accommodation for a rest in the afternoon if you need it.

All of this planning is doable on the Internet.

adrienne Jul 13th, 2012 12:02 PM

3. I'd say 3 to 4 cities/towns are enough for 2 weeks. You say you've read guide books and the internet so you must have a list of things you want to see in each location. What you want to see determines how long you stay in a location. You'll need 5 days to see the major sights in Rome, 3 days for Florence, 3 to 4 days for Venice. That's 11 to 12 days. Use your other 2 days for trips in Tuscany, using Florence as a base. You could visit Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano for instance.

Everyone who responds will have a different opinion but it's what you want to see that counts so make a list and get input.

8. Take trains between major cities and buses to smaller towns (Siena). Pisa and Lucca are well served by trains.

9. You absolute do not need a travel agent.

StCirq Jul 13th, 2012 12:20 PM

If you've read guidebooks and the internet, what's holding you up? Apart from a good map, that's all you really need.

Buy tickets - open jaw tickets if you plan to cover a fair bit of territory.

Use trains, except for maybe Tuscany, where you'll want a car to explore.

Figure out a hotel budget and come back and read here for suggested accommodations.

No way anyone needs a travel agent for a trip like this.

bobthenavigator Jul 13th, 2012 12:50 PM

That is really 4 destinations and is more than enough for your time. Here is what I would do:

Arrive Venice---3 nites
Train to Florence---2 nites
Get car---to rural Tuscany---3 nites
Drop car in Orvieto--train to Rome--last 5 nites[or is it 4?]

Manage your dates so the car pick up/drop days are not Sunday.
That works! Decide big picture first and set you get mired in details. Come back later for hotels etc., but not until you have your itinerary set.

Anna_Galea Jul 13th, 2012 02:01 PM

Assuming 14 days = 13 nights I would do:

Arrive Venice - 3 nights

Tuscany - 4 nights
Pick up car prior to leaving Venice and drive to Tuscany and stay in a rural area but within driving distance to various towns and villages

2 nights Umbria - close to Assisi or Perugia or near Lake Trasimeno

4 nights Rome - Drop car in Orvieto or Rome Fiumicino airport and train to central Rome

mamcalice Jul 13th, 2012 02:20 PM

I think Bob the Navigator has an ideal itinerary, as usual. You don't need a travel agent and, as noted above, you can't use a car except for the Tuscan countryside. Trains between major cities are great.

Jean Jul 13th, 2012 02:36 PM

Lots of good advice so far, but I would hesitate to assume you need x number of days anywhere until you decide exactly what you want to see/do. If you plot out your days in Rome, Florence plus a couple of small towns and notice you've already run out of time, you may decide to leave Venice for another trip. Likewise, if you plan to arrive in Venice, would like to visit a smaller town or two (say, Assisi and/or Spello) on the way to Rome and run out of time, leave Florence and the Tuscan countryside for another trip. You could easily spend a week just doing that. The region of Tuscany is 9000 square miles!

Keep in mind that three nights somewhere is only two full days, two nights is only one full day, etc. The day you arrive can be seriously impacted by jet lag, and every time you move from city to city, hotel to hotel, you lose at least half a day.

Just speaking for me, one day in Florence is not enough, two days driving in Tuscany or Umbria is barely worth the effort to rent and return the car, etc. I would rather spend more time in a place and be a little less ambitious, especially on a first trip to a new country.

retplanner Jul 16th, 2012 06:13 PM

thanks for all your help, so far are plans looks like
Rome 5 nights
Tuscany 2 nights
Florence 3 nights
Venice 3 nights

And we will go Spring of 2014 I do have one question, since Easter is April 20, should we plan to go late march early April, or late April early May. we are open.

Thanks again I am sure I will be back one I have more details.

bobthenavigator Jul 16th, 2012 07:21 PM

Have you looked at return flight times from Venice?
I would go late April.

Anna_Galea Jul 18th, 2012 10:31 AM

I would vote for late April early May as probability is it will be warmer and nicer weather - however nobody can predict the good weather days.

daffy_traveller Jul 18th, 2012 11:58 AM

I would do: Fly into Rome - 4 nights Rome - 4 nights Florence - 3 nights Venice - 2 nights Lake Como or Maggiore and fly out of Milan.

I am a travel agent, and I would agree - you don't need one unless you are completely unfamiliar with travel planning on the internet. I am planning 2 week Italy trip for someone now and this is my plan for them which they like. (They are too busy to plan themselves and are willing to pay extra for the convenience.)

Before I became a travel agent, I did a month-long trip in Italy, ending in Rome and it was exhausting to finish with such a busy place. i swore next time I'd start with Rome and wind down.... but maybe only 2 weeks won't be so bad.

We based in Florence and visited Bologna, Parma, Arrezzo and Siena by train. It was good not packing and unpacking too many times.

kwren Jul 18th, 2012 12:29 PM

I've read that it's better to fly into Venice and fly out of Rome instead of the other way around due to the early departure times out of Venice. Maybe someone will add to that thought.

You could find an agriturismo in Tuscany - a farmhouse (the one we stayed in was beautiful, near Pienza.) It gave us a wonderful experience in the hills of Tuscany. We rented a car while there and visited the villages in the area (there is no public transportation to speak of) and at the end, drove to Orvieto, returned the car, visited that town for the afternoon and finally took the train to Rome. Very easy (except when no one was in the car rental office - she was out having a coffee!)

I agree, Rome was a bit of culture shock for the first hours after the peace and quiet of Tuscany, but we got right into it. We're the same age as you are so I think you'd do OK with that like we did.

You might want to check out my 2011 trip report (sorry it's long, but skip the beginning about Switzerland). We did much of what you are describing so you might get some ideas, and you can see my pictures if you are interested.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-pompeii.cfm

Delaine Jul 18th, 2012 01:54 PM

I have only flown out of Venice twice, but both times my flight was around 1:30 p.m. I think both flights were Delta.


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