HELP with Itinerary

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Mar 24th, 2015, 08:12 AM
  #1
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HELP with Itinerary

Hello-
I am currently trying to plan a surprise 10 year anniversary trip to Italy for my boyfriend and I'm not sure where to go/stay. I've changed my plans 4 times now and I'm completely lost and not sure what to do.
Two places I know I will be booking: Sardinia and Paris.
We are going for 27 days total. July 7 or 8 until the 30th of July. We will spend 6-7 days in sardinia, unless that is overkill, suggestions appreciated on this one! Ive chosen the emerald coast in sardinia so far.
I was really hoping to do the almafi coast but not really sure where to choose for a base and not sure if we can do Florence and Rome if we go to the coast. Should we rent a car for a portion of our trip and enjoy the drive between places or stick to the trains? I know you have to get an International Driving permit. Will driving drain us and take too much time? I'm completely fine taking it slow and sticking to a few places.
I'm hearing many conflicting things about how much time is needed in Rome and Florence. I'm not interested in staying in a new place every other night. I want home bases that we can take 1-2 hour train rides from to enjoy other parts of Italy. However, I really don't know if this is possible. I'm also not sure if we should rent a make out way down from florence to the coast and leave the car once we get to the coast.
Another option is to forgo the Amalfi coast all together since we're already going to sardinia and concentrating on the northern part of italy and ending in Rome so we can fly to Sardinia. Ending in Rome is essential so we can get to Sardinia by plane. Unless Ive completely looked over something, again suggestions would be much appreciated.
Right now I'm thinking we fly into Milan take a train to Lake Como for 2-3 days (again not sure how long to spend anywhere this is a recurring theme) then take a train Bologna for the day (should we stay the night?) and then train to Florence and then a train to Rome. Fly from Rome to Sardina. Will 11 days be enough to do everything before we go to Sardinia. Are there other places we should go instead? Could someone suggest a better itinerary or how long to visit these places? The more research Ive done the more lost I've become.
Or should we just do Florence, Rome, Amalfi coast, Sardinia? Or skip Amalfi and go to Puglia?
If there are places we should skip or other places we should go to please let me know your opinion.
I think our ideal trip would be to RELAX and not feel like we are back packing across Italy. We want to enjoy our time eating great local food, especially sea urchin. We want to see beautiful places and art, architecture and some sight seeing. Sight seeing is NOT a huge priority to us usually. Ive been to paris 5 times and never once have been up the eiffel tower, I've walked past it and that was enough. Knowing how much Rome has to offer is exciting but seems exhausting and we won't be bummed if we miss out on some things because I know we can always go back. We also aren't looking for night life partying, but instead great atmosphere where we can walk to get dinner and dessert and just sit and enjoy our surroundings. I'm not into grittier cities either
Again, I'm looking to see beautiful Italy and eat great food. I'm open to smaller cities and day trips but I don't want to take repack and take my luggage every time. So day trips and good bases are what I'm hoping someone can help me with.
I feel like I'm over looking somewhere or making bad choices on where to go. If anyone has a better idea of where to go and how to stay please let me know where to make changes. I'm open to anything at this point!
THANK YOU!!!!!
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Mar 24th, 2015, 08:55 AM
  #2
 
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That math doesn't work.

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Uh, where is this trip ending before you revert to your home country (whichever that may be) - Sardinia or Paris or somewhere else?

What's a "grittier city"? You could power wash all of Detroit tomorrow, it'd still be a dump. What means "gritty" to you? This is serious - you might be amazed at how pigeons lack respect for statues.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 09:04 AM
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OK - I'm confused. First you say you have 27 days and then you say July 7 or 8 to July 30th - which looks like 21 days on the ground. Which is it?

And if you want a week on Sardinia then how much time do you want for Paris? If you do 5 days (6 nights) there then you only have 9 days for other places n Italy.

So you need to determine exactly how many days you have there.

If you do a full week on Sardinia I would not do the AC as well - this is an awful lot of beach time versus seeing major parts of europe.

You can do day rips from Rome and Florence - but cannot do 3 major cities (Rome, Florence, Venice PLUS do day trips in only 9 days).

Suggest you lay the trip out day by day so you can have a realistic look at what you can see - once you figure out how many days you have.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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You could do what we did. Flew into Paris, stayed 4 days, flew to Venice stayed 3 days then rented a car and drove to Tuscany. We stayed in the countryside at an amazing Villa and explored the Tuscan countryside for about 3 or so days then drove to Florence returned our car and stayed in Florence for a few days... no car needed. Then took the high speed train to Rome where we spent 4 more days and flew home from Rome but you could go to Sardinia from there. I felt it was a nice mix of city and beautiful countryside and flowed well. I never felt rushed.

Our Italy hotels were;

I will not mention our Paris hotel as we were a little disappointed, it was not awful but definitely not our favorite.

Venice
http://venezia.boscolohotels.com/
We enjoyed this hotel and it's delicious breakfast served out in the beautiful garden. This hotel is in what used to be the French consulate and is the only property in Venice with a garden

Tuscany- Chianti region
This is the Villa we stayed at, loved it! The movie Much Ado About Nothing was filmed here and the Mona Lisa herself actually lived there.

http://www.vignamaggio.it/index-english.html

Florence
Hotel we stayed at in Florence which was right across from the Maria Novella train station made it really convenient to catch the train to Rome.

http://www.hotelambasciatori.net/en/index.html

Rome
Our Rome Hotel was very nice and centrally located so it was easy to walk to most places and there was a subway stop right out front for the things that weren't within walking distance.

http://exedra-roma.boscolohotels.com/

good luck planning! Oh how I would love to re-live that trip! I am jealous!
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Mar 24th, 2015, 09:58 AM
  #5
 
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If going mainly to large cities eschew the car as they are total drags these days - wide swathes of city centres now off-limits to private vehicles - many hotels may not offer parking and parking can cost a ton when found (and then do not leave any bagage or valuables in a car parked on streets overnight).

And you do not need a car to explore the Amalfi and buses and boats go everywhere you want - like Capri, Ischia, Amalfi, ravello,Positano, Pompeii, etc.

Say you base in Florence, Rome and Analfi and Sardinia - do day trips from Florence easily by bus or train to many iconic tuscan/Umbrian hill towns - like Sienna, Assisi, Perugia or to Pisa for the Leaning Tower or to Lucca, one of Europe's finest walled ancient towns - Bologna is an easy one hour train ride from Florence.

Take the train to Naples and then the CircumVesuviana Railway to Sorrento - 4-5 days along the Amalfi and the islands, Naples itself perhaps, Pompeii, etc.

Back to Rome for 5 days or so - easy day trips to Tivoli and the famous Villa del'Este (sp?) and its fabulous water gardens and Hadrian's Villa - one of gthe finest archaeological sites in Italy - easily done by bus from Rome.

Fly to Sardinia - 11 days in Sardinia would be way too much for me when I went there - nice but to me not remarkable - there are also boats to Sardinia from Civitavecchia, near Rome, and from Naples.

anyway you do not need to rent a car - for lots of great info on Italian trains check: www.trenitalia.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Buy tickets way in advance and you get a nifty discount but those tickets are sold in limited numbers and often sell out weeks in advance and are train-specific and I believe cannot be changed nor refunded - full fare can be pricey and if doing several full-fare trips (which give you total flexibility to chose trains as you go along not book in stone weeks/months earlier) then check out the Italy Eurailpass.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 11:53 AM
  #6
 
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What PalenQ says is true, you do not want to be trying to drive around Florence, heafty fines are involved for non compliance of all their road laws, parking etc. that is why we did the Tuscan countryside first then ditched the car when we got to Florence. You can make it even a little easier and ditch the car in Pisa and take the train, a quick 30 min. into Florence. You really only need a car if you plan to explore the Tuscan countryside and or stay in one of the smaller regions. There is a bus system but what a pain to have to be tied to that schedule and lug your luggage all over with you. It is possible to see the countryside without a car, but not optimal IMO.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 12:36 PM
  #7
 
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Sea urchins are not found all over Sardinia and they are not seasonal in the hot summer months, so you might need to research where to go in Sardinia or put it off your wish list. You should especially not eat raw sea urchins in summer without knowing in detail where they come from and the reliability of the person preparing them.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 02:31 PM
  #8
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BIGRUSS-
Yes you are right I misspoke. Since I last posted I’ve decided to cut Paris out of the equation since we’ve been many times and never to Italy. We are leaving on the July 7 or 8th and returning home (austin) July 30th via Paris or Rome, that depends on our miles and availability.

A friend of mine said he loved Naples and when I asked why his explanation was that it was more urban/grittier than most of what he had seen in Italy. This isn’t really what I’m going for but thought I could go for a day passing though. I don’t mind pigeons

NYTRAVELER -

I will be in Italy July 7-8th and return home july 30th cutting paris out but possibly using it as a place to fly home from.

Last summer I spent 4 days in Corsica and I wanted to go back this summer and do Italy. I’ve changed that to Sardinia because the research I’ve done seems to say it’s just as great as Corsica. Plus this gives me less of a head ache travel wise. I’m not sure how long to spend here. I’m at a loss. Id like to lay on the beach, eat good food, explore what I can and relax.

Should I start north and make my way down? Maybe Venice —> Lake Como —> Day trip to Bologna (either from Lake Como or Florence —> Florence (day trips to tuscany or rent a car to explore tuscany for 2-3 days??) —> Rome (maybe a day trip to naples)

Again, I don’t want to pack up and check into a new place every time we go somewhere.

Do you suggest skipping any of these places and going somewhere else? Is Rome essential? I feel like I’d be missing out if I didn’t see Rome this time around. I can always do Amalfi Coast/Sicily on a separate trip.

OR should I skip the northern part all together and do Puglia, Sardinia, Rome, Florence?

Brenkjtravel -
Thank you for the tip! I’m going to cut our time in paris out. Did you feel like 3 days of driving though Tuscany was enough? Is it scary driving through that region? I will definitely be leaving the car before arriving in Florence or any major city. I think we are going to stay in AirBnB apartments. We haven’t stayed in a hotel in Europe, ever. Is it necessary in Italy? I will definitely get a car to do Tuscany if we end up going. It sounds like I shouldn’t miss out on this… THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL THE INFO!!!!!! Very helpful

PalenQ-
I completely agree about the car. I would like to avoid if at all possible. I will take the train but I’m worried about the luggage situation once we are in Tuscany (if I choose to go there). We will have 4 carry on bags each not a lot but still probably an annoying amount for train rides. But then again I have no idea since I’ve only flew while in europe. I’ve never taken a train.

I’m leaning towards doing the day trips you suggested while in Florence: Sienna, Bologna, Assisi and Perugia. Did you leave in the morning and return at night after dinner via train? Did you feel like you were able to see enough of Florence while making all of these day trips? How many days would you suggest here?

Not sure if we will make it to Naples, just depends on how much traveling we’ve done by this time.

Rome- 4 to 5 days is enough? I like you’re suggestions I had no idea about these places! can’t wait to look into them more.

We are only going to stay 6-7 days tops in Sardinia. I really want sandy beaches and relaxation. What was your experience like in Sardinia? May i ask where you went and why you weren’t all that impressed? I’m looking to fly there because I get sea sick and 4-8 hours on a boat is not going to fly.

I will buy my tickets as soon as I figure out where I’m going!

Sandralist-
THANK YOU FOR THIS INFO. Not going to Sardinia strictly for sea urchin but the beaches and for a new place to relax. Have you been to Sardinia?
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Mar 24th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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Hi again,

No, I haven't been but I knew that sea urchins are not really in season at that time of year, so I wanted to give you that information. I wanted to go to Sardinia this year but now I am taking another trip. Everyone I know who has been thinks it is beautiful, but a lot a people preferred to get away from the resorts and go to the wilder beaches. But there is lots of information online and Tripadvisor has a Sardinia forum where some people who actually live there answer questions.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 05:01 PM
  #10
 
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m

I think it would be helpful for your decision making if you get a better idea of what you want from your Italian cities portion. You seem to have a good idea of what you want out of the relaxing beach time.

Even if you don't want to do lots of sightseeing, pick your top 3 sights in each city, after you have browsed through a good guidebook.

Regardless of how much planning and researching you do, you will still have some surprises. You might be pleasantly surprised with one location and disappointed in another. You probably already know this from your trips to Paris.

Relax ,focus decide. You will return.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 05:08 PM
  #11
 
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If think the way you are approaching the planning is not helping you make progress. Just read your posting to see the underlining process:
- take too much time?
- not sure how long to spend anywhere
- should be stay the night?
- Will 11 days be enough?
- Rome- 4 to 5 days is enough?
- Is Rome essential?

The planning is mainly by number of days rule leading to uncertainties on whether it satisfies your goals. Just look at what you stated as your goals:
- ideal trip would be to RELAX
- not feel like we are back packing across Italy.
- enjoy our time eating great local food
- see beautiful places and art, architecture

It seems it would help you if you approach the planning based on your goals as the primary driver. The number of days, which is your current primary driver, will fall out once you have optimized how you attain your goals.

Use www.viamichelin.com for car and www.bahn.com or google (yes, for many trip, google will spit out timing estimates for various modes of transport) for train to come up with realistic travel times between destinations.
Then list what you want to do at each destinations and estimated time needed to accomplish them.
If you add all the time together, it would exceed your number of days. Look at your list, how would you prioritize activities to fit within you constraints? Once you have identified all your priority goals that fit within your time limit, you have the realistic itinerary. Then, out pops the number of days at each destination without doubting yourself if you are staying "enough" days.

Even if someone says Rome must be minimum so many days, Florence must be minimum so many days, if your analysis says something else, follow your analysis. You will be forever spinning head if you only follow other's recommendations. They have different goals, constraints, and interests.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 05:59 AM
  #12
 
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Why Sardinia? Not a bad place but nothing much there IMO to trump places like Venice or Puglia or Sicily as more interesting places with more interesting things to see and do IME.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 10:16 AM
  #13
 
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Driving was not stressful at all. The roads are well maintained and marked. Most of the trip from Venice to Chianti was freeway ish driving and then in the Tuscan countryside just two lane winding roads that go through the beautiful scenery and little towns, very enjoyable. If I could have added any more time to my trip I would have spent it in Tuscany. So peaceful and beautiful but lots of places to see. PalenQ mentioned many great ideas and Lucca would be great too, you can rent bikes and ride around the city which is all walled in but very beautiful. Assisi and Siena would be well worth your time also. Although, I will add don't miss Rome if you have not been for sure, it is a famous travel destination for good reason!
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Mar 25th, 2015, 10:26 AM
  #14
 
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Forgot to answer you question about hotels. Most hotels in Europe are comparable to anything in the States. In fact some of the nicest hotels we have stayed in were in Europe. You can find great ones if you do your research. I really enjoyed all of the Hotels we stayed in, very clean and great food (nice to have a quick breakfast before you get ready to head out for the day) I also enjoyed how helpful most of the concierges were, they will even set up reservations for you to go to museums etc. as well as direct you to great places to eat or how to get somewhere. You will find the same services at most Villa's as well. In fact we checked into our Villa in Chianti a little late and they had already closed their small restaurant but pointed us in the direction of an amazing one just a few minutes away. It was one of the best meals we had on our whole trip. That is another thing, honestly you can fine good and bad food almost anywhere, but the food in Tuscany (in general) is IMO by far the best in Italy
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Mar 25th, 2015, 11:29 AM
  #15
 
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Personally I think Puglia is mainly an ugly dump and would find it easier to go to Sardinia from the other places on your list. Also, if you want a vacation focused on nature and relaxation, you're not obliged to go to sightseeing destinations just because you are in Italy. For so many people the answer to the questions "Why Venice" is: "Because everybody else goes." They certainly do, and if you would rather discover the vareity of culture in Italy, there are few places as uniuqe culturally as Sardinia, but I think you need to get away from the resorts and cruise ports).

I'm not pushing Sardinia because I've never been, but in July, it would appeal to me a lot more than Venice, Florence or Rome unless I very much wanted to see certain works of art or history sights.
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