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Italy 15-night itinerary & train travel


Jun 17th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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Italy 15-night itinerary & train travel

Solo traveler, first time to Italy. Please advise on the easiest/least hassle routing:

11/1/2015: Arrive Venice ~8 am
11/1/15 to 11/4 - 3 nights in Venice
11/4: Take train from Venezia S. Lucia to Monterosso via Milano (1 change of train).
11/4 - 11/6: Monterosso
11/6: Train from Monterosso to Florence via Pisa (1 change of train)
11/6 - 11/10: Florence, take a day trip to Sienna
11/10: Train from Florence to Rome
11/10 - 11/16 Rome
11/16: Rome to USA

1. Train questions:
a. Is there any way to find out what direction your seat faces?

b. From Venice to Milan is a fast train and from Milan to Monterosso is an Intercity train, can get seat assignment on both.
I heard that Milan train station is huge and beautiful, will 40 minutes be enough to find my way to the Intercity train to Monterosso?

c. From Monterosso to Florence via Pisa:
Monterosso to Pisa is Intercity train, Pisa to Florence is Regional train. Should I buy the tickets even though there is no seat assignment for the Regional train? I read that I won't need to validate the ticket for the Regional train since the PNR code printed on the confirmation will suffice.
How easy is it to change train in Pisa?

2. I am concerned about hauling an 22" luggage and a carry on bag on the regional trains. It's a direct fast train from Venice to Florence. Will it be better if I leave from Venice to Florence on 11/4, then take an early train to Cinque Terre for a long day trip?

Thanks for your help!
1dragonlady is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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Are you sure you want the CT in Nov.?
Otherwise, nice trip.
bobthenavigator is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2015, 11:30 AM
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You can't tell in which direction your seat faces, because at some stations the train changes direction.

40 minutes will be plenty of time to change trains at Milan Centrale. It's an easy station. You just look for your train (by departure time, final destination, and train number). Since your destination may not be the final destination, make a note of the train number. For reserved-seat trains, it's printed on the ticket. For regional trains, you can find the train numbers on the Trenitalia web site; make note of a few trains in case you miss the one you wanted.

I don't buy regional train tickets online; they can't be changed for any reason, and I've lost my money a few times. That doesn't mean you can't buy them in advance. You can buy the regional tickets at the first train station you come to in Italy, so that you don't have to worry about lines when you have a short connection time. The tickets bought in a station can be used at any time over the course of several months, or you can get your money back if you don't use them. You do have to stamp them in a machine by the tracks before boarding the train, so that they can't be re-used. Once they're stamped, they have to be used within a few hours and they can no longer be refunded.

That's really an awful lot of luggage for a two-week trip. It won't be any more trouble on regional trains that on the fast trains, but I have a feeling you'll regret having brought so much. If you could get it all into a carryon bag, you'll travel a lot more freely.

I've heard lots of people complain that they had too much luggage, and didn't use half of what they brought. Living in Italy, I often have friends and relatives visit me. You wouldn't believe all the things, including entire backpacks, carryon bags, and even a garment bag, that have been left behind at my house because they were sick of lugging it around. I've never heard anyone complain that they hadn't brought enough luggage.
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Jun 17th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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I didn't notice the month. I really wouldn't count on going to the Cinque Terre in November. You might want to make it a day trip from Florence, as you were considering anyway, so that you could change your mind if the weather doesn't cooperate. It's a long way for a day trip, though, and you wouldn't really have a chance to do any hiking. On the other hand, it won't be sinking under the weight of tourists, as it usually is.
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Jun 17th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for the responses. I am not sure about the weather in Cinque Terre (or Venice) the first week of November, but I hike in the mountains of Western North Carolina as long as it is above 32F.
I have at least 10 guide books from the library and have spent hours researching this trip. Overwhelmed with too much information.
I am all for travel light. However, the camera, cell phone, chargers, converters, prescription, contact lens stuff fill up the small carry on bag. My hiking boots (if I don't take the sneakers) will take up a lot of room in the 22" luggage. I think the hiking boots will offer better support since there will be so much walking on this trip on cobblestone streets. I may buy a smaller luggage and/or rent an apartment in Florence and/or Rome that comes with a washer.
Once I finalize my itinerary I will book the "fast" train tickets and buy the regional tickets when I get to Venice.
Now I have to re-think the possibility of Venice - Florence - Monterosso - Rome. Too many choices but really appreciate the suggestions.
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Jun 17th, 2015, 01:43 PM
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Hauling luggage onto a train is the same whether it's a fast train or a regional train. You still have narrow steps to hoist it up or down and narrow aisles on the trains. The worst (IMO) is the IC train. Most have enclosed compartments instead of open seating with middle aisles. The space inside the compartments is not easy to hoist luggage up over other passengers' heads.

Are you planning to visit the tower while you are in Pisa or just change trains?

>>>Will it be better if I leave from Venice to Florence on 11/4, then take an early train to Cinque Terre for a long day trip? <<<

A day trip is time consuming from Florence, but at that time of year, you might be better off with that plan.
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Jun 17th, 2015, 02:14 PM
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You have a nice amount of time in Venice, Florence and Rome. But I think three nights in the CT in November could be a bad idea. Not much to do anywhere in that region if the weather is rainy. I might consider adding a night to Florence so you could do a day trip to CT if the weather is beautiful (also that gives you 6 nights in Florence so the likelihood that ONE of those six days is good weather is higher than if you book a specific three days in Monterossa). That gives you two extra nights. I would think about seeing Verona or Padua - both of which will have lots of inside stuff (churches, museums, etc.) if the weather is bad - but are also great walking towns if the the weather is good. You could either spend the night in one of them or just add the nights to Venice and do one or both of them as day trips.

As far as the trains and the 22" bag - that's not a big bag - it's airline carry on size (or at least it was till last week). I've never had trouble finding a place for it. On most trains there is space between seat backs where you can put a bag that size. In the trains that were described above with compartments, it will fit in the overhead racks although if you are small you won't be able to reach it (I can't) but generally someone will offer to help you. You can also leave it in the "hall" just outside your compartment. People do that all the time.

I don't know what you mean about not needing to validate the regional ticket. Unless there is a seat number I think you need to. I would anyway just to be safe.

It looks like the only actual "hiking" you will be doing is if you go the the CT and you really don't need actual hiking boots even for that. For cobblestones in cities just good walking shoes or sneakers are better than hiking boots. I wouldn't drag all the weight and bulk of hiking boots for that trip.
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Jun 17th, 2015, 04:48 PM
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Actually my original plan was 4 nights in Venice, 5 nights in Florence and 6 nights in Rome, have hotel reservations for all 3 towns. However, friends who had been to Italy said it would be a shame not to go to CT so I figured I should spend 2 nights in Monterosso.
An elderly neighbor tripped on the cobblestone street on a trip to Pompeii, she had to be taken to a hospital in Rome to fix the ankle and jaw. Luckily she had travel insurance to pay for all the medical related bills. Another friend said his feet hurt for months from walking the cobblestone streets in Barcelona. That's why I thought about taking my hiking boots which provide great support. It's probably an overkill so I will stick with my walking shoes.
I should revise my itinerary to 3 nights in Venice, 6 nights in Florence (take day tour to CT, Sienna, etc. as suggested) and 6 nights in Rome. Thanks again for all the advice.
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