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jackie1017 Jul 28th, 2014 09:50 AM

Home base stay in Italy for vacation
I am planning a trip next year to Italy and starting my research. I am trying to keep the cost down as much as possible since the flight will be the most expensive thing and I want to get the most of this since this may be the only time we ever go. So I was thinking of renting a villa somwhere in the middle of where we want to go and then take the train.

I know we definitely want to go to Florence and Rome, possibly Pisa and Naples. It will have to be next summer, most likely around July and possibly be for a total of 10 days which includes the flight there and back. There will be 4 of us including a 19 and 17 year old teenager. I had also considered inviting my mother and sister and her family to make this into a family event (once in a lifetime) which is why I was considering a villa.

Does anyone have some suggestions? I know renting a car is not a great idea, so our travel may be limited to public transportation and our own steam. So an ideal place to stay during the nights would be ideal if they had trains to the cities we would like to see.


vincenzo32951 Jul 28th, 2014 10:19 AM

I'll get ahead of the curve and tell you that you probably don't want to try to visit 4 places in 10 days, especially not 4 places that are so far apart. The distance between Florence and Naples is about 300 miles.

>>possibly be for a total of 10 days which includes the flight there and back.<<
So we're really talking about 8 days on the ground? See above.

What you might do is get one apartment in Florence for 4 days and then another apartment in Rome for 4 days -- with an open-jaw flight that allows you to land in one city and depart from the other. You can take a day trip from either city to various places via bus or train. For instance, you can take a bus to Siena from Florence.

greg Jul 28th, 2014 10:55 AM

You have goals: places to visit.
You have constraints: fund

Rather than ASSUMING having a base magically helps you cost down, actually compute the estimate cost of doing that vs. moving in linear fashion avoiding back tracking. For example, if you start in Naples (stay there), the move north without back tracking, you have eliminated the return legs needed with your home base strategy. Compare actual cost of staying in multiple places plus one way trips vs. staying in one place and pay round trips to all your destinations. Also consider time consume in doing the return legs. You are chipping away from the time needed to accomplish your goals.

Whether a car helps you with your fund constraints depends on how many of you are traveling, how much luggage you have, and where you are heading. There is a major jump in rental cost in going to a car big enough for six people. The list of destinations mentioned would likely to be more of a hassle and expensive than using trains overall - not just a simplistic rental cost vs. train fare comparison.

sandralist Jul 28th, 2014 11:36 AM

Villas are not normally in locations that are within walking distance of train stations in Italy.

But I think you first need to figure out how many people would be traveling and then what needs to be spent on lodging. When you know those things, it will be easier for other people to help you figure out the best itinerary.

If you have yet to ask other members of your family if they would like to join you in Italy, I highly recommend that if you have your heart set on the places you mentioned, that you make it clear to the people you are inviting that this is the itinerary. Many people, upon hearing they are being invited to Italy, would want to see Venice, or places like the lakes or le Cinque Terre. If you are open to discussion about anything, great. But you shouldn't put the trip you most want in jeopardy, especially since you are taking the initiative.

Dai Jul 28th, 2014 12:24 PM

These responses are spot on. Train travel is great but round trip train travel can get expensive for four. As an example, it is just over an hour on the fast train from Naples to Rome. It cost both of us 86 euro for the one way trip. That is 344 Euro for round trip for four people, or 462 USD...and that is with today's rate. When we were there a few weeks ago the rate of the dollar was averaging 39% more than the euro. The train experts on here may give you ideas for a slower train, and the price will be less, or buying in advance to save--but if you miss the train you lose (as I understand it) but nevertheless round trip travel <i>can</i> add up quickly.

If I were you, unless there is some special reason that you want to see Naples (like family pilgrimage) I'd skip it because there is <b>so</b> much to see in Rome and Florence. If you must see Naples then fly in, stay the night and start making your way north and fly home from Florence.

If I were you I would stay three nights in Rome and get as many sites in as possible, then I'd give 5 nights to Florence to see as much as you can see. That way from Florence you could take a day trip to Pisa <i>and</i> one to Siena or take a bus to San Gimignano, but still have time to see Florence.

Lastly, I would say that with fewer family members you have less to worry about coordinating things to do that will please everyone, you don't have to rely on someone who takes too much time getting ready, or someone who wants to spend more time here or there, etc. Consider enjoying this once in a lifetime trip with your immediate family.

Good luck and happy planning!

Dai Jul 28th, 2014 12:27 PM

One more thing, if you haven't already done so, consider acquiring a Capital One card or some other card where all of your purchases add up for travel discounts. Then start charging everything over the next year and write one check at the end of each month to pay for your purchases. The Capital One card used over there is great too because they don't charge the extra 2% that most banks charge you to use a credit card in Europe.

bobthenavigator Jul 28th, 2014 12:46 PM

You have time for 2 destinations with some day trips.
I would pick Rome and Florence with day trips to Siena and maybe Lucca/Pisa. You will return---we have 17 times.

His_Dudeness Jul 28th, 2014 01:43 PM

Agree with Bob. We've been to Italy 8 times. So you have a total of say 9 nights. You probably have an early flight the last day and will want to stay near the airport. So, you really have 8 nights. You could try to squeeze in 3 different bases but IMO you're better off with 2. I would suggest going with a smaller city and Rome. As an example, you can occupy yourself every night in cities like Lucca or Siena while taking great day trips to surrounding towns. Your base in Rome can easily keep you busy for the rest of the time.

SheriMG Jul 28th, 2014 02:39 PM

I have to agree with the others - skip Naples, and choose two locations as a home base. Rome for sure, and one other. I spent nearly two weeks in Lucca as a home base and found the train super accessible, the town absolutely charming, and we did many day trips to Florence, the Cinque Terra, Pisa and more. I think anchoring yourself in Rome and Lucca offers the both of best worlds: one big city and one smaller city.

If it were me, I would do 5 days in Lucca and 3 in Rome. You won't be disappointed.

nytraveler Jul 28th, 2014 05:18 PM

Sorry - staying in a single place and trekking around on the train every day would be a huge waste of time and money.

It seems that things are much farther apart than you think. (Would you stay in NYC and take trains back and forth to Boston, Philly and DC for days at a time????)

You have a very limited amount of time and IMHO should land in one city, spend 4 days, then travel to another for 4 days and fly home from there. this is the best use of limited time and will be much cheaper than your plan.

And agree that the more of you there are the longer everything will take - specially if some are older and don't want to move at the same speed.

Sassafrass Jul 28th, 2014 06:56 PM

Quite personal, I know, but have you traveled with extended family before? It can become very difficult. Unless you do not care what you do, and are willing to compromise a lot on where you go, etc., give it lots of thought and plan what you really want to do first. Research costs, etc.

Look at multi-city tickets, into one city and out of another. With Italy, one base allows only a very small tour area. It may work best to move in a fairly straight line from first city to last.

Airfare is such a big percentage of the budget. Make the trip as long as you can. Every day added is better value for total dollars. If you could stretch it to 12 days, you could visit more places and still have more sightseeing versus travel time.

letsgeaux Jul 28th, 2014 07:48 PM

Actually I think renting a car is a good idea. We rented one in Rome, drove it to Tuscany where we spent a week, then turned it in in Venice. Use Tuscany as your base to visit Florence, Siena, Pisa, and other small towns. With only 10 days save Naples for another time.

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