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If you had one week in Italy, and had never been before...

If you had one week in Italy, and had never been before...

Old Apr 11th, 2002, 10:16 AM
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If you had one week in Italy, and had never been before...

How would you spend your week? And say this trip were to take place in late Oct. or early Nov. Venice and Rome are must do's, so I was thinking either flying into Rome and ending up in Venice, or vice versa. And using the train system, with stops in between. I guess I'm looking for ideas on "stops in between".

Or...would you spend the entire week in just one place? Remember, this is the first time in Italy.

[I know, I know, I'm going to do research on internet and library. But I'd love to hear any off-the-top-of-your-head responses from any Italophiles.]

We're both early 40's, childless, like food & wine, art, history, cities and countryside, offbeat stuff, and just wandering around.

Thanks very much!
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 10:32 AM
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Similar ot my husband and me......same time of year, too. Skip Venice. Skip Rome (it's a government town, do that in the spring). For AUTUMN: Florence and Pisa. ONLY!!!! If you need to do something else, take a train to Venice and stay overnight. The Uffizi is amazing, the food is the BEST in all of Italy (now we've been four times). Wine region abounds. Could also do Siena, San Gimigano, and "hill towns." We did not have hotel reservations. We went to the tourist office at the train station, spoke English to the clerk, told her the budget, and said we wanted to be in the center of town. She got us into the Hotel Corvo, for $100/night (seven years ago). No fee, no commission--just great service. Do not miss the Duomo, walk to the top, see the Pieta at the Police station around the corner, go to the David, the Bargello, the Uffizzi. DO NOT LET cute little gypsies get near you or your body. They are amazing pickpockets (I learned the hard way). Take the train to Pisa.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 10:42 AM
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Don't fall into the Venice, Florence, Rome trap. You're young, Italy will be there next year, and maybe even the year after. Pick a region, tour it by car, making nightly stops, or find a base and take day trips. You don't need a car in the major cities, in fact it's a nightmare. For example start in Florence, let's say two nights. Then rent a car small car like a Renault Clio (we've had good luck with Avis)and drive to Sienna, and for the remainder of your time tour Sienna on foot, and on alternate days, trip to a couple of Tuscan hill towns like Montalcino, Volterra etc. Delicioso.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 10:45 AM
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Well, first I'd beg my moss to give me more time, or do whatever I could to expand the trip. . . but if that still didn't work and I only had 7 days then. . .
I'd fly to Rome and spend three nights cramming in all I could. Early in the morning I'd rent a car and drive to San Gimignano and stay two nights, using the car to explore a number of hill towns on that first afternoon (before arrival in SG and during the next day), staying right on the square in SG. On the day leaving there, I'd drive to Florence, turn in the car at the train station and put the luggage in lockers. I'd go see the Duomo, go see David, and have a nice lunch on the main square, and walk across the Ponte Vecchia. Then I'd get on the train and go to Venice, arriving in the very late afternoon. I'd spend the final two nights there before flying home. The one full day in Venice I'd spend mainly just wandering the little streets, maybe do a gondola ride, and have late night drinks on St. Mark's Square, hopefully still open at night in to October? Then on the plane home I'd wish I had had more time, but content myself with some great memories.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 10:49 AM
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Well, we were all posting at the same time. First of all, I meant "boss" not "moss".

And I wouldn't call the Rome, Florence, Venice routine a "trap". I did those three my first trip to Italy. Since then I have been back many times and spent lots of time in each area, but I wouldn't trade that first trip for anything, and if I had it to over again, I'd still do those three for my first one week trip!!! If indeed you can go back often, then you can take the time to explore.

By the way, you could easily take the train to Florence, but I'd still drive out to San Gimignano and stay rather than in Florence. It would be a wonderful contrast to the stays in Venice and Rome.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 11:06 AM
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I would agree with Patrick. Don't skip Rome and Venice! The logical pit stops would be Siena or San Gimignano. I'd opt for San Gimignano.

Personally I would stay in Rome for two nights, San Gimignano (with day trips to Florence and the hilltowns) for three nights and Venice for two.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 11:10 AM
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Hi Ess,

You did not say if the week included the flying time, if it does that leaves five days. In that event you should consider Rome with a day trip to Florence, and pass on Venice this trip.

If it does not, four days in Rome, a day trip by train to Florence and continuing on that evening for the balance in Venice.

You may also want to consider the time of year. Personally, I would do Rome at all costs, but if in November I would probably head South to the Naples area instead of North to Venice based on weather factors.

Next year you could do a week and catch up on what you missed either way.

Have fun.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 11:46 AM
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Hess: Homer is right on. Besides, his suggestions add up to seven nights (some of the others do not). I might do three nights in Rome and two in San Gimignano or Sienna instead of vice versa. Or, stay with the two nights in Rome and spend a night in Florence on the way to Venice. Some of the charm of Venice will be lost due to the weather in late Oct., early Nov. Part of the fun is wandering the narrow lanes and canals. Might not be as much fun at that time of year. Despite what you decide, if you do Rome, Tuscany, Florence and, perhaps, Venice, even in a touch and go manner, you will have a wondeful first glimpse of Italy and will whet your appetite for a return. Have a great time.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 12:10 PM
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I agree with the thinking of Patrick, Homer, Joe and John. Definitely start with Rome and end with Venice. Maybe just those two. I will disagree with Joe about Venice at the time of year. From experience, it loses none of its charm that time of the year, believe me!
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 12:13 PM
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Thanks guys! You've given me some good things to think about. Looks like it might be better to do Rome and points south in one trip, and Venice and northern cities in another. Also, as I've gotten older, I'm not crazy about rushing all over the country trying to cram everything in in a short time, so maybe the Rome/Florence/Venice thing in a week wouldn't be something I'd want to do to myself. Then again...I don't might be fun to rush around like a maniac all over Italy for a week. Nah. I'm not a kid anymore.

I did an art history paper on a Frick Collection painting attributed to Barna da Siena, whose paintings are in San Gimignano, so it would be a thrill to see the actual "certified" Barna paintings. I feel so close to him after sweating over that stupid paper! Staying in San Gimignano and doing day trips in a car sounds nice.

But then again, you have a point about the time of year we want to go, and squeezing out the last bit of autumn warmth in Rome and points south sounds wise. Especially since we'll have to come back to cold, dreary New York. I'd really love to see Pompeii, too, if that's doable.

Yikes. What to do, what to do. Well, I've got some time to think about it, and I appreciate your comments!
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 12:56 PM
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To say Rome is a government town is like saying the Mona Lisa is a portrait of a donkey!

I would definitely do the Rome-Florence-Venice thing in my first trip. (My first trip actually was Florence, Pisa, and the Italian riviera on a six-country, 4-week trip).

I would add Sienna. I went about 10 years ago and did Rome-Siena-Florence-Venice by train, staying in all but Florence. You could do Rome in 2 days if you whizzed thru the highlights: a day in the Vatican, St. Paul's, and seeing Castelo di Angelo, and another day in the Forum and Coliseum area, staying in Campo dei Fiore and seeing Piazza Navonna, Largo Argentina, and the Pantheon in the evenings. I would take three days, and just wander around. If you travel light, Siena could be a stop on the way to Florence, to see the zebra church and tiny medieval streets and sit in the amazing town square of this fortified hill town, a substitute for San Gimignano. Florence: you have to see the Duomo, Santa Croce, and David... all three will move you. It would be a full day. Venice a day for for St. Mark's, the ghettos, and just walking around the little bridges. For a short trip, you are best to take high speed trains from Florence to Venice and Venice to Rome. I don't think they are covered by the Eurail pass though.

If I was going back a third time, I would see Naples, Bologna, Torino, and Milano, and do more hill towns. But that is at least another 2 weeks! And I would never return to Italy without seeing my beloved Roma again!

Do Pisa, Pompeii, and the stuff in the little towns and less common areas on your second trip.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 01:35 PM
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I know, I know, you've probably heard enough. But we just got back 2 days ago from a 2 week trip to Italy, and there's no way you can cram Venice, Florence, and Rome into one week. It was chaotic doing it in 2 weeks, though we did squeeze in Pisa and Pompeii, but had no time for driving through the country.
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 02:18 PM
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What do you have against moss? As long as is doesn't grow under...
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 02:26 PM
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Whatever you decide for this trip will be great and you're going to end up returning because there's always more you'll want to see. Don't rush and try to cover too much territory in a week. Have enough time, especially in the bigger cities where you could spend a day just wandering and exploring. You can easily spend a week just in Rome with day trips to Pompeii, Orvieto, etc. DOn't worry if you can't get everywhere you want, you'll be back!!
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 03:00 PM
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One more option -

Rome and the Amalfi coast. Two days and night in Positano or one of the other towns would be very relaxing and fun after a few days pounding the pavement in Rome. You can do a day trip to Capri. It would be off season(cheaper), not crowded and still pleasent temp wise.
Any combination of towns/cities is great, just don't try to cover to much area in a week.

Have Fun!
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 03:06 PM
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Our very first trip to Italy , we had 3 weeks..planned to start and end up in Rome...but never left ..and never had a day that wasn't full.. if you know you'll be back sometime why rush it...hang loose!! Get the feel of an Italian city..learn the me Rome is the place I would go if I could never make another trip to Europe. Once you've been there you will go back...even if youdon't throw a coin in the Trevi fountain
Old Apr 12th, 2002, 09:17 AM
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Thanks again! You guys are terrific. I knew I could get some good feedback here. I'm going to print this out, and get cracking soon with the guidebooks, maps and online sites.
Old Apr 12th, 2002, 09:31 AM
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I didn't read the other responses but here is what I would do knowing that life is short and it has taken all this time for your first visit. Of course you will remember "see Rome and die", you must at the very, very least spend two days here. Plus you will be recovering from jetlag. Then you must go to Florence, at least two days. Then you must go to Venice. There is not a place on earth that looks like Venice and all the TV shows and movie in the world cannot duplicate it. This city requires at least one full day. It does not have the best restaurants though! For those you might stop in the middle in Siena or Bologna or Parma...also Rome's restaurants are excellent. Plan to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at traditional times because Europeans eat on schedule. I would travel by train between the cities because Italian drivers are maniacs. Also bring NICE CLOTHING. Italians always look very chic, even people in uniforms have perky little caps and smart outfits. Wear REAL SHOES. Wear a jacket and maybe a tie for dinner. I think your initial plan is terrific. Invest in good hotels, this always makes every journey more pleasant and that will be important since time is short, you don't want to waste it on arguing over a dirty room or sleeping on a bad mattress. Venice has some amazing places but they book up VERY EARLY. Splurge and stay right on a canal. Stay at the Villa San Michele above Florence. Use your Hilton points at the Rome Hilton which has an amazing rooftop restaurant with gorgeous views. And try to upgrade to business class with frequent flier points if you can so that you don't arrive too exhausted. If there is anyway to take a day flight instead of an overnight flight, you will save yourself from the brunt of the jetlag. Finally, a few tips I read a million years ago in Arthur Frommers: put everything you need for the trip on the bed. Cut that in half. Then take half of that. Bring all your old sox and underwear and just throw them out after wearing, don't bother to carry around dirty laundry. For you I would bring a pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, a navy blue sports coat, one nice red tie and maybe three izod type shirts and one shirt with a collar, a pair of Nikes and a pair of loafers. If it rains buy a cheap umbrella there. For your wife, basically the same outfit but with a nice basic black, wrinkle proof but sexy dress for evening and some nice jewelry to dress up. Maybe a little cashmere sweater over the shoulder. You will need to fit everything in those rollers that are small enough to carry on so your trip isn't ruined by lost luggage. Plus leave at least half the space empty for all the great stuff you are going to buy including pottery, leather goods, neckties, etc. Have fun!
Old Apr 12th, 2002, 09:59 AM
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Rome and Florence...with side trip to Sienna and Orvieto.

Old Apr 12th, 2002, 10:28 AM
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My first visit to Italy was Venice and Florence. Wonderful. My next visit to Italy was Rome and Venice. Wonderful. However, Rome itself eats up days faster than any other place I've ever been, leaving many things undone the first or probably 5th time.
Your decision will depend in part on how soon you hope to return to Italy.
I have files on those cities; if you'd like to see them, email me.

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