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How to split days in Florence versus Cinque Terre? and.. other advice..

How to split days in Florence versus Cinque Terre? and.. other advice..

Sep 18th, 2009, 02:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 29
How to split days in Florence versus Cinque Terre? and.. other advice..

Hello all -
I'm leaving shortly on a solo trip to Italy. Arrive in Venice on Oct 10, then fly out of Rome on the 20th. So... this is my summary itinerary so far...
9 - travel day
10: Arrive Venice evening; check in (Hotel is right next to Piazza San Marco.)
11. Venice
12 Venice / Train to Florence / Florence (I was thinking of morning in Venice, train in afternoon, arrive florence evening - i like train rides.. )
13 Florence (just one day?? - my only Must See is David, Uffizi and Pitti Palace)
14 Florence / Car to Cinque Terre: AM in Florence, then Rent Car in afternoon, drive to Cinque Terre (or just go to CT early in morning)
15 Cinque Terre / Drive back to Florence PM / Night Train to Rome
16 - 19: Rome - 4 days to explore City on my bucket list.
20: travel home to San Francisco.
Since I'm traveling solo, romance is not as important on this trip... in fact, romance is out, since I'll be leaving my SO at home. I'm into walking around, soaking up local ambiance and marvelling at Very Old Impressive Things (Art and Architecture). For example, I've enjoyed a walking through the backstreets of Paris as much as the Louvre.. my top travel experience so far was the Fire festival in Japan...
Other options are to skip Cinque Terre for a drive and stay in Tuscany (San Gimignano? Siena?) save CT for a longer trip, or shorten Rome stay..or... I'm open to suggestions and promise to to a photoblog..
I've spent hours in the forums already and am thankful for the helpful posts. In fact, I was not considering Cinque Terre until I read a couple of posts about it....Thanks in advance for the advice!
tommyp is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,433
Why would you want a car for CT where you can't use one? I would train to the CT and skip the car. IMO your trip is a bit hectic with only 2 nights Venice, 2 nights Florence, 2 nights CT - too many 2 nighters. I like at least 3 nights in a location.

Night train to Rome? I'm not sure what you mean there. It's only 1hr40min by train from Florence to Rome.
kybourbon is online now  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 506
My suggestion would be 3 nights Venice, 3 nights Florence, 4 nights Rome. save the CT for another trip.

Staying na bit longer in Venice and florence will give you a more relaxed and enjoyable pace (for me anyway.)
notbob is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 447
I'd second notbob's suggestion. You're trying to see too much in too little time and factor in the jet lag from the US west coast, Venice'll be wasted time for you. Definitely drop CT and do the 3-3-4 Venice-Florence-Rome split
knickerbocker is offline  
Sep 18th, 2009, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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For art and architecture, you would need more time for Florence & Venice, CT are more for the sceneries.
JudyC is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 11:29 AM
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*sigh* I pretty much knew that I'd have to give up one or the other - Florence or CT. I have to admit I'm still leaning toward CT, only because in the trip reports I've read, almost no one says they spent too little time in Florence, but some do say that they've spent too little time in CT.. But for certain, at least three nights per location.. So for those of you who have been to both, you'd choose Florence over CT?
tommyp is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
I live on the Italian Riviera out of pure love and Firenze is perhaps my favorite art destination in Italy, one which I'm not sure I could exhaust in repeated visits -- so I'm not sure I can help!

But be aware of a few things:

Your travel window is not optimal for a short visit to le Cinque Terre. The weather has now turned in the region, and while you could luck out with non-stop sunny skies, you stand a fair chance of being completely wiped out by heavy rain for the less than 48 hours you plan to be in the area.

Given your stated enjoyment of wandering the backstreets of Paris, I would opt for making Firenze your major focus -- and if you are appalled by the crowds of tourists, hop a very, very short train ride to Prato, Pistoia or Bologna and wander.

In Firenze, I highly recommend the Museo San Marco and the wandering in the Oltroarno (Cappella Brancacci) and up to San Miniato as ways to see something most of the stampeding hordes miss.

Have a great trip!
zeppole is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Posts: 52,380
hi tommyp,

as ever, the answer depends on you and your interests. you say that in Florence, you are "only " interested in the uffizi, david, and the pitti palace. that's a good two days' worth, if you're going to eat, drink and sleep as well. do you really not want to see the cathdral and the dome, the ccampanile, the baptistry, the medici chapel, the central market, the...well, you get the idea. and I don't really like florence!

OTOH, you will get a completely different experience at the CT, but nothing much to do unless you like walking. if you do, great. if you don't, what do you envisage doing there? ok, if you are lucky you might swim, and go on a boat trip, but what then?

you'll have guessed by now that I'm leaning towards Florence!
annhig is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 01:15 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 22
Before you give anything up, check the train schedules for Florence to CT and CT to Rome. Yes, your trip will be a blur as planned, but doable IMO...you just won't be able to "soak" a lot.

CT vs. Florence is apple vs. orange. In CT you MUST take the hike between the 5 towns and return by train or boat to your starting point. This will take your full day. It is 100% views and ambience, but 2 nights and a day is a good taste.

Florence to me was an often irritating beehive of Vespas, but the Michaelangelo sculptures I will never, ever forget.

Your call, but a great problem to have.
JamesH is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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I think it kinda spoils the whole point of going to Liguria/Italian Riviera if you are commanded that you MUST take a hike between 5 towns.

I live not far from le Cinque Terre and have never done it, and no doubt never will. I found the walk between Riomaggiore and Manorola an irritating beehive of American and other foreign tourists, who seemed to have no clue about how to enjoy a day on the mediterranean with a glass of something cool, and their feet up.
zeppole is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 02:11 PM
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no way I'm saying that you MUST walk in the CT. but I'm not sure what else there is to do there for the tourist - sitting around reading is fine but can only be carried out for so long, IME.

it's very different if you are living somewhere. there are loads of things that tourists do that I haven't done in Cornwall yet and I've been here 12 years!
annhig is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 02:48 PM
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Annhig, you didn't say it. JamesH did. In capital letters.

I'm all for walking on the Riviera. I'm all for hiking. I'm all for taking boat rides. I'm against the idea anybody MUST hike between the Cinque Terre towns -- and I'd be just as against it if people were told they MUST walk in some other part of Italy. A lot of people who come to le Cinque Terre and don't hike there have a wonderful time.
zeppole is offline  
Sep 19th, 2009, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 447

Given that you use the term "bucket list" in your OP, you're either gravely ill or getting on. I personally recommended Florence because Mrs. K and I spent 8 days there in '07 and in the environs and in retrospect could've doubled it without being bored. But that's us. I'll confess to not having been to CT and being something of a Firenzephile.

I'm not saying deep six CT versus Florence, just pick one or the other. You're coming a long distance and trying to do all that you listed in the OP, IMHO you aren't really going to open yourself up to actually appreciating any of the locations in a manner they deserve.
knickerbocker is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hi Tommyp:

I would visit the Cinque Terre for 1 day/1 night. After that, you've really seen pretty much what there is to see there as the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed. (The coastline is reminscent to the rocky northern California coastline, the only flat, sandy beach of any merit is in Monterosso al mare, the largest of the 5 towns). Save yourself rental car fees and don't rent a car! You won't use it in the Cinque Terre. Just use the local boats and trains to get to/from each village to see everything. It is just lovely. Also, why take the train from Firenze to Roma? You can easily take it from La Spezia Centrale down to Roma Termini in 3 hours. No sense wasting extra time going back to Firenze! (see my suggestions to your proposed itinerary at bottom of email).

Likewise, Firenze is magical with all its Renaissance art and history, the museums and villas are just stupendous. I would spend at least 2 or 3 days in Firenze. Seeing it for only 1 day would not do it justice! While in Firenze, you could easily take a train to Siena, San Gimignano, etc for a day trip. That would be a possibility. I've done it numerous times before and managed to see the area towns while there. Once you've completed your Firenze/Toscana visit, you can take a convenient train over to the Cinque Terre. Fortunately, nearly everything in Italia is well-connected by its trains, Firenze to the CT is about a 2.5 hour train ride.

My suggestions re: your proposed itinerary: you could leave Venice on the 12th on an early morning train, get down to Firenze in 2h36 mins and have the rest of your day and the next day (13th) to soak up Firenze's culture and art. Then on the 14th take a local day trip via train (faster) or bus to Siena (1h25 mins by train) or to San Gimignano. On 15th take train to CT for day and overnight. On 16th leave the CT in late afternoon/evening for Roma. Then you still have 17-18-19 in Roma. My invaluable resource for travel planning is trenitalia.com for all train schedules, I print them out ahead of time and have them handy when I arrive in the stations so I know exactly where to go.

Buon viaggio!
Huitres is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 05:24 AM
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>>almost no one says they spent too little time in Florence,<<<

I've spent too little time in Florence. I've been to Florence on three different trips to Italy and still have a list of things I would like to see/do.
kybourbon is online now  
Sep 30th, 2009, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I have spent months in Florence and always discover new things.

I spent one day in the CT three years ago and that was more than enough. Of the many parts of Italy I have been fortunate enough to visit, that was my least favorite.

I much preferred my time in Rapallo but would not add that to such a short trip when your preference is for art and architecture and wandering the back streets.

Opt instead for Venice, Florence and Rome and in the last two, take some day trips into the countryside which is gorgeous, especially in October.

I think you would enjoy Sienna based on what you have stated and also Orvieto (easily reached from Rome).
kfusto is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 05:24 PM
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Even traveling alone, I think this is trying to cover too much ground in 9/10 days. Too much time spent in transit.

I'm with the group that can't get enough of Florence, and I'd choose a stop in Tuscany or Umbria on the way to Rome over the Cinque Terre portion of your itinerary. No car, all public trans.
Jean is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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I also have been to Florence three times, and now want to return. So I haven't had enough time there. Actually, I never have enough time anyplace in Italy and want to return to everyplace I've been there. The 3-3-4 plan with a day trip from Florence to Siena would be my recommendation based on the things you like.
Sassafrass is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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So, how was the trip?
cmcfong is online now  

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