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Help w/ itinerary for first timers in Italy on 25th anniversary trip

Help w/ itinerary for first timers in Italy on 25th anniversary trip

Aug 14th, 2007, 02:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 665
Help w/ itinerary for first timers in Italy on 25th anniversary trip

My husband and I are planning a long dreamed of trip to Italy and Germany first two weeks of June 2008. We are working on the Italy leg and hoped some of you more experienced travelers can share some information. I have been reading all the posts on this website and am finding them very helpful.

Here is our tentative plan for Italy:

We are already booked on flight to Venice. Stay 3 nights Venice
Train to Florence for 2 nights.
Car rental early next day going to Tuscany and staying one night in Tuscany. Drop off car and take train to Cinque Terre (Vernazza probably) for 2 nights.

Then onto Germany and we'll figure that part out later. Fly out of Frankfort after second week.

Can anyone recommend hotels/B&B's in any of these places? Is 3 nights in Venice too much? Where to go and stay in Tuscany, there are too many delightful looking places. We are thinking about Chianti.

I know many of you discourage going to Cinque Terre especially June, but it looks too wonderful to pass up. Unless anyone can recommend an equally beautiful, quaint northern seaside village. Where to stay in Vernazza (or maybe Manarola) with view of the sea?
Should we do 2 nights Tuscany and only one Cinque Terre?
Thank you so much for your help.

Cindywho is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 404
Cindywho, congrats on your dream trip. Great that you are planning well in advance. I can't offer any info on Tuscany or Florence, because those are not are desired areas.

Re: Venice, 3 nites too much? IMO, No. We stayed 2 nites the first time, 7 nites the 2nd time, & 4 nites this November. So, it obviously is a favorite spot for us. Can't imagine anyone not finding enough to do for 3 nites.

Are you sure that you want to pass on Rome - the Vatican with Sistine Chapel, Colosseum + rest of ancient city, the art, the history?

Good luck on your planning & have a great trip, Julie
Julie_Hurst is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 200
We stayed in this B&B in Venice and loved it. They serve breakfast in their lovely courtyard. Its not on a canal, but we loved the location and our room was very large. WWW.CORTE1321.COM

For Tuscany, because you only have one night, I would target a city on the way to Cinque Terre.

It will also help if you post your budget and what qualities you like in a hotel.
Ninkette is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 04:42 PM
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Julie, we are passing on
Rome because my husband (do you call them DH's??) really wants to go to Germany rather than full blown Italy. So I compromised with him. As they say, don't say it's a trip of a lifetime but your first time. So we will be back for Rome.

As far as a budget, we are planning $200 per night for lodging. I really want NON american like hotels, with real people, love the idea of family owned, something with character. The staff interaction is something I have been paying attention to on reviews. Nice beds, but not into alot of amenities. Good food.

thanks for your help. I will check out what you have recommended.

Cindywho is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 05:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750
Congrats on making your dream trip coming true!

We will be doing our 1st (much dreamed of and anticipated) trip this October for a 10yr Anniversary.

I don't have the experience of actually being there, but have researched and planned for many months and have weeded through much info to narrow down choices. Many of the ones I'm referring you to are those that have come up quite frequently on these boards and are rated highly at Tripadvisor.

We were referred by a fellow Fodorite to this amazing property in Vernazza (La Mala) http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html
which looks incredible and is priced right. I searched for a very long time for CT lodging and this one fit our style completely. It also received rave reviews on Tripadvisor.com. We booked La Mala right away.

If you decide on Manarola, the same person referred us to this inn: Arpaiu http://www.arpaiu.com/english.html which also looks amazing.

Locanda Orseolo. http://www.locandaorseolo.com/en/
Hands down, the only place I wanted to stay. It comes HIGHLY recommended from other Fodorites and is the #1 Venice B & B on Tripadvisor. The same group just opened another inn in Venice. I booked this place over a year in advance. It is VERY popular.

Other places I had bookmarked:
Ca dei Dogi http://www.cadeidogi.it/en/index.htm
La Calcina is another inn that is very popular and is priced right.

3 nights in Venice is perfect. I would do your same itinerary for a 7 day trip to Italy. We just added a week in Tuscany instead of Germany.

Personally, I think 2 nights in CT is just right. I wouldn't do any less. Especially since you have travel time to consider.

Others have told us to drop the rental car off in La Spezia and then train to CT. Also, you may want to consider opting for a one day wine tour that starts in Florence. This way you don't have to rent a car and just sit back and relax while someone does the driving.

Good luck and congrats....
Viva la Italia!
adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Adventure Seeker,

Thanks for the information. La Mala did look like just what we are looking for and I am in contact with them to make reservations. Our first lodging decision!!

I would love to know what kind of places you will be going and staying in Tuscany for a week. You seem to have a similar taste as we do.

Thanks again!
Cindywho is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 199
Congratulations on your 25 wedding anniversary and your upcoming dream trip! You will love planning each moment of your trip and then will savor the time there even more!

My family of four recently spent two weeks in Italy (trip report entitled: Amazing Two Week Family Trip to Italy). We ended our trip in Venice for three nights (and I wish I could stayed another three nights). We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo www.locandaorseolo.com and absolutely loved the experience. They have a new sister hotel next to the Rialto Bridge, The Al Ponte Antico www.alponteantico.com. The owners, Matteo and Barbara, and all of their staff will make you feel like family. Please visit my trip report for more details.

Also, we did not actually stay in Florence, but we stayed in Tuscany in Castellina in Chianti and visited Florence. We stayed at Fattoria Tregole, www.fattoria-tregole.com, and again had a great experience. This little inn is locally owned and operated and you will never want to leave after your visit! Just a few thoughts for you to ponder. Again, congratulations!
KimiG is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi Cindywho,

Since this is a long awaited dream trip and an anniversary trip to boot, I have spent alot of time searching for the perfect places (within a reasonable price) for a second honeymoon.

Originally for our Tuscany leg, we planned to break up 6 nights between 2 different bases. I found exactly what I was looking for in Villa Cicolina (Montepulciano) http://www.villacicolina.it/ when I stumbled across it 2 years ago. (The site is a bit tough to navigate since you have to click on somewhat hidden links to view the rooms, gardens, etc.) It seemed to have the perfect combination of romance, rustic elegance and tuscan charm that I was looking for. I envisioned us renewing our vows in the small stone chapel. They don't list their prices, but you can email them for it. A year ago, the rooms ranged from 150E-250 which I thought was priced right when compared to similar type lodging. We were pretty much sold on this place.

I was getting ready to book Ciccolina when I stumbled across this amazing Tuscan Cottage which is rented weekly by the owner. We fell in love with it. We had to rearrange our entire itinerary to fit it in and give up our plan of breaking up Tuscany into 2 bases to make daytrips easy. The price was right too. So, we're booked in Sogna Piccola for the week. We may not want to leave to explore other towns! http://www.tuscanyholidaycottage.co.uk/

Since you're only in Tuscany for 1-2 nights, Sogna won't work, but maybe next time!

Besides Villa Ciccolina, here are a list of places that I bookmarked which appealed to us. Maybe one will strike your fancy. The prices vary.

CORTONA: http://www.vrbo.com/88545 (3 night min.)

MONTALCINO: Hotel Giglio http://www.gigliohotel.com/en/

Villa Poggiano http://www.villapoggiano.com/en/index.html

PIENZA: La Saracina http://www.lasaracina.it/home.en.php
(this was our second choice after Ciccolina, but it more than we wanted to spend for a 3 night stay)

Pieve a Pava

Palazzo del Capitano

La Foce http://www.lafoce.com/ (weekly rentals)

Villa Vignamaggio http://www.vignamaggio.com/english/agriturism.html

La Locanda http://www.lalocanda.it/welcome.html

Borgo Grondaie http://www.borgogrondaie.com/eng/index.asp

The Lazy Olive http://www.thelazyolive.com/

Good luck in your search and don't hesitate if you have any questions....I'd be glad to help in any way I can and the others on this board have made my planning and this much anticipated trip a dream....

adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Here's one more:

Villa Dievole
(they have great packages)

Let me know if you want links to Florence lodging.

adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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You have surely done your homework Debbie. But I am curious how you arrived at that location in Tuscany. The other locations you mention are much better located---have you plotted this one on your map and judged driving times to your main attractions?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 08:39 PM
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I've checked it out (in relation to the areas we plan to visit) on the Toscana Italian Touring Club Map, Mappy and Google Earth site.

We gave up "location" for this particular cottage which is, without a doubt, definitely out of realm for most travelers (especially those who have a plan in mind). We'll be making longer treks to the more popular towns, but...we'll also be making great discoveries along the way.

It would definitely not make sense to stay here for a few nights, but we're thrilled to be "off the beaten path" in an idyllic tuscan cottage in a very lovely setting....

not everyone's choice of location, but that's what I like about it!

adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Good for you---as long as you know.
Have fun---I know you will.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 750

Awhile back, I had bookmarked photos on your SlowTrav website of the Capello in Pienza which are quite stunning. Where exactly is that?

Thank you for all your expert advice and guidance on these boards. I've taken your advice (more than you can ever know) in planning this trip. You really know your stuff.
adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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This link works...

Villa Dievole http://www.dievole.it/splash/splash.aspx
adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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I can recommend the Relais Cavalcanti in Florence, and it is probably within your budget. I wrote a detailed trip report here about our stay there last May:

Here's the part I wrote about the Cavalcanti:
"We took a short cab ride from the Florence train depot to the Relais Cavalcanti. a very charming little 'hotel', at Via Pellicceria, 2.

It occupies one floor of a building located near the Uffizi gallery, in a very good central location. Because my daughter had just finished her semester in Florence, she was able to recommend her favorite location in town for lodging.

The Relais Cavalcanti building has been in the same family's ownership for 100+ years, the owner/manager of the new-ish Relais is Francesca. She said she inherited this one floor of the building, so she recently renovated it to create a little hotel. It's relatively new, with beautiful tile bathrooms, showers, etc. The rooms are very charming, and good-sized.

You have the feeling of entering a very nice, private Italian home, when you unlock the Relais door and smell the potpourri set out on the beautiful tables in the hallway and entry way. It has a small elevator and a/c, too. No breakfast is served, but even better I think is that they have a beautiful little dining room/kitchen that is open 24/7 for guests. You have always available the makings for coffee, hot chocolate and tea, plus containers of pre-wrapped pastries and dessert cakes. That's about as much as you get in any Italian B&B for breakfast, and this way you can serve yourself whenever.

One evening we bought wine, cheese, bread, and fruit and enjoyed our own private time in this beautiful room. The only thing to be aware of at Relais Cavalcanti is that the first floor of the building is the Old Stove Irish pub. The good news is that it's a decent little place for panini, and has free wi-fi. However, it attracts a lot of students and young people, so it is quite noisy into the early morning hours. Our room window was directly above the pub's patio, with a nice view of adjoining rooftops. The double windows, plus the wooden shutters, can block out about 90 percent of the noise from the pub below. I found that I could also turn on the a/c fan in our room, which would then totally cover any outside noise.

Francesca also cautions her prospective guests that she does not staff a 24/7 front desk. She is there during posted hours, mostly till 6 p.m., and has an emergency number on the door. But she is careful to tell guests that hers is not a hotel with full-services at night-time. I highly recommend the Relais Cavalcanti."
Aug 17th, 2007, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,520
Ah yes, the classic shot of the capella in the field that is in every Tuscany coffee table book. It is on the south side of S146 between Pienza and San Quirico---about 2 miles outside Pienza. I have shots of it in 3 seasons, and one spring we got up close and personal.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Thank you for all your help, especially Debbie adventure seeker. I'm wondering now if we should do 3 nights tuscany with day trips to Florence. What would you recommend? I have heard that Florence can be over whelming..?
Cindywho is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi Cindy,

You're very welcome. I'm glad to make some sort of contribution to this board.

The experts who have been to Italy over and over are best to answer your last question.

With that said, do you desire more "city" and art (Florence) or "country" and wine (Tuscany).

If it were my decision, I'd probably do 1 night here, 2 nights there. Basing where on if I wanted more city or more country.

All the best...

adventureseeker is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 133

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary. Iím sure that you will have a wonderful trip. We celebrated our 25th last May with 2 weeks in Italy. It was also our first time there. I posted a trip report but it is somewhere in the depths of this forum and the search function doesnít work for recent posts

I would agree that 3 days is not too much for Venice. We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo as many here have recommended. We loved it. La Calcina is another place that is highly recommended and I believe that it is less expensive. I looked it up on a map when doing my research and it is definitely more off the beaten path than the Orseolo which, depending on your perspective, could be a good thing in Venice.

We did not go to Florence at all so I canít offer any advice there.

We stayed in Montepulciano in southern Tuscany which would not be convenient for day-trips into Florence. However, we did love this area of Tuscany and found it beautiful, interesting, comparatively untouristed, and relaxing. Tuscany was great. We also did not go to Cinque Terre. It looks wonderful, particularly if you enjoy hiking as we do, but Iím afraid that you will find that you wonít want to leave Tuscany after only 1 day in the countryside.

Good luck and lots of fun with your planning.
viaggiatrice is offline  
Aug 19th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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Viaggiatgrice, I read with great interest your trip report before I made this posting myself. It was wonderful and I hope I can find it again later!

Cindywho is offline  

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